Wednesday, hump day -- get to humping! :D Need a joke? I got a good one for you. Yesterday, Amy Goodman said: "In an update in a story we've been following: First Lt. Ehren Watada . . ." Ha! Are your sides aching yet? "A story we've been following"! She's trying out to be the new Jon Stewart. Ehren Watada had an Article 32 hearing last week. She didn't mention it until yesterday and then didn't even get it right. Some people listening to her talk of 'charges,' thought the presiding officer in the hearing had issued a finding. What a joker.
Rebecca covered it yesterday. Tony told me he had to handle the last two meetings all by himself (I was in California both Fridays) so I better be prepared to do some heavy lifting this Friday. I am. I am ready.
Bob Watada sounded ready too. (Link in the snapshot.) Did you listen? He was really speaking his mind. He seems like a cool dad. He's right too, if people are paying attention, Ehren Watada stands a much better chance. If they're not (hello, Amy Goodman!) then Ehren Watada is on his own. Aren't we all tired of that? Aren't we tired of a Natalie Maines getting mowed down and wishing we had said or did something -- when it mattered? We can do that with Ehren Watada.
So get the word out on him. He was the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to go to Iraq. Show some support for that by getting the word out. Make sure that people know the name. My sister got some sidewalk chalk and did this thing on the sidewalk while I was gone. It was pretty cool, even though it had been up a few days by the time I got back. I didn't know she could draw but she did a really good job of his face. She wrote at the top: "SUPPORT EHREN WATADA." She said nobody complained but a few neighbors asked her who he was. Which is great because she got the word out.
Tony and me are making some fliers to hang up and leave around. Think of what you can do right now to get the word out. Don't wait for the verdict to the hearing to come in. Bob Watada thinks the recommendation's going to come down that Ehren Watada be court-martialed. I hope he's wrong but we need to be getting the word out now so that if/when the word comes down, people already know the name and know why Ehren Watada refuses to fight in the illegal war.
I want to point out again (Jim says pat myself on the back :D) but last summer when we were working on The Third Estate Sunday Review, C.I. said over and over that we'd reached the point where everything changes. We wrote that probably twice last summer. And it was like this big debate each time but some of us (including me) did agree we'd reached it. Others thought we were being optimistic and that the country was still behind the war. But I did believe C.I. because I'd seen it grow in my last year of high school and seen it grow in my first year of college. I think, because they were all journalism majors, Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava were around a lot of "on the one hand, on the other" types.
And I think that's why we'll get an announcement shortly that they've relocated to the West coast. I'll bet anyone who wants it, they aren't coming back to NY. They're done with it. They're going to stay out West with C.I. where there's so much more to do with activism and people who are really passionate. When I visited them on campus last spring, that was my big surprise. I'd be talking the war to all these people who didn't seem that concerned. I think they thought they were too cool to do so. And I think that's why a lot of dopey mags, newspapers and TV will say things like "Oh there's no activism on campus these days." There is. It may not be in the media center of NYC, but it's there. The five of them were active and vocal but there's only so much you can do in a vaccum. Jess is on a hot bed campus. :D And I'm betting they'll all go there. I'm not trashing students, by the way. There are pockets and I saw them when I visited their campus but I also saw a lot of people who were apathetic and a lot of them who were striving to look 'reasonable' and couldn't talk seriously about Iraq.
So I bet we'll soon learn that The Third Estate Sunday Review has relocated. I don't blame them. I'm still sad not to have them as a 'neighbor.' But they'll be able to really focus on activism and on classes. And it is fun out there. So it will be the best thing. And as much as I'll miss them being close by, it does the 'cause' more good for five hard working activists to be where they can really make a difference. Wally's going to start up his own group in Florida like Tony and I started here. (And I give full credit to Goldie because it was hearing about her house parties and think, "This girl's in middle school. I should be doing something like this" that got me off my lazy ass.) I think the protests and the parades and the rallies are really important but I think we have to take that to our own communities and really get the dialogue started. People start realizing that they aren't alone. And when they start realizing how many people think like they do, they start thinking, "Isn't this our country? If we all feel this way, why isn't our government listening to us?" That's made a big change in my area. It would in your's too so if you're looking for something you can do and having trouble thinking up something, try this. Cedric's doing it too and it is making a difference.
It's important every day but especially when we go five weeks with no coverage of Iraq from independent media. What you learn is that the only ones you can count on are the people you know and you can work with them and make a difference. That's how we're going to end the war.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case, a new poll by the New York Times continues to demonstrate the trend of Americans turning against the war and another witness in the military inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco blasts the way the investigation was conducted.
Today Bob Watada spoke with Philip Maldari on KPFA's The Morning Show about his son Ehren Watada, the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Bob Watada spoke of the potential consequences that his son could face but noted that Ehren was aware of the consenquences, that there's " a real crisis in this country," and that even "knowing that he may got to jail" his son knew he had to take the stand he did an refuse to deploy. Bob Watada spoke of how his son's discovery of the lies that led a nation into an illegal war changed everything: "When he found out what was going on in Iraq, the president lying to the people, lying to Congress, lying to the military," he knew that he couldn't go to Iraq both for himself and for those who'd be serving under him.
Bob Watada spoke of the expectation that the US military will use Ehren Watada as an example in an effort clamp down on the dissent within the military. And, in answer to Maldari's question of what can be done, he spoke of the importance of public opinion in his son's case: "If the military sees that there is a large swell of public opinion on behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada, they're going to think twice about what they're doing."
The importance of public support/action was also demonstrated in the calls. One that stands out is caller Alden, WWII veteran, in The Underwater Demolition, spoke of being stationed in Hawaii and "about March of '46 the word came through that all the G.I.s were going to be sent back into China to start a war against the new Chinese government. Following this, a couple of days later, there was about 10,000 GIs in Honolulu protesting, saying 'We are going home' and about three days later another one, ten-to-twelve thousand G.I.s saying 'We are going home' and that stopped it. And that was what was going on back in those days and I'm just so supportive and feel completely what Watada is doing and the way he put it and the father and the way he puts it -- that is just outstanding."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:
7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933
noon-3pm World Can't WaitYouth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157
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
4-6pm 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.
We will again note: : 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Of the various stops he's made so far to speak of his son, Bob Watada said, "It's been really postive here in the Bay Area. Just about everywhere we've gone, we've had packed crowds. . . The other day I had somebody who came up before the program started and said he was a veteran and he didn't really think he could support me or my son. . . . At the end of the evening he came up to me and said 'Whatever you need, whatever your son needs, I want to help you out.'"
In other peace news, Cindy Sheehan will rejoin Camp Casey III after "several days" reports the Associated Press. Sheehan is back in the Providence Health Center in Waco "recovering . . . after having a hysterctomy" on Tuesday. Next week, Sheehan is scheduled to be in Salt Lake City participating with the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and others in protesting Bully Boy's August 31st speech (during a trip on which Condi Rice is accompanying him).
That's how Sheehan plans to end the month, at the beginning of the month she went to Jordan with Ann Wright, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Geal Murphy, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and others to meet with Iraqi legislators. Eric Horsting (Washington Beachcomber) reports that also on the trip was filmmaker David Rothmiller who shot footage "to create campaign material for Jeeni Criscenzo, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 49th district in California."
As the November elections approach, many get edgy and itchy. A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News continues to note the shift in public opinion of the illegal war. Summarizing the poll, Carl Hulse and Marjorie Connelly (New York Times) note of those surveyed: 51 percent "saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort"; 53% said the "war was a mistake"; 62% agreed that things in Iraq could be rated "somewhat or very badly"; 46 percent felt the Bully Boy "had concentrated too much on Iraq". Hulse and Connelly's article also features comments from three follow up interviews. Those views worthy of being noted? Two Republicans and a self-described independent.
In Iraq, the violence and the chaos, to no one's surprise, continues.
In the Baghdad, city of so-called crackdowns, a roadside bomb (possibly targeting Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister) claimed the lives of two civilians and left others wounded according to the Associated Press. AFP notes that a roadside bomb killed two civilians "between Basra and Nasiriyah." KUNA reports that "[a] car exploded . . . near an army special ops check-point in Dorra" and "that the explosion resulted in several deaths and injuries among the special ops troops in the area." In Mosul, the AP reports, one woman was killed and ten people were wounded by a suicide bomber while, in Falljua, a roadside bomb claimed two lives and left twelve wounded.
The AP reports that "1st Lt. Hassanein Saadi al-Zerjawi . . . was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Amarah". Reuters notes that eight people were shot dead in Baquba and a police officer shot dead in al-Hay. AFP notes that, in Kut, "two civilians were shot dead" with a child and one other adult wounded.
AFP reports that six corpses were found beneath a bridge "between the two volatile cities of Mahmudiyah and Latifyah" and three were discovered in Baquba.
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues. The most recent developments revolve around Soldier 47's testimony. Australia's ABC reports that Soldier 47, "[a] military police investigator" went to Baghdad from Melbourne to investigate the death of Jake Kovco and that "he was informed on the day of Pte Kovco's death to deploy immediately to Baghdad." AAP notes that during Soldier 47 three hour, video-link testimony (from Baghdad), he "detailed a litany of miscommunication and army bungles surrounding the death of the Victorian soldier who was shot in his Baghdad barracks room on April 21." The Daily Telegraph reports of the testiomony that "he was also angerd and surprised that Pte Kovco's body had been flown from Baghdad to Kuwait agains the orgers of the military police's special investigations branch" and "frustrated that forensic evidence was lost when the body had been washed and treated while Pte Kovco's clothes had been destroyed." ABC New South Wales notes that Soldier 47 voiced his frustration over being "told he could not view notes made by Private Kovco's room-mates" and finding out that "the room-mates were in Kuwait, not Baghdad, so he could not immediately interview them." Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 47 gave up custody of Jake Kovco's body because a) he wanted to "get to the scene of the shooting" and because "certain integrites had already been compromised" (see "forensic evidence was lost" two sentences prior).
Soldier 47's testimony of frustration and anger over the investigation echoes Major Mark Willetts testimony yesterday where he complained about being refused access to the room Kovco died in (Willetts was "the officer in charge of the immediate investigation") and feeling that Jake Kovco's two roommates were being less than fully forthcoming.
In addition, ABC notes that Soldier 30 is asserting that "some of the claims made about his troops during the course of the inquiry are simply not true" specifically he refutes Soldier 21's claim that "quick draw" games were played with weapons. Two weeks ago, Soldier 30 (who spoke today as he spoke then -- via video-link from Baghdad) asserted that he had given orders that the death/crime scene not be preserved for morale issues Soldier 21, the section commander, is most famous for issuing a statement following the death of Jake Kovco that he heard a cry (in the barracks) of "Allah Akbar" which translates as "God is great." When Soldier 21 testified to the inquiry earlier this month, he renounced that assertion. Then, as
Sydney 2GB reported, "He told the inquiry it had become unclear whether he'd in fact heard the comment."
In other legal news, on April 26th, Hashim Ibrahim Awad died in Hamdania after being allegedly kidnapped by US troops. Charged with kidnapping and the killing were the "Pendelton Eight" -- Saul H. Lopezromo, Derek I. Lewis, Henry D. Lever, Lawrence G. Hutchins II, Trent D. Thomas, Tyler Jackson, Marshall Magincadla, and Jerry E. Schumate Jr. Thomas Watkins (AP) reports that four of the eight want to skip the Article 32 hearing and instead "proceed straight to trial." Reportedly, John Jodka III's attorney was the one who made the request first (and did so on Friday) which isn't in the AP report. Reportedly not all involved were informed of the request when it was first made. Jerry E. Shumate was the last to join the four in making the request. Watkins reports that the military has denied the request and the Article 32 hearing could start as early as August 28th. But Gidget Fuentes (Navy Times) reports the schedule for the hearings as: September 12th: Jerry E. Shumate Jr.; September 25th: Marshall L. Magincalda, Robert B. Pennington, John J. Jodka, Melson J. Bacos; and October 18th: Lawrence G. Hutchins, Trent D. Thomas and Tyler A. Jackson.
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