Wednesday. Tomorrow, Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing beings. I hope you're doing something. I hope you're doing a lot. But if you need some ideas, read Rebecca's "get the word out on ehren watada - don't count on the desk jockeys." It becomes obvious each day that there's not a lot of people who are going to get the word out. Take "Lotta Links" which did do a link this morning (I checked) but right now, Oh, they've moved on. Currently, they have three, THREE, links to Jon Stewart. You can tell what they're interested in and what they're not. If you read the snapshot, you'll see there was coverage of Watada today but there's no time for links to any of that when you've got to roll up your sleeves and cover the very important issue of Jon Stewart. It's fan club versus movement. Who's serious about ending the war and who just needs a chuckle?
Here's David Bauder's "Media pushes aside Iraq war for Lebanon:"
Remember Iraq? Not much has changed with the war there, but it has largely been pushed off front pages and squeezed from television news shows by the conflict in Lebanon and, last week, by the terror arrests in London.
Experts are wondering whether Iraq will regain its prominence in the news if the truce between Israel and Hezbollah remains intact.
"It is one of the many dangers of covering Iraq and the one that we don't really talk about ... that Americans will lose interest," said Jane Arraf, a former CNN Baghdad bureau chief working as a press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations this year.
Barring major changes, Arraf suspects that the story won't have the prominence that it once had. Americans are becoming numb to the series of depressing images from Iraq, she said. The danger for journalists and the difficulty moving around in Iraq also makes it extremely difficult to tell stories about how people are coping.
But Iraq won't recede as a story the way the war against terrorism in Afghanistan did, said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
What was news today? There were the events in Iraq. There was the case of Ehren Watada. The 'peace' may or may not 'hold' but the reality is that Iraq doesn't get the coverage it should from big media or indy media.
Iraq's pushed off the cameras and off the pages day after day. People need to get serious. The War Hawks are. They're cheerleading this war still (and trying to enlarge it). Those opposed to it? They're like a group of fire fighters having to cover every city in America. "Oh, fire breaking out! Gotta go!" and they rush to one fire, almost put it out but WAIT! there's another fire over there! They rush to that one, abandoning the one that should have put out, and they do a tiny bit there before the next four-alarm sounds.
Before you know it, everything's burning and nothing's getting covered.
The US went to war. That needs to be covered. That needs to be covered every day. Want to stop a war on Iran? End the war on Iraq. Want to stop Bully Boy's next move? End the war on Iraq. Instead, we start something, drop it, and then move on to something else. Bully Boy must love how defocused we are.
Ehren Watada probably didn't get anywhere near the coverage he needed or anywhere near the support he needed. That's go to change. And this nonsense of silence followed (for a moment) with "And now on a story we've been covering . . ." No, you haven't been covering it. You haven't done a damn thing. Shut up already about how brave you are and all the other crap because you've not done a damn thing. The war didn't end in May. The fact that your coverage did shows no bravery.
There's got to be a way to cover more than one issue. Until the media does a better job, I'll just focus on Iraq. There isn't enough focus on Iraq. There are other important issues but with Iraq falling apart and the coverage all being pulled, I'll just focus on Iraq.
I was talking to a reporter last night. He was talking about the difference people could make and using the snapshot as an example. I know the community appreciates it (and you know I love it) but it has ripples beyond us. It does make a difference and I heard examples of that. (I'm writing about it, with his permission, for Polly's Brew, so check that out Sunday.) The snapshot has a reach wider than I knew and when community members wanted it posted at all the sites, I didn't have to be asked twice. It is important. It focuses on Iraq in a way that we're not getting.
Whether it's the Kovco coverage or whatever else, it shines a light on Iraq.
Today, I saw what a pain it could be. We were all over the place today. There was a legislative thing going on and there were some groups to meet with and there were other things. The snapshot? C.I. was writing that thing on the fly. Ma and Dad got to see it written on a slow day and were blown away. I saw it written on a busy day and was blown away.
"I've got exactly two minutes, what do you have?" was how C.I. usually opened conversations on the cell phone or, "I've got exactly two minutes, can you walk me through this?"
I'm a slow typer. And to be honest, even leaving out that, I don't think I could be typing and talking to someone on the phone and making any sense at all. When I read over today's snapshot, I was just shocked because I didn't expect much at all. I was basing that on the start-stop nature and how little time was there at any point. Then I read the thing and was like, "Oh my God."
I'll put it in a second but Cheryl e-mailed asking how I knew Ma was made when she wrote "Squash Soup in the Kitchen"? If you read it, you should be able to tell that she's ticked off.
"Whether" is in there how many times? It's short and Ma's not really talking much about details. It was obvious to me she was upset when she wrote it.
Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Today, Wednesday, August 16, 2006, it's one day before Ehren Watada's Article 32 begins, a military inquiry learns that hypnosis was weighed as an option, chaos and violence continue in Iraq and curfews became the measure to address everything as the whack-a-mole 'strategy' grows more ludicrous. If news of Karbala, Mosul and Basra don't drive that point home, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on the violence spreading outward from Baghdad should.
So the Bully Boy reportedly frets about who's got his back and allegedly peruses Camus and attempts to market "Adapt & Win" (on the grave yard markers of "Adapt or Die"). And the war drags on.
Today is the day that the New York Times editorial board offered "Meanwhile, in Baghdad . . ." which includes the following: "As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test." It's a day where the American military fatality count since the illegal invastion stands at 2604, a day where the wounded count since the beginning of Bully Boy's war of choice now numbers 19323. A day when Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) report that the July death toll for Iraqis at 3,438.
Tomorrow? Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and his attorney, Eric Seitz, "expects the hearing to be over in one day." Which is why it's important to get the word out. Speaking to Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) in June, Watada spoke of how speaking out publicly could result in retaliation: "I think they will do their best to make an example of me." And, as Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported last week, the Army has now three times rejected Watada's offer of resignation leading attorney Seitz to offer that the military appears "To want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."
As Cedric Moon (KGMB9) notes the hearing is to determine whether "Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq". Robert Shikina (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that the hearing is expected to include only four witness: one called by the Army, three called by Seitz. Nina Shaprio (Seattle Weekly) has reported the three witnesses for Watada: "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Seitz told Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that Army's witness will affirm that Watada did not board the buses with others in his regiment on June 22nd and that "the Army also plans to use news clippings and video news reports".
Why would the military have a need to make an example of Ehren Watada? As Susan Van Haitsma (Austin-American Statesman) points out: "Watada joins a growing number of soldiers whose moral convictions are leading to punitive convictions in military courts. Many soldiers who have sought conscientious objector status have been denied it. Thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of the formidable legal blcks to establishing moral objections to the Iraq war. Many have sought refuge in Canada, though political asylum for U.S. military war resisters is not official there."
More information can be found at Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org.
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use firstname.lastname@example.org to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."
Some rallies going on today:
*Seattle, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Intersate 5, at the entrance to Fort Lewis
*Portland holds the second of its rush hour bannerings today at 4:30 pm on I5's pedistrian overpass
*Kahului. Two events. Sign-holding at 4 pm on Kaahumanu Avenue. Teach-in at 6:00 pm, Maui Community College's Ka Lama Building Room 104A and Bob Watada, Ehren's father, will be at that event.
"On the one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, goving over to Iraq and fight. On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenouse insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many lives were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, os many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
-- Ehren Watada to Courtney Scott via Rougue Valley IMC
And today in Iraq?
The BBC reports that eight died and 28 were wounded when a bomb went off in Baghdad. The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb in Hillah that killed three Iraqi soldiers (and wounded four more) and states that "[b]ombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi captial Wednesday". CBS and AP report that in addition to the bomb that killed eight in Baghdad, eleven more died (for the 19 total) via "[t]wo other bombs . . . in central Baghdad". [Reuters has just upped the total to 21 killed in Baghdad from bombings today.] Reuters notes that, in Basra, Yusif al-Mousawi ("general secretary of Tharalla Islamic Party") was targeted with two roadside bombs (he survived); in Kut, a roadside bomb wounded two police officers; in Jbala, a roadside bomb left three Iraqi soldiers dead while four were wounded; and, in Baquba, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb that wounded three others. In addition, Damien Cave (New York Times) reports on the bombing of a memorial dedicated to children killed last summer by a car bomber (and, I believe one American soldier was killed in the bombing as well). Cave speaks with Muhammad Khaitan, whose his 14-year-old son Saif Muhammad died in last year's bombing, who declares, "All they left was the foundation. They don't want the next generation to remember how we suffered."
Meanwhile, as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show noted, Basra is under curfew after the storming of a governor's office. Reuters reports that during the attacks on the city council and governor's office, one police officer was killed and five were wounded. The hour long fighting ending, AP notes, when British troops arrived. Reuters is a little more specific: "up to 180 British soldiers and 16 Warrior armored personnel carriers". By the way, in Basra fighting, rockets were used, the AFP reports. (We'll get back to rockets shortly.) And the answer to the violence? Curfew! curfew! curfew! as CNN reports. As the AFP notes, curfew's the sure cure for Karbala today as well -- in fact, forget 'crackdown' -- it's under "lockdown" -- consider it a lid tossed on a pot of boiling water. In Mosul, the armed fighting continued. AP places the death toll from the fighting at five. Reuters notes that these two cities follow the violence in Kerbala yesterday which Iraq's Defense Ministry says claimed the lives of 12 people yesterday. Finally, CBS and AP report that a "Danish soldier was shot in the back . . . in southern Iraq."
AP reports that three corpses were discovered in Kut ("bound, blindfolded . . . signs of torture").
Rockets? Poor William Caldwell IV, he was probably almost over Tuesday's sour stomach following his assurances that Sunday's most violent act in Baghdad was the result of a gas explosion. Well, someone pass him the Mylanta, CBS and the AP are reporting that the group claiming responsibility for the attack has now released a video of "showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone." Because it was four Australian troops and not four American troops wounded in the Green Zone Sunday from a rocket attack, it appears that a number of people are unaware of the incident. That's allowed Caldwell to deny rockets and bombs on the Baghdad neighborhood and, then Tuesday, allowed the military to play the split-the-difference wherein they allowed that okay-bombs-were-used-but-that's-it! Eye witness testimony cites rockets. Caldwell better chug that Mylanta and hope those using rockets on residential buildings Sunday didn't tape their attack as well.
Of the four Australian soldiers wounded in Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone, three were released and able to return to duty, the fourth remains in a hospital in Baghdad. Her name is Sarah Webster and Ian McPhedran (Australia's Advertiser) reports the injuries are minor but include "bruising and lacerations."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues and . . . Well, what do you say after the Major Michael Pemberton ("head of the military police's special investigations branch") testifies to discussions of hypnotizing one of Jake Kovco's roommates? It's the headline, it's the lede where ever you look -- not surprising. But if we can move on that attempt (not implemented) to jog memory,
here's how Pemberton characterized his relationship with the army chiefs while conducting his investigation: "I would use the term interference" (AAP). Australia's ABC reports: "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday, Major Pemberton said senior military officials in Baghdad ignored his instructions that the body was not to be moved, potentially destroying vital forensic evidence before his investigators arrived." "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday"? That was addressed in yesterday's snapshot when Soldier 46's testimony directly contradicted the claims of others that they hadn't been instructed to secure the death/crime scene.
Get the word out on Watada. That's the only way you can help, make sure everyone knows what he is facing. And don't forget to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and Betty's latest chapter is up "A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does."
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