Saturday, October 28, 2006

The coverage & the movement (C.I.)

It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI's who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights.
We call for the following:

Objection by military servicepersons is a healthy and important assertion of democracy, particularly in a country where the decisions to invade, to maintain occupation, and to engage in widespread ongoing torture, human rights violations and war crimes are made undemocratically in violation of the US Constitution and international law and based on continuing lies and disinformation.
Showing widespread support for soldiers who resist is one of the best ways those of us outside the military can encourage the growing momentum of the GI resistance movement--a movement that has the direct power to end this war. Supporting GI resistance, together with counter recruitment and draft resistance, is key to stopping illegal war and occupation ourselves. If the government can't recruit or draft enough new troops, and if troops refuse illegal immoral orders, it will help end the war and occupation and help prevent the next one. Look at the Vietnam War!
We urge you to join us December 8-10th for a weekend of action in support of GI Resistance and GI Rights!
Courage to Resist
War Resisters Support Campaign
Gold Star Families for Peace
Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi, father and step-mother of Lt. Ehren Watada
Darrell Anderson, Iraq veteran and war resister
DeDe Miller, Gold Star Families for Peace
Stephen Funk, former marine and first resister of Iraq war
Anita Dennis, mother of resister Darrell Anderson
Jeff Paterson, former marine and first resister Gulf War I
Sara Rich M.S.W., mother of Spc. Suzanne Swift
Edward Hasbrouck, draft resister
We ask you to begin mobilizing your group, community and networks now. As well as educating your organization’s members, please consider hosting one or more public events to help raise awareness and build support. Visit for more info and to contribute towards building this campaign.
Below you'll find the following information:
*How to Get Involved*Why Your Support is Crucial*Explanation of the Four Areas of Support

GET INVOLVED! Plan a support event in your community.Here's How:

Decide on what type of activity to organize. Choose a date, time and place. Make a plan to get the word out and involve other groups, communities and people.
PUBLIC ACTION:Organize a vigil, demonstration, human billboard, non-violent direct action, procession, leafleting, etc in your community.
DELEGATION: Organize a delegation to visit your local Congressional Representative or the Canadian Consulate or visit a US embassy or consulate if you are outside the US
LETTER WRITING: This could also involve a letter writing camping, delivering letters or having many people sign a joint letter. Writing letters to the editor is another idea.
EDUCATIONAL EVENT: This could be a video screening of Sir, no Sir or other relevant videos, speakers, performers, food, drink and discussion.
2)ORGANIZING KIT: Download the organizing kit
HERE or visit
Please include the following info:

*Your group or organization, and a contact person's e-mail and phone number.
*Info about the support action or event (what, where, when, etc.)
*Public contact info: a website (if you have one), e-mail, etc.
AFTER:Don't forget to send pictures and reports from your local support action ASAP! We will post reports to our website. Send to:
4)KEEP IT UP: Use this action to build momentum and CONTINUED SUPPORT for soldiers who have the courage to resist. You can do this by continuing to educate your community about the GI resistance movement and why support is crucial. Sign up to participate in the GI Resistance Alert Network that will alert you when and how support is needed:
Your participation in these days of action--and beyond-- is crucial to realizing these goals: together, we do have the power to end this war and prevent the next one. As the antiwar movement builds its support for these brave people and their important actions, we hope more will take a stand if we show them they won't be alone. Those of us outside the military must match their bravery by escalating our support for all GI resisters. They've got to know we're out here for them!
HERE is an explanation of the below four areas of support:


"I'd rather spend a year in jail than participate in an illegal war and be part of the machine suppressing Iraq" -Sgt. Ricky Closing, who served as a U.S. Army Interrogator in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, plead guilty to "absent without leave" on Thursday October 12 at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.
Visit for more information, updates and to get involved today!

C.I. subbing for Kat. It's Saturday morning and not Friday night, I'm running late. Today, war resister Kyle Snyder is supposed to return to the United States (details in the snapshot at the end of this entry). This is a movement. Sir! No Sir! documents the movement in the Vietnam era and Courage to Resist is one of the few documenting today's movement.

I don't know if Stephen Funk's ever been noted at Kat's site or at The Common Ills. I would assume he has on the latter but his story is an early one in the illegal war and things can be forgotten. I read his name on the e-mail above and realized he's probably not been discussed in some time, if at all, by myself or anyone running a community site.

Stephen Funk joined the military at the age of 19. He's spoken of how he was sold on a pitch that made the whole thing sound like something akin to the Boy Scouts but, when he got to boot camp, the reality sank in. On Arpil 1, 2003, Funk became the first known war resister of the current illegal war when he reported to his base (San Jose, CA) with his conscientious objector packet. The war wasn't even a month old.

Speaking out today takes courage. Doing it in April 1, 2003, when networks and cable were decked out in flags and rah-rah attitudes, when the Dixie Chicks were being targeted (along with Susan Sarandon and others) took courage as well. I don't want to say "more courage" because I don't know that taking a stand is ever "easier." But when Funk stood up, he could draw on the ones who came before in previous wars, but there wasn't the movement that exists today and he had to be his own model.

Camilo Mejia has spent years giving a face to resistance and, when you're thinking of standing up, having someone else makes it easier to visualize your own stand. Let's say you are a man or a woman today in boot camp or maybe returning from Iraq. If you know of Mejia or another war resister, you can picture it. In conversations, you have a template. It's not just, "I think I'm going to resist." Instead, in conversations, when people express doubts, you can point to Camilo Mejia or any number of people and it's not just short hand (although it can provide that), it also allows others to see that not only are you speaking of something that's never been thought of or done, but that there is a movement at work.

Which is why I'm so appalled by the coverage of the media, big and small, on this issue. That's in terms of individuals (see how many cover Kyle Snyder in the next few days and let's be amazed if most do -- and if those that do manage to offer more than an announcement) and in terms of the movement itself.

I was speaking most of this week and, in one group, a student brought up food. He primarily used hot wings as an example and noted that he could remember his first hot wings. He was in eighth grade and he wasn't sure whether he liked them or not. But he was telling friends about it at school. He'd had them with his family and when he attempted to discuss them the next school day at lunch, his friends kept misunderstanding him. They would ask, "Fried chicken?"

And in the time since, hot wings have become very popular (there are even places set up that serve only hot wings). He talked about how most people his age eat them and he couldn't imagine having to explain them to anyone growing up in this country today.

But he tied that in to the discussion we were having about war resistance and the importance of peace activists, the peace movement, war resistance within the military and other aspects being covered.

He said that first day at lunch, attempting to explain hot wings to his friends, he was so frustrated because he didn't have the words for it and they didn't have something to picture in their own minds. He'd attempt to explain and they'd attempt to tie in fried chicken or b-b-q chicken or Chinese chicken wings.

To him, attempting to discuss any form of the peace movement with people who either don't follow the news or follow it via the corporate media is like trying to explain hot wings in the early days. That's a really good connection he was making.

We can 'see' a better world without examples. (Visionaries excepted from that conclusion.) Most of us need something concrete, some point of reference.

So when the peace movment is ignored in coverage -- as it largely is by media big and small -- the result is that you really have to do the peer-to-peer sharing to raise awareness. Every day can become a teach-in.

That can be rewarding work, it can also be hard work. However you categorize it, the reality is that the movement continues to depend upon word of mouth. I don't care for the attacks on the peace movement or organizations from media (big or small) because I know too many, of all ages, who have to focus on getting the word out continually.

Recently, The Nation offered a brief critique of a demonstration and I felt that was uncalled for and the comparison was inept. The writer was comparing a peace protest to a candidate's rally and finding the protest lacking. The rally was 'alive' -- no surprise, it was focused on an individual. Our soceity is set up to focus on the individual. It's in the folk tales and cultural narratives we've all grown up on and the individualist streak runs throughout the history told (though that's usually not the actual history).

I felt the comparison was apples and cheesecake, not even apples and oranges. In one case, you're rallying to elect an individual, in another you're taking on the concepts of war. There was no comparison. One presented a likeable personality, the other required something greater than all participating.

But the critique offended me as well because there's been no attempt to cover the peace movement in The Nation (I subscribe to The Nation, I enjoy the magazine -- with the exception of one columnist who I always avoid). So if you've got a problem with a protest and your magazine hasn't bothered to cover the peace movement, I really don't believe you're in a position to criticize because I really think you are part of the problem.

If the coverage was there, if the work on turning out people and getting them excited and motivated didn't always fall on the organization and their members, maybe they could do whatever 'wonderful' protest you think they should be doing. But when you're out there trying to focus on the turnout, trying in vain for media coverage, it can be really hard to also be attempting to discover some new way of doing something.

Organizations have to be their own media, their own p.r., their own planners, go down the list. I don't think media, big or small, has done their job at all.

And I don't think the columns about 'what's up with you today?' serve anyone unless your point is to make someone angry and goad them into action.

I've been speaking to college and high school students for three years (four in February) and what the desk jockeys see and what's really been happening on campuses and at protests are completely different.

Students today are active and they do oppose the war. And if you're not seeing that, it goes to your media, not to the actual reality. (And there's a story in the current issue of The Nation that demonstrates that -- we'll be addressing that at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.) The media coverage remains one of the sorriest things about this illegal war.

Those wanting to slam today in comparison to the sixties seem unaware that in that period there was an entire movement that went beyond what was in the streets. It ws there in coverage from the media, it was in fashion, it was in song, it was on your TV screen, in the streets, all around you. The media has really been disappointing and I used to refrain from saying that.

I do believe in independent media; however, over the summer, I've pitched various things to friends (in big media) to assing or cover themselves and found them to be more responsive and more willing than what I see in our little media (who shouldn't need pitching to). There were six weeks this summer when, in print and on air, all little media could do was focus on one topic and they let Iraq slip off the radar. That wouldn't have happened in the sixties (death of JFK to Nixon stepping down). That's independent media's fault and they need to own it.

I'm not in the mood these days to propr them up or hand out gold stars. The fact is they're not doing their jobs. They want to travelogue or jaw bone (usually about politicians) and they don't want to cover a people's movement. They're failing at their mission as a group.

So when I read a slam on the movement, it really does bother me because there's been no support for it. At best we get what Rebecca's dubbed "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" coverage. (From the song "Don't Cry Out Loud.") For a day, if the event or topic is seen as important enough, we've got 'coverage' and then it's dropped. It's like there's a check list and it's "Oh, okay, I did Iraq today, let me see what else I can cover for the rest of the month."

It's war as an after thought (Mike's phrase). And what I'm hearing more and more on campuses these days is students expressing their distaste for being 'channeled' into this or that cause. (Largely elections this month, that's been the big point made on campuses this month.)
The coverage of Iraq and the peace movement remains shoddy.

If it seems like I'm biting my tongue, I am. That's because this is a topic we're addressing Sunday. I was actually on the fence about it until the article was brought up for the third time by a student on Wednesday, at which point I called Dona and told her I was on board.

It's an awful article, in The Nation, and my attitude was, "Well that's time I'll never see again." Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava and Ty were offended by it (as they should have been). I saw it as bad writing in topic and execution but I didn't grasp how offensive it was until Wednesday when I kept hearing about it from students. It's also true that I get tired of the e-mails asking about a 'war on The Nation' that I must have. I've subscribed to the magazine for years. But if it's going to get noted for what it does right, then what it does wrong needs to be noted as well. Otherwise, you're nothing but a fan club.

And this is going up late because I leanded back in my chair to 'rest my eyes'. I fell asleep. Jim just came in and woke me up. There's no conclusion to this entry. I've got to log into The Common Ills and do the entry or entries there.

Here's Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to return to the US; a G.I. coffeehouse opens in Watertown, NY; Gerhard Schroder weighs in on the special relationship between Tony Blair and Bully Boy; and the barking puppet of the occupation gets his leash yanked.

Tomorrow Kyle Snyder will return to the United States,
Mike Howell reports for the Toronto Star noting that Snyder notes war resister Darrell Anderson's decision to return to the US (Anderson returned September 30th). Like Anderson, Snyder elected to self-check out of the military. For Snyder, that happened in April 2005. As Snyder explains in Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks, military recruiters were circling throughout high school: "I had just received my high school diploma. I get off of the stage and here's another recruiter right outside the door -- waiting for me. I look back at i now and everything that I'm going through, everything that I've worked through I can retrace down to that moment that I signed the f**king contract." Snyder has addressed how the military broke its contract with him -- such as by refusing to investigate incidents of violence targeting Iraqis.

In August,
Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."

Kyle Snyder intends to return to the US Saturday and turn himself in. Michelle Mason's documentary
Breaking Ranks takes a look at US war resisters who have gone to Canada seeking asylum. In addition to Mason's film, more information on war resisters hoping to be granted refugee status (which the Canadian government has thus far refused to do, unlike during the Vietnam era) can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.

Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Carl Webb, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Joshua Key, Katherine Jashinski, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Kevin Benderman and Clifford Cornell are among those war resisters who have gone public. And that's only the names of those who have gone public. The war resistance within the military is a movement.

Earlier this week, US service members created a website, Appeal for Redress, and are attempting to collect 2000 signatures for their petition to Congress to end the illegal war. From Appeal for Redress:

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq
Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq .
Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
If you agree with this message,
click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members
click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.

Citizen Soldier announces the opening, today, of "the first soldiers' coffeehouse of the current Iraq war in Watertown, NY." More information can be found at Citizen Soldier and at Different Drummer, the name of the coffeehouse. It is a movement and for those wanting more information on the importance of the GI coffeehouse to a peace movement should view David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! documentary.

As resistance and opposition to the illegal war spreads throughout the world spreads, Bully Boy & Friends attempts to remarket/re-brand all week.
At the start, the US State Department's Alberto Fernandez was having to eat his own words ("arrogance" and "stupidity" used to describe the war) after the White House first attempted to claim that Fernandez had suffered from mistranslation. We also heard the announcement by Tony Snow, White House flack, that the phrase "stay the course" was being stricken from the official White House language. Wednesday, the Bully Boy attempted to show how involved and concerned he was with the war Wednesday by noting the "93" US troops who had died in Iraq this month when, in fact, the US military's official count before the speech, during the speech and until Thursday morning was "91." While the White House removed one phrase from the official lexicon, Donald Rumsfeld added a new one on Thursday, "Just back off."

While the US administration played word games and offered faulty numbers, chaos and violence continued in Iraq. Despite this,
Zalmay Khalilzad (US ambassador to Iraq) and George Casey ("top US general" in Iraq) held a joint press conference where they declared that success was yet again just around that ever elusive corner and it will only take a year to a year-and-a-half for it to show up. (For those who've forgotten, the illegal war began in March 2003.)

Meanwhile a US & Iraqi raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, led to a barking puppet of the occupation.
Nouri al-Maliki rejected the raid, rejected the notion that he (who holds the position of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi military) had been involved in the planning of the raid, and rejected the "timelines" and "timetable" speak that Khalilzad and Casey had told reporters of the day before.

his laughable Wednesday press conference, Bully Boy was asked why al-Maliki hadn't been included in the Tuesday press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey?
His response? "I have no idea why he wasn't there," said Bully Boy the 'decider' but not the planner. He added, "I have no idea. I'm not -- I'm not the scheduler of news conferences." Once again, out of the loop.

In Iraq today,
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that Nouri al-Maliki issued "a joint statement with the U.S. ambassador [that] his government had 'timelines' for the resolution of the country's problems". The strings get pulled, the puppet plays along.
Macdonald notes: "The statement appeared aimed at dispelling the impression of mounting friction between Washington and its Iraqi allies". If the 'friction' is gone, does that leave only fiction? Bronwen Maddox (Times of London) labels the whole thing "Operation Cross Fingers" -- surely a 'strategy.'

Monday night in Baghdad, a US soldier went missing and is believed to have been kidnapped. AFP reports that the US military continues searching Baghdad "with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopter gunships" but the soldier has still not been located. AP reports that the soldier has been identified as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei.

The US press had trouble locating the 2800 mark for US troops who have died in Iraq -- a milestone passed this week. (In October 2005, passing the 2000 mark was news. Possibly the press is saving their energies for the 3,000 mark?)
2809 is the current toll since the start of the illegal war with 96 for the month. Or was until the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Thursday as a result of enemy action in Diyala province. The Soldier was transported to a coalition forces medical treatment facility and later died of wounds." That brought the monthly toll to 97 and the number who have died since the start of the illegal war to 2810. October has been the deadliest month for US troops serving in Iraq this year.

a British soldier died today near Basra due to "road traffic" according to the British Ministry of Defense. This brings the total British soldiers who've died this month in Iraq to two and the total since the start of the illegal war to 120.

Among the violence reported so far today in Iraq, is the death toll in Baquba where fighting broke out Thursday.
CBS and AP report that 43 people died ("including 24 officers" -- police officers).


CBS and AP report that, in the Diyala province, a group of nine mourners returning from a funeral in Najaf were attacked with four being shot to death and the other five being injured.


BBC notes five corpses were discovered in Mosul Thursday and that the city is now under a curfew and vehicle ban. Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Mosul rose to 12. AFP notes that, "Thursday and overnight," eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad.


Reuters reports the death of one woman "when two rounds slammed into the house of a Sunni Arab member of parliament, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, in the town of Mussayab".

The woman's death comes at a time when, as
Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports, the UN's executive director of the Development Fund for Women speaks out. Noeleen Heyzer states: "What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare dfend women's right in public decision-making."

Meanwhile a new book, Decisions: My Life in Politics, takes a look at the special relationship between Bully Boy of the US and Tony Blair of England. The book's author? Gerhard Schroder, the previous chancellor of Germany.
Jess Smee (Guardian of London) writes that the book takes a look at Blair's rush to please Bully Boy, that Blair now pays for the price for his role in the illegal war, and notes that Blair had no interest in Europe -- Gerhard writes: "Quite the opposite, the country will continue to protect its role as a translantic mediator, even if that is to the cost of the European decision-making process."

In abuse news,
Anne Plummer Flaherty (AP) reports: "The Halliburton susidary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday."

In England,
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports the latest on the seven British soldiers accused of abused prisoners in a Basra prison -- RAF soldier Scott Hughes has testified that he saw eye gouging of a prisoner and the prisoner being kicked "in the lower back". Donald Payne, one of the seven accused soldiers, has already pleaded guilty to war-crimes. In the United States, as Linda Deutsch (AP) reports, US marine John Jodka "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of" Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52-years-old, in Al-Hamdaniyah.

In music news,
Lydia Howell (Pulse of the Twin Cities) interviews singer, musician, songwriter and activist Michael Franti who says of his trip to Iraq, "I got tired of watching the news every night with generals and politicians talking about the economic costs of war WITHOUT mentioning the human crisis there. Rather than sit around frustrated, I picked up a guitar and a camera, flew to Baghdad and played music on the street." Michael Franti & Spearhead's latest CD is Yell Fire!

Finally, Bob Watada began his latest speaking tour yesterday. He is the father of
Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Below are dates through Monday:

Oct 27, 7PM
Albuquerque, NM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice202 Harvard Dr SESponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014,

Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM
Houston, TX.
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th Street
Entertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "
Sir, No Sir"

Oct 28, 6:15PM
Houston, TX
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover,,(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132
-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics

Oct 29, 1PM
Austin, TXPM
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572,
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242,

Oct 29, 5:30PM
Austin, TXCafé Caffeine -- 206 West MarySponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary,, (C) 512-791-9824
Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242,
heiditurpin@yahoo.comFran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, ,

Oct 30
Austin High Schools

Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby615 E. Robinson
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at
Courage to Resist.