It's Friday at last! That may be about all the good news. C.I. told me late last night the 'finding' was coming down and it was bad news. It is bad news and we'll start with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, August 25, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq despite the wave of Operation Happy Talk launched yesterday by US military boys John Abizaid and George Casey that things are looking up and corners will be turned, equally laughable was Brit military boy Charlie Burbridge claiming that a base in Amara hadn't been abandoned. He offers a new punch line today. The inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco continues and Soldier 14 testifies again. But we'll start with the latest on Ehren Watada -- the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.
"Late Thursday" J.C.Matthews told the AP that a recommendation had been reached by Lt. Colonel Mark Keith in Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the recommendation is "Ehren Watada face a general court-martial for failing to join his unit in Iraq" and Keith "has endorsed two other charges: conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt toward officials." Translation, Keith has endorsed all three charges made on July 5th. As the AP notes, "Keith could have recommended anything from dismissal of the charges to a general court-martial" as he weighed the issues and the testimony given on August 17th. Gregg K. Kakesako notes that Keith did feel that Ehren Watada was "sincere in his beliefs" which "should mitigate any future punishment" and Kakesako outlines the next step: "Keith's decision now goes to Col. Cynthia Murphy, U.S. Army Garrison commander at Fort Lewis, who will review it and then submit her recommendations to Lt. Gen James Dubik".
The AP quotes Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, stating: "We always believed that when they went so far as to convene an Article 32 hearing that they had alread made a decision to proceed." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes Seitz was left "somewhat astounded" that the charges endorsed by Keith included anything other than "missing the troop movement" because of "important First Amendment issues" that surround the other two charges.
Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports this today (of the August 17th testimony of Denis Halliday: "Halliday was called to testify regarding the impace of war on the Iraqi people. 'The people of Iraq had become used to living under very difficult conditions after the destruction in the name of the United Nations by the United States of the civilian infrastructure, water supplies, sewer systems, electric power, use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs.' Halliday was prevented from providing complete testimony when the investigating officer presided over the Article 32 hearing ruled that the 'consequences of the war or the situation on the ground' were irrelevant to Lieutenant Watada's argument that the war was illegal and that he had an obligation to refuse to fight it." That is the most that's been written of Halliday's testimony to date (which, for the record, wasn't delivered via mime).
Bob Watada continues his speaking engagements in the San Francisco Bay Area to raise awareness of what his son, Ehren, is facing. The events include:
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614
"Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239
Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119
A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found here.
Again: Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling 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 email@example.com to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org. will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Turning to the illegal occupation, violence and chaos continues.
Reuters reports one Iraqi soldier dead and two others wounded from a roadside bomb in Rashad and a "hand-grenade attack on a market in Hawija" left three people wounded. AFP notes the death, late Thursday, of "an Iraqi army officer" with four soldiers left wounded.
AFP notes that five were killed by gunfire in Baquba, two in Tirkit (bakery workers) with three other people wounded, Reuters notes that, in Nasiriya, gunfire claimed the lives of two and left two others wounded.
Reuters notes the discovery, in Qaim, of an Iraqi soldier ("signs of torture") while AFP notes that three corpses were discovered in Kirkuk ("tortured and bullet-riddled bodies").
In other violence, despite the British military flacks that were so eagerly allowed to spin in this this morning's New York Times, Haidar Hani (AP) reports: "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". As Ross Colvin (Reuters) reported yesterday, the base, which had come under nightly, heavy attacks, was abandoned. The AP story today notes: "Iraqi authories had complained that the British withdrawal had caught them by surprise" and allows flack Charlie Burbridge to holler Not-true-we-gave-them-24-hours-notice! Well, Charlie, on a rental, you usually have to give a minimum of 30 days notice. But it is good to know that as they packed up everything they could carry, someone did think to make a quick call saying, "Hey, we're about to split. If there's anything you want, better grab it quick, dude!"
Along with an adequate heads up, Iraqi politicians have other complaints they're sharing. Aparism Ghosh (Time magazine) reports that Abdul-Azziz al-Hakim states that for over three years Iraqi politicians have persistently requested "and reliable evidence" that "Iran is interfering in Baghdad's affairs" only to be rebuffed. al-Hakim is quoted as saying, "[A]nd for three years we've told them, 'Show us proof.' But they never have." al-Hakim and others speaking to Ghosh make clear that they feel there is no proof and that Iran is being blamed to divert attention from the failure of the illegal war.
This as Aaron Glantz reports for OneWorld that Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferenczz has declared that Bully Boy and Saddam Hussein "should be tried for war crimes."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
Figuring into the most recent testimony were "NSW Police scientific officer Stephanie Hales" and Soldier 14. Soldier 14 has made mutliple appearances in the hearing. On August 9th, his testimony rejected the so-called buddy system where a pair was responsible for checking one another's weapons at the end of a shift (he also testified that what he said and what the military wrote up in his official statement were quite different). Last Friday, a DNA witness, Michelle Franco, identified some of the DNA on Jake Kovco's gun as belonging to Soldier 14. [Again from last Friday: The Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches."] Soldier 14 has maintained that he did not touch Jake Kovco's pistol (and he's refused to be questioned by the NSW).
At the start of this week, Soldier 14 again testified to the hearing and maintained that the DNA must have gotten on the pistol some other way such as via other equipment he acknowledges that he and Jake Kovco both handled such as a megaphone, a radio or telephone. Also in that testimony, Soldier 14 declared that "people" had warned him that Jake Kovco's widow, Shelley Kovco, was 'out to get him.' That was his excuse for avodiging her. Belinda Tasker (The Daily Telegraph) noted, of that testimony, that Soldier 14's avoidance of Shelley Kovco -- out of fear of being accused of something, apparently -- translates as Soldier 14 avoiding contact with her for "more than three months" and notes that Soldier 14 said "people were telling me" that Shelley Kovco was out to get him. Who these 'people' were warning him of Shelley Kovco will apparently not be explored.
That was some of the previous testimony. Today Soldier 14 testified again (not via video-link and remember he has stated he wants to get back to the apparent calm of Baghdad). Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the issues today revolved around: "Did you silently cock Private Kovco's pistol?" which Soldier 14 asserted he did not. Soldier 14 has maintained that he saw Jake Kovco a few days prior to his death. Brown describes the process as "a silent cocking operation, where the weapon is stripped down, a round put in he chamber, then reassembled, leaving the round in the chamber." Soldier 14 will also be testifying Monday.
Stephanie Hales' testimony is characterized by the AAP as asserting that residue tests can not determine "whether Private Jake Kovco shot himself in Iraq or if someone else pulled the trigger" for a variety of reasons including the fact that Jake Kovco's "clothes . . . were destroyed," "the barracks room where PTE Kovco was shot was cleaned before NSW Police arrived in Baghdad to carry out their forensic tests," Jake Kovco's body was washed in a Kuwait morgue, Jake Kovco's hands were not wrapped "in paper bags" and the two roommates were allowed to shower and wash their clothing with no forensic tests being performed.
Finally, in England, British soldier Jason Chelsea has been buried. The BBC reports that the nineteen-year-old "killed himself because he feared . . . he might have to shoot children" as he asserted he had been told in his training. The BBC notes that:
"Earlier this month the MoD released figures showing 1,541 soldiers who served in Iraq are suffering from psychiatric illness."
My first question to C.I. last night was, "Are you noting it?" No. The Common Ills isn't a "scoop" site but it would be (and was) in the gina & krista round-robin. Second question was, "Are you going to write about it tomorrow morning?" I pleaded "no." Why?
I wanted to see if that 'brave' and informed Amy Goodman would note it. So C.I. said it would go into the snapshot. And guess what? Amy Goodman didn't note it. It broke around one a.m. early this morning. How did she miss it?
Now I'm not surprised she didn't get a heads up to the decision the way C.I. did. I am surprised that after she wanted to showboat (and give the wrong impression) on Tuesday, when there was a finding in the hearing, she wasn't noting it. Guess it's not a "story" she's "been following."
So they've moved one step foward towards a court-martial. And notice that they did it without Amy Goodman there to notice.
So what did our 'brave' Goodman do today? She 'explored' Sudan which -- our champion of voices not heard -- meant booking the tiresome Eric Reeves who has more outlets these days than Rupert Murdoch. The only thing the supposedly brave Goodman won't do is allow common sense voices to be heard about the Sudan. Was it his grant that made the English teacher the to-go-to-expert on Sudan? Or is she flashing her own War Hawk feathers?
I called Kat because I heard about the dumb ass "We must save . . . This is happening! . . ." b.s. crap on Democracy When today. Kat said other outlets aren't sounding the drumbeat and sent me David Peterson's "Red Meat for the Christian Right" from ZNet:
"At that time," The Independent's Anne Penketh writes, referring to the date in September, 2004 when the Bush regime decided to use the 'G'-word to define the nature of the crises in Darfur, "more than one million black Africans had been forced from their homes by militias allied to the Islamist government in Khartoum, and 60,000 people had been killed. The UN had described Darfur as 'the worst humanitarian disaster in the world' but declined to call it genocide."
It is worth noting that, neither in December, 2003, when the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland rightly called the crisis "one of the worst in the world," nor last summer, by which time the use of the 'G'-word already had become commonplace, nor this summer, when the doyens and the doyennes of the global culture industry are marshalling their talents to help the Group of Eight set the African continent right, once and for all, has it been true that the crisis in the western Sudan was the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, or even close to it. Throughout the entire period the fighting and dying in the western Sudan has come to be known internationally as the "Crisis in Darfur" (roughly the past 30 months), the situation in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has been monumentally more grave---but without any of the fanfare, without any of the sexed-up rhetoric about "genocide" and "exclusivist, hegemonic" Arabs to whet the appetite of the fabled "conscience" of the West.
According to Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a study by the Burnet Institute and the International Rescue Committee, largely ignored when it was released last December, and by now consigned to oblivion (pp. 21-22):
Three previous mortality surveys conducted by the IRC between 2000 and 2002 showed that an estimated 3.3 million people have already died in eastern DR Congo since the outbreak of the war in August 1998. These prior investigations have also revealed the war to be the world’s most deadly in the last 50 years. Data from this most recent survey now suggests that the death toll is closer to 3.8 million and that the highest death rates remain concentrated in the unstable, conflict-prone East.
The persistently high mortality in DR Congo is deeply disturbing and indicates that both the national and international efforts to address the crisis remain grossly inadequate. Far greater efforts are still required in every aspect of the international response: diplomatic, military/peacekeeping, and humanitarian.
So how come Znet can offer up more the Eric Reeves of the world but the supposedly brave, supposedly go to where the silence is, Amy Goodman can't?
Makes you wonder if Democracy When had been airing before the first Gulf War, would Goodman have pushed the "They threw babies out of the incubators! I am a poor peasant girl who saw it with my own two eyes!" lie that the rest of the media did?
On the subject of the damage bad media can do, I hope you read C.I.'s comments in "And the war drags on" last night. Jess told me it was stronger and C.I. pulled about six paragraphs in the end. I would have liked to have read the original but I think the point's still made -- when people want to cover something they ignored the week before and try to sneak it by their audience that they were ignoring it, they end up confusing a lot of people.
People were confused by the way Goodman presented that item Tuesday. But good news for all, she has no real interest in Iraq and is off to save the Sudan so she'll do her damage on that issue and the rest of us can keep doing the work on Iraq without her.
Speaking of the work on Iraq, I've got visual aids and stuff for tonight's group. I'll be covering the finding of the Article 32 hearing and how it's now passed on up to another officer to decided what will happen. Ehren Watada's story matters. It mattered last week when most people took a pass. It will matter next week when Amy Goodman books more liars about Darfur. The best thing for Iraq at this point would be if she would just take Democracy When to the Sudan and broadcast nonstop from there doing those I-can-only-follow-one-story-at-a-time-so-this-is-all-you-get-for-the-next-five-to-six-weeks.
I hope you're getting the word out on Ehren Watada. We saw last week that we really couldn't count on independent media and we saw this week that instead of owning up to their failures, Democracy When tried to act like they had breaking news on Tuesday and ended up confusing everyone. Count on yourselves. Do the work yourself. When independent media thinks they can take five to six weeks off from discussing Iraq, they demonstrate that they can't be counted on for much. So let them push their phoney Sudan stories and stroke themselves over how 'brave' they are. Now get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz because Elaine got here a bit ago and has been typing like crazy so I bet it's going to be something good.
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