Friday, February 09, 2007

Jeff Cohen, Guns and Butter

Betty's latest is "Life -- or what passes for it -- with the Friedmans" -- she just finished "auditioning" it for C.I. and myself. (She hates to post without trying it out on an audience. I consider it a huge compliment that she values my opinion.)

I was in Tacoma all week, so I didn't get to hear Bonnie Faulkner this week. KPFA's Guns and Butter airs each Wednesday. Eddie, who always listens, was kind enough to provide me with a summay. (You can catch the show at either KPFA or Guns and Butter -- it's archived at both sites.) I thought about just posting Eddie's summary but I didn't want him to take the crap I have to. So, I'll summarize his summary (we are now twice removed). It's fundraising time and this week's episode featured a speech by Dr. Ray Griffith. He was addressing the twin towers and building seven -- how they fell and why?

He apparently has faith in the New York Times -- which puts him ahead of me -- and thinks a mass demand could make the paper seriously explore the issue. I don't see that happening because that paper exists so that they can push things under the carpet.

But he was talking about the issue of the falls and how, if you were going to argue that when the jet fuel resulted in the fires that allegedly burned off the insulation around the steel, this led to the towers falling, you couldn't do that and also argue the same way for building seven because it wasn't hit. So why did it fall?

Most ignore it that aspect. The 9-11 commission did and so did Jim Dwyer when writing of it at the New York Times.

He supports a real investigation of the destruction and I think you'd have to be pretty out of it (intentionally or not) in order to be against that.

By the way, I'm pushing for a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend where a 'conspiracy theory' is put forward by someone who has complained loudly about the 9-11 truth movement. If it happens, it'll be a light hearted piece. Hopefully, a funny one.

I'm so tired and so eager to get in my own bed (I haven't slept in it since last weekend). But this from Jeff Cohen's "Smirkingly Shirking on an Iraq War Bet" (Consortium News):

There are many shades of right-wing punditry in our country. Among the shadiest is Jonah Goldberg.
With arrogance seemingly matched only by his ignorance, Goldberg was just being Goldberg when he offered this wager two years ago:
"Let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now)."
The two-year period came due this Thursday. Even Goldberg now realizes his prediction was totally wrong -- with poll after poll showing most Americans do not "agree that the war was worth it." (Not to mention what Iraqis think of the war or Goldberg's boast that "Iraq won't have a civil war.")
So shouldn't Goldberg -- or somebody -- pay off the $1,000?
bet was offered near the end of an overheated blogo-debate between Goldberg (at National Review Online) and Dr. Juan Cole, the Middle East scholar from University of Michigan. In proposing the wager to Cole, Goldberg goaded: "Money where your mouth is, doc. One caveat: Because I don't think it's right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I'll donate the money to the USO."

That's the right wing, chislers who want the rest of the world to carry their debts (as opposed to paying up) while slamming the truly needy. If you're truly needy, especially if you're a woman and a woman with children, you have to prove your need. You have to endure questions from people around you like, "Maybe you need to learn how to better balance your budget?" I don't agree with that but let's toss that to Jonah: If you can't afford to pay the best you choose to make, maybe you need to learn to balance your budget better?

That's really it. I'm sleepy. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's mistrial continues to be debated, "Who cooked the intel?" becomes a popular question, a leader of one group of resistance fighters in Iraq is quite clear in what is needed to end the war, and "Woops! We thought they were 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda!"

Starting with
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first commissioned officer in the US to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq because the war was illegal and immoral. On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and
"[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney
Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

Yesterday, on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the mistrial. Cohn's belief (based on expertise) is that the government's case is over -- that, military or civilian, courts must respect the laws of the land and that includes avoiding double-jeopardy (trying a person for the same alleged crimes twice). As Rebecca notes, Cohn explained that the stipulation Judge Toilet made much ado over was a stipulation (agreement between the prosecution and the defense) that both sides had agreed to, that the jury was made aware of, that Judge Toilet had looked over and, up until it was time for the defense to present their case, Judge Toilet never voiced any concerns over the stipulation, More importantly, Cohen pointed out, "When a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it. The only thing that will defeat a finding of double-jeopardy . . . is if there was manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" which, in Cohn's opinion, there wasn't. At Counterpunch, Cohen also made the case "that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officers." Leila Fujimori (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Earle Partington ("local attorney with decades in military justice") who also stated that "military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for the trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday". Marjorie Cohn had explained to Nora Barrows-Friedman that Judge Toilet floated the idea of a mistrial and when the prosecution (taking the hint) asked for one, the defense did not consent to a mistrial. Also making this point is Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: "The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Because 1st Lt. Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison. 'I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted."

Yesterday, reporting for
Free Speech Radio News, Aaron Glantz noted Carolyn Ho's reaction to the mistrial ("tears started streaming down her cheek"). Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada: "He was quite prepared to vacate his apartment. It's been all packed up and, you know, and we were arranging to have his furniture moved on Monday. The expectation was that he would be sentenced and, um, that there would be incarceration." Reporting for IPS (text), Glantz noted Eric Seitz's contention: "Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases result in mistrials."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.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.

War resister Joshua Key self-checked out of the US army after serving in Iraq. He, Brandi Key (his wife) and their children moved to Canada. Key has written a book on his experience in Iraq and after entitled
The Deserter's Tale. Brian Lynch (The Georgia Straight) notes: "And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that 'the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told.'
This, he believes, is a tactic that the highest political and military leaders in his native country have used on the public itself. Field commanders, he says on the phone, 'try to keep you scared, keep you motivated. And that's exactly what's happened to the [American] people as well. Everybody is so afraid of terrorism... And of course, from my actions in Iraq, I think the terrorism hasn't begun yet--terrorism from all the little Iraqi children that I terrorized myself. There's going to be a flip side to that. There will be consequences'."

Cause and effect.

On today's Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman noted: "In Iraq, the US military is facing allegations of killing forty-five Iraqi civililans in an airstrike near Amiriyah. Police and hospital officials say the bombings flattened four homes in the village of Zaidan, just south Abu Ghraib, killing women, childre, and the elderly. A photograph released by the Associated Press shows the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck taken to the nearby Falluja hospital. Several other children were reportedly admitted with injuries. The US military denies the account and says thirteen insurgents were killed."

That incident was explored in yesterday's snapshot (and you can tie it with the Najaf incident which
Tom Hayden recently wrote about). Today, Al Jazeera reports: "The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell." Had? Before we get there, please note that in Najaf, in the strike near Amiriyah, in countless 'battles,' the motive is always said to be 'suspected' this or that. And when innocents die in the attacks, it doesn't change the fact that intended targets (present or not) are still only 'suspected'. So who were US forces ordered to kill in Mosul? The BBC says: "Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US helicopter strike". Lauren Frayer (AP) reports that "U.S. helicopters on Friday mistakenly killed at least five Kurdish troops, a group that Washington hopes to enlist as a partner to help secure Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said."

Now a few things to note. 1) When you have some level of power, you can have the record corrected. That's what happened here. The US military had already issued their press release claiming suspected al Qaeda had been killed. 2) Calling it a "mistake" doesn't mitigate the effects on the families and friends of the eight dead. 3) Even when 'apologizing' the flacks for the US military still want to quibble on how many were killed (
8 is the Kurdish figure and the media's figure, the US military has tried to stick 5). This is why 'suspected' or potential 'suspected' really should raise eyebrows. As evidenced by yesterday's denial, which has only continued, the US military refuses to acknowledge that children were killed in the attack. Instead the military spokespeople want to crow about how they got 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda -- 'suspected.'

Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on Abu Salih Al-Jeelani ("one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement") and his group ("20th Revolution Brigades") which has issued a statement on what it will take for there to be a ceasefire:

* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as "proof of goodwill"

* Recognition "of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people".

* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.

* The negotiations to take place in public.

* The resistance "must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades".

* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.

All starred items are direct quotes from
Fisk's article. The leader says they also want the constitution of Iraq and the deals arranged (especially with regards to the oil) cancelled -- to be replaced by things deriving from the Iraqi people and not foreign occupiers.

In the United States, one of the big stories is the cooking of intel.
Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) notes that "the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . . Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) report US Senator Carl Levin stated, "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. . . . The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war" and the reporters note: "The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work."

In some reports, Feith is noted as saying he was not wrong. Of course he wasn't wrong. He cooked the intel exactly as he wanted. Was it burned? Of course, that's how he wanted it, that's how he served it.

And on clever propaganda,
CBS and AP report that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared that there is "pretty good" evidence of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Pretty good? Gates' word is supposed to be all anyone needs. Gates paints a story of 'weapons' found that are from Iran. What is he suggesting? That the Iranian government gave the Iraqi resistance the weapons? No, he means markings show that they were made in Iran. (That's his word -- take it for what it's not worth.) How shocking! People could get weapons from a country that borders their own! Oh my!

It proves nothing -- and the US firearms are all over the Iraqi black market -- but it's the new talking point. Expect to see a lot more of it.

Addressing the issue of Iran,
Juan Cole told Steve Rendell (on this week's CounterSpin): "Of coures the entire discourse of Washington has been, for many years, to get Iran and all Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, some of which have been quite serious and wide ranging have been rebuffed. Iran has been kept as an enemy because Washington wants it as an enemy." Probably won't catch that in the mainstream.


Reuters notes 17 dead in Mosul from a roadside bomb while 2 were killed (eight wounded) in Hilla from a roadside bomb.

Reuters reports that three people were shot dead (and 10 wounded) in Baghdad today.Corpses?

AFP reports that eleven corpses were discovered today in Mahawil -- "floating in the Al-Malih river" -- after they and two others were kidnapped on Thursday (the other were released and are alive*) and, in Amara, Mohammed Qasim Kerkuki 's corpse was discovered ("riddled with bullets"). (*AFP reports that, other agencies don't address the two. Al Jazeera notes that the kidnappers were wearing "Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles".)

Yesterday's snapshot didn't note corpses. My apologies.
Reuters reported 16 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad on Thursday. Please note, it's Friday. The majority of the violence (that gets reported) will emerge slowly throughout the rest of Friday.

the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical." That brought the count for UK troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 132.

Also today the
US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." AP's count for the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 3,117.

Finally, seven days ago, the Democratica National Committee held the Winter Meeting in DC and the mainstream's coverage was -- "Who didn't stick to the time limit! Nobody said anything!" Dennis Kucinich, US House Rep and
2008 candidate for president did speak and addressed a number of issues. Our focus is Iraq so we'll focus on the Iraq section. Kucinich: "Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war. Fellow Democrats, of all decisions a President must make, the one most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occured in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it because, fellow Democrats, right now the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress' constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq. Fellow Democrats, I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give the President the money to continue the war the Democratic Party will have bought the war."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I wake up and nothing's changed

Thank you and thank you and thank you again to Cedric for filling in for me yesterday. I was wiped out by the court-martial-no-it's-a-mistrial! drama. If you've lived under a rock the last few days or been obsessed with junk news, besides reading the snapshot at the end, you can read C.I.'s "Walking Through Watada (The Court-Martial)."

I ended up sleeping in this morning. I must have slept around 16 or 18 hours straight. I was just really exhausted. The gang was out speaking and apparently tried to wake me up but I was sleeping too hard. I did go with them and speak at one campus this afternoon.

What did I miss while I was sleeping? Not real much. The astronaut's 15 minutes were cut short by Ana Nicole Smith. More junk news being passed off as the real thing. I figure they've got enough in Smith to last them through Saturday. I can't wait to get home and get back to KPFA where people know the difference between real news and junk news.

I'm yawning right now -- big loud, "AAAAH!"s. Mike and I both decided to blog now so we wouldn't have to worry about it when we got back from eating. Tomorrow, everyone leaves. Which I'm actually glad about because, as much as I miss home, I really am in no mood to get on airplane today.

I see that nothing's changed while I slept with the Senate. Still boring us all with their hand wringing and fretting over a non-binding resolution. This is from Matthew Rothschild's "Pathetic Senate, Timid Reid on Iraq War" (Common Dreams):

What a pathetic sight the Senate was earlier this week when it failed to take up nonbinding resolutions on the Iraq War.
Republicans rallied enough support to doom the watered-down condemnations of Bush's surge. And Democrats didn't want to go on record opposing funding for the troops.
So that's where things ended, with nothing done, while all the while the death toll for U.S. soldiers surpassed the 3,100 mark.
While I expected nothing less from Republican hacks than to shield their hapless leader from a wrist slap, I had hoped that the Democratic majority would rise to the occasion.
After all, Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy have been outspoken on the issue. Feingold has introduced legislation to cut off funding within six months.
"From the beginning, this war has been a mistake, and the policies that have carried it out have been a failure," Feingold said on January 31. "Congress must not allow the President to continue a war that has already come at such a terrible cost. We have the constitutional authority and the moral responsibility to end our involvement in Iraq."

Remind me again of all the hype that said Democrats in control was going to mean a real change. Have you seen it? Have you seen the war seriously dealt with? Or is it just more excuses about how we wish we could do something -- the same excuses we heard when the Dems weren't in power. The country needs leadership and it looks like the Senate does too. Maybe it's time the weak, anti-choice, War Hawk, Harry Reid stepped down as leader in the Senate?

I wake up and nothing's changed. I was asleep. What's the Senate's excuse?

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the court-martial of Ehren Watada comes to a surprising end (Aaron Glantz: "It seemed at the beginning that it would to be a slam dunk for the prosecutors but here we are, three days into the trial, and it's ended in a mistrial."), more US troops die are announced dead and the AP total reaches 31114 since the start of the illegal war; Baghdad's health ministry gets stormed and the "gunmen" aren't whom you might expect,

Starting with
Ehren Watada. Yesterday, Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) decided to interject him into the proceedings -- going so far as to question Watada -- and then decided he would declare a mistrial. Aaron Glantz spoke with Sandra Lupien on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News and explained that the 'judge' was "essentially throwing out the agreement that the prosecution and the defense made together on the eve of the trial." The agreement was the stipulation that the defense and the prosecution came to an agreement on whereby Watada acknowledged making statements that were published and broadcast (thereby removing the need for reporters to come to court and affirm their reporting). Both sides agreed to the stipulation and the judge was aware of it and poured over it. Until Wednesday, it was not a problem. Daisuke Wakabayashi's (Reuters) explains the agreement, "In the stipulation, Watada said he did not board the plane with the rest of his unit to Iraq and admitted to making public statements criticizing the war and accusing U.S. President George W. Bush's administration of deceiving the American people to enter into a war of aggression. Watada does not dispute the facts, but said it was not an admission of guilt because it does not take into account the intent behind his actions." John Nichols (The Nation) picks up there noting the judge felt there was no "meeting of the minds" and without such a meeting "there's not a contract" -- despite the fact that both the prosecution and the defense agreed there was a contract -- and so, overruling efforts by the prosecution to again state "that they were not arguing that the agreement represented an admission of guilt by Watada." Eli Sanders (Time magazine) observes that Judge Toilet's declaration of a mistrial was "a surprising development that left military prosecutors clearly frustrated, observers stunned and defense attorneys claiming that the military had blown its only chance at a conviction." Frustrated? Stunned? As The Honolulu Advertiser notes this was "a weird bit of courtroom drama, both parties agreed with each other that Head was wrong." Sam Howe Verhovek (Los Angeles Times) reports that, regardless of what happens next, "the judge's ruling amounted to a temporary moral victory for the lieutenant in a case that many legal observers had considered a virtual slam-dunk for the Army."

So what does that mean? At this point, meaning is up in the air.
Corey Moss (MTV News) was among the ones noting that Judge Toilet had scheduled a court-martial for next month. No, he's not planning on court-martialing himself though that would qualify as justice. He thinks Watada can be retried. Others aren't so sure. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Watada's defense doubts that assertion and that John Junker ("University of Washington law professor") feels that another court-martial would be double-jeopardy for Watada, "The notion is that you can't just stop in the middle and say, 'I don't like the way it's going' and start over." Howe Verhovek quotes Ann Wright (retired State Department, retired col.) who declares, "The legal mess we saw here today reflects the major mess the Bush administration has made with the war in Iraq." If you can follow the above, consider yourself smarter than William Yardley (New York Times) who drops the issue of double jeopardy by merely noting that "the circumstances surrounding the mistrial, including the fact that the judge rejected a stipulation he had initially approved, could allow Lieutenant Watada to avoid prosecution altogether" -- all in the concluding sentence. Where it stands now for Ehren Watada? Aaron Glantz told Sandra Lupien (The KPFA Evening News) that if it another court-martial is held, "We're going to go back to the original charges. Some of the charges were dropped as a result of the agreement . . . Those charges are now back on the table."
Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

In Iraq today, the violence continues.


AP reports 20 dead and 45 wounded in Aziziyah as a result of a car bombing "at a meat market". CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad that killed seven on a minibus with at least more hurt.


BBC reports that 14 members of one family were shot down in Balad. Al Jazeera reports that an attack on police in Baquba left 4 police officers "and a civilian" dead.

Today the
US military announced: "Four Marines assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 7 from wounds sustained due to enemy action in two separate incidents, while operating in Al Anbar Province." The AP count of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now "at least 3,114."

Meanwhile the
US military is boasting of having 'captured a senior Military of Health official today' -- Hakim al-Zamili. How difficult is it to capture someone serving in the Iraqi ministries? Apparently quite difficult, Al Jazeera reports that "US and Iraqi forces have stormed the health ministry building in Baghdad" and quotes the ministry spokesperson (Qassem Allawi) saying: "American forces accompanied by Iraq forces broke into the ministry, forced the guards to lie on the floor and took Zamili." Damien Cave and Jon Elsen (New York Times) report an eye witness saying that the US troops were "like cowboys, firing their weapons into the air" and that "they broke dooors and window glass as they made their way through the building". AP reports: "A large white boot print was left on the bullet-pocked office door, which apparently had been kicked in by troops, and shattered glass and overturned computers and phones were scattered on the floor." Those details don't make it into the US military's official press release though "suspected of" "kickback schemes" is all over the place. In the US, that would be the equiavlent of storming the offices of Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health & Human Services, or one of his undersecretaries; in Iraq, it's all rah-rah, all the time. No surprise, Al Jazzera reports that there is a talk that the health ministry will "go on strike unless al-Zamili is released" and their correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid states: "Under the current situation in Baghdad, that could have a devastating effect on the citizens."
The same rah-rah that leads to attacks on governmental offices in Iraq, also leads to the deaths in Amiriyah. What are the commanders hopped up on that the US military sees anything worth boasting of in those events? Let's start off with reality.
AP reports: "Police and hospital officials in the area offered a conflicting account, saying the airstrike hit the village of Zaidan south of Abu Ghraib and flattened four houses, killing 45 people, including women, children and old people. An Associated Press photo showed the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck at the nearby Fallujah hospital and people there said he was a victim of the Zaydan airstrike. Other photos showed several wounded children being treated in the hospital." Now you just know all of that gets left out of the official US military press release. What is included? "Intelligence reports indicated an individual associated with foreign fighter facilitation was in the targeted area." Intelligence reports indicated? Civilians were targeted and killed. At some point Americans are going to have to start asking questions about actions like this. This was one person "associated" -- who may or may not have been present. Not only is his or her presence in doubt, so is any link -- "associated." If you can grasp that, start asking who sends troops in to attack civilians? Four houses were flattened, civilians were targeted and killed. These are the actions that breeds the resistance. There's no, "Oops, meant well!" Not when it's your family or your friends who are dead. This is the (still illegal) war Bully Boy is selling. More US troops on the ground mean more dead civilians. More dead civilians mean more Iraqis joining the resistance. This is the never ending cycle and those not addicted to revisionary tactics recognize the echoes from Vietnam.

In the United States, Senator John Warner and other Republicans are pushing for support of the non-binding resolution.
CBS and AP report that Warner and six other Republican senators are attempting to buck their party's shut down on the non-binding resolution. In their letter (PDF format), Warner, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith and George Voinovich write: "The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time. It urgently deserves the attention of the full Senate and a full debate on the Senate floor without delay" . . . before concluding: "We strongly believe the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concept brought forward by other Senators. Monday's procedural vote should not be interpreted as any lessening of our resolve to go forward advocating the concepts of S. Con. Res. 7. We will explore all of our options under the Senate procedures and practices to ensure a full and open debate on the Senate floor. The current stalemate is unnacceptable to us and to the people of this country." The non-binding, toothless resolution is purely symoblic and you can be sure the signers of the letter know that and also know that "The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time" will be picked up everywhere and give them the cover of appearing to have actually addressed ending the illegal war and bringing US troops home -- the message voters sent in the November elections.

They are also, no doubt aware, that next week the other half of Congress, the House of Representatives is set to address the war quite a bit more seriously than anything the Senate has done all month.
Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) reports that, next week, the House is expected to devote at least "three days of debate" to the Iraq war; that "[s]eventy-one Democratic representatives signed a statement urging Congress to take a strong stance against the war, including setting a six-month timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq" and he quotes Rep Dennis Kucinich (also 2008 presidential candidate) stating of the Senate's measure: "The nonbinding resolution is like putting your foot on the brake for a moment and a few weeks later, putting your foot on the accelator. . . . Congress has a chance to do something real on the war. A nonbinding resolution just doesn't cut it."
Anthony Arnove (ISR) observes: "All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and restrictions on civil liberties. The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cedric filling in for Kat

Cedric here, filling in for Kat. She's wiped out. We just got back from eating and she said she's pulling a pillow and the covers over her head. She was going to try to blog but she's really wiped out. She's spent every day rallying for Ehren Watada. Today came the news that Judge Toilet was declaring a mistrial.

Oh, good. C.I. and Mike just came in. I was still hungry, even after dinner. They ran out to get some stuff and they also brought back some Chinese so I'm going to pause for a moment and grab some.

I ate some chow mein. I just tossed it down my throat, I'm not sure I even chewed. You know who should be going around with C.I. on these cross-country speaking trips? Mike. He's a few years younger me but and he and Wally are almost the same age. Wally will tell you he was wiped out today. Everyone was. I know C.I.'s bothered by Judge Toilet's mistrial decision but C.I.'s still going like the Energizer Rabbit. Mike too. So that's who should be traveling with C.I. Ava and Jess crashed awhile ago. They even skipped dinner because they were so tired. The rest of us, including Ty, Dona and Jim, were tired. Mike said something about needing something and C.I. was pulling on shoes and they were back out the door. If they hadn't brought back food, I don't think I would have had the energy to move.

There's already a speaking thing scheduled tomorrow and I'll be participating in that too. Then I'm not sure what's on the schedule. I know we are all tired. I bet even Mike and C.I. are. Dona's put on some music. It's Carly Simon, who I recognize, but I don't recognize the CD.

About Ehren Watada. I think C.I. called it right before Judge Toilet decided to rule a mistrial -- it's a do over for the prosecution. I think if the trial had continued, the charges of conduct unbecoming would have been dismissed and I think there might have been a split among the jury on the missing movement.

That's what a lot of other people thought too. Not everyone. The majority of the people demonstrating seemed to think it was good news (I hope they're right). But a lot of us were thinking, "He was winning and Judge Toilet just stopped the game."

Maybe I'm being too negative? He did get some coverage. For instance, Corey Moss' "War Objector's Court-Martial Ends In Mistrial" (MTV News):

The court-martial of Ehren Watada, an Army lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq, ended in a mistrial Wednesday (February 7) after a judge ruled that the soldier misunderstood a document he signed admitting to some of the charges against him.
(See Watada talk about the charges against him and why he refuses to go to Iraq in this video interview conducted before the mistrial.)
Military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head, who set a March 12 date for a new trial, ruled that Watada intended to acknowledge that he did not go to Iraq with his unit in June but never meant to admit he had a duty to go there.

That's pretty incredible, huh? MTV covered it. I think more people are aware of him due to the press this week. And that's a point that those who were speaking on campus were making this evening. I wish I had been able to do that and to be there outside Fort Lewis but I couldn't do both so I stayed to protest. But I think Mike's going to write about the campus reaction tonight so go on over to his site later. And use the link earlier because my eyes are only half-open. It's not even nine o'clock but it's obvious why Kat was so tired. If you're out there taking part and really trying to make a difference it does consume a lot of energy. I don't mean for the ones speaking, that it was easy. I mean Ava and C.I. were doing both and calling everyone they knew in the press or in news corporations (but not the News Corp) trying to get coverage. But when you're out there, it's a lot of waiting and a lot of not knowing what's going on. It's not like they've put up TV monitors outside the fort so we know what's going on in the court room.

Today was something to do with African-Americans and AIDs. Ty told me about that. Let me see if I can find something on it online. Okay, this is from AP:

More than 25 years into the AIDS epidemic, HIV continues to soar in the black community, accounting for nearly half of the newly diagnosed infections in the United States in a recent yearly assessment by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the same time, health officials say, the African-American community has been slow to acknowledge the problem, prompting the CDC and grass-roots organizations to mark a yearly observance to bring attention to the epidemic.
Wednesday is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national effort designed to mobilize blacks to get tested, educated and treated for the disease. Well-known African Americans -- including Tony Dungy, head coach of the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts; entertainer Patti LaBelle; Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.; and former Secretary of State Colin Powell -- have joined the campaign by taping public-service announcements to run on radio and television.
Of the roughly 1 million people estimated to be living with HIV in the United States, 47 percent are African-American, according to CDC statistics for 2005, the most recent year for which numbers are available. Though blacks represent only about 13 percent of the U.S. population, 56 percent of the newly diagnosed cases in 2005 were African-Americans.
"The ability to manage this terrible disease has improved, and more people are living healthier and longer lives, but African-Americans have been diagnosed late and are not availing themselves to treatment," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention. "The stigma within the community has prevented people from getting tested and accessing services needed to help manage infections."

I don't know if you check out links or not. I do sometimes and this goes to Contra Costa Times which doesn't have registration. If I try going to The San Jose Mercury Times because C.I.'s linked to it or the Los Angeles Times, I usually get a 'please register' notice. But on the CCT, that doesn't happen so you can check out that story without having to register and stay at that newspaper's site and look around for other news too.

African-Americans are in the minority of the general population so when we're at almost 1/2 of the AIDS population, you know it's a serious problem.

My thoughts? The community has been slow to respond. Even now you've got idiots (not just in the south) leading Black churches that won't address the issue. We are losing a lot of our community to this disease and people need to grow up and quit acting like it's not happening or that we can't talk about it. There's been a reluctance to address the same-sex issue. That's one of the things Coretta Scott King wasn't afraid to do and one more reason she is sorely missed today.

African-Americans can be gay and can be lesbian. It doesn't make them less African-American. (But I still hear people call AIDS a "white disease.") With African-Americans already suffering unfairly in terms of prison sentencing, with poverty still a serious issue for the community, anyone who's feeling 'squeemish,' needs to grow up.

I also think it's time to stop acting like it's okay when some preacher demonizes gays and lesbians. They aren't helping anyone and they're only drawing lines that don't need to be drawn. As a community, we've suffered enough and we need to learn to come together. The same ones demonizing sexuality often demonize Muslims. African-Americans are gay, are lesbian, are Muslim, are Christian, are everything you can think of. And when we can stop this nonsense of drawing lines between one another, our community might be able to come together the way it did during the Civil Rights era and really accomplish something.

Besides having a family member who is gay, I also consider Ty one of my close friends and I am lucky to have his friendship. If we let sexuality come between us, we'd miss out on a really great friendship. Betty and I take this issue very seriously and we're lucky to belong to churches that don't discriminate and don't close their eyes. But a lot of churches still do.

It's the silence that hurts. It keeps people with AIDS closed off from us when they need us and it keeps us from really knowing the people in our lives. I think it's great that Patti Labelle is participating because she's someone the community has a lot of love for. When she speaks, a lot of people do pay attention. (When Obama speaks, I'm sure a lot of White press pays attention.)
Colin Powell, I don't know about. I know it won't hurt him. A lot of us still can't get over the cover he provided Bully Boy for the illegal war. So something like this does look like he's stepping up for the African-American community. It won't hurt him. But of all of them, Patti Labelle matters the most because she's someone you know songs by and you know her as Dwayne-Wayne's mother on A Different World (and I probably spelled his name wrong). She's someone who is just seen as so positive and so caring so when she speaks on any issue it does matter. The CD Dona was playing was Carly Simon's Playing Possum. She was singing along on that song and I know the title Playing Possum but I don't think I've heard the CD before. There's a cool song on there about the sons of summer as well.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today and, one more time, I think C.I. called it right, the prosecution got a do over today:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another US helicopter is shot down in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial is on day three, the Iranian government levels accusations at the US government, and Melanie McPherson receives a sentence of three years.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq in June of last year and now is the subject of a court-martial at Fort Lewis where, if convicted of all charges, faces up to four years in prison. L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports on the people going to Tacoma, Washington to show their support for Watada such as Rose Takamoto who states, "I think it's really important" and "It's something that needs to be discussed while noting her disappointment in "local coverage from media outlets like the Mercury News, until this week." Though some of the press accounts tell a different story, Tuesday's proceedings were a huge boost for Watada. So it may come as little surprise that Reuters is reporting that Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. John Head) declared today that the trial could end in a mistrial -- which would result in another court-martial or, as many see it, a "do over" for the prosecution.

So let's review Tuesday's proceedings. Yesterday on
The KPFA Evening News, co-anchor Sandra Lupien discussed the proceedings with Aaron Glantz. (A section of this was played today on KPFA's The Morning Show.) Lupein noted that after selecting the seven officers to serve on the jury/military panel on Monday, the prosecution argued their case Tuesday and "who were its witnesses and what were their arguments?"
Aaron Glantz: The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosection's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to [Iraq] and that it did not inspire others in his unit to also refuse to go or to speak out against the war. And, while that may not be comforting to supporters of Lt. Watada who want to see him make a big impact, it cuts against the prosecution's case that his conduct was unbecoming an officer and a gentleman because it inspired deviant behavior amongst other troops.
Another thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military before coming forward to speak to the public. For example he proffered his resignation which was not accepted , he offered to go to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. Now Lt. Col. James, who is one of the higher ranking officials at Fort Lewis, testified that, as service members, we don't have the opportunity to choose where we go and that's why his desire to go to Afghanistan was turned down but Lt. Col. James also said that when Lt. Watada came to him to discuss his opposition to the Iraq war he did not enage him a moral debate which it was discussed by many other peopl in the role of a commanding officer in the US military.
Lupien asked what was expected for the third day of the court-martial (today).

Aaron Glantz: Well one of the interesting things is that Lt. Watada is the star witness for both the defense and the prosecution. Before the human witnesses came to testify for the prosectution, they played tapes of Lt. Watada himself speaking where he said the war was illegal and immoral. In particular they played a speech that he gave at the Veterans for Peace annual convention last year where he said. [. . .] Now this speech was played by the prosectuion, tomorrow the defense will call Lt. Watada as their star witness in order to explain why it is that he said this. [. . .] The defense had hoped to call a number of witness who could speak to the morality and ethics of the war and the judge in the case, Col. Head, refused to allow that into the courtroom saying it was irrelevant so, as a result. the defense is only calling Watada himself and a captain who was one of Lt. Watada's superiors.

In response to Lupien's question of whether Glatnz was expecting the trial to conclude on Thursady, he responded, "Obviously it depends upon how long this jury of US army officers takes to reach their decision -- and then we'll see the sentencing phase -- and of course that's where the defense is really looking because they do believe that he will be found guilty, at the very least, of missing movement, refusing to go to Iraq. It's less clear whether he'll be found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. But, in any case, that's where they really hope to make their case. So his attorneys have already said that they will appeal whatever comes out of it."

In the report, Glantz quoted from the speech Ehren Watada gave at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last August, hitting some of the key points. We'll emphasize this section of the speech (
from Darh Jamail's transcription at Truthout):

The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.
As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt individuals as much as they can corrupt institutions. The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system. Neither could they believe a standing army would be used for profit and manifest destiny. Like any common dictatorship, soldiers would be ordered to commit acts of such heinous nature as to be deemed most ungentlemanly and unbecoming that of a free country.
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.
Aside from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and its protectorate, the people. If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they stood up and threw their weapons down -- no President could ever initiate a war of choice again.

Geoffrey Millard is reporting on the proceedings for
Truthout. Millard asked Bill Simpich, civil rights attorney, about Atonia's testimony on Tuesday and Simpich offered this evaluation, "The prosecution asked too many questions, by the time it was over the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was wide open, the defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury."

As Glantz and Simpich both point out, the prosecution didn't make the case they wanted on Tuesday before resting.
Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Judge Toilet had to order the prosecution "to rephrase a question that strayed close to that prohibited subject" -- the illegality of the war -- "ordering 'move on!'" Ha Bernton (Seattle Times) notes the pathetic nature of the prosecution's witnesses which seemed less bothered with Watada's actions and more upset that he went public. Watada began attempting to work the matter out privately in January. His unit deployed in June, the same month his stand became public. Apparently, they wanted Watada to stay silent while they (his commanders) did nothing.

Speaking with Glantz yesterday, Aura Bogado (anchor
Free Speech Radio News) asked about the restrictions being placed on the media?

Glantz: This court-martial is taking place on Fort Lewis which is a US army installation, where the Stryker Brigade is headquartered, and we've been told that we're free to watch the proceedings and they've been very generous they've set up a media overflow room to deal with the tremendous number of members of the press that are here. They have also allowed a number of the public and Ehren Watada supporters to come. But members of the media are actually forbidden from talking to Watada's supporters while we're on base. We're also forbidden from talking to the Lt. himself, his legal team, or his family, and actually we're even escorted to by military escort to lunch when they have their lunch break and we're escotred to a seperate restaurant on base from where the members of the public, many of Watada's supporters, are escorted.

Free Speech Radio News also noted this from Eric Seitz, Ehren Watada's civilian attorney:
"This is a young man who went through a process where he tried to avoid a confrontation with the army. He went to them in good faith on numerous ocassions and offered to resign his commission, offered to go to Afghanistan, offered to do a number of different things, so that we would not find ourselves in a situation where had had to disobey an order. That was not something he wanted to do. I'm going to tell them that he has always acted with sincerity and integritey. He has always impressed everybody with whom he's met or spoken as to the basis of his beliefs. He has not gone out of his way or at any time encouraged the counsel other people to do an act or to take any action other than to decide for themselves what they're conscienceses require and to follow the dictate of their own consciences."

In addition to a lousy day for the prosecution on Tuesday,
AFP notes that Ehren Watada has received support from Desmond Tutu ("I admire your courageous and moral stand. In Christian tradition, ethics insist on the absolute primacy of obeying one's conscience. It is categorical imperative."), Susan Sarandon ("If the definition of a patriot is one who loves and defends his country then Ehren Watada is truly a patriot for his refusal to serve in a war that is harming the people of Iraq and increasing the threat of harm to Americans.") and Amnesty International. Amnesty International's statement of support for Watada opens: "Pending the February 5 trial of Ehren Watada, who faces a possible four-year prison sentence for his refusal to participate in the Iraq war, Amnesty International stated that a guilty verdict would be a violation of internationally recognized human rights" Also David Strum (Baltimore Messenger) reports that Ralph Nader voiced his support: "'This is a criminal war. This is an unconstitutional war,' he said. Watada has every right to invoke the Nuremburg principles of World War II in refusing to go to Iraq, he added."

As Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reminds, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) has refused to allow the Nuremberg defense to be argued: "The fourth of the Nuremberg Principles states that superior orders are not a defense to the commission of an illegal act, meaning soldiers who commit a war crime after 'just following orders' are as culpable as their superiors." While the prosecution fizzles out, it's no surprise that Judge Toilet is suddenly announcing the possibility of a mistrial. AP headlines their coverage "Fort Lewis judge threatens mistrial in Watada's court martial." Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that Judge Toilet's debating over the a stipulation agreed to by Watada prevented Watada from testifying and might mean the charges he faces increase. The stipulation was Watada's agreement to affirm the reports published and broadcast about him in order that reporters wouldn't be asked to testify in his case. There's confusion about what exactly is in question regarding the stipulation. Aaron Glantz may address that this evening on The KPFA Evening News (6:00 to 7:00 pm, PST).

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

We marched against a war, long ago,
wondering if it would make a difference.
Now we march again, in conscience, knowing,
We cannot allow this lie to go unchallenged.
-- Sebastian Eggert, "Compression,"
Poets Against The War, p. 63

Wednesday night a US helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
AFP notes: "Between January 20 and February 2, four US choppers including a private aircraft crashed in Iraq, killing 20 people." Yesterday made it four US military helicopters (the "private" refers to a Blackwater's helicopter that was shot down on January 22nd -- with the fighting being outsourced some may want to count that as a military helicopter). Rob Watson (BBC) reports, "This time it was a CH-46 Sea Knight which came down near Baghdad" and raises two issues: "First, are there any indications that the insurgents in Iraq have decided to step up attacks on US aircraft? Second, have they developed new techniques or acquired new equipment to make any attacks more successful?" While the US military flacks play dumb and fall back on the usual stall tactics ("We're investigating"), eye witnesses are already telling what they saw. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that an unnamed "Iraqi air force officer" states the helicopter was shot down and that eye witnesses back that up as well -- such as Mohammad al-Janabi: "The helicopter was flying and passed over us, then we heard the firing of a missile. The helicopter, then turned into a ball of fire. It flew in a circle twice, then it went down." Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes eye witness Ali Thmir: "The helicopter was heading to Habaniya base west of Fallujah but it was hit by a missile and we could see it when it was blown up and how its parts flew through the air." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) quotes eye witness Ahmed Said, "I stopped the car and I saw the chopper was on fire and pivioting in the air." CBS News' Lara Logan noted eye "witnesses said a helicopter had gone down in a field in the Sheik-Amir area northwest of Baghdad, sending smoke rising from the scene." Dean Yates (Reuters) reports, "All seven crew members and passengers aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter were killed when it came down near Baghdad on Wednesday".

Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 6 from wounds sustained due to enemy actions while operating in Al Anbar Province." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that the total number of US troops killed in the illegal war thus far is "at least 3,111". AP reports that a roadside bomb in Diwaniya killed one Polish soldier today and left three others wounded.

On Sunday, Iraqis in military uniforms kidnapped an Iranian diplomat.
Robert H. Reid (AP) reported that those involved were thought to be with "the Iraqi Special Operations Command, an elit unit under the direct superfivision of the U.S. military." The diplomat is Jalal Sharafi and Lara Logan (CBS) reported that the Iranian media "blamed the U.S." for the kidnapping. Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes the Foreign Ministry spokesperson for Iran, Muhammad Ali Hosseini, stating: "Iran holds American forces in Iraq responsible for the safety and life of the Iranian diplomat." The kidnapping comes one month after US stormed a consulate and arrested six Iranians and at a time when Bully Boy continues to offer his gut as proof that Iran is up to no good in Iraq -- a gut that even his own circle looks skeptically at. In a piece the Times of London identifies as "Comment," Stephen Farrell shares his reasons for doubting that the Iraqi government was involved: "Mr al-Maliki is caught in a very delicate position between the competing agends of Iran and America, the regional and world superpowers. His government has repeatedly stated that both allies of Baghdad and they must not play out their differences on Iraqi soil. It would be a huge mistake to inflame the already tense relations between Tehran and Washington."


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad wounded four police officers and left one dead, while, not far from Suwayra, a woman was killed by a roadside bomb (two other people were wounded), and, in Falluja, a mortar attack left four dead. The US military announced three children died and "12 other residents" were wounded in Mzerat from a mortar attack.


Kim Gamel (AP) reports that 3 security guards "at the government-funded Iraqi Media Network" were shot dead in Baghdad while "a female government official" was shot dead in Mosul. CBS and AP say the number of security guards shot to death reached four.


Reuters reports 33 corpses were discovered "around Baghdad," and the corpses of an Iraqi soldier was discovered in Shirqat (also noted is 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Tuesday, three in Mahmudiya and two in Yusufiya).

But good news! The cracked up 'crackdown' in Baghdad has a new tactic. Along with the barbed wire,
CBS and AP report that a new tactic is being utilized: Billboards! They site several and we'll note two, a crying man (who didn't run to authorities) with the message, "I should have done the right thing" and another that reads: "Be a hero and report suspicious behavior." No word on what might be done to grafitti artists should they 'improve' on the billboards. CBS and AP also report on the general consensus of Baghdad residents about the prospects of the latest version of the crackdown and Hashem al-Moussawi may speak for many when he says, "Nothing will work, it's too late." No word on whether the US military intends to make that a billboard slogan.

Finally, Melanie McPherson entered a plea of guilty in her AWOL case Monday.
AP reports that she "faces up to a year in prison after a military judge's ruling, which superseded McPherson's guilty plea to a lesser charge of going absent without leave." AP reports that Melanie McPherson "was sentenced to three months in military prison" and that she "was also reduced in rank to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge after her prison term." Melanie McPherson is not a war resister. She self-checked out last July (turned herself in September) not because she was being sent to Iraq -- when she was called up from the reserves, she reported to Fort Bliss -- but because she was being sent to Iraq to do something she hadn't been trained in and wouldn't be trained in before her impending departure. McPherson's story isn't an oddity, it happens far too often and, while the military may feel 'good' about pushing her around, it's past time the American people started asking why troops were being deployed without the proper training? McPherson, to repeat, was not opposed to deploying to Iraq -- her problem was being expected to do things she had no training for. As Melanie McPherson herself said:

The decisions I have made are not only for my benefit, but also for the fair and better treatment of soldiers coming up who will face similarly difficult situations. We are regarded as the best military in the world. I believe we should make it better and safer for those that serve our nation. They absolutely deserve it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ehren Watada, Tacoma

Mike, Sunny (she runs Elaine's office), Wally, Cedric, Dona and Jim are all out here today. I'm glad and it seems like the crowds were stronger in places. But I'm going to repeat, if you can get to Tacoma, Washington, you are needed. Every one, every single person here, makes a difference. You can be part of that difference. So if you are able to, please get out here.
We need a show of support. We need the "judge" to grasp what he's up against in terms of public support for Ehren. That if he screws over Ehren, it won't just be a one day headline, we will remember and history will remember. Judge Toilet (John Head) needs to get that the world is watching.
Please read Rebecca's "ehren watada." I called her before I got online to tell her how wonderful it was. She really walks you through it. She sounded very tired so I didn't stay on long. She asked about C.I. and Ava and mentioned that Courtney had wondered about them in an e-mail. They are fine. They don't look tired. They must be though. I focused on being a body saying no today and also picking up everyone at the airport today. Ava and C.I. were bodies and they were all over the area. They were speaking on campuses (Jess was with them -- he's probably tired too but Courtney didn't ask about him -- all three were in D.C. two weeks ago and then went straight to Texas, got home Friday night and then we came to Tacoma Sunday) trying to drum up some more people to come out and stand up for Ehren. (It's also funny to hear them on the phone cajoling friends in the press.) And also trying to make sure people knew what was going on, really knew, and that when Judge Toilet gets to the sentencing, he knows people are watching and paying attention. He can't just do the bidding for the government that he's done all along. Well he can, but he should be getting that we are watching and it will be his name that we remember, it will be his name that becomes mud and synonimous with injustice.
As I understand it, the military panel (seven officers) will determine guilt and Judge Toilet will do the sentencing. That may be wrong but that is the consensus of everyone I've spoken to who is out protesting. We also know (and heard Greg Seitz talk about this Monday) that the expectation is that Ehren will be screwed so there will be appeals. That's another reason the turnout matters. Appeals don't always get heard. So if there is a large showing, it makes it that much harder for someone to think, "I won't grant an appeal, no one's paying attention anyway."
They can screw him over, they may, but they need to know every step of the way that we are watching and it's their repuation on the lines. Ehren Watada takes the stand tomorrow and I've forgotten the name of the other witness the defense will be calling. But everyone expects that to care of Wednesday and then Thursday to be the closing arguments.
The photo at the top: "Rosa Sakanishi, with step-son Lt. Ehren Watada" and, as C.I. words it, "The Watada photo is available for public use at this page of the ThankYouLt. site." Bob Watada, Ehren's father, spoke at the DC rally two Saturdays ago as did Rosa Sakanishi. She had a stroke right after. They and Carolyn Ho (Ehren's mother) have really gone all out. I mean Carolyn Ho is missing work in Hawaii for this. She missed work to speak out. He is their son and he matters to them obviously (I include Rosa in "their"). But if he matters to you, for his stand, for his bravery, and you can get out here, please do. It does matter.
I'm having KPFA withdrawals (I'll live) and really just know, in terms of what the news is talking about or covering (on this case or anything else) what I hear from other people out here standing up. I was reading the snapshot and that really did give me hope because it looks like the case is getting more attention thatn I thought. Oh, if Bonnie's on tomorrow, Eddie has already said he'd jost down a few things so I could note it. Thank you for that, Eddie. And thanks to everyone who is turning out in Tacamo. This is a really dedicated bunch of people and if you can make it out here too, you'll be in awe of them.

Now for C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and I will never cease to be amazed how, with two cells, a laptop and a cry of "help" to various friends, C.I. is able to assemble this thing Monday through Friday -- today's took about 30 minutes:

Tuesday, February 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Ehren Watada's court-martial continues in Fort Lewis, Washington; press in Iraq focuses on selling the latest version of the crackdown and other rumors; and the Occupation Project takes action.

Starting with the court-martial of
Ehren Watada, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is continuing today in Washington State. Watada is the first commissioned officer in the country to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. On Monday, the judge, Lt. Col. John Head, reinforced an earlier ruling that Watada could not base his defense on his contention that the Iraq war is illegal." The court-martial is expected to run through Thursday and Watada could be sentenced to four years in prison. As Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes, "The people running the Iraq war are eager to make an example of Ehren Watada. They've convened a kangaroo court-martial. But the man on trial is setting a profound example of conscience -- helping to undermine the war that the Pentagon's top officials are so eager to protect."

Solomon's call of a kangaroo court-martial referes to
Lt. Col. John Head (aka, Judge Toilet) making the decision that Watada could not present his best defense, could not argue the reasons for his actions, could not call witnesses to back up his conclusions. In August, during the Article 32 hearing, to determine whether or not there was justification to go forward with a court-martial, Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. That type of a defense has been disallowed in the actual court-martial by Judge Toilet. In fact, Halliday's name was among the proposed defense witnesses brought up yesterday by Eric Seitz and Judge Toilet again refused.

Ehren Watada believes the war is illegal and immoral. (Rebecca walks you through here.) Judge Toilet doesn't want that argument made. Toilet's 'ruling' flushed Watada's best defense down the toilet. Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Aileen Alfandary noted "Opening arguments take place today in the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada at Fort Lewis in Tacoma Washington" and then played this clip by Watada's civilian attorney on what he planned to do in today's opening statements:

Eric Seitz: I'm going to tell them that he has always acted with sincerity and integrity. He has always impressed everybody with whom he has met or spoken as to the basis for his beliefs. He has not gone out of his way, or at anytime encouraged or counseled other people, to do an act or to take any action other than decide for themselves what their consciences require and to follow the dictates of their own consciences."

In the second hour's opening news break, Alfandary spoke with Aaron Glantz who stated: "The prosecution is expected to call three witnesses against Lt. Watada. It's a lot shorter than the original witness list of eleven witnesses".

Alfandary: Who are the witnesses that Lt. Watada's attorney is planning to call to testify on Watada's behalf?

AG Well, Lt. Watada will make his case tomorrow. And his attorneys had hoped to call a wide array of witnesses including experts on constitutional law and war. For example, Michael Ratner, the head of the
Center for Constitutional Rights, Marjorie Cohn, the head of the National Lawyers Guild, Ray McGovern, who's a former CIA analyst. But the judge refused all of that. The judge also refused to allow Gary Solis, the former Marine Corps prosecutor and Marine court judge to testify about the nature of the dissent within the military and what's acceptable and what's not. But at the end of the day the only witnesses that will be called in Lt. Watada's defense will be Lt. Watada himself, who will testify in his own defense, and a colleague of his from the military who will speak as a character witness.

Glantz will report on the court-martial on
The KPFA Evening News later today as well as, tomorrow, on KPFA's The Morning Show. Megan and Zach transcribed that (thank you) and both asked that it be noted KPFA is in fundraising mode and that, if you have the money and can donate, you can do say online or using the 1-800 number if you're out of the listening area [1-800-439-5732]. During Music of the World, Megan notes, it was stated if you were listening online (they were apparently attempting to meet a match) you could call in. Megan wants it noted that if you're donating during a matching period and donate online, that goes towards the match. (Megan knows some members who listen online have one phone line and cannot call in without disconnecting from the internet.) Again, Aaron Glantz will report on day two of the trial later today (6:00 pm PST) on The KPFA Evening News and Aileen Alfandary will speak with him tomorrow on KPFA's The Morning Show (which airs from 7:00 am to 9:00 am PST).

Yesterday, on
The KPFA Evening News, a report Aaron Glantz filed for Free Speech Radio News was aired and featured Chanan Suarez-Diaz who stated: "There are more people in different ranks in the military that are actually speaking out and refusing to go to this war and it's not only, you know, the officers are in the minority in the military and the majority are enlisted, but I think it's important for officers to see Lt. Watada's courage as an example, if they feel that this war is wrong -- which it is -- then they should have the courage to resist like he has and countless others." Chanan Suarez-Diaz served in Iraq in 2005, was wounded in February 2006 and is the recipient of a commendation of valor and a Purple Heart.

Glantz: Here at Fort Lewis, there have been so many people who have showed up at the base which is just outside of Tacoma that they've had to create an overflow room for the dozen of reporters that have come to cover the trial, only seven were actually allowed in the courtroom, it's a very small courtroom, they're not used to these kinds of very political trials and then there's also dozens of peace activists here in the overflow room as well. Outside the gates of Fort Lewis there are demonstrations -- at this hour by
Iraq Veterans Against the War. There's another demonstration that will be held at 3:00 today by Lt. Watada's family. Fort Lewis is kind of outside of town and there's a number of entrances to it and the pickets have been set up at all the different entrances to the base

Sandra Lupien (co-anchor of
The KPFA Evening News) noted that Glantz had stated Watada made the choice to be tried by a military jury "seven offiicers were chosen today, the court will allow only two defense witnesses one of whom is Ehren Watada himself who will take the stand on Wednesday."

Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) quotes attorney Seitz stating of the jury (or military panel), "The critical thing is that he be treated as someone who is principled. Someone who is principled and has taken a stand. Not somebody who should be treated as a criminal." Adam Lynn and Mike Archbold (The News Tribune) report that the panel is made up of Col. Carl Chappel, "Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bryan, Maj. Patrick Wright and Capts. Angela Gentry, Greg Reger, Nichole White and Larry Dean." As The Honolulu Advertiser notes, the seven were selected from "a pool of 10 officers."

Mike Barber and Amy Rolph (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) report that Monday saw mass action: "Outside the base, from hundreds of supporters, the answer was a resounding "no" to the war in Iraq in which Watada refuses to fight and to the Army's prosecution of him" and that "More than 1,000 people gathered along Interstate 5 on the exit 119 overpass, spilling down the grassy slopes on either side and filling the sidewalks of the surrounding DuPont neighborhood." Actions took place outside of Tacoma as well. Melinda Tuhus (New Haven Independent) reported that activsts like Chris Schweitzer's standing out in in what felt "like one degree on Monday afternoon," Mary Adamski (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that 40 people gathered at "the Prince Kuhio Federal Building" on Monday in Honolulu. Courage to Resist offers a listing of other actions taking place around the United States.

As part of a series honoring the late Molly Ivins,
Ying Lee (Berkeley Daily Planet) observes: Individuals like Cindy Sheehan can galvanize part of the population with her just and emotionally effective call to end the war and we are grateful for our leaders against the war. Lt. Ehren Watada is one of these leaders. Lt. Watada is the first U.S. Army officer to refuse to serve in Iraq. [. . .] My gratitude to him is expressed in committing civil disobedience by blocking the doors of the San Francisco Federal Building (450 Golden Gate Ave.) last month and again this first Thursday of February (every first Thursday) as well as joining a dozen or so Bay Area people, including Berkeley resident Betty Kano, who are traveling to Ft. Lewis to support Lt. Watada and to stand in protest of the war."

Marjorie Cohn was disallowed as a witness by Judge Toilet on Monday. If she had been able to testify, she might have offered testimony similar to what she provided in US war resister Pablo Paredes trial. Speaking at the
Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last August, Cohn discussed the judge's reaction to her testimony:

At the conclusion of my testimony, and after an inept cross-examination by Navy prosecutor Lt. J.S. Freeman, Judge Klant made a statement that astonished the spectators. "I believe," he said, "the government has successfully demonstrated a reasonable belief for every service member to decide that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq were illegal to fight in."
Rick Rogers, the military reporter for the conservative San Diego Union-Tribune, characterized the judge's surprising statement as a "flip comment." Lt. commanders presiding at Navy court-martials don't make flip comments. Nevertheless, apparently at the suggestion of this reporter, the media representatives covering the trial agreed among themselves not to report the judge's statement. Only The San Francisco Chronicle, a few small newspapers, and the electronic media published the quote.

In 2005, Marjorie Cohn and Pablo Paredes discussed the above with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! --
click here for audio, text and video. Had Cohen been able to testify, she could have refuted the ridiculous claim made by the prosecution today that Ehren Watada was some sort of publicy seeker for going public in June. Watada went public in June, only after attempting to address the matter privately -- repeatedly attempting to serve in Afghanistan instead and repeatedly attempting to resign his commission. Watada went public in June only after months of attempting to handle the matter privately.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

In Iraq today the violence continued while, as
Kim Gamel (AP) notes, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki complained about the delays in starting up Crackdown version 7.0. And so important is it to treat the latest version of the cracked up "crackdown" (begun last June) as news (and push Operation Happy Talk) that Reuters is left alone to cover the daily violence today.


Reuters notes three car bombs and one roadside bomb killed 2 people and wounded 19. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that there were "eight slain by two car bombs in Baghdad" (and notes "At least 51 Iraqis also were killed or found dead" today in Iraq).


Reuters notes two police officers wounded in Baghdad, a woman shot dead in Mosul, a police officer shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters notes 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a security post southwest of the Iraqi capital Feb. 6. While manning designated battle positions in the area, the unit received small arms fire, killing one Soldier." And they announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 5 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

It's also true that the US government knew how to milk the
will-they-or-won't-they release the friendly fire tape. (Yes. CNN has the transcript of the tape.)

James Glanz (New York Times) reported that: "An Iranian diplomat was abducted Sunday evening when his convoy was stopped by men with official Defense Ministry identification in the Karrada neighborhood here, senior Iraqi and American officials said Monday." Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that the US has involved any involvement in this kidnapping despite the fact that the culprits are believed to be with "the Iraqi Special Operations Command, an elite unit under the direct supervision of the U.S. military."

In the US, Bully Boy tries yet again to slash domestic needs while pushing for more defense funding.
Leigh Ann Caldwell (Free Speech News) addressed Bully Boy's proposed budget which Congress : "The Bush tax cuts total $1.3 trillion dollars in tax revenues in three years. He asked Congress Monday to renew them when they expire. [. . . ] The budget does not include the costs of the wars past 2009. In 2009, President Bush proposes just 50 billion dollars a sharp decrease from current costs of the war. But this year's budget is the first time that the president has included war costs. He asked for $145 billion for 2008. But that's not part of the 10% increase in spending for the Defense Department -- a request of $480 billion. In addition to the budget, he sent Congress a request for an additional 100 billion dollars for the wars for the remainder of 2007. This is the first time war funding is expected to be scrutinized by Congress."

The Occupation Project is demonstrating in DC and around the United States. Kathy Kelly recounted yesterday's events to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!): "Well, we came to Washington, D.C. to be with companion groups: CODEPINK and Vets for Peace and the Military Families Speak Out, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, United for Peace and Justice. There's a long list, really, of people who are wanting to join together in the campaign called the Occupation Project. And also in Chicago, four people were arrested in Senator Barack Obama's office, four people in Senator Durbin's office. And we're aware of affinity groups that are organizing all around the country for this sustained campaign to make sure that the elected representatives know that we won't go away on this issue, that we won't be fooled by issues that are raised that would continue the spending for three, four, five years into the future. We want this funding turned off now." The Occupation Project explains it's purpose as "a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at ending the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq. The campaign will begin the first week of February 2007 with occupations at the offices of Representatives and Senators who refuse to pledge to vote against additional war funding."

The KPFA Evening News noted the group yesterday. CODEPINK's Gail Murphy stated: "Although we voted on November 7th to stop the war, our elected officials are not listening, the president is certainly not listening, and so we need the pressure of the people to make sure that they hear our message." Sandra Lupien noted that the districts offices of Mike Honda and Doris Matsui (among others) in California. From CODEPINK:

Occupation Project In early February, the White House is exptected to submit a new supplemental spending bill to Congress, and CODEPINK has joined with Voices for Creative Nonviolence to launch Occupation Project, a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end war funding. As Kathy Kelly writes, "Now is the time for seriously strategizing about the best ways, in our hometowns, to engage in sustained civil disobedience at the offices of elected representatives, demanding that they vote against the supplemental spending bill..." See Monday, Feb 5 action photos at Senator McCain's office, and click here to learn more and join us.

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