Monday, May 21, 2007

Third Estate Sunday Review

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day. Eddie e-mailed a little while ago to say it was raining in Texas. It's real dark and pouring down. Wish it was like that here! Seriously. I love it when it rains like that. When the sky gets pitch black and the rain comes down. Perfect sleeping weather. You can just snooze and snooze away. Open the windows wide to let that slightly chilled air in, pull the blanket up around your chin and snooze away.

Okay, let me talk The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week -- you'll love this. The Sammy Powers won't. All the more reason to love it.

A Note to Our Readers -- :D right back at ya, Jim! Jim writes a great note. He's finally stopped beating himself up for typos. Jim used to be obsessed with typos. Now he accepts the fact that when you've been up 30 or so hours straight, you're going to have typos. The note's always one of my favorite things and that's Jim creation. He does a great job offering a run down.

Editorial: Who's failing? -- The illustration for this is cut off at the site. If you need to see it in full, click on the illustration and you will. 3 American soldiers are missing in Iraq, assumed captured, for ten days now. Where's the media? Don't blame people my age (college students), don't blame the peace movement, don't think of any excuse for what's preventing people from grasping that the US is involved in an illegal war, just put the blame where it belongs, on the media.

TV: The lows and the really lows -- I love this. Jim actually may have beat on this with his coverage so let me think a second. Okay, Ava and C.I. did say, "We've got nothing." They said that over and over. And they were really serious. No one believed it because we have heard it before. But they were serious. They were tired, they weren't in the mood (Ava's got a tooth coming in that's really getting on her nerves because it's cutting through the skin slowly and it hurts but it still hasn't broken through). But Jim and Dona kept saying, "Reba!" And finally they agreed they could write something on that "maybe." Then they went off and figured out this. They came back and we were still working on a feature (that's not up at the site, it needs more work) and it wasn't until we finally set that aside (I believe it was two hours later, Jim) that we got to hear their commentary. We were laughing so hard. It's really funny and it's important to call out the Bully Boy lovers who pushed the war.

1 Book, 10 Minutes -- This is our discussion of Camilo Mejia's book. I think this is a really good discussion. Ty pulled one part he had because he wasn't sure it was adding (I think it was) and felt that it was halting the flow of the piece. I mention that note that we pull stuff all the time (we don't rewrite what we said) and also because when Dona's figuring out who still needs to speak, she's going by what was said obviously -- not by what makes it into the official transcript.

So you wanna be a war resister -- This is an example of a piece that gets on the list of ones to do only to get postponed for various reasons. C.I.'s been strongly pushing this for 4 weeks and floating it for longer than that. I think this really turned out great. I know C.I. doesn't. I think it's because we were all tired. The mistake was to plan the big feature that we did. We're working on it again next week and hopefully it will go faster then.

The Nation Stats -- They don't like women at The Nation, do they? Not the people calling the shots? The fact that they don't print many women is all the more shocking when you realize that Katrina vanden Heuvel is making the decisions. What does she have against women?

Yo George -- Tori Amos has a great CD! Get it!

Vote Vets says, "Whatever Kagan said!" -- This was awful to get through. The piece almost required a full workout. Dona said it wasn't working and it wasn't. C.I. and Ava tweaked it and Dona said, "Put it up."

Listings -- a regular feature where things will be noted -- activism, TV, radio, etc.

Highlights -- Wally, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric, Elaine and me wrote this.

Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts on Air America Radio. Ehren Watada got some good news. There's a stay in his court-martial (for now at least) and that's in the snapshot. Read about that and more in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, May 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq war resister Ehren Watada gets some good legal news, war resisters online this evening, day 10 of the search for 3 missing US soldiers in Iraq, presidential contender Mike Gravel offers his plan for out of Iraq, the theft of Iraqi oil hits a snag, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Ehren Watada has won what
Melanthia Mitchell (AP) dubs "a small victory." In June of last year, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The first day of the court-martial (Monday, Feb. 5th) was your basic first day of court. On Tuesday, the prosecution presented their case. Wednesday, the defense was supposed to mount their limited defense. Limited? Judge Toilet (aka John Head) had already ruled that the defense could not address the legality of the war, had been happy to pay for prosecution witnesses but would not do the same for the defense (and wouldn't allow witnesses). Wednesday the case would depend on Watada's testimony. The judge called a mistrial (over defense objection) before Watada could testify -- most likely because the prosecution's witnesses on Tuesday had, in different ways, backed up Watada's stand. Many legal commentators have pointed out (including Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild), Judge Toilet's decision to call a mistrial after the case began, over the objection of the defense, a second court-martial would violate the Constitution's ban on double-jeopardy. February 8th, on Flashpoints, Marjorie Cohn explained that, "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 a manifest necessity to declare the mistrial . . . . There wasn't a manifest destiny." (Those who can't listen can click here to read Rebecca on Cohn's appearance.) Manifest necessity.

Cohn was addressing how double-jeopardy attached the moment the jury was sworn in (Watada elected to go with a jury of his peers -- there is a choice of whether to allow a military judge to decide the verdict or to go with a jury of military members). This was not an opinion pulled out of thin air, it gets to heart of the US Constitution's Fifth Amendment. Speaking on Flashpoints, she offered the example that a jury couldn't reach a verdict. Had Watada's jury been unable to reach a verdict, the judge would have had reason to declare a mistrial. Judge Toilet had no reason to declare one (his actual reason for declaring a mistrial was that the prosecution's witnesses ended up making statements helpful to the defense and the prosecution's easy victory had vanished). A judge cannot stop a trial in the middle of proceedings because he fears the probable verdict.

The July 23rd court-martial faces a new obstacle.
Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported Saturday that the Army Court of Appeals has "granted a partial stay of defense motion. It has given Fort Lewis prosecutors 10 days to respond to the defense arguments, and also extended to the defense the option of filing a second round of briefs." Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reported Sunday that the Court declared: "Assembly of the court-martial and all proceedings ordinarily following assembly of the court-martial are hereby stayed." Mitchell also notes that Watada's attorneys, Kenneth Kagan and James Lobsenz, argued "there was no 'manifest necessity' for the mistrial." Now the prosecution will decided their next move. Bernton reports: "According to Lobsenz, once the briefs are filed, the appeals court could: dissolve the stay and allow the case to proceed; hear oral arguments and then issue a ruling; or issue a ruling based on a review of the briefs."

In other war resister news,
Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on Agustin Aguayo's return to the United States and Aguayo discusses his time in Iraq, his reasons for enlisting and his resistance. On his imprisonment in Germany, Aguayo states, "Initially it was that shocking moment. I had never gotten in trouble in any kind of way. Just two speeding tickets back when I started driving in 1990. But on the other hand it was also a moment of peace where I could reflect and I'm really at peace because I finally have what I wanted for so long. I wanted to be separated from the military because this is wrong, because morally I couldn't continue down this path." Glantz notes the speaking tour Aguayo took part in along with Camilo Mejia (author of the just released Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia), Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala and how all four are Latino:

"It's hard to overlook," Paredes told IPS. "The evidence is pretty clear that there's a lot of Latino resistance. Part of it is that we're disproportionately targeted for jobs that are high risk -- combat roles, infantry roles. We make up a very small percentage of elit jobs like officers and Blue Angels [a naval aviation show squadron]. We make up only four percent of the officer corps but when the invasion started we were 20 percent of the infantry."

Jeff Paterson (at
Courage to Resist and Indybay IMC) also reports on Aguayo's return to the US and the report includes many photos (including of Helga Aguayo's wife, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Pablo Paredes, Sean O'Neill and many more). Jeff Paterson, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes join Michael Wong tonight on for the program Questioning War-Organizing Resistance which airs from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST. More information can be found in Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC).

US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Turning to Iraq, today is the 10th day since
Alex R. Jimenez (25 y.o.), Joseph J. Anzack Jr. (20 y.o.) and Byron W. Fouty (19 y.o.) went missing following an attack that left 4 other US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator dead. The three are assumed to be captured and the US military continues to search for them. CBS and AP note, via CBS' Mark Strassman, that David Petraues, "top U.S. commander in Iraq," made a claim to the Army Times that "couldn't be confirmed. Petraeus gave no details or proof." His claim, also reported by Damien Cave of the New York Times on Sunday, is that he knows 2 of the 3 missing soldiers are still alive. Cave did not note that there was no confirmation, no details nor any proof. Cave did note that Petraues claims to know who captured the soldiers ("We know who that guy is"). At this point, there is little indication that Petraues knows anything.

CNN reports that the search was focused "around the site where they were attacked May 12 south of Baghdad." Aaron Sheldrick (Bloomberg News) reported yesterday, "Thousands of U.S. personnel are still searching for three soldiers missing in Iraq since a May 12 ambush that killed four others and Iraqi army interpreter near Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. The search is diverting soldiers from a security clampdown in Baghdad".

In some of today's violence . . .


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers killed (2 more wounded) from a Baghdad bombing, 4 police officers wounded from a Baghdad bombing, 7 Iraqi civilians killed by a Baghdad bombing, a Baghdad car bombing that wounded 5 people, 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 2 and left 15 wounded as well as the mortar attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone, a Baquba mortar attack that killed 1 person and left 12 wounded "(8 of the injured were women)," and an Al Khalis car bombing that wounded 3 police officers and "and one judge, Thamir Al Baiati".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack on mini-bus enroute to Baghdad that left 4 people shot dead ("including a 4 year old child") "an injured 4 women," and that "Masoud Shukr, a Kurd taxi driver" was shot dead in Mosul.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 24 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
UK Defence Ministry announced: "It is with deep sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a British soldier has died as a result of wounds sustained in Basra City today, Monday 21 May 2007. The soldier died as a result of wounds sustained in an incident in the Al Tuwaysa district of central Basra today. The soldier was injured during an attack on the resupply convoy that he was travelling in, en route to a Multi National Forces base." This comes on the heels of the Guardian of London's Saturday editorial entitled "The bad news from Basra:"

There was no containing the mutual admiration of George Bush and Tony Blair as they stood in the Rose Garden for one last time on Thursday. They were so close, we were informed, they could read each other's minds and finish each other's sentences. Mr Bush rounded on British reporters for tap dancing on his friend's political grave. Cut from the choreographed pas de deux in Washington and over to Basra, where our reporter Ghaith Abdul Ahad spent nine days with militiamen, generals, city officials and intelligence officers. His remarkable report should freeze the smiles on coalition faces.
Is it the scene where three men dismount from two new police SUVs, assemble two Katyusha rockets, fire them at a British base in Saddam's former compound in the city and drive off? Or is it the interior ministry general who greets our reporter with the words "Welcome to Tehran" and goes on to explain how 60% of his officers are militiamen, how almost all the policemen in the city are gangsters, how the police are divided between the Fadhila, who control the oil terminals, and Moqtada al Sadr's men, who control the ports?

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "In Iraq, at least 15 U.S. troops have died since Friday." ICCC's count is 3422 US service members have thus far died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war -- of which, 71 have died so far this month.

Turning to political issues,
AP reports that the Iraq's Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi has announced that Iraq has its own military "plans on how to cope if U.S.-led forces leave the country quickly". This as Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that the US military has plans for "[a] second Fallujah" to 'address' the Sadr City section of Baghdad. Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) revealed that in 2004, the US military had another plan for 'addressing' Sadr City, kill Muqtada al-Sadr. Falluja ended in a standoff in April of 2004 and in slaughter in November of 2004.

Meanwhile the proposed theft of Iraqi oil is greeted with more opposition. Yesterday,
Rick Jervis (USA Today) noted: "Disagreement over the future role of foreign investment in Iraq's oil fields has stalled passage of an oil law the Bush administration says is crucial to Iraq's future." Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted Tariq Al-Hashemi (Iraq's Sunni vice president) has begun "publicly criticizing a proposed Iraqi oil law because it is too favorable to foreign oil companies. The Bush administration and Congressional Democrats are pushing the Iraqi parliament to pass the oil law which would open up Iraq's oil reserves to foreign companies. Al-Hashemi said Iraq wants foreign oil companies to invest in Iraq but he said the current bill gives the companies too many privileges." Gail Russell Chaddock (Christian Science Monitor) observed that the US designated 'benchmark' "is emerging as a flash point in both Baghdad and Washington" with the DC set largely grumbling over "the Iraqi government's perceived foot-dragging" but US House Rep Joe Sestak noting "reports out that that appear to indicate that undue, unfair preference and the influence of our oil companies are part of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law" and US House Rep and 2008 US presidential contender Dennis Kucinich calling "on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator [Harry] Reid to drop the Iraqi oil law as a benchmark for progress in Iraq." Emma Sabry (Al Jazeera Magazine) noted that the proposed privatization law also has created concern over Iraq's future with some believing the passage would lead Iraq to split into three regions, destroying the country and creating a federation. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes Iraqi Parliamentarian Mahmoud Othman declaring that the bill will not be passed on May 31s: "There's no way it will be done by then. Not even close."

Turning to US political news,
Joe Lauria (The Progressive) profiles Mike Gravel who is running for the Democratic nomination for president. Gravel, a former US senator, returned to politics and Laurie recounts some of Gravel's past actions with regards to ending the illegal war in Vietnam which included co-sponsoring a resolution to cut off funding and reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record June 29, 1971: "Gravel not only released the Pentagon Papers and filibustered an end to the draft, he also spearheaded the opposition in the Senate to nuclear weapons testing in Alaska, an issue that led to the creation of Greenpeace. His iconoclastic stands against the draft, government secrecy, American adventurism, and corporate dominance and for public financing of elections, national government by popular ballot initiative, a universal single-payer health care voucher plan, and a national sales tax were essentially laid out while he was still in the Senate. But he believes current times have resurrected those positions and refurbished his relevance."

How would Gravel end the illegal war? He's provided an example at his website, "
United States Armed Forces Withdrawal From Iraq Act:"

Effective 60 days after this bill becomes law:
1. The Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq (H.J. Res. 114), approved by the House of Representatives on October 10, 2002 and by the Senate on October 11, 2002, is hereby repealed.
2. All members of the United States Armed Forces must be withdrawn from Iraq, except the Marine Corps guards serving on the sovereign territory of the United States at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and performing solely typical embassy guard duties. No member of the United States armed forces may remain within the borders of Iraq on and after the 61st day after this bill becomes law.
3. No funds authorized or appropriated at any time by any other Act of Congress or controlled by the United States or any of its officers, employees, or agents (whether or not the use of such controlled funds has been authorized or appropriated by an Act of Congress) may be used to conduct or support military or para-military operations (whether conducted by members of the United States Armed Forces or by military personnel or civilians of any nation) within or over the territory of Iraq (which territory of Iraq includes the waters within 3 miles of the Iraqi coast) except for travel by the Marine Corps embassy guards allowed by Section 2.
4. On the 62nd day after this bill becomes law and on the first business day of each month thereafter (for a period of one year following the 62nd day after this bill becomes law), each of the following officials shall deliver to the Congress a separate written certificate signed by the official under penalty of perjury certifying that since the 61st day after this bill becomes law the United States has complied with the sections of this law indicated immediately after each official's position:
a. the President - sections 2 and 3
b. the Vice President - sections 2 and 3
c. the Secretary of Defense - sections 2 and 3
d. the Secretary of the Treasury - section 3
5. It shall be unlawful for any person willfully and knowingly to violate, or to conspire to violate, any provision of this law or to deliver a written certificate to the Congress as required by Section 4 which certificate is false. The provisions of this Section 5 shall not apply to any person who, at the time of the violation, was a uniformed member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces below general officer or flag rank (below the rank of Brigadier General or below the rank of Rear Admiral). Any violation of any provision of this law, and conspiracies to commit such a violation, occurring outside the United States, shall be prosecuted only in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over any such prosecution. Each act constituting a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of $1,000,000 and by imprisonment for five years (without the possibility of parole, probation, or reduction in fine or sentence for any reason other than a written certificate from the prosecuting attorney representing the United States to the effect that the convicted person has provided information necessary to a conviction actually obtained of some person of higher rank for a violation of any provision of this law). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the event any fine is not paid as ordered by the court, the Secretary of the Treasury shall deduct the unpaid amount of the fine from any funds otherwise payable for any reason by the United States to any person convicted of a violation of any provision of this law. Such deductions shall continue until the fine has been paid in full. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any prosecution of a violation of any provision of this law must commence within fifteen (15) years after the violation occurred.

From DC,
CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin (writing at Common Dreams) shares her observations of the political situation (Senators more detatched from the voters, most politicians having to make some attempt to respond to the people) and concludes: "It's obvious that these Democratic candidates, who are out among the public day after day, feel the pulse of the nation and are taking anti-war positions to win votes. Unfortunately, other Senators aren't feeling that same kind of pressure.If we want to end the war, this must change. Our Senators-especially the 71 who failed to support Feingold's bill-need to hear from us on a regular basis. So why not add to your morning routine a call to your Senator with a simple reminder to bring our troops home in 2007? If enough of us make those calls, perhaps the Senators will actually wake up and smell the coffee."

In other activism news,
Jonathan Nack (Indybay IMC) -- has text and audio/video -- and Jeff Paterson(Indybay IMC) report on Sunday's successful efforts to shut down the Port of Oakland where "longshoremen honored an anti-war community picket line at the SSA Terminal in the Port of Oalkand. Three ships sat at the SSA docks, and cargo did not move." The Oakland actions follows similar actions that have taken place in Washington.
Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) reports on the student movements to end the war forcusing on actions in Vermont (which "has the highest number of per capita deaths from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan") "Mary Coleman-Howard, a student at the university of Vermont and one of the primary organizers of the recent VTCN conference. My first question regarding the conference concerned numbers and the general mood of those attending. Mary estimated that between forty-five and fifty students from six campuses were in attendance. Their general mood was one of excitement and a desire to do everything they can to end the war, including civil disobedience and extralegal forms of direct action. If there was one drawback to the conference, it was the lack of high school students. Mary attributed this to the fact that she and other oganizers focused mostly on colleges this time around."

Lastly, a look at another activist airs tomorrow night
The Sundance Channel:Tuesday, May 22nd 9:30 pm e/pForest For The Trees (U.S. Television Premiere) -- Directed by Bernadine Mellis. Mellis follows her father, civil rights lawyer Dennis Cunningham, as he goes to federal court in 2002 on behalf of his client, the late environmental activist Judi Bari. A leader of EarthFirst!, Bari was injured in a car bombing as she prepared for 1990's "Redwood Summer," a peaceful action protesting the logging of old-growth redwoods in Northern California. Arrested for the crime but never charged, Bari believed she was targeted in order to discredit her organization and sued the FBI and the Oakland Police. A suspenseful chronicle of an important trial, Forest for the Trees is also a profile of a dynamic and funny woman, who earned the respect of loggers as well as environmentalists.