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UPDATE: Alive in Baghdad: Iraqi Children Speak Out

UPDATE: Brian Conley, of Alive in Baghdad, has recently been detained by the Chinese authorities while reporting on pro-Tibet demonstrations in Beijing. Family members, who have not heard directly from Brian, believe that he has recently been sentenced to 10 days of detention for "upsetting public order".

Read more at The New York Times and Boing Boing.

And read more about China and human rights here.

This week on THE JOURNAL, NPR's Deborah Amos, just back from Damascus, explains:

I keep saying I cover Iraq - I just don't ever go there. But to do Lebanon, Jordan and Syria is essentially to cover Iraq, because the issues that are roiling Iraq are the same issues that now are playing out. Everything is hooked to everything else.

And according to a recent mid-year review by the International Organization for Migration:

Iraq is experiencing the worst human displacement of its history, with almost 2.2 million persons displaced within its borders and an additional two million who have fled the country to the surrounding region. This mass displacement is fast becoming a regional and ultimately international crisis.

To help put a face to the refugee crisis, check out this video courtesy of the viewer-supported video blog “Alive In Baghdad,” which features journalism from Iraq and its neighbors.

Special thanks to Brian Conley of Small World News.


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I have a recurring dream...those citizens who still have a conscience (read intact mind & heart)
go to the polls with our own "paper ballots"...we have written in DENNIS KUCINICH for president & RALPH NADER for vice president.

Bring the troops home or put them in Afghanistan, America doesn't start fights, its ends them!

Thanks for the update to "Alive In Bagdhad." As children return to school here in NC I imagine they are also plagued by violent imagery. (But generally not as severe as seeing a loved uncle blown away or rendered.) I got free passes to the x-files movie the other night. The feature was PG rated but the trailers advertising other fare were violent, authoritarian in tone, and dismissive of positive emotion. I found them almost unbearable, especially with the overlay of digital improbabilities.
As a semiprofessional videographer I prefer going to film festivals, where the subject matter is more frank and analytical and the assault on the subconscious milder. I feel deeply for any parent who sends or takes younger children to a commercial theatre today. Wal-E is rough enough without the squalid previews. American cinema is as exhausted as the music on American Idol.

What I mean to suggest is that one cannot flee the violence in Iraq. Soldiers bring it home, our government and business thrive on it and it is used to intimidate the American public. It transfuses everywhere. America stinks like dead carcasses and our children too find their potential for loving and caring cooperation diminished by the fallout. It's one world now more than ever. I wish all the kids in the piece peace, that's all.

Jerry T,

I agree with your sentiments that more of the voting public needs to demand changes NOW, rather than being complacent with waiting until the next election.

However, I must strongly disagree with your assessment that, "Only the current Commander-in-Chief has the real power to ultimately set the course of the war. Only he has the constitutional authority to do anything with regards to the war, and to make any kind of changes in the conduct over the war."

In fact, the plain language of the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and many letters by the Founders make it clear that it is Congress which is intended to have the sole power to start and end wars. Unfortunately, over the past 100 years, Congress has steadily given up more and more of its power and handed it over to the Executive Branch, so that now very few members of the Congress actually realize just how much authority (and responsibility) the Constitution gives to them.

Congress could end this war tomorrow by simply refusing to approve any new spending bills for it. Additionally, they should censure President Bush, for recklessly plunging this country into a preemptive war based upon false pretenses and without plans for what to actually do once the Iraqi military was routed, by impeaching and convicting him. Unfortunately, that would just bring Cheney into the position of President, and he is just as guilty, if not more, of all of the above-mentioned high crimes, and so Congress is also Constitutionally obligated to impeach Cheney.

Everyone should be calling, emailing and writing to their Congresspersons (Representatives and Senators) as often as possible to remind them of their Constitutional powers and responsibilities.

Janice, I have been listening to what all of the major presidential candidates have been saying about their plans for Iraq. My problem is, none of these candidates can effectively make any real decisions on the conduct over the war now. All they can do at his point really is stand behind a podium and put out their sound byte to the televsion audience, and hope. Only the current Commander-in-Chief has the real power to ultimately set the course of the war. Only he has the constitutional authority to do anything with regards to the war, and to make any kind of changes in the conduct over the war.

My point is, I don't want to be counting the days to Januaray of 2009. I don't want to have our military and the Iraqi citizens to wait. It's too long a wait. Frankly, I think we've all waited long enough.

It's insufficient, and wrong for voters to think that supporting some presidential candidate now, and voting in the next presidential election is the best solution to the Iraq War. Despite the rising sentiment against the war in public opinion, I think it's still tepid and hasn't reached critical mass. We, the voting public, are complacent. If we really wanted changes to happen in Iraq, many more of us would be demanding it from the White House and from the Dept of State now.

Brian Conley, your URL link doesn't work. Maybe it's just my browser. Could you post the URL address to your intended link?

We, as voters should be listening to the four candidates who really want a United States back. Ron Paul, Richardson, Gaval, and Kucinich. They want troops out of Iraq, to stop interfering in other countries internal affairs, and talk to all leaders. We should not vote for race,color, creed,gender, or party, but the man, or woman, who we belive will bring some semblance of past America back. No President is going to succeed un less we clean house in congress. 435 new people and make sure there is a good mix. Dems. Reps.,ind., and green party candidates. No party should have ownership of congress, only the people. As an aside, in my opinion Blackwater mercenaries are terriorists. And I belive mercenaries are against International law, not that has ever stopped Bush. Bush investigating Blackwater? His father, with Chaney and Prince are the ones who started Blackwater. They answer to no-one and our congress appropriated 73 million to their organisation just this year! Now that Bush has literally destroyed Iraq, inprocess, with Israel, destroying & sterving palistine, planning on killing a few thousand more people in Iran, alienating many countries, large and small,slowly turning this country into a police state with an imperialistic military gov't we desparately need a president of very high moral,integriy a sense of right & wrong, who will observe civil rights, the constitution, international laws, geneva conv. Decrease weapons as the nuclear proflieration treaty states. By our votes, lets bring Democracy back to America.

What can you do? If you want to know what is happening in Iraq, you can watch Alive in Baghdad every week, the only source of on the ground video news being produced by Iraqis and looking at the grassroots experience of Iraqi civilians. We've been transmitting every Monday for a year but we're in danger of folding. Much like PBS we need the support of our viewers who value Alive in Baghdad and an insider perspective on the impact of the war. Please consider becoming a paying subscriber to our program!


Brian Conley
Alive in Baghdad / Mexico

You know, the Republicans are like the Iranians - No Gays!

I just heard Sam Seder on the Ring of Fire podcast from last week. Sam was talking about Larry Craig and the Republican politicians and I think he was right on.

Sam said that the gay Republican politicians are in the closet and repressed. This explains their bizarre illegal behavior like Craig admittedly soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom stall. It explains that Republican official in Florida recently caught trying to explain his buying a blowjob from an undercover police officer in a bathroom stall by saying he was afraid of black people. It explains Haggerty and his drug addiction and gay affair.

Sam said he personally knows of at least two other Republican Senators he thinks are gay. I'm guessing Lindsay Graham, a former JAG officer no less (a double whammy with the Republican we don't want gays in the military policy).

Sam recounted how he walked the floor of the Republican convention trying to find a single person who would admit they were gay. He said he walked and walked. Finally someone took him aside and pointed him to an admittedly gay Republican delegate from Florida. Sam said the man was about 64 years old and had undergone a life changing self-realization. Sam said the man was almost crying as he told Sam, if I don't stay here who will voice the opinion of gay people? That is the only gay person Sam could find. Right.

So all this brings me to, who else, the evil object of Republicans' obsessions - Ahmadinejad. When asked about gay people at Columbia, Ahmadinejad said, oh no, we don't have those kind of people in Iran. The crowd burst out laughing at how ridiculous and homophobic the statement was. That is how out of touch the Republican Party is today. No gays in Iran. No gays in the Republican Party.

PS Sam speculated that the person who had the enormous juice to set that gay prostitute up with a phony security clearance and press pass for hundreds of "social visits" to the White House is none other than Rove. That would be the ultimate irony. The master gay basher - the biggest of them all - pulling hundreds of Larry Craig's in the White House. Seder speculated that shortly after the gay prostitute in the White House scandal a story was floated that Rove was having a heterosexual affair to act as cover for Rove's real sexual orientation. It reminds me of hearing Palast say after reading hundreds of Rove's emails which he accidentally sent to the wrong address (a friend of Palast's), that he would not comment on Rove's sexual orientation. Palast said it in such a way that raised an issue in my mind. Normally I couldn't care less about a person's sexual orientation, but it would be highly relevant for Rove because he is the ringleader of gay bashers in the Republican Party. Rove put the issue in play. Anyway, it's all speculation, just based on someone else's public statement.

Thank you for posting “Alive in Baghdad.” The Iraqi refugee children in the video illuminated for me their lives, their hopes, and their personal circumstances under which they fled to Syria. The security conditions in Iraq may have improved for the time being with additional American troops clearing and holding, but we know that our forces cannot sustain its current “surge” levels past next spring. So I wonder about how security in Iraq might be when the surge comes to an end. What happens then? Will we start to see the civil war in Iraq pick up again, become bloodier and more violent, with images of human carnage and destruction filling our TV screens once again? More mosque bombings, roadside bombs, more IEDs, more TBIs, and more dead American kids' on the honor rolls on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. And “Alive in Baghdad” showed what this means for ordinary Iraqis who have survived thus far. This means more and more Iraqi citizens pulling up their roots and fleeing to some host country. This means more and more Iraqi families being treated like unwanted guests there. And this means more and more Iraqi kids having to adjust to a life as second-class non-citizens. It is a far cry from “spreading democracy and freedom.” The issue of Iraq riles my emotions to the core, because almost everything about Iraq has turned out so so badly, and not just for our troops and their families but for many many more Iraqi citizens as well.

Our politicians, pundits, General Petraeus, Secretary Rice, the President have all been saying there are no good solutions.

OK then. So what do we do hereon? Come next spring, what will be the new mission of our troops? What’s the plan, the strategy, and the tactics? Continue to encourage political reconciliation on Maliki? Have Maliki removed, and install someone more motivated? Strongly suggest to the Iraqis to soft-partition Iraq into loosely federated sectarian states? Leverage the Iranians, the Syrians to help us by halting shipments of their materiel and “foreign fighters?” It seems to me we’ve been talking about all of these things for a year now, and yet we're doing none of these things. So then am I to believe that our plan is actually much more simple than all of this: and that is to wait it out, to let them fight their civil war until they've had enough? But how long is that going to take with their deep sectarian animosity? Decades? I suppose life in Iraq is bound to get better, but at what cost? Is this the solution that we’re headed toward? Is this even a solution? Is this all we can pray for?

And, what about the rest of us here stateside? Do we just continue living our unaffected daily lives, say that we support our troops when called upon to do so, go back to watching our reality TV shows, and bitch about our President, our undiplomatic Secretary of State, and our deadlocked Congress whenever the news comes on?

What can we do?

A good program overall, but there were some weaknesses. As mentioned by other posters, Dennis Kucinich is again ignored. Clinton and Obama are not the only peopel running. Also, I felt the discussion at the end seemed to miss the point. The reason the administration did not account for the refugee crisis is not that they are not willing to admit mistakes, it's because they don't care. They mentioned Iran and its growing democratic movement, yet they are our number one enemy. Why is this? Clearly, democracy, freedom, liberty, and fighting terrorism are not priorities in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East, those are merely slogans to sell war. I don't see how Bill can believe them after all this time. Robert Gates is now talking about a permanent military presence in Iraq. The real priorities are ever becoming clearer. They are oil, war profiteering, and military expansion. As mentioned in the first interview, America is an empire. Liberty and freedom are just a nuisance to it that are occasionally tolerated when convenient.

In response to George Packer's parting remark about his fear that we'll wake up soon to find the bombing of Iran underway, exactly the same fear has been shared for months by everyone I know.

Similarly, many of us fear waking to find ourselves under martial law here, due to some "emergency" concocted by the criminals running riot in Washington.

WHY are they not being stopped, while there's still some chance to stop them? Their illegal war and occupation based upon lies is not only doing horrific things to the Iraqis and our military forces, but also beggaring us -- every day transfusing more millions from our pockets into those of conscienceless profiteers -- while our "leaders" also continue hacking away at our rights and making a travesty of our government as constitutionally constitued.

WHY have these crimes been permitted for so long? WHY are they being permitted for even one day longer?

Despite the good points raised by Dylan in the first post, regarding Dennis Kucinich, I just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic program. There wasn't a second of the program, from the discussion on the soul of Capitalism to the issues in Iraq, that I wasn't completely captivated and amazed at the fact that I was watching such a healthy and provocative discussion on my television. Thank you Bill, thank you Bill, thank you Bill. Speaking truth to power for all of America! Bill Moyers for President!

Deborah Amos claimed that none of the Democratic presidential candidates except Barak Obama have even mentioned the Iraqi refugee crisis.

That's not true.

Dennis Kucinich has been very outspoken about this issue, and in fact he even visited Syria just a couple of weeks ago to witness the suffering first-hand.

Also, Bill Moyers mentioned that none of the top 3 Democratic candidates would commit to getting all troops out of Iraq by 2013. Moyers missed the opportunity to follow this up with the fact that Dennis Kucinich is determined to get us out of Iraq within 3 months of entering office if he were elected president.

Dennis Kucinich stands for exactly what Deborah Amos and Bill Moyers would hope a candidate would stand for, and yet they don't seem to even know that he exists. Why is that?

I was particuarly distraught by Amos and Packer's comments regarding the administration's likelihood of initiating military action against Iran, one of the few flegling democracies in the Middle East. The media is leading the drumbeat against Iran just as it did against Iraq. We saw in the democratic debate hosted by MSNBC (owned by GE) the question about the United States use of nuclear weapons against Iran to protect Israel. During the debate we learned that Hilary Clinton, the leading democratic candidate, voted for a resolution supported by the administration, to deem Iran to be a terrorist "enemy", laying the ground work for the administration to initiate bombing in Iran. 26 Republicans voted against it and none of the other democratic candidates voted for it. Ms. Clinton should be contacted by all of us to complain and we must start making noise now by contacting our legislators.

During the Vietnam war, mainly because of the draft, people were more easily roused to protest. Eventually, they said enough was enough, and the kids who would be cannon fodder started going to Canada, and the ones who stayed started taking over campus buildings as a way to protest govt. policies.
What can we do today to stop this tragedy? To get people out to protest? To get them to call their congress person? Bill, thanks for all you're doing. Please also include in every show what actions we can take to be more effective at ending the war.

It is shameful that those with the power to change the world, never seem to consider the full concequences of their action. Their justification is that if they considered all the ramifications, there would never be progress.

I ask, is it progress that the US is creating the next generation of justifiable angry men and women who will some day terrorize our children's world?

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