CounterPunch readers respond:

from Austin via email, posted by permission:

Thanks, that is an excellent article on the exclustion of congress from its legal place in deciding matters of war. I have not seen this most important point made elsewhere and yet it is a vitally important point. One can not let this president and his highly suspect administration steal freedom from the American people.

from John E. Gilmore via email, posted by permission:

DAMN!!…Thanks for recreating several distinctions I had lost.

I definitely noticed the backdrop and my wife and I talked about the fact
that the “Peaceful Transition” speech had been delivered from a College
of War.

And..we noticed that “we” are going to build Iraq a nice shiny …
Worship center? University? ….Jeez…a WalMart even?…. nope….Maximum
Security PRISON!! Now, given the nature and tenure of Saddam’s
regime, do we even remotely believe that Iraq has a shortage of maximum
security prisons?

So…the two things we have committed to build there in the new Cradle
of Democracy are:

A prison…


The Biggest, Hugest, most complicated United States Embassy anywhere in
the world!! Three thousand persons will work there, planted smack in the
middle of the Middle of the East. More people than work in Russia, spanning
nearly as many time zones as daylight. More than Canada, our quiet solid
northern neighbor. And who do you think these people will be? For whom will
they work…gimme a break!! It’s a giant House of Spies and Spooks, and it
better be built like God’s Outhouse because no matter what the d├ęcor, it
will have the biggest “Kick me here!” sign in history hanging on it.

Thanks again.


Soldiers of Conscience

[Attn Editors: It’s Bobby Seale in paragraph two–gm]

A Memorial Day Meditation

By Greg Moses

Absolute pacifists are absolutely rare. Even the
ancient Jewish pacifist, Jesus of Nazareth, got so
pissed off at the sight of holiday shopping that he
tossed tables around with his bare hands. Yet when it
came time to acquit himself before imperial
authorities, he steadfastly refused.

Stew Albert tells a story about the late Dave
Dellinger, “the life long pacifist” who “got in some
real shoving matches with the Federal Marshals” as
they tied Bobby Seale to a courtroom chair. Yet
Dellinger, “the wrestling pacifist,” chose prison over
war. So pacifism is nearly always a position that one
takes in relation to circumstances.

Anti-war pacifism in recent centuries arises out of a
judgment that the institution of war, waged by
structures of the capitalist state, cooly delivers
death to the many and profits to the few. The
stronger the institution of war becomes, the more
death and profit we may expect, with ever diminishing
returns to the greater good.

Yet along with modern pacifism come modern
philosophies of existentialism, pragmatism, and
postmodernism, with their philosophical assertions
that reality always resists the single meaning. If
war is indeed a profiteering enterprise, it can be
other things, too. Even among liberals and lefties,
there are very few who oppose all war at all times.

And finally, even among the very few pacifists who
counsel young folks about conscientious objection, who
refuse to pay taxes for military use, and who go to
prison for crossing some line, even among these
present day saints one finds abiding respect for the
individual conscience, and therefore respect for the
soldier or citizen who believes that wars can be
fought a right way.

So on this Memorial Day, the third one to be
celebrated since the massacres of Sept. 11, 2001, I
wonder if there is a liberal, lefty, pacifist,
anti-war activist to be found who does not find a way
to honor the soldier of conscience.

For the soldier of conscience, military service is a
way of risking one’s life for others, preparing to
take a bullet, and being part of a larger whole that
lives because some are willing to die. For the
soldier of conscience then, the value of war lies not
in the willingness to kill, but in the readiness to be

The military uniform, therefore, when worn by a
soldier of conscience, is a public sign to the rest of
the world that here walks a person who is prepared to
do your dying for you. On Memorial Day, the graves
call up to us. Here lie soldiers of conscience who
died so that you could live.

The soldier of conscience is in on my mind this
Memorial Day weekend as I think about the publicity
stunt that the President pulled Monday, when he staged
a reading of his stock war speech at the Army War
College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Surely the President noticed right away that the
audience at the War College was not going to be the
adoring crowd that he had found a few days earlier at
an AIPAC rally. But this is precisely the difference
that one would expect to find between an audience that
does not wear uniforms and one that does, because,
when you talk about war to audiences that wear
uniforms, you are talking to them about making use of
their readiness to die.

I wonder for instance, whether the President is aware
of Directive 1344.10, published by the Department of
Defense. It is an updated regulation that reiterates
some long-standing ethical principles that are
supposed to regulate the power of the uniform in
political affairs. Simply put, the American military
uniform is not to be used for political purposes.

Yet press reports and commentaries surrounding the
President’s speech were hardly guessing at the
political nature of the President’s speech. He was

speaking in a “battleground state” about political
policies that were clearly a matter of national and
international dispute.

“Generations of officers have come here to study the
strategies and history of warfare,” said the President
to the War College. “I’ve come here tonight to report
to all Americans, and to the Iraqi people, on the
strategy our nation is pursuing in Iraq, and the
specific steps we’re taking to achieve our goals.”

With two disjointed sentences, the President tells the
War College audience that regardless of their reasons
for being at Carlisle, he is here to make a national
and international political appeal. The uniforms of
the Army War College, here on display, will serve as
so much televised backdrop for a flagging political
campaign. What “we’re doing” in terms of a strategy
crafted by a partisan Republican administration
becomes a strategy already dressed in uniforms worn by
soldiers of conscience.

A soldier on active duty, says Directive 1344.10
(Enclosure C.3.9) shall not: “Participate in any
radio, television, or other program or group
discussion as an advocate of a partisan political
party or candidate.” Yet on Monday night the
Commander in Chief of the War College in effect
ordered his troops to lend their uniforms to the
unethical purpose of advancing his partisan Republican
image. What choice did they have but to salute him?

Well, perhaps the press has been accurately reporting
that Monday night’s speech was “more of the same.” It
all depends which same you start from. On the
unethical use of the lives and uniforms of soldiers of
conscience indeed, this President continues to sink
lower each day.

No, The President’s War College Speech was Not More of the Same

And His Pledge to Destroy Abu Ghraib Prison was a Filthy Mislead

By Greg Moses
first published at Rob Kall’s OpEdNews.Com

Already two claims have been repeated about the President’s War College speech, but both claims are misleading. First is the claim that the speech offered nothing new. But this claim is misleading because it fails to take seriously the meaning of the venue or the prime time schedule. The image of the War College audience is not just another backdrop. Second is the claim that the only news of the evening was the President’s pledge to demolish Abu Ghraib prison. And this is misleading, because the President promised to replace that prison first.

If we correct for these misleading claims, the War College speech becomes another kind of promise from the President—not to stay the course, nor to abolish the power of prison in Iraq . Rather, the President promises the War College audience that he plans to fully exploit the US uniformed services to advance the construction of a globalized garrison state. Before Abu Ghraib can be torn town, said the President in effect, the US Army will protect the contractors that will build the replacement prison. And he said all this in such a way that his proposals were met with a burst of televised applause from the uniformed professionals themselves.

No, the War College speech was not nothing new. It was a crucial escalation in a plain agenda of power over the people, both at home and abroad.


Misusing the Uniform In a Town Named Carlisle

First published on May 25, 2004 at Sam Hamod’s Today’s Alternative News

Greg Moses

In choosing the US Army War College as backdrop for
his televised speech on Iraq policy, President George
W. Bush again chose poorly.

If the President’s talk was intended to convey a
concept of mission to military intellectuals,
proffered by the office of Commander in Chief, then a
daytime C-SPAN venue would have been more appropriate.

But when the White House requests prime time from
major commercial media and then surrounds the
President with an audience of none but uniformed
scholars, in order to send a global political message
about policy, in the midst of an election campaign,
then another grave line has been crossed in the
President’s war on democracy at home.

By surrounding himself with uniformed scholars, the
President conveys an impression that his political
exploits are not to be distinguished from national
defense. By addressing the Army’s scholars on
international television, the President compels global
images of applause from a group that is already sworn
to obey him….

Man President Kisses Up at AIPAC

Fractured Reflections on Kissability

By Greg Moses

first published at Counterpunch

Tuesday morning, 8:53 a.m., MAN PRESIDENT kisses Woman President and begins: “Thank you all very much. Finally, AIPAC elected a President I can kiss. (Laughter and applause.)” Mornings all should be like this–thanking crowds for electing kissable presidents. MAN PRESIDENT does not explain why he was previously unable to kiss AIPAC presidents. Nor does his audience require an explanation. MAN PRESIDENT only kisses women.

Study Question: what does MAN PRESIDENT mean when he says he “can” kiss this president? How does his threshold of kissability illuminate the freedom-loving central nervous system of the Judeo-Christian West? What fears and taboos are intuitively connected to their laughter and applause? How does MAN PRESIDENT propose to federalize these barriers into Constitutional Law? ….

Notes on United Iraqi Scholars Group

The following clips suggest that the United Iraqi Scholars Group, headed by Shaikh Jawad al-Khalisi, represents a unified movement with roots in previous independence struggles. The group has been organizing since late 2003.

The group not only rejects US occupation, but also questions plans being formulated by UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

  • Aljazeera (2004/5/9) Anti-occupation political Iraqi group forms in Baghdad

    The United Iraqi Scholars Group was formed after eight months of planning, and the meeting in Baghdad included representatives of 35 parties.

    Shaikh Jawad al-Khalisi, a senior Shia cleric who will head the group, said it wanted the handover of power to Iraqis on 30 June “done under the umbrella of the United Nations and not the CPA”, the U.S.-led occupying authority since last March’s invasion.

    Dr Muthana Harith al-Dhari, spokesman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, said: “We will inform Mr Brahimi about our total rejection of the Governing Council which we consider as being designed by the occupation.”

    The Governing Council’s Shia members in particular object to the UN’s direct involvement in planning the country’s next government, and disagree with al-Ibrahimi’s belief that a post-30 June interim government should be comprised of technocrats.

    In particular, the administration is said to be wedded to a large role for Adnan Pachachi, the former foreign minister who has guided the process of writing Iraq’s transitional constitution, and to figures tied to political groups loyal to Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, the paper said.

  • Dr. Howard: Iraqi Americans Yahoo Group (2003/10/11)

    Shaikh Jawad Al Khalisi’s Grand Father ( Shaikh Medi Al-Khalisi) was the pioneer reformist in Iraq. Even the British Politicians admit that he was one of the few scolars and Human-rights Activists in his clean history in Al-jihad and in liberating the Moslem community from the bad traditions which were committed in the name of Islam by some Extremists.

  • City of Kazimiyah (undated, accessed 2004/5/13)

    Library named after Shaikh Mahdi Al-Khalisi (died 1343 AH / 1922 CE?), perhaps the grandfather referenced above?

  • Occupation Watch (2004/3/12) The National Conference for an Independent and Unified Iraq By Hana Ibrahim

    But at the Al-Khalisia religious school in Iraq where the first Iraqi revolution emerged in 1920 and where the Iraqi army was established, a group of people have created an Iraqi project that goes beyond the duality of dictatorship or occupation. The project calls for a national conference for an independent and unified Iraq. This group representing many political tendencies, national and Islamic (Sunni and Shiite) groups and parties, is united in its rejection of the occupation and calls for an end to the occupation as the first condition for creating a legal context in which to write an Iraqi constitution, conceptualize a democratic Iraq, and build a society governed by justice, freedom, equality and peace.

    Building institutionalized political structures should involve a national agreement to liberate Iraq by all legitimate means. First and foremost among these means is organized political work. To accomplish this, many large meetings have been held after months of preparation, dialogue, and research along two axes.

    The first axis involves supporting a coordinating committee to work on a national conference. The second axis is connected to an initiative of Sheikh Jawad Al-Khalisi, Dr. Harith Al-Dhari, general secretary of Islamic Scientists, and Mr. Abdul Sittar Samarai, undersecretary of the Democratic Reform Party. This initiative seeks to unite Shia and Sunnis in one unified Islamic body.

    It is worth mentioning that the Islamic Scientists are both Kurds and Arabs, and that the people working on the founding conference are from different Islamic, nationalist, patriotic, leftist, Christian, Turkoman and Kurdish groups and individuals. There are about fifty political groups represented, a regrouping of a broad number of political tendencies that emerged after the fall of the dictatorship.

    The first consultative meeting was held in Al-Khalisia on Friday, December 19th 2003, and was called the Friday of Unity.

    The second meeting was held in Um Alqura mosque on Friday, January 2nd 2004, and again called the Friday of Unity. It emphasized the idea of unity between Sunni and Shiites and an atmosphere of wholesome dialogue in order to build the founding National Conference under the slogan “Unity and justice are the basis of the state to which we aspire.”

  • Pulp (2004/4/8) By Geoff Kelly The Ends of Occupation

    Two days before the March 19 rally, one of its organizers, Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi, the imam of a religious school in Khadamiya, nodded to one of his security guards, who stood just outside the door to the school’s library. In a minute, the guard returned with the fragments of a shell that al-Khalisi said had struck the mosque on March 4, two days after suicide bombers killed dozens of people outside his mosque and hundreds more in the southern city of Karbala during Ashura, the most important festival in the Shia religious calendar.

    Experts told al-Khalisi that the shell fragments came from a rocket, and that the angle of entry into the mosque suggested that it had been fired from a great height — as from an airplane or helicopter. And who in Iraq, he said, pointedly but with a smile, has airplanes and helicopters?

    Al-Khalisi is among the architects of an alternative body to the IGC, which so many Iraqis see as hopelessly compromised. This national conference of Iraqi leaders — Sunni and Shia, al-Khalisi said, as well as Christians and Jews — would form a congress that would steer the country toward democracy. Although at first its members would be no more freely elected than the exiles who constitute the IGC, this alternative assembly’s first commitment would be to hold open elections as soon as possible.

    Al-Khalisi’s school was the heart of the 1920 rebellion against British occupation of Iraq, a fact that imbues this movement to replace the IGC with some historical weight. Al-Khalisi’s grandfather was one of the leaders of that rebellion. The alternative national conference has the support of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most respected Shiite religious leader. Sistani is often described as a religious moderate but perhaps more aptly is described as thoughtful and slow to act, especially as he is aware that his words could unleash a civil war.

    The alternative national conference also has the support of the controversial al-Sadr. The Sunni cleric al-Dhari is on board, according to al-Khalisi, along with many others. The March 19 rally, he said, was to be “peaceful but not passive,” an example and a test of the strategy by which he hoped his national conference would succeed in displacing the IGC and shrugging off American influence.

  • AP (2004/3/5) By Matt Moore posted at Iraq Interim Constitution Signing Delayed

    The charter also came under fire from Shiite clergy at Baghdad’s Kazimiya shrine, one of the targets hit by suicide bombers in Tuesday’s attacks.

    The shrine’s top imam, Sheik Jawad al-Khalisi, dismissed the charter, saying it was created by an unelected body under U.S. domination. “It lacks legitimacy,” he told the Al-Arabiya television station.

  • Free Republic (2004/2/22) posting attributed to

    The Muslim Ulemma held a meeting at Imam Al-Khalisi’s Madinat Al-Ilm university in Kadhimiyah, Baghdad on the 15th of Thi Al-Qi’da, year 1424 of the Hijri calendar. And after looking into the overall condition of Muslims in the country and the developing problems they have been through, and in the light of Allah’s holy book and the Sunna of his prophet (pbuh), we have issued this obligatory fatwa for all muslims who believe in the two Shahadas to follow: (see next entry)

  • Occupation Watch (2004/3/12) Unity Decree signed by Jawad Al-Khalisi and others.

    It is a religious duty of Muslim scientists and heralds, preachers and teachers to stress love and unity in their speeches, to warn against division and separation and any attitude or speeches that do not protect and safeguard the welfare and interests of people.

  • Iraqi Press Monitor (2004/3/4) Muslim clerics group combats sectarianism

    (Azzaman) – The Muslim Clerics Board is undertaking intensive efforts to steer the country away from the threat posed by sectarianism. Sheik Hussein al-Nuamy, a member of the Consultancy Council, told Azzaman that Jawad al-Khalisi and a member of the Assembly recently met twice — in Kadhimiya and in Um al-Kura mosque — to confront the current situation and to unify the positions of Sunni and Shia. Governing Counsellor Muhsin Abdul Hameed yesterday met Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani. The two men agreed upon the need to oppose those who aim to promote sectarian conflict by creating splits between Muslims. In a meeting with Minister of Interior Noori al-Badran, Ayatollah Hussein al-Sader emphasised the need to have qualified policemen armed with modern equipment to enable them to better serve the people. The office of Ayatollah Mohammad Taki al-Muderresi referred to plans aimed at hindering formation of the Supreme Shia Council, which rejects the interim constitution. Meanwhile, Sheikh Naser al-Saedi, manager of the al-Sader office in Baghdad, said a symbolic mourning procession would be held for the slain Hamas leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yaseen, after Friday prayers and would be attended by clerics from different sects.
    (London-based Azzaman is issued daily by Saad al-Bazaz.)

  • TIDES: Iraq Reconstruction Report No. 64 (2004/1/5) Al-Jazirah report of Jan. 3: Iraqi Shia, Sunni Clregymen Stress Iraqi Unity, ‘Liberation’

    A preparatory meeting was held in the Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad including Sunni, Shia, and other Iraqi groups with the aim of establishing a unified national congress that would include all the Iraqi people’s group, as the organizers say.

    [Begin a report by Baghdad correspondent Abd-al-Azim Muhammad] The conference was held this time under the slogan: For a stable Iraq and a legitimate state. This is within efforts by Iraqi Sunni and Shia clergymen to crystallize a unified stand in the face of calls for disunity and sectarianism, as the conferees say, and to face the challenges of the next phase, which includes the transfer of power to the Iraqis.

    [Begin recording of Jawad Khalisi, a Shiite Islamic scholar] A constituent conference representing all the Iraqi people will be an extremely momentous need for this country, so that this conference might decide what should be done. [End recording]

    The conferees, both Shia and Sunnis, stressed the important role they should play in resisting seditions that might undermine their country’s stability. They stressed the importance of resolutions by the conference that would not be mere words but would be translated into action.

    [Begin recording of Harith al-Dari, secretary general of the Islamic Ulema Council] if this meeting is intended to liberate Iraq and extricate it from this whirlpool, then we greatly welcome it and tell you that we are with you to the end of the road, with all our possessions, foremost of which are our lives. [End recording]

    [Begin recording of Jawad al-Khalisi] The aim of these meetings is not to please anyone but to build for the liberation for Iraq. This can be achieved only through an independent meeting by the sons of Iraq. [End recording]

    The first meeting between Ulema from the Sunnis and Shia stressed that the Iraqis’ stand must be united vis-a-vis the occupation, which controls their country and which the conferees say is promoting the divide-and-rule policy in order to prolong the occupation of Iraq.

    The continuous similarity of views and visions between the Sunnis and Shiites might abort the aims of those who want to divide up Iraq and play up sectarianism, as the conferees, both Sunnis and Shiites say. [End report] [Video shows the meeting, with both Sunnis and Shiite clergymen on the dais, and clergymen addressing the conference]

  • Radio Netherlands (undated, accessed 2004/5/13) attributed to Iraq Opposition Radio

    Radio of Jihad

    This station is operated by the Islamic Movement in Iraq, which is headed by Jawad Al-Khalisi and is part of the Shii Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI). It probably broadcasts from Iran or Iraqi Kurdistan. Not frequently reported, the last known frequency was mediumwave 1539 kHz.

Reader Responds to "Denuded Pockebook of Ideals"

I find most offensive the suggestion that bringing to “justice” 6 ill educated and rather stupid people does anything more than make the unthinking feel slightly less guilty- wow that was close thank God the world knows it was not my fault- that americans are not like that- convincing arguments for the arab and Iraqi peoples.

For Rumsfeld to say the president knew nothing is to my mind the very reason why he should be instantly dismissed by Bush- a lack of knowledge is no legal defence but in the world of Bush good old Rummy deserves his full support. What one might ask does the president also know nothing about? Actually perhaps better that question remains unanswered!

Bush and his clowns as faithful followers of Dr. Goebbels- know how to influence people – know that fear is a wonderful thing especially in the hands of gifted pr professionals. Scare the population and they will happily give up their civil liberties, their right to check the power of governement etc etc. The same is true with the prison system- scare the people remind them that they must control crime, that criminals must be locked up, they must suffer after all they are guilty and God demands they pay! Of course the real tragedy is that by de humanising these inmates-both prisoner and wardens- means that they become de humanised and so crime and punishment become a vicious circle. Great if you build and run prisons but not for the rest of us. Why does society deal with every issue in a confrontational way- why not try and reach agreement, why not aim for consensus- it might even work and sure as eggs is eggs the policies that George and the other morons peddle do not- worst of all they put us all and the world at risk.

Charles Craske