Friday, February 09, 2007

Back from Tacoma

Friday! :D I'm at Rebecca & Flyboy's with Elaine, Cedric and Wally. Instead of heading straight down to Florida, Wally decided to spend the weekend. Then when Wally decided to do that, C.I. asked Cedric if he wanted to do that too because Cedric's the only one who hasn't gotten to see Rebecca since she found out she was pregnant. Cedric was going "no" and all but C.I. goes Rebecca would love to see him and it's no big deal money wise. (Cedric asked me to say thank you to C.I. in this post so, to C.I. from Cedric, "Thank you." And Rebecca said Wally and Cedric are probably among the best special deliveries from C.I. she's had since she got pregnant. :D)

We were talking about staying later, until 10:00 EST, in Tacoma to be there for the rally but that would have meant another day in Tacoma (which is a great place) and we were all ready to head out. Kat more than anyone. She goes, "If I don't hear KPFA and soon, I'm going to go nuts." :D

Ehren Watada? Who knows what the government's going to do but Marjorie Cohn knows the law and I'll go with what she says. The trial was stopped after the prosecution presented their case (and failed) and the defense didn't want a mistrail, they wanted to go forward. So Judge Toilet called the mistrial over the defense's objection. I don't think it's fair that he be tried again (I don't think he should have been court-martialed in the first place). The trial was going on and the one who wanted to end it was Judge Toilet and the prosecution, not the defense. So they made the decision to end it over the defense's objection. Double jeopardy. Ehren should walk, the government should leave it alone. Rebecca's "ehren in the clear?" offers a lot about Marjorie Cohn's views on the case so check that out.

As soon as we got here, Flyboy and Rebecca ask Cedric and Wally how many clean clothes they have? One more day's worth. So they said start washing so that wouldn't have to be done later. That was good because we (I threw in clothes too) started a load, went for a walk, came back, tossed it in the dryer, started another load and got to look around at the nursery and stuff (yeah, I've already seen it, but it's still cool). Then we all (everyone, even Rebecca who we said, "No, rest") ended up folding the first load, Flyboy and Elaine started cooking dinner (Flyboy's quite a chef -- he says it's due to Ruth's help -- and Elaine's a really good one too even though she always acts like she's not). So by the time that was ready, we had the second load folded and all done. Rebecca goes, she never would have thought of suggesting that but she's trying to get in "Mom mode" now that she's pregnant. :D Now we don't have to worry about that and it wouldn't have been a problem for me because I'm not that far from Rebecca's but like Cedric and Wally are going to be exhausted when they get home and with Cedric having work on Monday, the last thing he's going to want to do is wash clothes as soon as he gets back.

They were all asking us about Tacoma and what it was like to be there and all. It was a lot of fun. It really was. We demonstrated and that alone was something. Some of us also went around speaking and that was pretty cool. And the way it worked out, with Watada hopefully being done with this, was just like the best. I mean, before that, what I was hoping was that the jury would find him not guilty of some of the charges but I figured they wouldn't have the guts to find him completely innocent and it would be appeals and all that right away. So that really was a cool way to go out on.

I need to mention Sunny. I was talking about everyone and I didn't mention her yesterday. The reason for that is because I didn't know if it was okay. She was there with the guy she's going to marry and I won't try to spell the "f" word because I'll screw it up. But they were out there demonstrating and Sunny was all, "I'll go but I'm not going to speak" on two things and she ended up speaking at both of them. Her husband to be was so impressed and we were all were. She really cut to the chase and did an amazing job. And she was so surprised. You could just see it in her face. She did a really great job and it was a lot of fun to hang with her. (Sunny's filled in for Elaine at Like Maria Said Paz and she's Elaine's assistant -- she runs the office at Elaine's practice.)

We also had a lot of stories about the fun we had and all. And since I haven't mentioned them, let me note that it was so much fun to be working on something that mattered with everyone included Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava. And Jim and me checked out Cheney Stadium. If you don't know it, it's where the minor league team the Tacoma Rainiers play. We're both big baseball fans and we were surprised because it's like next to a school. Tacoma's a really cool town. We also kept meaning to check out Happy Dragon Chinese restaurant but never did. But we kept hearing about them when we'd ask what was good. (C.I. loves Chinese food and we should have tried it just for that reason but also because everybody kept mentioning it.) But it was really cool to go there. It's a cool city but just cool to be able to say, "Yeah, I've been to Tacoma." :D

Except for the corner of the east coast, I really didn't know much about other states from visiting them so that's pretty exciting when I think about that and how I've been to DC lots of times now and out to California and to Mexico for Rebecca and Flyboy's wedding and now Tacoma. I'm going on the trip next month to Texas and I'm really excited about that. Both to get to meet some of the community members and also to see Texas. When Ava, Jess and C.I. were there last week, it was freezing and that blew me away, hearing about that. There was snow too. I wouldn't have thought that. When I think of Texas, I think of the sun just beating down all the time. So that'll be a pretty fun week, just getting to see what Texas is really like. And then I can say, "Yeah, Texas, I've been there." :D

Okay, this is from Robert Parry's "Will the Dems Finally Play Hardball?" and Rebecca and I are both highlighting Consortium News and Kat called to check on Rebecca and she says she'll highlight something from the site tonight too:

The Republicans scored a political victory of sorts by thwarting a non-binding Senate resolution that would have expressed mild disapproval of George W. Bush's military escalation in Iraq. When the resolution was blocked, White House officials reportedly gave each other high-fives.
The GOP's use of parliamentary procedures to prevent a floor debate was another sharp elbow in the ribs of the new Democratic congressional majority, which has been trying since November to behave in a bipartisan way on foreign policy, graciously approving Bush’s new war council with nary a tough question.
However, perhaps the humiliation over the Iraq War resolution will finally show the Democrats that it’s time to play the political game the way the Republicans do -- to win. It also may be time to start seeking meaningful accountability from senior figures in this administration, not just from low-level has-beens like former Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer.
For instance, there's the case of Vice President Dick Cheney, who organized a smear campaign against Iraq War critic Joseph Wilson. The public evidence is now overwhelming that Cheney abused his authority to discredit Wilson, a former ambassador who had undertaken an important fact-finding assignment for the CIA.
Currently, Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is on trial, facing five felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly seeking to conceal his role in attacking Wilson, which included disclosing the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA officer.
After Plame's identity was exposed, her CIA career was destroyed and her spy network examining nuclear proliferation in the Middle East was compromised.
Since independent counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has given no indication that he intends to expand his Plame-gate investigation beyond the Libby trial, it perhaps is time for the House Judiciary Committee to formulate plans for hearings on Cheney's role.
Committee hearings could take the form of oversight for possible changes in the law to protect the identities of CIA officers or the hearings could address a possible censure resolution against Cheney. Arguably, Cheney's actions deserve consideration for impeachment, but Democratic leaders have ruled that "off the table."
Still, by having the House Judiciary Committee -- the body responsible for initiating impeachment proceedings -- hold the hearings, the Democrats would send a message that they are no longer willing to be trifled with, nor will they tolerate continuing innuendos that their opposition to the Iraq War shows they lack patriotism.

So what do you think, are the Dems going to get a spine? I don't see it coming. I see some who stand up and it seems like they've been standing up for awhile now. What about the rest? They don't seem too concerned with looking useless and cowardly. John Conyers heads the Judiciary Committee in the House so we might be able to see some real action there. Otherwise, I'm not too sure.

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

Friday, February 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's mistrial continues to be debated, "Who cooked the intel?" becomes a popular question, a leader of one group of resistance fighters in Iraq is quite clear in what is needed to end the war, and "Woops! We thought they were 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda!"

Starting with Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first commissioned officer in the US to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq because the war was illegal and immoral. On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and
"[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

Yesterday, on KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the mistrial. Cohn's belief (based on expertise) is that the government's case is over -- that, military or civilian, courts must respect the laws of the land and that includes avoiding double-jeopardy (trying a person for the same alleged crimes twice). As Rebecca notes, Cohn explained that the stipulation Judge Toilet made much ado over was a stipulation (agreement between the prosecution and the defense) that both sides had agreed to, that the jury was made aware of, that Judge Toilet had looked over and, up until it was time for the defense to present their case, Judge Toilet never voiced any concerns over the stipulation, More importantly, Cohen pointed out, "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 manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" which, in Cohn's opinion, there wasn't. At Counterpunch, Cohen also made the case "that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officers." Leila Fujimori (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Earle Partington ("local attorney with decades in military justice") who also stated that "military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for the trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday". Marjorie Cohn had explained to Nora Barrows-Friedman that Judge Toilet floated the idea of a mistrial and when the prosecution (taking the hint) asked for one, the defense did not consent to a mistrial. Also making this point is Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: "The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Because 1st Lt. Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison. 'I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted."

Yesterday, reporting for Free Speech Radio News, Aaron Glantz noted Carolyn Ho's reaction to the mistrial ("tears started streaming down her cheek"). Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada: "He was quite prepared to vacate his apartment. It's been all packed up and, you know, and we were arranging to have his furniture moved on Monday. The expectation was that he would be sentenced and, um, that there would be incarceration." Reporting for IPS (text), Glantz noted Eric Seitz's contention: "Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases result in mistrials."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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.

War resister Joshua Key self-checked out of the US army after serving in Iraq. He, Brandi Key (his wife) and their children moved to Canada. Key has written a book on his experience in Iraq and after entitled The Deserter's Tale. Brian Lynch (The Georgia Straight) notes: "And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that 'the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told.'
This, he believes, is a tactic that the highest political and military leaders in his native country have used on the public itself. Field commanders, he says on the phone, 'try to keep you scared, keep you motivated. And that's exactly what's happened to the [American] people as well. Everybody is so afraid of terrorism... And of course, from my actions in Iraq, I think the terrorism hasn't begun yet--terrorism from all the little Iraqi children that I terrorized myself. There's going to be a flip side to that. There will be consequences'."

Cause and effect.

On today's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman noted: "In Iraq, the US military is facing allegations of killing forty-five Iraqi civililans in an airstrike near Amiriyah. Police and hospital officials say the bombings flattened four homes in the village of Zaidan, just south Abu Ghraib, killing women, childre, and the elderly. A photograph released by the Associated Press shows the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck taken to the nearby Falluja hospital. Several other children were reportedly admitted with injuries. The US military denies the account and says thirteen insurgents were killed."

That incident was explored in yesterday's snapshot (and you can tie it with the Najaf incident which Tom Hayden recently wrote about). Today, Al Jazeera reports: "The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell." Had? Before we get there, please note that in Najaf, in the strike near Amiriyah, in countless 'battles,' the motive is always said to be 'suspected' this or that. And when innocents die in the attacks, it doesn't change the fact that intended targets (present or not) are still only 'suspected'. So who were US forces ordered to kill in Mosul? The BBC says: "Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US helicopter strike". Lauren Frayer (AP) reports that "U.S. helicopters on Friday mistakenly killed at least five Kurdish troops, a group that Washington hopes to enlist as a partner to help secure Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said."

Now a few things to note. 1) When you have some level of power, you can have the record corrected. That's what happened here. The US military had already issued their press release claiming suspected al Qaeda had been killed. 2) Calling it a "mistake" doesn't mitigate the effects on the families and friends of the eight dead. 3) Even when 'apologizing' the flacks for the US military still want to quibble on how many were killed (8 is the Kurdish figure and the media's figure, the US military has tried to stick 5). This is why 'suspected' or potential 'suspected' really should raise eyebrows. As evidenced by yesterday's denial, which has only continued, the US military refuses to acknowledge that children were killed in the attack. Instead the military spokespeople want to crow about how they got 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda -- 'suspected.'

Meanwhile, Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on Abu Salih Al-Jeelani ("one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement") and his group ("20th Revolution Brigades") which has issued a statement on what it will take for there to be a ceasefire:

* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as "proof of goodwill"

* Recognition "of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people".

* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.

* The negotiations to take place in public.

* The resistance "must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades".

* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.

All starred items are direct quotes from Fisk's article. The leader says they also want the constitution of Iraq and the deals arranged (especially with regards to the oil) cancelled -- to be replaced by things deriving from the Iraqi people and not foreign occupiers.

In the United States, one of the big stories is the cooking of intel. Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) notes that "the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . . Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) report US Senator Carl Levin stated, "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. . . . The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war" and the reporters note: "The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work."

In some reports, Feith is noted as saying he was not wrong. Of course he wasn't wrong. He cooked the intel exactly as he wanted. Was it burned? Of course, that's how he wanted it, that's how he served it.

And on clever propaganda, CBS and AP report that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared that there is "pretty good" evidence of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Pretty good? Gates' word is supposed to be all anyone needs. Gates paints a story of 'weapons' found that are from Iran. What is he suggesting? That the Iranian government gave the Iraqi resistance the weapons? No, he means markings show that they were made in Iran. (That's his word -- take it for what it's not worth.) How shocking! People could get weapons from a country that borders their own! Oh my!

It proves nothing -- and the US firearms are all over the Iraqi black market -- but it's the new talking point. Expect to see a lot more of it.

Addressing the issue of Iran, Juan Cole told Steve Rendell (on this week's CounterSpin): "Of coures the entire discourse of Washington has been, for many years, to get Iran and all Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, some of which have been quite serious and wide ranging have been rebuffed. Iran has been kept as an enemy because Washington wants it as an enemy." Probably won't catch that in the mainstream.


Reuters notes 17 dead in Mosul from a roadside bomb while 2 were killed (eight wounded) in Hilla from a roadside bomb.

Shootings?Reuters reports that three people were shot dead (and 10 wounded) in Baghdad today.Corpses?

AFP reports that eleven corpses were discovered today in Mahawil -- "floating in the Al-Malih river" -- after they and two others were kidnapped on Thursday (the other were released and are alive*) and, in Amara, Mohammed Qasim Kerkuki 's corpse was discovered ("riddled with bullets"). (*AFP reports that, other agencies don't address the two. Al Jazeera notes that the kidnappers were wearing "Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles".)

Yesterday's snapshot didn't note corpses. My apologies. Reuters reported 16 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad on Thursday. Please note, it's Friday. The majority of the violence (that gets reported) will emerge slowly throughout the rest of Friday.

Meanwhile the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical." That brought the count for UK troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 132.

Also today the US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." AP's count for the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 3,117.

Finally, seven days ago, the Democratica National Committee held the Winter Meeting in DC and the mainstream's coverage was -- "Who didn't stick to the time limit! Nobody said anything!" Dennis Kucinich, US House Rep and 2008 candidate for president did speak and addressed a number of issues. Our focus is Iraq so we'll focus on the Iraq section. Kucinich: "Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war. Fellow Democrats, of all decisions a President must make, the one most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occured in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it because, fellow Democrats, right now the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress' constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq. Fellow Democrats, I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give the President the money to continue the war the Democratic Party will have bought the war."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Marjorie Cohn, Media Matters, Ehren Watada

Thursday! And if everything holds, if they stick to the law, Ehren Watada can't be tried again. So keep hoping. I am. That would be so great if Judge Toilet, who wanted to flush Ehren Watada down the legal justice system, ended up flushing the case by mistake. :D

Kat was here in Tacoma for the whole thing and she says she just feels "groggy." She was really out of it this morning. We tried to wake her twice and then figured, let her sleep because when you're out of it like that, you must be dead to the world.

C.I. knows I think Marjorie Cohn is pizza with pineapples (I was looking for a new phrase) so I got slid over this. It'll be noted at The Common Ills tonight and let me point out that Mia's the one who e-mailed C.I. to highlight it. Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyer's Guild. This is from her "Watada Beats the Government:"

When the Army judge declared a mistrial over defense objection in 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's court martial yesterday, he probably didn't realize jeopardy attached. That means that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. He claimed those orders were unlawful because the war is illegal and he would be an accomplice to war crimes if he followed them.
The judge refused to allow me and others to testify as expert defense witnesses on the illegality of the Iraq war and the war crimes the Bush administration is committing there.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice sets forth the duty of military personnel to obey only lawful commands. Article 92 says: "A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the law of the United States "
Lt. Watada said at a June 6, 2006 press conference in Tacoma, Washington, "The war in Iraq is in fact illegal. It is my obligation and my duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war." He stated, "An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself. So my obligation is not to follow the order to go to Iraq."
Citing "deception and manipulation and willful misconduct by the highest levels of my chain of command," Lt. Watada declared there is "no greater betrayal to the American people" than the Iraq war.
The "turning point" for Lt. Watada came when he "saw the pain and suffering of so many soldiers and their families, and innocent Iraqis." He said, "I best serve my soldiers by speaking out against unlawful orders of the highest levels of my chain of command, and making sure our leaders are held accountable." Lt. Watada felt he "had the obligation to step up and do whatever it takes," even if that means facing court martial and imprisonment.
Lt. Watada did face court martial, and four years in prison, until the judge declared a mistrial.

I hope she's right. I know she's right about the law because she knows it but I know this administration isn't really focused on what's legal and what isn't. (She's got a book coming out soon on that.) Democracy Now! aired a report by Geoffery Millard. I didn't get to catch it. I'll try to tomorrow. We were speaking pretty much all day and there were huge problems online today. I thought I'd watch at lunch and I couldn't get anything to pull up. That was true of everybody. Did somebody try to hack the net again? That happened a few days ago. The report is on Ehren Watada so be sure to check that out. (I'm going through C.I.'s notes for "And the war drags on . . ." I said, "I'm talked out! Help!" C.I. slid the notes over. Which was really nice. There's an excerpt C.I.'s using but I won't grab that.)

Okay, I found something on my own. I'm putting up this transcript and then I'm going to talk about it and tell you what it's from (program and who highlighted it):

ROBERTSON: You know there's a lady named Greta Van Susteren, who's on Fox.
WATTS: Yeah.
ROBERTSON: Got a very popular --
WATTS: Oh, I saw her.
ROBERTSON: She looked gorgeous last night, but she had a really serious facial deal. And it did a wonder --
WATTS: Sister needed help.
ROBERTSON: Sister got the help.
WATTS: Sister -- she needed some help, yeah.
ROBERTSON: But she got it. She just looks great, and she's so popular.
WATTS: But have you ever seen someone who got it too much, and so they come up to you, and they're like, "Pat, how are you doing? It's so good to see you."
ROBERTSON: Yeah, they got the eyes like they're Oriental, and, you know, it's all pulled. So, make sure you do it right. But -- it's -- that's one way you can go, but it'll cost you five or six thousand dollars probably. All right. What else?

That's from Media Matters' "Robertson: Too much plastic surgery gives people 'Oriental' eyes" and they're zeroing in on the racist remark at the end. But do you know who said it and where? Read the above and tells me what it sounds like? The reason I ask is that "Robertson" is Pat Robertson and that's from The 700 Club which is allegedly a religious show. They're talking about facelifts and saying things like, "Sister got the help"? They're a religious show? Did I miss the sermon Jesus gave on plastic surgery?

The racist thing is shocking from anyone but if you wonder how it happens on an allegedly religious show, there's your answer -- they're not a religious show, they're not talking about religion, they're just whoring themselves out to praise a Fox "News" anchor and promote that network. They wouldn't know Jesus if he was standing next to them.

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

Thursday, February 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the court-martial of Ehren Watada comes to a surprising end (Aaron Glantz: "It seemed at the beginning that it would to be a slam dunk for the prosecutors but here we are, three days into the trial, and it's ended in a mistrial."), more US troops die are announced dead and the AP total reaches 31114 since the start of the illegal war; Baghdad's health ministry gets stormed and the "gunmen" aren't whom you might expect,

Starting with
Ehren Watada. Yesterday, Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) decided to interject him into the proceedings -- going so far as to question Watada -- and then decided he would declare a mistrial. Aaron Glantz spoke with Sandra Lupien on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News and explained that the 'judge' was "essentially throwing out the agreement that the prosecution and the defense made together on the eve of the trial." The agreement was the stipulation that the defense and the prosecution came to an agreement on whereby Watada acknowledged making statements that were published and broadcast (thereby removing the need for reporters to come to court and affirm their reporting). Both sides agreed to the stipulation and the judge was aware of it and poured over it. Until Wednesday, it was not a problem. Daisuke Wakabayashi's (Reuters) explains the agreement, "In the stipulation, Watada said he did not board the plane with the rest of his unit to Iraq and admitted to making public statements criticizing the war and accusing U.S. President George W. Bush's administration of deceiving the American people to enter into a war of aggression. Watada does not dispute the facts, but said it was not an admission of guilt because it does not take into account the intent behind his actions." John Nichols (The Nation) picks up there noting the judge felt there was no "meeting of the minds" and without such a meeting "there's not a contract" -- despite the fact that both the prosecution and the defense agreed there was a contract -- and so, overruling efforts by the prosecution to again state "that they were not arguing that the agreement represented an admission of guilt by Watada." Eli Sanders (Time magazine) observes that Judge Toilet's declaration of a mistrial was "a surprising development that left military prosecutors clearly frustrated, observers stunned and defense attorneys claiming that the military had blown its only chance at a conviction." Frustrated? Stunned? As The Honolulu Advertiser notes this was "a weird bit of courtroom drama, both parties agreed with each other that Head was wrong." Sam Howe Verhovek (Los Angeles Times) reports that, regardless of what happens next, "the judge's ruling amounted to a temporary moral victory for the lieutenant in a case that many legal observers had considered a virtual slam-dunk for the Army."

So what does that mean? At this point, meaning is up in the air.
Corey Moss (MTV News) was among the ones noting that Judge Toilet had scheduled a court-martial for next month. No, he's not planning on court-martialing himself though that would qualify as justice. He thinks Watada can be retried. Others aren't so sure. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Watada's defense doubts that assertion and that John Junker ("University of Washington law professor") feels that another court-martial would be double-jeopardy for Watada, "The notion is that you can't just stop in the middle and say, 'I don't like the way it's going' and start over." Howe Verhovek quotes Ann Wright (retired State Department, retired col.) who declares, "The legal mess we saw here today reflects the major mess the Bush administration has made with the war in Iraq." If you can follow the above, consider yourself smarter than William Yardley (New York Times) who drops the issue of double jeopardy by merely noting that "the circumstances surrounding the mistrial, including the fact that the judge rejected a stipulation he had initially approved, could allow Lieutenant Watada to avoid prosecution altogether" -- all in the concluding sentence. Where it stands now for Ehren Watada? Aaron Glantz told Sandra Lupien (The KPFA Evening News) that if it another court-martial is held, "We're going to go back to the original charges. Some of the charges were dropped as a result of the agreement . . . Those charges are now back on the table."
Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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.

In Iraq today, the violence continues.


AP reports 20 dead and 45 wounded in Aziziyah as a result of a car bombing "at a meat market". CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad that killed seven on a minibus with at least more hurt.


BBC reports that 14 members of one family were shot down in Balad. Al Jazeera reports that an attack on police in Baquba left 4 police officers "and a civilian" dead.

Today the
US military announced: "Four Marines assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 7 from wounds sustained due to enemy action in two separate incidents, while operating in Al Anbar Province." The AP count of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now "at least 3,114."

Meanwhile the
US military is boasting of having 'captured a senior Military of Health official today' -- Hakim al-Zamili. How difficult is it to capture someone serving in the Iraqi ministries? Apparently quite difficult, Al Jazeera reports that "US and Iraqi forces have stormed the health ministry building in Baghdad" and quotes the ministry spokesperson (Qassem Allawi) saying: "American forces accompanied by Iraq forces broke into the ministry, forced the guards to lie on the floor and took Zamili." Damien Cave and Jon Elsen (New York Times) report an eye witness saying that the US troops were "like cowboys, firing their weapons into the air" and that "they broke dooors and window glass as they made their way through the building". AP reports: "A large white boot print was left on the bullet-pocked office door, which apparently had been kicked in by troops, and shattered glass and overturned computers and phones were scattered on the floor." Those details don't make it into the US military's official press release though "suspected of" "kickback schemes" is all over the place. In the US, that would be the equiavlent of storming the offices of Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health & Human Services, or one of his undersecretaries; in Iraq, it's all rah-rah, all the time. No surprise, Al Jazzera reports that there is a talk that the health ministry will "go on strike unless al-Zamili is released" and their correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid states: "Under the current situation in Baghdad, that could have a devastating effect on the citizens."
The same rah-rah that leads to attacks on governmental offices in Iraq, also leads to the deaths in Amiriyah. What are the commanders hopped up on that the US military sees anything worth boasting of in those events? Let's start off with reality.
AP reports: "Police and hospital officials in the area offered a conflicting account, saying the airstrike hit the village of Zaidan south of Abu Ghraib and flattened four houses, killing 45 people, including women, children and old people. An Associated Press photo showed the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck at the nearby Fallujah hospital and people there said he was a victim of the Zaydan airstrike. Other photos showed several wounded children being treated in the hospital." Now you just know all of that gets left out of the official US military press release. What is included? "Intelligence reports indicated an individual associated with foreign fighter facilitation was in the targeted area." Intelligence reports indicated? Civilians were targeted and killed. At some point Americans are going to have to start asking questions about actions like this. This was one person "associated" -- who may or may not have been present. Not only is his or her presence in doubt, so is any link -- "associated." If you can grasp that, start asking who sends troops in to attack civilians? Four houses were flattened, civilians were targeted and killed. These are the actions that breeds the resistance. There's no, "Oops, meant well!" Not when it's your family or your friends who are dead. This is the (still illegal) war Bully Boy is selling. More US troops on the ground mean more dead civilians. More dead civilians mean more Iraqis joining the resistance. This is the never ending cycle and those not addicted to revisionary tactics recognize the echoes from Vietnam.

In the United States, Senator John Warner and other Republicans are pushing for support of the non-binding resolution.
CBS and AP report that Warner and six other Republican senators are attempting to buck their party's shut down on the non-binding resolution. In their letter (PDF format), Warner, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith and George Voinovich write: "The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time. It urgently deserves the attention of the full Senate and a full debate on the Senate floor without delay" . . . before concluding: "We strongly believe the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concept brought forward by other Senators. Monday's procedural vote should not be interpreted as any lessening of our resolve to go forward advocating the concepts of S. Con. Res. 7. We will explore all of our options under the Senate procedures and practices to ensure a full and open debate on the Senate floor. The current stalemate is unnacceptable to us and to the people of this country." The non-binding, toothless resolution is purely symoblic and you can be sure the signers of the letter know that and also know that "The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time" will be picked up everywhere and give them the cover of appearing to have actually addressed ending the illegal war and bringing US troops home -- the message voters sent in the November elections.

They are also, no doubt aware, that next week the other half of Congress, the House of Representatives is set to address the war quite a bit more seriously than anything the Senate has done all month.
Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) reports that, next week, the House is expected to devote at least "three days of debate" to the Iraq war; that "[s]eventy-one Democratic representatives signed a statement urging Congress to take a strong stance against the war, including setting a six-month timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq" and he quotes Rep Dennis Kucinich (also 2008 presidential candidate) stating of the Senate's measure: "The nonbinding resolution is like putting your foot on the brake for a moment and a few weeks later, putting your foot on the accelator. . . . Congress has a chance to do something real on the war. A nonbinding resolution just doesn't cut it."
Anthony Arnove (ISR) observes: "All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and restrictions on civil liberties. The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ehren Watada's mistrial

Wednesday! What do you think of the news? Judge Toilet declared a mistrial in Ehren Watada's court-martial. Not because he gives a damn about Ehren Watada, but to save the prosectution's ass, if you ask me.

We're all posting the same news item on this. This is from Corey Moss' "War Objector's Court-Martial Ends In Mistrial:"

The court-martial of Ehren Watada, an Army lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq, ended in a mistrial Wednesday (February 7) after a judge ruled that the soldier misunderstood a document he signed admitting to some of the charges against him.
(See Watada talk about the charges against him and why he refuses to go to Iraq in this video interview conducted before the mistrial.)
Military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head, who set a March 12 date for a new trial, ruled that Watada intended to acknowledge that he did not go to Iraq with his unit in June but never meant to admit he had a duty to go there.

That's MTV! Ehren Watada got covered by MTV! I think that's great.

I also think that the only one benefitting from the mistrial ruling won't be the prosecution. Ehren Watada's going to benefit as well. There's been a lot of attention. Today, C.I., Ava, Jess, Jim, Wally and me spoke on four campuses. (We also participated in the demonstrations. Dona,
Ty, Cedric and Kat were demonstrating all day non-stop.) Me and Wally would talk about how far we traveled to be here and be like, "Come on, you could all be there with no trouble at all."
And we could say that because it was true. And it really seemed to hit home. The biggest question or statment, I guess, was that they really hadn't thought about it making any difference. I think when the court-martial starts back up in March, the new one, they're going to find the crowds are even bigger.

I really like getting to go on those things because there are people who are doing more than me (probably not to hard to reach that marker) and people who are doing less and people who are probably do about as much and we're all sharing and talking and learning. It's really cool. One guy goes he wanted to go but thought it would just be a lot of angry people screaming. Well, I'm angry Ehren's being court-martialed, but it's not a bunch of angry people screaming. He'd seen something on TV that made him think that.

Now people should scream and I bet they do sometimes. I was chanting (not screaming) today when we were outside Fort Lewis. But it's a lot more than just that and people really do care. I was talking about two people I met outside Fort Lewis and he was just really interested in that and it totally blew apart whatever he'd seen on the local news.

And stuff like that was happening all of the time. So I really do think there are going to be even more people out there come March.

I'm kind of hyper. Everyone else is either asleep or crashed and doing nothing. Dona and Jim are lying in front of the jam box and she's in a Carly mood. (Dad's going to be so bummed when I tell him that! He loves it whenever anyone's just playing CDs!) She's listened to Playing Possum and has Into White playing right now. Into White's pretty cool and if you haven't gotten it yet, read this. That's the link to Kat's review of it and she just did "Kat's Korner: Lizzie West, faith in yourself" last weekend so you can check that out too. She's pretty tired. I don't know how much of it is being bummed by the mistrial decision and how much of it is just preparing herself for whatever might happen (Ehren being free or being found guilty) only to have the rug pulled up. It's like the game got called on account of rain or something.

Oh, I was going to note this, this is from Phyllis Bennis' "Congress: Treat Iraq Like The Contras"
and it's really worth reading, we were talking about this tonight while we were eating dinner (or the first dinner!):

In 1982, angered by a White House secretly escalating an unpopular war in Central America, the House passed the Boland Amendment, a rider to the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983. The amendment was crafted by Massachusetts Congressman Edward Boland, and was designed to cut off funds the CIA and other intelligence agencies were using to carry out sabotage attacks in Nicaragua and to support the anti-government Contra guerrillas. The Senate had a Republican majority at the time, but even members of President Reagan’s own party were outraged when he launched his Contra-backing warfare without even notifying Congressional oversight committees.
So far, the newly Democrat-controlled Congress has not been outraged enough to use its constitutionally-mandated power to force an end to the lethal war in Iraq. Perhaps they will still rise to the occasion, ending the war by cutting funds for the war.
But there is still time right now--before the Bush administration makes good on its rising threats--to stop the looming war in Iran. We need a new Boland Amendment, one that will pre-empt any possibility of the White House launching an attack against Iran.
In recent weeks the threat of war in Iran has qualitatively escalated. Provocative U.S. attacks on Iranian diplomatic offices, arrests of Iranian officials inside Iraq, and the installation of a second U.S. aircraft carrier group in the Persian Gulf seem all but openly designed to goad Tehran to respond. Repeated Bush administration threats about “dealing with” alleged Iranian involvement in attacks on U.S. soldiers resonate back to equally unproven claims about Iraq’s WMDs. Both have been calculated to ratchet up public and media support for a U.S. attack--on Iraq then, and on Iran now--and to undercut any potential congressional move to stop a new attack.

Is Congress going to do a damn thing? Or are the Democrats just planning on sitting on their hands for the next two years? If they're not planning on doing something, they better expect to get a lot fewer votes in 2008. Russ Feingold should run for president. He's one of the few people who seems willing to roll up his sleeves and address the issue. Get down to work. In the House, there are a few more like Dennis Kucinich (who I'd probably vote for if the election were tomorrow -- for president, he's running for president), Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and a few others. But most of them want to act like they can't do anything.

Like they're The Nation magazine! :D Oh, Naomi Klein, who's a real writer, has a great cover for her new book. C.I. was showing me the photos of it this evening. I forget what it's called. Something like Blank something. "Blank" is in the title I think. She's also going to do a CD of it as well. They're both coming out in September. I'm really excited about that. But if you asked anybody here, they'd probably just tell you that I'm excited period! :D

I'm sorry but I probably am. It just felt really good to be able to do something to show support for Ehren. He's really a brave guy and he deserves our support. That's another reason you should be active. I'm tired but flying. Doing something to speak out is good for you! :D

Dona just put on Have You Seen Me Lately? That's the first Carly Simon CD I ever really knew. Actually, there was another one. My parents used to play this one for my kid sister which was Carly reading some children's stories she'd written. But this was the first one I really remember. There's a song at the end called "We Just Got Here" that I used to love when I was a little kid. (I mean really little, like five or something.) There are a lot of great songs on this CD period but when I was little, that's the one I liked best. When we'd be piled into the van and almost home, I would beg that they play "We Just Got Here." I was a real pain in the butt! (Probably still am!)

I must be. I'm talking while I'm typing and Dona and Jim just said to post and come lay down on the floor with them or I'd be up all night! I go, "What is this, calm the toddler down!" :D
Seriously, I am bouncing off the walls tonight. I could probably keep typing up all night. But I won't make you suffer. :D

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, February 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another US helicopter is shot down in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial is on day three, the Iranian government levels accusations at the US government, and Melanie McPherson receives a sentence of three years.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq in June of last year and now is the subject of a court-martial at Fort Lewis where, if convicted of all charges, faces up to four years in prison. L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports on the people going to Tacoma, Washington to show their support for Watada such as Rose Takamoto who states, "I think it's really important" and "It's something that needs to be discussed while noting her disappointment in "local coverage from media outlets like the Mercury News, until this week." Though some of the press accounts tell a different story, Tuesday's proceedings were a huge boost for Watada. So it may come as little surprise that Reuters is reporting that Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. John Head) declared today that the trial could end in a mistrial -- which would result in another court-martial or, as many see it, a "do over" for the prosecution.

So let's review Tuesday's proceedings. Yesterday on
The KPFA Evening News, co-anchor Sandra Lupien discussed the proceedings with Aaron Glantz. (A section of this was played today on KPFA's The Morning Show.) Lupein noted that after selecting the seven officers to serve on the jury/military panel on Monday, the prosecution argued their case Tuesday and "who were its witnesses and what were their arguments?"
Aaron Glantz: The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosection's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to [Iraq] and that it did not inspire others in his unit to also refuse to go or to speak out against the war. And, while that may not be comforting to supporters of Lt. Watada who want to see him make a big impact, it cuts against the prosecution's case that his conduct was unbecoming an officer and a gentleman because it inspired deviant behavior amongst other troops.
Another thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military before coming forward to speak to the public. For example he proffered his resignation which was not accepted , he offered to go to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. Now Lt. Col. James, who is one of the higher ranking officials at Fort Lewis, testified that, as service members, we don't have the opportunity to choose where we go and that's why his desire to go to Afghanistan was turned down but Lt. Col. James also said that when Lt. Watada came to him to discuss his opposition to the Iraq war he did not enage him a moral debate which it was discussed by many other peopl in the role of a commanding officer in the US military.

Lupien asked what was expected for the third day of the court-martial (today).

Aaron Glantz: Well one of the interesting things is that Lt. Watada is the star witness for both the defense and the prosecution. Before the human witnesses came to testify for the prosectution, they played tapes of Lt. Watada himself speaking where he said the war was illegal and immoral. In particular they played a speech that he gave at the Veterans for Peace annual convention last year where he said. [. . .] Now this speech was played by the prosectuion, tomorrow the defense will call Lt. Watada as their star witness in order to explain why it is that he said this. [. . .] The defense had hoped to call a number of witness who could speak to the morality and ethics of the war and the judge in the case, Col. Head, refused to allow that into the courtroom saying it was irrelevant so, as a result. the defense is only calling Watada himself and a captain who was one of Lt. Watada's superiors.

In response to Lupien's question of whether Glatnz was expecting the trial to conclude on Thursady, he responded, "Obviously it depends upon how long this jury of US army officers takes to reach their decision -- and then we'll see the sentencing phase -- and of course that's where the defense is really looking because they do believe that he will be found guilty, at the very least, of missing movement, refusing to go to Iraq. It's less clear whether he'll be found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. But, in any case, that's where they really hope to make their case. So his attorneys have already said that they will appeal whatever comes out of it."

In the report, Glantz quoted from the speech Ehren Watada gave at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last August, hitting some of the key points. We'll emphasize this section of the speech (
from Darh Jamail's transcription at Truthout):

The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.
As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt individuals as much as they can corrupt institutions. The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system. Neither could they believe a standing army would be used for profit and manifest destiny. Like any common dictatorship, soldiers would be ordered to commit acts of such heinous nature as to be deemed most ungentlemanly and unbecoming that of a free country.
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.
Aside from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and its protectorate, the people. If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they stood up and threw their weapons down -- no President could ever initiate a war of choice again.

Geoffrey Millard is reporting on the proceedings for
Truthout. Millard asked Bill Simpich, civil rights attorney, about Atonia's testimony on Tuesday and Simpich offered this evaluation, "The prosecution asked too many questions, by the time it was over the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was wide open, the defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury."

As Glantz and Simpich both point out, the prosecution didn't make the case they wanted on Tuesday before resting.
Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Judge Toilet had to order the prosecution "to rephrase a question that strayed close to that prohibited subject" -- the illegality of the war -- "ordering 'move on!'" Ha Bernton (Seattle Times) notes the pathetic nature of the prosecution's witnesses which seemed less bothered with Watada's actions and more upset that he went public. Watada began attempting to work the matter out privately in January. His unit deployed in June, the same month his stand became public. Apparently, they wanted Watada to stay silent while they (his commanders) did nothing.

Speaking with Glantz yesterday, Aura Bogado (anchor
Free Speech Radio News) asked about the restrictions being placed on the media?

Glantz: This court-martial is taking place on Fort Lewis which is a US army installation, where the Stryker Brigade is headquartered, and we've been told that we're free to watch the proceedings and they've been very generous they've set up a media overflow room to deal with the tremendous number of members of the press that are here. They have also allowed a number of the public and Ehren Watada supporters to come. But members of the media are actually forbidden from talking to Watada's supporters while we're on base. We're also forbidden from talking to the Lt. himself, his legal team, or his family, and actually we're even escorted to by military escort to lunch when they have their lunch break and we're escotred to a seperate restaurant on base from where the members of the public, many of Watada's supporters, are escorted.

Free Speech Radio News also noted this from Eric Seitz, Ehren Watada's civilian attorney:
"This is a young man who went through a process where he tried to avoid a confrontation with the army. He went to them in good faith on numerous ocassions and offered to resign his commission, offered to go to Afghanistan, offered to do a number of different things, so that we would not find ourselves in a situation where had had to disobey an order. That was not something he wanted to do. I'm going to tell them that he has always acted with sincerity and integritey. He has always impressed everybody with whom he's met or spoken as to the basis of his beliefs. He has not gone out of his way or at any time encouraged the counsel other people to do an act or to take any action other than to decide for themselves what they're conscienceses require and to follow the dictate of their own consciences."

In addition to a lousy day for the prosecution on Tuesday,
AFP notes that Ehren Watada has received support from Desmond Tutu ("I admire your courageous and moral stand. In Christian tradition, ethics insist on the absolute primacy of obeying one's conscience. It is categorical imperative."), Susan Sarandon ("If the definition of a patriot is one who loves and defends his country then Ehren Watada is truly a patriot for his refusal to serve in a war that is harming the people of Iraq and increasing the threat of harm to Americans.") and Amnesty International. Amnesty International's statement of support for Watada opens: "Pending the February 5 trial of Ehren Watada, who faces a possible four-year prison sentence for his refusal to participate in the Iraq war, Amnesty International stated that a guilty verdict would be a violation of internationally recognized human rights" Also David Strum (Baltimore Messenger) reports that Ralph Nader voiced his support: "'This is a criminal war. This is an unconstitutional war,' he said. Watada has every right to invoke the Nuremburg principles of World War II in refusing to go to Iraq, he added."

As Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reminds, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) has refused to allow the Nuremberg defense to be argued: "The fourth of the Nuremberg Principles states that superior orders are not a defense to the commission of an illegal act, meaning soldiers who commit a war crime after 'just following orders' are as culpable as their superiors." While the prosecution fizzles out, it's no surprise that Judge Toilet is suddenly announcing the possibility of a mistrial. AP headlines their coverage "Fort Lewis judge threatens mistrial in Watada's court martial." Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that Judge Toilet's debating over the a stipulation agreed to by Watada prevented Watada from testifying and might mean the charges he faces increase. The stipulation was Watada's agreement to affirm the reports published and broadcast about him in order that reporters wouldn't be asked to testify in his case. There's confusion about what exactly is in question regarding the stipulation. Aaron Glantz may address that this evening on The KPFA Evening News (6:00 to 7:00 pm, PST).

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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.

We marched against a war, long ago,
wondering if it would make a difference.
Now we march again, in conscience, knowing,
We cannot allow this lie to go unchallenged.
-- Sebastian Eggert, "Compression,"
Poets Against The War, p. 63

Wednesday night a US helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
AFP notes: "Between January 20 and February 2, four US choppers including a private aircraft crashed in Iraq, killing 20 people." Yesterday made it four US military helicopters (the "private" refers to a Blackwater's helicopter that was shot down on January 22nd -- with the fighting being outsourced some may want to count that as a military helicopter). Rob Watson (BBC) reports, "This time it was a CH-46 Sea Knight which came down near Baghdad" and raises two issues: "First, are there any indications that the insurgents in Iraq have decided to step up attacks on US aircraft? Second, have they developed new techniques or acquired new equipment to make any attacks more successful?" While the US military flacks play dumb and fall back on the usual stall tactics ("We're investigating"), eye witnesses are already telling what they saw. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that an unnamed "Iraqi air force officer" states the helicopter was shot down and that eye witnesses back that up as well -- such as Mohammad al-Janabi: "The helicopter was flying and passed over us, then we heard the firing of a missile. The helicopter, then turned into a ball of fire. It flew in a circle twice, then it went down." Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes eye witness Ali Thmir: "The helicopter was heading to Habaniya base west of Fallujah but it was hit by a missile and we could see it when it was blown up and how its parts flew through the air." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) quotes eye witness Ahmed Said, "I stopped the car and I saw the chopper was on fire and pivioting in the air." CBS News' Lara Logan noted eye "witnesses said a helicopter had gone down in a field in the Sheik-Amir area northwest of Baghdad, sending smoke rising from the scene." Dean Yates (Reuters) reports, "All seven crew members and passengers aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter were killed when it came down near Baghdad on Wednesday".

Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 6 from wounds sustained due to enemy actions while operating in Al Anbar Province." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that the total number of US troops killed in the illegal war thus far is "at least 3,111". AP reports that a roadside bomb in Diwaniya killed one Polish soldier today and left three others wounded.

On Sunday, Iraqis in military uniforms kidnapped an Iranian diplomat.
Robert H. Reid (AP) reported that those involved were thought to be with "the Iraqi Special Operations Command, an elit unit under the direct superfivision of the U.S. military." The diplomat is Jalal Sharafi and Lara Logan (CBS) reported that the Iranian media "blamed the U.S." for the kidnapping. Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes the Foreign Ministry spokesperson for Iran, Muhammad Ali Hosseini, stating: "Iran holds American forces in Iraq responsible for the safety and life of the Iranian diplomat." The kidnapping comes one month after US stormed a consulate and arrested six Iranians and at a time when Bully Boy continues to offer his gut as proof that Iran is up to no good in Iraq -- a gut that even his own circle looks skeptically at. In a piece the Times of London identifies as "Comment," Stephen Farrell shares his reasons for doubting that the Iraqi government was involved: "Mr al-Maliki is caught in a very delicate position between the competing agends of Iran and America, the regional and world superpowers. His government has repeatedly stated that both allies of Baghdad and they must not play out their differences on Iraqi soil. It would be a huge mistake to inflame the already tense relations between Tehran and Washington."


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad wounded four police officers and left one dead, while, not far from Suwayra, a woman was killed by a roadside bomb (two other people were wounded), and, in Falluja, a mortar attack left four dead. The US military announced three children died and "12 other residents" were wounded in Mzerat from a mortar attack.


Kim Gamel (AP) reports that 3 security guards "at the government-funded Iraqi Media Network" were shot dead in Baghdad while "a female government official" was shot dead in Mosul. CBS and AP say the number of security guards shot to death reached four.


Reuters reports 33 corpses were discovered "around Baghdad," and the corpses of an Iraqi soldier was discovered in Shirqat (also noted is 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Tuesday, three in Mahmudiya and two in Yusufiya).

But good news! The cracked up 'crackdown' in Baghdad has a new tactic. Along with the barbed wire,
CBS and AP report that a new tactic is being utilized: Billboards! They site several and we'll note two, a crying man (who didn't run to authorities) with the message, "I should have done the right thing" and another that reads: "Be a hero and report suspicious behavior." No word on what might be done to grafitti artists should they 'improve' on the billboards. CBS and AP also report on the general consensus of Baghdad residents about the prospects of the latest version of the crackdown and Hashem al-Moussawi may speak for many when he says, "Nothing will work, it's too late." No word on whether the US military intends to make that a billboard slogan.

Finally, Melanie McPherson entered a plea of guilty in her AWOL case Monday.
AP reports that she "faces up to a year in prison after a military judge's ruling, which superseded McPherson's guilty plea to a lesser charge of going absent without leave." AP reports that Melanie McPherson "was sentenced to three months in military prison" and that she "was also reduced in rank to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge after her prison term." Melanie McPherson is not a war resister. She self-checked out last July (turned herself in September) not because she was being sent to Iraq -- when she was called up from the reserves, she reported to Fort Bliss -- but because she was being sent to Iraq to do something she hadn't been trained in and wouldn't be trained in before her impending departure. McPherson's story isn't an oddity, it happens far too often and, while the military may feel 'good' about pushing her around, it's past time the American people started asking why troops were being deployed without the proper training? McPherson, to repeat, was not opposed to deploying to Iraq -- her problem was being expected to do things she had no training for. As Melanie McPherson herself said:

The decisions I have made are not only for my benefit, but also for the fair and better treatment of soldiers coming up who will face similarly difficult situations. We are regarded as the best military in the world. I believe we should make it better and safer for those that serve our nation. They absolutely deserve it.