Camille, who’s running in the Dem primary for Garrett’s seat, also wrote a bluejersey diary about the event.
Iraqi details war’s horrors
Gathering is told U.S. should bring troops back home
BY SHARON ADARLO
Entisar Mohammad Ariabi is a slight woman, with deep-set eyes and a dark burgundy head scarf, who speaks softly in her native Arabic.
But the harrowing stories Ariabi tells about the Iraq war speak loud and clear to the United States: Get out.
“Everything is worse after the occupation,” she said. “So many people are dying.”
With the third anniversary of the war as a backdrop, Ariabi spoke last night to an anti-war crowd of student activists and residents at the Rutgers University graduate student lounge.
Ariabi is part of a push by CodePink, an anti-war women’s organization, to highlight the struggle of people in Iraq, end the war and bring American troops home.
Ariabi was brought to the United States with other Iraqi women by the organization for a month-long lecture tour across the country at college campuses.
Last night’s lecture was Ariabi’s last in the country. She will be flying to Sweden today for another event then home to Baghdad.
“I left my children in Baghdad so that everybody will know the truth about the war,” the mother of five said. “I call them every day. They say things have gotten worse.”
As a pharmacist and a doctor, Ariabi’s special concern is the rapidly deteriorating state of health care in Iraq.
“More than a hundred patients come in for treatment, and the doctors can’t see all of them,” she said. “We are short on medicine. The mortality rate is high.”
Doctors have been killed or have fled the country in droves, according to Ariabi.
“Our hospitals were bombed and looted,” Ariabi said.
The scariest moments for Ariabi came in the first months of the war.
Stumbling into the emergency room of the Yarmook Teaching Hospital, one of the largest in Baghdad, Ariabi was shocked to see that it was crowded with people drenched in blood and missing limbs.
“They (Americans) were throwing bombs everywhere,” the pharmacist said. “There were fragment bombs that explode into pieces and fly through the air, killing people.”
When asked if she was angry at President Bush, Ariabi gave a bitter laugh and smiled.
“He’s a liar and a thief,” she said. “He lied to the American people so that he could steal Iraqi oil.”
As for the current sectarian violence between Shi’as and Sunnis, Ariabi dismissed it.
“It’s just an excuse for the American troops to be there,” she said.
Ariabi is a Sunni, her husband is a Shi’a, her children are mixed, just like the other families in her middle-class Baghdad neighborhood, El Amria, she said.
“It’s Shi’ites, too, that are coming from outside the country (from Iran) that is causing all the trouble,” she said.
Despite the litany of bad news, Ariabi thinks that if American troops pull out of Iraq, things will get better.
Nadia Akbar, a Rutgers graduate student, thought it was educational for the crowd to get a first-hand account about the war.
“It’s really sad to see that one of the most developed health care systems in the region would be destroyed,” Akbar said. “It was good to learn that.”
This article was written with the help of a translator.
Don’t know what happened to the Home News and Daily Targum. They missed a great story.
I guess the Daily Targum was too busy covering Junior’s upcoming visit to campus:
State Sen. Thomas Kean, Jr., republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will continue his campaign for the college vote with an event at the Busch Campus Center.
Beginning at 9:00 a.m. March 31 in the Center Hall, Kean will address undergraduate students from across the state at the New Jersey College Republican State Convention, hosted by the Rutgers College Republicans.
Despite having voted for the Iraq war and supporting it ever since, Congressman Steve Rothman will announce tomorrow why we must take all of our troops out of Iraq.
With 55% of the public now saying that the Iraq war was a mistake, and with more and more long-time hawks like Rothman and Jack Murtha now speaking out against the war, the tide is turning against this disasterous distration. Only the Vietnam conflict ever had a higher disapproval, with 61% of the public saying it was a mistake.
The announcement will be on Thursday, Feb 23 from 11:00am – 12:00pm at the office of Congressman Steve Rothman, 25 Main Street, Hackensack, NJ 07601.
According to a press release from Rothman’s office:
Congressman Steve Rothman (NJ-9) will formally announce that he no longer trusts the Bush Administration to effectively lead our nation and protect our troops in the War in Iraq. His speech will outline the series of events and evidence that led to his new position. He will also explain why he believes that it is time to take all U.S. troops out of Iraq.
An interview with Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey will be available as a podcast at Bluejersey.net on Monday, January 30. Subscribe to the podcast now and listen to a fascinating discussion that goes to the heart of issues of the day.
Congressman Rush Holt on the war in Iraq and Homeland Security:
“I have found no one who actually feels safer, and can demonstrate that she or he is safer, because of our war in Iraq.”
On warrantless domestic surveillance:
“I see no justification for the program that the White House has described. I see no reason to have an ongoing spying mechanism against Americans…now you have some functionary in the NSA, or worse, some political appointee in the White House, deciding whose phone is going to be tapped, whose email is going to be bugged, whose life is going to be invaded.”
On presidential overreach and whether Congress should have limited White House power when authorizing the Iraq fiasco:
“The majority leadership certainly dropped the ball on this.”
On the question of “Where are the Democrats?”:
“I think there are many Democrats who are standing up and fighting…Jim McDermott, Louise Slaughter, there are a number of us who are standing up, who are speaking out. But remember, we are in the minority.”
Congressman Holt is refreshingly honest, something his constituents have learned to expect from the transplanted West Virginian and former assistant director of the Plasma Research Laboratory at Princeton University. He doesn’t speak in sound-bites, but tells the whole story with exceptional clarity.
A Quinnipiac University poll finds that NJ registered voter pick Menendez over Kean Jr by 38%-36% while 22% remain undecided (MOE: +/- 2.8%), while a Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters has Kean up 42%-35%. Bush’s disapproval/approval in NJ is a dismal 59%-36%. By a 58%-38% margin, voters think the war in Iraq was a mistake. Full results.
Smith is angling to chair the International Relations committee in the House in the next session starting in January. So let’s hope his constituents keep the pressure on.
I think the paper is the Windsor-Hights Herald, but it’s hard to tell online.
Area activists stage protest outside Rep. Chris Smith’s Hamiltion office
HAMILTON – In person, there were only seven area activists who braved the cold Wednesday afternoon to deliver an “Out in ’06” petition to the office of U.S. Rep. Chris Smith. On paper, there were many more.
As part of a national campaign coordinated by MoveOn.Org targeting 287 congressional offices across the country, Twin Rivers resident Sandra Davis presented a petition containing 623 signatures of 4th District residents calling on Congress to support an Iraq exit strategy with a timeline that brings the U.S. troops home by the end of 2006.
“It’s irresponsible for Rep. Smith to continue to support the president and his failed stay-the-course strategy,” said Ms. Davis. “We hope that Rep. Smith will take his constituents’ views into consideration and take a leadership position to get our troops home by 2006.”
Ed Davis, Ms. Davis’ husband and a veteran of the Korean War, added, “I fought for democracy. We support our troops … they’re extremely courageous, but we want them home.”
Rep. Smith, the former chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee and the current vice chairman of the International Relations Committee, has rejected any timeline for troop withdrawal not based on military judgment. Though Rep. Smith, who was in Washington, didn’t respond directly to MoveOn.Org’s petition, his spokesman, Brad Dayspring, later conveyed the congressman’s earlier statement on troop withdrawal.
“I hope we can draw down troops significantly but that must be predicated on information from battlefield commanders and how well trained the Iraqis are to assume those positions.”
In another statement released Wednesday, the eve of Iraq’s parliamentary elections, Rep. Smith went on to say, “As difficult as the past thousand days have been, the Iraqi people and American soldiers have also provided glimpses of great hope through their historic achievements. All Americans should pray and hope that the elections in Iraq will be successful tomorrow, as that country takes another step on the path toward democracy. The sooner that the Iraqi people are governing and adequately protecting themselves, the sooner that we will be able to bring our own men and women of the military home with the honor that they have earned.”
As the group of peace activists assembled for a photo Wednesday, a local deliveryman drove by and shouted, “Why don’t you take a picture in front of where the World Trade Center used to be.”
To one protester, Julian Kearnes of Trenton, this underscored what he felt to be a major misunderstanding about the relationship between Iraq and the attacks of Sept. 11.
“A lot of people equate Sept.11 with Iraq. But 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian, and none were Iraqis,” Mr. Kearnes said.
Ms. Davis added that she felt the Bush administration should have concentrated on the war in Afghanistan and combating Islamic fundamentalism, rather than diverting resources from those campaigns to invade Iraq, which proved neither to have an “collaborative relationship” to Al Qaeda, according to the federal Sept. 11 Commission, nor any weapons of mass destruction.
According to MoveOn.Org’s Web site, more than 400,000 signed petitions were delivered to representatives in their home districts.
Rep John Murtha of Pennsylvania introduced a bill calling for troops to be “strategically redeployed” from Iraq. The bill is gaining momentum and to date has 95 co-sponsors, including 5 of New Jersey’s 7 Democrats (and 0 of 6 Republicans). Rep Rob Andrews and Bob Menendez have still not signed on. There will be a civil war in Iraq, if it has not already started. The decision that needs to be made now is whether or not we want our troops to be caught in the middle of it. These five Congressmen should be commended for making the right decision:
Rep Rush Holt – 11/18/2005
Rep Donald Payne – 12/7/2005
Rep Steve Rothman – 12/7/2005
Rep Frank Pallone, Jr. – 12/14/2005
Rep Bill Pascrell, Jr. – 12/14/2005
Hersh believes that the only way to stop the war is for Congress to cut the funding, which he’s not holding out much hope for. There is a bill in the House by McGovern (D-MA), H.R.4232, which Rush Holt told me during the campaign that he wouldn’t support, though he supports the idea in principle of stopping the funding, he doesn’t want it to be ‘cold turkey’ or too precipitous. Donald Payne cosponsored McGovern’s bill on Nov 4. No other NJ reps are cosponsors.
Last Thursday, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who served in the Marines for 37 years, called for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Rather than face the reality of a failed occupation and mounting death toll, Republicans chose to attack Murtha by questioning his patriotism. Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH) called him a coward, but our very own Rep Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) didn’t want to miss out on the smear fest. He implied that that Murtha was helping the terrorists:
“Frankly, I am concerned that such talk will only embolden the terrorists and demoralize our war fighters.”
But Frelinghuysen wasn’t just calling Murtha a traitor. He’s called everyone who supports a withdrawal a traitor. That includes: General George Casey (the top U.S. commander in Iraq), Iraqi leaders, 82% of Iraqis and 63% of Americans. In fact, it seems like the only people who don’t support a withdrawal are a decreasing, out of touch majority of Congressmembers.
Supposedly, we went into Iraq to eliminate the threat from WMD’s. There are no WMD’s. Mission Accomplished, right? Bring them home.
Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, 25 of Kearny:
“He already went one time,” his mother, Krystyna Karolasz, said yesterday, choking back tears in the family’s dining room as she held a dried rose her son had given her before leaving for his first tour.
“I don’t know why they sent him back. I can’t even imagine living without him,” she said.
His father, also named Edward Karolasz, sat inconsolable in an armchair, too distraught to speak to reporters.
Dennis W. Zilinski II, 23 of Howell:
Zilinski was recalled on Monday as a friendly person and effective leader by administrators and coaches at Christian Brothers Academy, Middletown. Zilinski, a 2000 CBA graduate, had gained Asbury Park Press All-Shore recognition as a swimmer at the school.
A CBA classmate and fellow swimmer, Matt Titko, said his longtime friend was “the most genuine person I ever met in my life.”
“Dennis was a great friend, a great competitor and a great teammate. I was looking at old pictures of him this morning. I’m still shocked,” said Titko, a Tinton Falls resident.
The Repug’s are pushing for a vote today on Murtha’s bill. He’s a defense hawk who is asking for troop withdrawal from Iraq within six months, since he doesn’t see the point of continuing.
In an attempt to stop the momentum generated by Rep. Murtha’s courgeous
stand yesterday, it looks like the Republican Leadership is going to hold
an ‘up or down’ vote on Congressman Murtha’s Iraq resolution (H J Res 73)
Take one minute and call your Rep. urging them to vote yes on Murtha’s
bill for immediate withdrawal from Iraq!
(while this is not the perfect bill, it does call for immediate withdrawal
from Iraq. This sudden vote is an attempt by the Republicans to silence
the call for an end to the war, we cannot let them succeed!)
Legislative Action Coordinator
United for Peace and Justice
I called Pallone, Holt, Andrews and Menendez’s offices. The staff won’t state their positions, but the vote is up next on the floor (4pm). They are supposed to adjourn at 6pm.
Will this vote affect their jockeying for the senate seat?