Friday, November 10, 2006

Watada, Iraq & more (C.I.)

C.I. here, filling in for Kat. As I noted in the column that ran in the gina & krista round-robin this morning, I feel like I'm on fumes. So I asked community members to suggest topics. We'll get to those in a minute, but let's start by noting that the military has decided to court-martial Ehren Watada, that they refused any other avenue, that the court-martial will be held next year and that, shocker to some, this is news.

Shocker to some? Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy now round-table" this morning noted how little coverage (none) it was getting. Mike's updated that with "Ehren Watada's going to be court-martialed and indymedia doesn't bother to tell you." It's really sad that so many can't note it. It is news. Some of them (I believe all of the ones listed in each post) did note the story back in June but apparently they can't grasp that the topic's still news, they just don't care, or possibly they don't really follow the news?

For instance, Time has a strong story about a lawsuit against Rumsfeld (as one of the sites that can't note Watada notes) but it's hardly "exclusive." It may have been exclusive when Michael Ratner informed Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of it on Democracy Now! Thursday ("War Crimes Suit Prepared against Rumsfeld"). So that brings up the question of where do people get their news?

Before we get to that, the Center for Constitutional Rights' "CCR TO FILE WAR CRIMES COMPLAINT AGAINST DONALD RUMSFELD" has the story (in case anyone's unaware of it):

On November 14, 2006, CCR will file a criminal complaint against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in German Court. The complaint requests the German Federal Prosecutor open an investigation and, ultimately, a criminal prosecution that will look into the responsibility of high-ranking U.S. officials for authorizing war crimes in the context of the so-called "War on Terror." Former White House Counsel (and current Attorney General) Alberto Gonzalez, former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, and other high-ranking U.S. officials are also charged in the complaint. The complaint is brought on behalf of 12 torture victims -- 11 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantánamo detainee -- and is being filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Republican Attorneys' Association (RAV) and others, all represented by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck. The complaint is related to a 2004 complaint that was dismissed, but the new complaint is filed with substantial new evidence, new defendants and plaintiffs, a new German Federal Prosecutor and, most important, under new circumstances that include the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense and the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in the U.S. granting officials retroactive immunity from prosecution for war crimes. For full background on the complaint, please see the attached briefing paper.

That's their synopsis, they also have a PDF file if you use the link.

So the issue of news. That was Heath's question. Like anyone else, I get it from friends. It always strikes me as strange that this is rarely included in polls when so much of what we know we're steered to or told by friends. I subscribe to a number of newspapers and magazines. I always have Pacifica on. Here, KPFA. If I'm somewhere else (and they have a Pacifica station or affiliate), I'm listening to that. Which, to grab Morgan's question, includes any of them. We've added another Pacifica station to our permalinks at The Common Ills. It's Morgan's favorite station, KPFK, and she wondered (a) how it got added and (b) why only now?

We had Pacifica linked (in several forms) and we had KPFA, WBAI and KPFT linked. That was it of the five stations. Why? You've got links via Pacifica as well as the other three stations. It's also true that stations began doing archives last year. Ruth was getting a lot of e-mails about the archives. KPFA was thought to have the best (easily accessed), then KPFT and then WBAI. KPFK? They archived sometimes and other times they didn't. Now every member that's attempted to use the archives at any station more than once has probably had a bad experience. (E-mails on WBAI note that special programming is never listed as such in the archives. Dallas, who locates the links for The Third Estate Sunday Review, can back that up.) But the three listed had workable archives. KPFK's was such a problem to so many that I logged on to see what they were talking about?

Let's use Margaret Prescod's Sojourner Truth as an example. Members who can hear it live love the show (I listen to it anytime I'm in the area, Prescod does a wonderful job). But to go to the archives until recently meant going to an individual program and the archived broadcasts skipped weeks and often were missing anything remotely new. The problems members were having were very clear. All stations are public radio and, unlike NPR, they aren't getting corporate funding. Translation, money isn't always there to fix everything that people might like to. But Jose noted that the archives had been upgraded and, when he did, we linked to it.

The DC station? I don't see doing a link to it. Members don't care for it. They feel it's a music station with news breaks. I happen to enjoy music and will listen to it (gladly) when I'm in the DC area but to go into the template (which is a pain in the ass) requires members wanting it. If and when a member requests we link to it, we will. For now, the feeling is that if you want non-stop music (that's the feeling and not quite reality), it's the station to go to. If you're looking for news and discussions, you need to go elsewhere. They air Democracy Now! (which we already link to) and not a great deal more which bothers members since the station is located in DC and members feel that, due to location, it should be a leader in news coverage. Each station needs to program to its community and obviously the DC station does that. But in terms of The Common Ills community, members don't listen to it and despite the claims of some angry journalists, my "power" isn't as inflated as they think. I can't steer members to things they do not like. So currently, there's no need to link to it.

Staying on Pacifica, Zach's column reviewing the candidates for the KPFA elections, and noting his choices, prompted e-mails from three members. One disagreed with Zach's choices. That's fine, those are Zach's choices. Had the one disagreeing contacted Gina or Krista to say they had an opinion, they could have had a column in the round-robin on the issue. (Ballots must be received by November 15th -- not postmarked, received -- so there's not much point in a column of "vote this" running next week.) The other two felt Zach's endorsements were on the mark and wondered what I thought? I said, here, last week that I didn't have an opinion and explained why. I marked my ballot for Kat so that she could vote (she's in Ireland if anyone's wondering why people are filling in for her here). If she wants to reveal her choices when she returns, that's her business. (And if she returns before the election ends, I'll be voting on her ballot.)

Zach's column demonstrated that he had given the elections a great deal of thought, reviewed the candidates, listened to debates, etc. I think it was helpful and informed. If you disagreed with his choices, you have your reason to vote immediately. If you agreed with his choices, you have your reason to vote. He's entitled to express his opinion and I'm glad he did.

I do think the elections are important and, if you're a KPFA member, I hope you'll vote. If Kat wasn't using my ballot, I'd probably be doing research on it right now. But I'm too busy and I don't want to go through Kat's mail. How long as she been gone? I think it's about a month and Ty says the mail has really piled up. (Ty's watering Kat's plants for her, picking up her mail and doing that sort of thing.) When we talked about the election on the phone, she originally was asking me to fill out her ballot for her and trying to remember where she put it (it arrived some time ago)? Since my strong feelings for my first pick had vanished, I offered up marking my ballot with her choices.

Keesha had one question, is Kat okay?

She's losing a family member and she's out of the country (she's the designated family member from the US to be present) so it's not easy. She sounded like she was coping. Or "maintaining" to use an older term.

Joy feels that the war was the biggest decider in Tuesday's elections and wondered if I agreed?
It appears to be and is one of the few things that is known and presented as such. But there's a great deal being spoken of as if it's "known" when it's not.

More importantly, in a bit you'll see the 'narrative' and it's doubtful it will have much basis in reality. The New York Times invented the myth of the 'values voters.' It didn't hold up to their own data the day the story ran. (We dealt with this at The Common Ills.) But it did allow for that an other myths to take hold. Why?

Is it a shocker to anyone that the New York Times would advance a myth that, if accepted, would push the Democratic Party to the right?

I'm not interested in gas bagging. Reading it or taking part in it.

I will note, however, that it's interesting that those who played the Quiet Game on the war for the last few months now want to talk about it -- or at least talk about how important it was to the election.

If it truly is that important (I believe it was based on the data I've seen), then maybe magazines should have been covering it?

What it feels like is the hoopla around the final episode of Seinfeld or any other cultural topic, where gas bags rush to jump on the bandwagon. If there was any real depth to the 'commentary,' they'd be doing more than 'shout outs' right now. They aren't. I doubt the sincerity. Too many months where they wrote about everything but the war and now want to rush forward with their I-told-you-sos. (I'm speaking of the left media.) There was time to explore food (which I thought was worth exploring and felt the issue devoted to that topic in The Nation was one of the better issues of the year) but there wasn't time to explore the war to the same degree -- all year.

The only 'commentary' that I'm interested in reading is when "Truth" weighs in since she was a guest on KPFA this past summer saying that the war really didn't effect Americans. I'm very eager to see how "Truth" manages to gas bag her way out of that corner.

For me, 2006 has very few shining moments in terms of coverage. I'd rank KPFA higher than any print medium and certainly The KPFA Evening News has done a strong job covering the war from various aspects. They've covered the peace movement, they've covered war resisters, they've covered the fatalities and much more.

I'm not interested in the 'bravery' that results in an outlet finally addressing the war by hiding behind generals.

I also have no time for the ones who want to take an attitude of "Americans know best so we will determine the future of Iraq." You'd think the illegal war and its results would have cured them of that. I find it very disappointing/distressing that the right war cheerleaders seem more aware than the left war cheerleaders. (That answers Susan, Kendrick and Micah's questions.)

Maria reminded me to pass on that she, Francisco and Miguel will be doing a weekly newsletter in Spanish starting the first week of December. Members interested in receiving that should contact one of the three. (Francisco has a column in Friday's round-robin so you can find his e-mail address there if you're having trouble locating an address.) It will be all in Spanish. Isaiah's down for two comics a month. I'll be doing a weekly column in really bad Spanish (forgive my mistakes). The emphasis of the newsletter will be on Latin America.

Title? Maria says they're still picking it out. For some time (a year and a half? two?) they've been attempting to find a Spanish language site we could link to. That's not easy. We have a number of members who feel very strongly and, in the end, Miguel suggested they stop looking and just create something. That's what's going to happen. Some pieces will be translated to English after the newsletter goes out (they're shooting for Saturdays) and run in Polly's Brew and the gina & krista round-robin. Diana's going to write a once a month column. Domingo's going to translate the Iraq snapshots to Spanish each week in a weekly summary. Once a month, Ava and I will be reviewing a program airing in Spanish in the US (airing on TV). And, each issue, Ava's mother will write about a historical event for that week. That's what's been worked out so far. Again, it starts up in December.

Members who want to share in the newsletter but do not speak Spanish can still share, Maria, Francisco or Miguel will translate it. Franciso's going to do a thing where he takes questions and answers them.

Let me wind down. Betty's "Thomas Friedman, trained in gas baggery, not economics" went up tonight and it's her latest chapter (and very funny). I tried to answer as many of the questions as I could here but it's late now. Brandon's question I'm avoiding here because I'm making it the topic for my column in Polly's Brew Sunday. If there was time and I wasn't so tired, I'd do more. If Kat's not back Friday and I'm filling in, I'll grab some more from the ones sent in today.

Here's the "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 10th. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces they will court-martial Lt. Ehren Watada, the US military also announces the death of five more US troops in Iraq, John Howard makes Australians and the rest of the world glad that there's only one of him, and David Swanson explains what really happened in DC.Starting with news on US war resister Ehren Watada. In June, Watada went public with his refusal to deploy to Iraq because the war is illegal and deploying would subject both himself and those serving under him to war crimes. In standing up, Watada became the first US commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war. On August 17th, Article 32 hearing was held. [For details on Ann Wright's testimony, click here, Dennis Halliday click here, and here for Francis A. Boyle.] Following the hearing on the 17th, the US military announced August 24th that the presiding officer of the hearing, Lt. Colonel Mark Keith, had made a recommendation, court-martial. Yesterday, The KPFA Evening News reported that the US military had decided to court-martial Watada. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that "Lt. Gen. James Dubik, agreed with the recommended charges of missing a military movement and conduct unbecoming an officer." Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that conviction during the court-martial ("held next year") could result in "six years in jail and a dishonorable discharge." Honolulu's KITV spoke with Eric Seitz, attorney for Watada, who stated, "Unfortunately the army does want to make a martyr out of him. They have told us they will not enter into any agreement that doesn't include at least a year of incarceration, and that's just simply something we are unable to agree to." Rod Ohira (Honolulu Advertiser) notes the following statements by Watada after learning of the recommendation to court-martial him:"I feel the referral of the charges was not unexpected and at this time, I'm moving forward as I always have with resilience and fortitude to face the challenges ahead. . . . I think as the recent elections show more and more Americans are opening their eyes, but we aren't there yet. It is my hope that actions such as my own continue to call for the truth behind the fundamental illegality and immorality of those who perpetrated this war."
Coverage of war resisters in the US independent media has been embarrassing and shameful. Rebecca checks in on several independent outlets only to find that none have anything on Watada this morning. He appears to getting the full-Brobeck from independent media. (CBS notes Watada here.) War resister Ivan Brobeck returned to the US from Canada to turn himself in Tuesday and he didn't even make the indy headlines. (Nora Barrows Friedman did interview him on Monday's Flashpoints.) It's not cutting it. Not for Brobeck, not for Kyle Snyder who's also been ignored after returning to the US and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Not for Joshua Key who learned that the Canadian government was denying him refugee status.
A list of war resisters within the military would include Watada, Key, Snyder, and Brobeck. It would also include many other names such as Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.) It is a movement and should be covered as such. Ehren Watada's father and step-mother are currently on a speaking tour (tonight they're in NYC) and details on that will be at the end of the snapshot.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.
Grabbing headlines is Ali al-Shemari. The Iraqi Health minister announced a number for the death toll of Iraqis due to the illegal war. AP notes that he places the death toll at 150,000. The KPFA Evening News pointed out on Thursday that is he was actually basing his 'count' on the United Nations estimate of at least 100 Iraqis dying each day "that calculation would be closer to 130,000." CBS and AP note that he rejects the number of approximately 655,000 in the Lancet Study but thinks his own number is "OK." Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) calls the number "an off-the-cuff estimate". Puppets can't go off-the-cuff or off-script which may be why AFP is reporting that the estimates being watered down (the Health Ministry is now saying between 100,000 and 150,000).
Meanwhile the US military has announced today "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province" and also "Two 89th Military Police Brigade Soldiers were killed and one Soldier was wounded Thursday after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device at 12:48 p.m. Thursday in west Baghdad." Later in the day would come more announcements. This: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from non-hostile causes while operating in Al Anbar Province," and this: "One Soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) was killed and another wounded Nov. 10 during a combat logistics patrol when their truck was hit by an improvised explosive device west of Hadithah" for a total of five deaths announced today. ICCC currently lists 24 as the number of US troop deaths in Iraq for the month, thus far (2842 since the start of the illegal war). As the numbers continue to climb, Michael Luo and Michael Wilson (New York Times) report that funerals have become so common for the First Battalion, 22nd Infantry in Iraq that planning time for services have been cut from 45 minutes to five minutes.
While the numbers (on all sides) continue to mount, AP notes Donald Rumsfled stated (yesterday), "I will say this -- it is very clear that the major combat operations were an enormous success." Oh White Queen, get someone to help you a-dress quickly. Forgetting the illegal nature of the war for a moment, that's a bit like a drunk driver who plows into a car and kills an entire family stating, "I will say this -- I pulled away from the curb nicely."In some of the reported violence today . . .
AFP reports: "In violence on the ground, a powerful blast killed an Iraqi army colonel and his five bodyguards in the northern town of Tall Afar. Reuters notes it was a car bombing and that 17 people were wounded while, in Kirkuk, a roadside bombing injured two Iraqi soldiers.
Reuters notes that, in Yusufiya, 14 people were kidnapped (by "gunmen") and then found dead and a man was shot dead in Diwaniya. Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that three family members were shot dead in Baghdad (home invasion).
Reuters reports, "Police fished the body of a woman, bearing signs of torture and bullet wounds, from the Tigris river in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said." In addition, Christopher Bodeen (AP) informs that 33 corpses were discovered "in Baghdad and several nearby cities."
In Australia, War Hawk and prime minister John Howard's laughable comments yesterday have resulted in more punch lines. Gillian Bradford observered to Eleanor Hall (ABC's PM) that "Whatever the opinion polls here may say here about Australians' desire to get out of Iraq, the Prime Minister isn't swayed" and he intended to ring Tony Blair up just as soon as he (Howard) finished his cricket match. Give 'em Flair, Howie. AAP reports that: "Prime Minister John Howard should tell George W Bush that he's pulling Australian troops out of Iraq when the two leaders meet next week, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says. Mr Howard will have lunch with the US president during next week's APEC meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam - their first meeting since Mr Bush's Republican party was thumped in US mid-term elections." Bully Boy gets to Vietnam a lot more today than when he 'served,' doesn't he? Meanwhile Xinhau reports: "Howard said he will commiserate with Bush in person at the APEC meeting in the second half of next week.Howard said he had always accepted that the majority of the Australian public had been against the military commitment to Iraq." Howard 'accepts' the majority opinion, he just doesn't 'respect' it.
In peace news, yesterday's snapshot noted Cindy Sheehan was arrested outside the White House while attempting to deliver a petition (with over 80,000 signatures) calling for the US troops to be brought home. Not quite. David Swanson (Let's Try Democracy) reports she was arrested outside the White House long after the petition: "Late Wednesday afternoon Cindy decided to lead a sit-in right in front of the White House, and then -- finally -- the Park Service arrested her. The Associated Press changed the lede to its article to read as follows: 'Activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested Wednesday as she led about 50 protesters to a White House gate to deliver anti-war petitions.' Not quite accurate. The petitions had been delivered several hours before the arrest. But what the heck, it probably got more editors to pick up the story. Thanks, again, Cindy!" Swasnon outlines the events as being stalled at the gates of the White House when attempting to deliver the petition leading activists to place pages in the fence and to send pages over the fence. Hours later, Cindy Sheehan staged the sit-down.In other news of activists who refuse to hit the snooze button, Wendell Harper reported on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News and today on KPFA's The Morning Show that Medea Benjamin was among those activists participating in a rally outside the soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco office calling for troops home now.
Finally, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Due to increased interest there have been some date changes and a full schedule can be found here. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 10, Early PM, New York City, NY., Press ConferenceLocation: UN, 777 United Nations Plaza, First Avenue and E. 44th StreetSponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34Contact: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203, ltbrin@earthlink.netGeorge McAnanama,

Nov 10, 7:30PM, New York City, NY.Location: St. Paul/St. Andrews Methodist Church -- West End Avenue and West 86th Streets,Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34Contacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,

Nov 11, 10AM-2:30PM, New York City, NY.,Veterans Day ParadeSponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapters 34 & 138, IVAW, MFSOContacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203, ltbrin@earthlink.netGeorge McAnanama,

Nov 11, 3-5 PM, Flushing, NY.,Location: Macedonia AME Church (718) 353-587037-22 Union St.Sponsors: "United for Lt. Watada"Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710,

Nov 11, 7 PM, New York City, NY., Manhattan,Location: Columbia University, Broadway and W 116 St., Bldg- Mathematics Rm 312Sponsors: Asian American Alliance, "United for Lt. Watada",Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710

Nov 12, 11AM-1PM, Providence, RI., Location: Brown University, The John Nicholas Brown Center, 357 Benefit Street at WilliamsSponsor: Veterans For Peace NationalContact: Naoko Shibusawa, 401-286-1908,

Nov 12, 7PM, Rockland County, NY., Location: TBASponsor: Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace National and Veterans For Peace Chapter /Rockland CountyContact: Nancy Tsou, LYTHRN@aol.comBarbara Greenhut

Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada,Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B,Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works,Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489,

Nov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814, vfpch61@riseup.netiraq

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