Friday, August 11, 2006

Fight the propaganda

Friday still! :D I'm not at home, we're out west. If I were home, it would be after midnight. Instead, it's not even ten o'clock.

Place is packed and a friend of C.I.'s mentioned something. I told C.I. I'd link tonight. This is from David Swanson and he's one of the people who worked really hard (really, really hard) to get the word out on the Downing Street Memos. This is from "AWOL War Resister Sergeant to Turn Himself in Today:"

Ricky Clousing, a Sergeant in the US Army, and a veteran of the Iraq War who has been AWOL for a year announced today at the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle that he will turn himself in later today at the gates of Fort Lewis and face whatever punishment the military chooses to impose.
Clousing said he did not apply for conscientious objector status because he is not certain he would oppose every possible war, such as one fought in self-defense. He said he has spent the past year trying to figure out how to turn himself in, that the military has refused to comment on his status and that he is now choosing to force them to deal with it.
Clousing spoke at a press conference on the campus of the University of Washington. Many supporters of his stand made brief remarks before he spoke. Clousing said he served in Baghdad and Mosul as an interrogator, and that this meant he spoke to Iraqi civilians every day and learned what they thought about the war. Clousing said he witnessed the routine incarceration of civilians with no basis and no ability to contact their families. He spoke in particular of four brothers, the youngest aged 12, locked up for three to four weeks. Physical abuse of civilians and the killing of one Iraqi civilian were among the crimes Clousing said he witnessed.

That's one more speaking out. This should be a really big time for independent media. You've had the details of Abeer's death (14-years-old with a military investigator testifying to the confession of one of the four US troops accused of how they took turns holding her down and raping her before killing her -- also killed three members of her family). Camp Casey is back open. CNN does a poll that finds 60% of the people polled are against the war.

This could be a huge time, a great time for the peace movement. But that would mean people would have to be really covering it and by "people" I mean independent media.

With Ricky Clousing, Amy Goodman suddenly remembered Iraq and the peace movement. Will the memory last long or we will have to wait 16 days or more before the next story? (Ned Lamont's election isn't covering Iraq.)

C.I. was actually going to link to Goodman's story while noting the writer who broke the story (at midnight the story was online, Friday morning it was in print) but we were all like, "Uh-uh. This is one day. Let's see something that demonstrates this isn't just one day and next week will be all about Mexico's elections or Israel or whatever." I felt bad after because C.I. had the bulk of a snapshot ready really early. The Jake Kovco thing and the Ricky Clousing thing was all written and there were events of Iraq today. But it was busy this morning. There was a friend who's getting ready to present a paper at a conference who came over to try it out. There was picking us up at the airport and later seeing a friend off. There were two meetings on issues. (Iraq and immigration.) And there was this dialogue thing that Jim, Dona and C.I. organized. During all of this, there was the snapshot. And with us all going, "Don't include Democracy Now!" and making it wait, we bumped into an editor friend of C.I.'s during lunch and he looks over the snapshot C.I.'s typing away on and goes, "No, no, you have to skip that. You've got to note the week because most people have no idea what's been going on in Iraq." So C.I. again redoes the snapshot. The battery on the laptop is dying and it barely get saved. So, if I'd known the day would turn out like that, I would have said, "Note whatever." C.I. was really trying to get the snapshot done early because there was so much to do today and we were all coming in.

It's crowded here tonight. Not complaining. But I meant to blog a lot earlier. Elaine came over and said she was going to blog and then turn in and I go, "What time is it?" I thought she was telling me the time if we were back home at first because I couldn't believe it was already that late. Seemed like the party just started.

It was a busy day. Jim goes it's always like that and the way he said it made me think I was right, the gang's going to relocate. I know Jess' loves the classes he's taking out here. I think they're all going to transfer out. I think they already made the decision and the arrangements.
Dona and Jim love NYC the most. Ava's got family here and back east but she really does prefer the West coast. Ty's had a blast all summer so I've always thought he'd stay. I know they feel like more is going on out here. They feel like people are more serious or the people they know out here are more serious. And you've got C.I. and Kat out here. There's a lot going on. I'm not tempted because I like my hometown. But I can see how they would be. It'll be weird not being able to visit them because they really aren't that far compared to if they move out here. Jim and me have gone to baseball games and stuff. We all went to a concert. There's just been a lot of changes (round-robin readers know that) and I'm probably just feeling like, "Okay, what next?"

So that's the personal. Cedric, Wally, Fly Boy, Elaine and me were talking about how much happened this week, with actions agains the war and news from Iraq and how little attention it got. If independent media had given even a 1/4 of the time to Iraq this week that they gave to covering Israel, I think we would have seen some real action and some real enthusiasm even from people who just decided they were against the war. Instead, all this stuff happened without the coverage it needed.

I almost shared a story Thursday but I wanted to check the person out with Elaine. Wednesday I was supposed to cover Jake Kovco but when I was going through the all the news, I was kind of lost. I noted that and got an e-mail from "Old Flame" who is an attorney in Australia. ("Old Flame" was the requested name to be used here.) When C.I. was covering Kovco's case early on, Old Flame called and goes, "You're leaving out an important detail." And C.I. ("Old Flame" is an old flame of C.I.'s) goes no, "I don't believe in the this 'buddy system' it doesn't seem plausible and it doesn't fit." That was what the military was saying (Australian military). That they had a policy in place where a soldier emptied a gun in front of another so no one ended up with a loaded gun in their sleeping quarters. Old Flame wrote to say C.I. had been right about that. (If the system existed, if -- there's doubt about it, it wasn't being followed. That was a big point in some of the coverage and C.I. didn't buy it and didn't note it.) But it was a really cool e-mail. I mentioned it to Elaine to check "Old Flame" out and she didn't recognize the name and then I told her Australian lawyer and some other things and she said that was "years ago." :D She goes C.I. stays in touch with everyone. Lovers, friends, everybody and that's one reason C.I. can pick up the phone and go, "Hey, explain this to me." (Elaine also goes C.I. "dated out of major and out of the friendship circle" to avoid any problems after breakups. Which Elaine said was an example she should have followed in college because of a messy breakup with a guy who sounds like a real jerk.) So I started thinking about that and all and how years from now, we'll probably have another idiot in the oval office starting an illegal war or something else and I want to be able to do my part and all. The opposition to this war started before it and it has grown and grown (with little help from the media) and I think that's because of the fact that people like me were born after Vietnam and knew about it even a little so we weren't starting from point zero and also because people who were speaking out before worked their butts off. So in a decade or two if this happens again (and it probably will), I want to be able to talk to all the people at our discussion group back home and say, "We've got to get busy, what can we do?" And be able to share stories of what worked before and what works now.

There has been a lot of trashing of the peace movement by some so-called left friends and a lot of trashing young people of today. Elaine and C.I. never did that. And that's something I really hope I remember. I hope I'm smart enough not to look at college and high school students when I'm older and think, "Oh well why isn't this happening or that?" It's a process and if you're paying attention, you see it happening and growing. I've seen it with my friends and classmates.
And I really want to remember that. I want to remember how the ball got rolling and how it might be just a few at first who are willing to do something but there are people listening and they'll find their "comfort zone" and start doing a little more.

There is so much propaganda on the Iraq war and you're up against that. Which is why indymedia can never NOT cover Iraq. Look at this week. Let's just look at the two American soldiers who died. The helicopter crashed on Tuesday. Military waited until Wednesday to note it. Waited until Thursday to note that two were dead. They put as much distance between the bad news as they can. They know what they're doing.

Or take Abeer and how the New York Times wouldn't even print her name during the Article 32 hearing. They'd printed it before. But this week, there's a hearing with four soldiers accused of raping her, murdering her and her family and trying to burn her corpse. And the New York Times can't even name her. Don't kid yourself that this wasn't a way to erase her. The names you read, over and over, were the accused. And the story was all about what they went through.

That needs to be called out. But that didn't happen on radio or TV or on magazine's websites.
We were on a campus at one point today and C.I. was making the point that Abeer was erased from the hearing into what happened to her. Afterwards, I was talking to a group of students about Abeer and two people come up, friends of the people I'm talking to, and they were asking questions about what we were talking about and they were really stunned. There was disbelief that this could happen and we had to pull up the CNN story on computer to prove it. Then these two were just disgusted with the media. (CNN named her. They weren't disgusted with CNN.)

A lot of people would be disgusted right now. With what happened (which came out during a batch of scandals and is kind of vague for some people now) and with how the press ignored it.
It's too bad independent media doesn't give a damn about Iraq these days. We could have seen the 60% jump up to 70% or higher. (Amount of Americans who think the war was wrong.)

Anyway, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Friday, August 11, 2006 with two police officers dead from a roadside bomb in Kirkuk, another police officer shot dead in Mosul and a man on his way to work in Baiji shot dead. In the United States Ricky Clousing says no to war; in a sotto voice US military flacks give statements about the two US soliders who died in Tuesday helicopter crash and while recruiters struggle to meet their lowered targets, some applicants remain unwelcome.
Starting with the last item, the
AP reports on Haven Herrin who would like to serve in the military but she is a lesbian and wink-wink-nudge-nudge no gays or lesbians have ever served in the US military. Reading the report which begins and ends with the Clinton era "Don't Ask Don't Tell," news consumers are probably left unaware that an openly gay man has served in the US military.
While some can't get in, others refuse to serve in an illegal war based on lies.
Writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mike Barber broke the news today that Ricky Clousing would turn himself in. Ricky Clousing, 24-years-old, checked himself out of the military after serving in Iraq. Speaking to the AP, Clousing stated, "My experience in Iraq really made me second-guess my ability to perform as a soldier and also forced me to question my beliefs in associating myself". Clousing's announcement comes on day two of the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle (which concludes Sunday the 13th). Clousing questions the legality of the illegal war and "I came to the conlusion that I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom." Barber notes that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division."
Barber broke the news, the AP is all over it. And gold stars for others? They'll have to demonstrate that they're going to cover it. Not, "Look how much I care, today I'll make time for this issue and then next week . . . Back to Israel non-stop!" (or whatever the topic is). Too much isn't being covered.
Clousing is one of many war resisters. This week,
Meredith May (San Francisco Chronicle) took a look at some who had decided to do a self-check out and go to Candada -- mentioned were Ryan Johnson, Patrick Hart, Christian Kjar, Brandon Hughey, Darryl Anderson. Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman will learn shortly whether they're appeal will allow them to remain in Canada or not. Other war resisters include Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Kevin Benderman. Katherine Jashinski. Camilo Mejia is generally considered to the the "first Iraqi War Resister." Benderman is attempting to appeal the Court-Martial and has been designated a "Prisoner of Conscience" by Amnesty International. Benderman's case hasn't vanished, just any coverage of it. That's true of Hinzman and Hughey as well. Let's be really honest, that's true of the independent media attention on all things having to do with Iraq. (And remember it was Mike Barber who broke the story.)
Two names more recently in the news are
Suzanne Swift and Ehren Watada. Their cases haven't vanished just because, for example, an announced and filmed interview with Swift's grandfather never aired as Iraq fell off the radar. Watada faces an article 32 hearing on August 17th which is next Thursday. Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th. Writing of Watada, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) noted Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq was a "no" and that: "When we say 'no' the war ends. Ehren is saying 'no.' He can make a difference. He is making a difference but it will be a huge difference with quick impact if we show our support." Noting the work of his parents, Courage to Resist and, Cedric wondered where the coverage was?
Attending the conference in Seattle was Cindy Sheehan who is offering
Camp Casey III "as a refuge for U.S. troops who desert to resist the war in Iraq." As The State News notes on Bully Boy's low approval numbers, "Clearly, Sheehan is not alone in her position. But while a large population within the United States disapproves of Bush and the war in Iraq, it seems only a small population is doing something about it." Sheehan does her part and then some but it "seems" others aren't because of the lack of media attention. Watada and Swift are 'doing something.' Across the country, across the world, people are engaged in attempting to end this war, day in and day out. It's the media that can make it appear nothing is happening or report what's actually going on. Credit to Barber, AP, May and others in big media who've been covering these issues (especially the press in Hawaii) while others had other things to emphasize (non-stop). Or, as Molly Ivins points out: "The more surprising development is how completely one story drives out another. At other times, the collapse of Iraq would have been news." A collapse that has included, as Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) wrote, "There are no laws that say we have to wear a hijab (yet), but there are men in head-to-toe black and the turbans, the extremists and fanatics who were libearted by the occupation, and at some point, you tire of the defiance. You no longer want to be seen. I feel like the black or white scarf I fling haphazardly on my head as I walk out the door makes me invisible to a certain degree -- it's easier to blend in with the masses shrouded in black. If you're a femal, you don't want the attention -- you don't want it from Iraqi police, you don't want it from the black clad militia man, you don't want it from the American soldier. You don't want to be noticed or seen."
Reuters notes six corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("bound and blindfolded") Of the six, AP notes that they had all ben shot execution style. This was the week that, as the BBC noted, the body count at Baghdad's central morgue for July only had been 1,855. AP noted Dr. Sabah al-Husseini's declaration that "two-thirds of the deaths reported in Baghdad since January were due to violence."
This was the week of the Article 32 hearing to determine whether or not to file rape, murder and arson charges against US soldiers James Baker, Jesse V. Spielman, Bryan L. Howard and Paul Cortez. (Steven D. Green, who is also accused in the incident will stand trial in US federal court because he was discharged before the incident was uncovered. Anthony W. Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident.) The incident?
Abeer Qasim Hamza. Presenting his closing argument in the hearing, Captain Alex Pickands stated, "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable." The defense (and the New York Times) offered stress of combat and fatigue. Pickands response? "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."
It was the story that should have gotten intense coverage.
Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) has argued Abeer's story is the story of the illegal occupation boiled down to one person. Instead, as Mike (Mikey Likes It!) has pointed out, you had the New York Times offering the defense's argument and Abeer? Silence. She wasn't even named.
This was also the week of yet another poll finding where respondents echoed earlier polls by standing strongly against the illegal war.
CNN found that 60% of Americans responding in their poll were against the war -- the highest opposition since the war began in March 2003.
Those were among the Iraq related stories that should have received coverage, discussion and exploration.
Another, in Australia, would be the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad.
Belinda Tasker (Herald Sun) reports on Solider 1's testimony which resulted in tears for Shelley Kovco (widow of Jake Kovco) and Judy Kovco (mother of Jake Kovco). While the family of Kovco has every reason to well up when their lost one is spoken, the press has no excuse to go soft and mushy but, apparently, despite repeated testimony to the contrary, the nonsense of the 'buddy system' is back. Soldier 1 tossed off a few words (via video-link) and then used Jake Kovco to argue that they'd reworked the "buddy system" since his death. The press runs with it, failing to note that there witnesses' testimony (as opposed to the statements the military wrote and submitted in their name) that there was no "buddy system" in place. Ian McPhedran (Courier-Mail) offers a less sentimental view as he weighs in on Jake Kovco's death and Australia's involvement with Iraq: "We're being kept in the dark."