Friday, January 19, 2007

Help Wanted: The Nation's in need of direction

Friday at last! Hope everyone's excited.

I asked C.I. about something and I wanted to put it up here because Leigh Ann had e-mailed me about it. "And the war drags on" last night has some strong comments by Micah (all of which I agree with). Leigh Ann wondered if C.I. was irritated by them? There's a section missing from that entry. It was on another topic. Someone else's opinion (which also agreed with Micah) but C.I. couldn't remember if those were to be shared so C.I. e-mailed the person back while waiting to post and didn't hear back in time. That got pulled for that reason. No, C.I. wasn't ticked off at Micah or at Micah's comments. Micah wanted them up and C.I. notes that Micah called the time of death on The Village Voice (Micah's basically calling the time of death on The Nation) in the entry.

Here's Micah's comments on The Nation, it's:

crap and I'd say worse but I know you'd edit me. It's crap. Who has the power? We do. But what crap are they pushing off on readers again? 'Plead and wait for a savior!' They're the most useless, cowardly piece of crap on the left. While they stay silent on Ehren, they do offer up a look at the monies spent on college sports. Where is the leadership at that magazine? It has gone down the toilet each year. It is an embarrassment to the left that this is our magazine with the highest circulation. Katrina vanden Heuvel needs to step down as editor immediately because she has led that magazine into Crap City. It won't address the war in it's pages, it won't cover Ehren, it's the most useless crap in the world and I'm as sick of her inspirational sermons as I am the photo of her on her blog. I think Rebecca made this point but only an idiot, when the country was going to hell, would waste everyone's time with "Sweet Victories" columns. If she wants to be a romance writer or Marianne Williams, I urge her to go do it. Just quit the magazine before you destroy it any more. The magazine will not do a story on Ehren, that thing [sidebar] wasn't a story, but they'll tell you about the sports rackets at colleges. I've had it with vanden Heuvel and her inept leadership. I've had it with the touchy-feely crap. I've had it with the useless articles and the useless editorials. If you're not a Democrat in Congress, the magazine's not written for you. I'm 24 years-old, I don't need to know who's the cutest is Congress or this other Tiger Beat crap. It's an immature, cowardly magazine and that has happened as she has taken over. Katrina vanden Heuvel needs to go. Her immaturity and lack of courage shines through every page of the magazine.

I couldn't agree more. Did they ever correct the factually challenged Christopher Hayes (he basically called John Kerry racist and cited Kerry's DNC speech -- only problem is, that quote is not in John Kerry's DNC speech -- Hayes is quoting an ad for Iowa, we covered this weeks ago at The Third Estate Sunday Review)?

I blame Katrina vanden Heuvel as well. Rebecca's mother-in-law hates her and says C.I. would as well if C.I. "didn't always stick up for the underdog." She and her husband and one of Flyboy's brothers and his wife were over tonight because she said we should get together for a study group while Rebecca's not able to go to the one at my house. She said, Rebecca's mother-in-law, that Katrina vanden Heuvel lacks the strength and guts to run a magazine and what's happening is that the sort of rejects (like Christopher Hayes but he's not the only one) who migrated slowly to The New Republic(an) before it went completely in the toilet are coming to The Nation. She says it's because Katrina has no focus. (I should point out that she hates her and hates her personally. She knows the woman.) (I should also point out that C.I. knows Katrina vanden Heuvel and likes her. So opinions may vary.) She says Katrina's always had an "immature mind so no one was surprised when the marriage took place" and that it's like a humming bird, darting here and there and never landing. Elaine and I have both noted how the magazine tries to turn everyone into a Democrat and Rebecca's mother-in-law was talking about how that went to Katrina and is the biggest "character flaw of a woman who never knew how to stand up for anything."

She's sure that a thing C.I. wrote this year referred to others as well, how they wouldn't stand up for Ehren Watada because they'd had every blow cushioned in life, but she said it applies to Katrina as well and she printed that up and showed it to friends throughout Conn. "where we all had loud, repeated laughs." Micah should talk to her because she holds Katrina more responsible than even Micah does.

She was talking about how cowardice and the easy path were what she saw Katrina's entire life being (except for the tacky public moment that she says even C.I., if pressed hard, would have to agree was tacky and embarrassing to the entire family). She said outside of the fact that Katrina's considered slow by most in her set, the other thing they laugh the loudest about are her "Tobacco tales" meaning when Katrina tries to prove how "real" she is by sharing tales of visiting her in-laws.

I'm writing about this because Rebecca said if she wrote about it, she knows C.I. would be furious. Elaine's already noted she doesn't care for Katrina (she only knew the woman when she was a child and Elaine would say "didn't really know her then"). Rebecca's mother-in-law says Katrina makes those visits sound like she traveled to "Tobacco Road" and had to use an outhouse and that everyone laughs at them behind Katrina's back.

I thought (and even asked), "Should I feel sorry for her?"

Rebecca's mother-in-law said no because "she's gone from useless to damaging." (C.I. knows that Rebecca's mother-in-law loathes Katrina. Rebecca's mother-in-law is an old family friend of C.I.'s family.) She feels that everyone bent over backwards to prop Katrina up and it's time for people to be honest about what a dive The Nation has taken. (She said I could put all this up but asked to read it first because she knows some things would result in a call from C.I. asking, "Do you think you maybe crossed the line?" So if you think there are strong words here, you have no idea what I'm leaving out.)

She's been after Rebecca to write about this for weeks and weeks but Rebecca said, "C.I. would be so mad at me." I asked, "Would C.I. be mad at me?" Rebecca, her mother-in-law and Elaine all agreed that I could write it and C.I. would just "roll the eyes." :D I'm like a puppy. :D Elaine bit her tongue in "How The Nation isn't cutting it" because she knew C.I. would be upset.

If you're wondering why I'm writing about, read Micah's comments. This shit is damaging the efforts to end the war. Today you got Prissy Chris Hayes whining about an e-mail smear against Obama but you don't have one damn word up about Ehren Watada. Obama is a US Senator. That's The Nation today. Rushing to defend (and kiss ass) the powerful and abandoning the people who need help.

So as this happens over and over, as The Nation continues to ignore war resisters over and over, the question has to be why? Katrina calls the shots so maybe people should ask her. (I'd love to put in so much more right here!)

They need to ask her. They need to demand that she step up to the plate or she step down. The Nation is becoming useless. Even C.I. will state that much. We're hoping to do a roundtable on the peace movement at The Third Estate Sunday Review this week and if we do, I will these points because there is no direction to the magazine (unless cowardice counts as a direction) and it's time to start calling out the people who prolong the war by being cowards.
But, as Rebecca's mother-in-law pointed out, with the circulation losses, The Nation probably won't be the left magazine with the highest circulation for much longer.

Oh, one thing she said to put in, The Nation cruise -- what an embarrassment. "In WWII, on the homefront we made do with much less. The Nation's summer cruises suggest the country's not at war and are just the sort of social emphasis as opposed to real activity that has been a hallmark of Katrina vanden Heuvel."

I'll also include something else she wanted noted, C.I. didn't have blows cushioned. C.I. could have taken the easy road but instead refused to. Rebecca was "Amen"ing that noting all the times C.I. was offered bribes (from parents) in college just to switch to a journalism major. Elaine said to toss in that one reason she chooses the causes she gives to carefully is because C.I. gave away everything and started from scratch at a time when the left was supposedly going to change the world. "A lot of people talked big but all they did was repeat what the ones they were railing against did." I was kind of surprised by that because I didn't know C.I. then (wasn't even born probably) and I just know the C.I. that doesn't have to worry about money today. Rebecca says all of that was earned from scratch and "no one cushioned blows for C.I." I knew C.I. was active and had heard some of the bribe stories from college (C.I. worked through college and didn't have to, all it would have taken was saying, "Okay, I'll major in journalism" and everything would have paid for) so, even though I already respected C.I., I really had this huge increase in respect.

And when C.I. took care of my college tuition, C.I. never told those stories just said that I should accept it and it wasn't worth getting into debt to get a degree if I had another alternative. I'll say thank you again and bet this is the thing that I will hear about from this entry -- the thing C.I. will complain to me about. But I do appreciate that. That wasn't just nice. My brother is the perfect example of that with all his student loans debts. That would be me six months after I got my degree too (that's when the grace period expires) but C.I. took care of all of that for me and I am very grateful.

All I knew was C.I. busted ass in college working two to three jobs each semester, getting good grades (Rebecca says "amazing grades") and being active on campus (in just about every organization and at all of these protests). And I just kind of assumed that after getting the masters, money was never again a problem. (That will be the other thing C.I. may gripe about. C.I. never says "I have a masters" -- it's always just "college.") So to build up something and be so committed to change that you basically give away everything just amazes me.

I don't think I'd do that. (Elaine didn't. She said she loves C.I. for that but the whole time she was saying, "They aren't going to change anything. They just want to be the 'insiders.'") C.I.'s attitude was "I can always make more" and C.I. proved that.

So you've got two people with breaks, C.I. and Katrina. One works to change things and the other writes about iPhones? One goes around the country speaking not to promote a product but to raise awareness and the other can't even write about war resisters?

One gave away money to the cause and the other writes about economic justice despite a very high profile legal battle. (That was longer but Rebecca's mother-in-law said if I didn't edit that reference down, she would get a call from C.I.) One's genuine and the other is paralyzed by what people might think. One has 'social standing on their own and the other gets in on a grandparent and a questionable father." (Rebecca's mother-in-law told me to put that.)

So Katrina vanden Heuvel isn't cutting it. She's made her way on the money of others and she's given nothing back but token 'inspiration.' She needs to step up to the plate or step away from The Nation. One more thing Rebecca's mother-in-law told me I could put in after she read over this was, "School girl crushes do not make for fascinating reading and adults, stunted or not, look silly when they continue to write like school girls."

So if The Nation doesn't do a major change, don't be surprised in ten years when it's The New Republic(an). And you can blame Katrina vanden Heuvel for that.

(I will add in here that C.I., if asked for comment, would probably provide many strong comments about Katrina vanden Heuvel's abilities. And C.I. does know her so they might be accurate.)

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and I was joking about that because it was written really quick (C.I., Ava and Jess were on campus and people kept coming up while C.I. was trying to write the snapshot to talk about Iraq) it's a "partial snapshot". C.I. said, "I can go back in and fix it." I think it's fine the way it is:

Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, 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 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.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt) University of Illinois-Chicago Contact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,

*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty) Busboys and Poets

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stimson, Guantanamo

Thursday and Blogger/Blogspot is a pain in the ass. I couldn't log in most of the night. I called Rebecca and Ruth to warn them. Rebecca was lucky because she was in. It went down after she got in. She just couldn't publish what she wrote and had to wait until Blogger/Blogspot was back up (two hours). Ruth's already asleep probably so she's not going to be able to do her report. That happened on Monday as well when she'd planned to do her report.

Due to all the waiting around tonight, this will be a real short post. I see the National Lawyers Guild's link is working so let me note the thing I couldn't read yesterday (and I think this is a press release, so I'm putting the whole thing up), "Civil Rights Groups Call for the Censure of Charles 'Cully' Stimson:"

For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2007
Civil Rights Groups Call for the Censure of Charles "Cully" Stimson
Contact: Marjorie Cohn, President, National Lawyers Guild,
Tayyab Mahmud, and Eileen Kaufman, Co-Presidents, Society of American Law Teachers
Jitendra Sharma, President, IADL,
George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Bush:
The undersigned organizations call for the censure of Mr. Charles "Cully" Stimson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, for statements attacking the lawyers who are defending the Guantánamo detainees. Mr. Stimson’s remarks are aimed at chilling the willingness of lawyers to represent those persons imprisoned at Guantánamo, and are contrary to bedrock principles of the right to counsel and the presumption of innocence.
The threats by Mr. Stimson are not subtle. They imply these pro bono lawyers are terrorists. They exhort corporations to pull business from the firms where these lawyers are employed. These remarks are slanderous, and violate the free association rights of these lawyers and their firms.
We are confident that the corporate world will understand that Mr. Stimson's remarks are contrary to fundamental American values and that lawyers who provide representation to Guantánamo detainees, are acting in the best tradition of their profession. The legal profession and the corporate community should speak with one voice and tell Mr. Stimson he has no right to interfere with the relationships these law firms have with their clients.
The Administration should heed the words of Federal Judge Green, who has handled the many habeas petitions, when she said: "I do want to say we are very grateful for those attorneys who have accepted pro bono appointments. That is a service to the country, a service to the parties. No matter what position you take on this, it is a grand service."
The administration must not only disavow these remarks, but Mr. Stimson should be publicly admonished and relieved of his duties for making these allegations and threats.
American Association of Jurists
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
National Lawyers Guild
Society of American Law Teachers
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
Defense Secretary of Robert Gates

Yesterday, because of seeing the title with "censure" in it but the link not working, I thought the National Lawyers Guild was recommending "censure" like when the Congress censured Bill Clinton. I was wrong. They are calling for him to be removed from his position. Apolies to them for misunderstanding. Like I said yesterday, if he keeps his position, it sends a message to the next person that they can get away with it too and they'll only get a warning if that. He needs to be removed because he is advocating non-democratic positions while holding a government post. He was speaking in his government role and all the "he was just speaking for himself" nonsense that the administration keeps putting out. He doesn't get to do that. He's not a private citizen. His remarks are undemocratic and against everything his position is supposed to represent so he is not fit for his role. He needs to be fired immediately.

Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights, was on The KPFA Evening News tonight and C.I. called while it was on so I could hear it. He was talking about the nonsense that the Pentagon's calling fair trials and that will include allowing 'evidence' from confessions. How barbaric are we? In addition, he was talking about how the attorneys for their clients couldn't present evidence or talk about it unless the government says it's not 'national security.' They can use that however they want. If they're going to lose on something and know it, they'll just cry 'national security!' And the person accused doesn't even get to see the evidence against him (I think all the prisoners are male) but instead the government can offer up summaries. This is all a joke and the government is trying to pass this off as 'justice.' It's a slap in the face to what we consider justice. Michael Ratner pointed out that there's no need for new guidelines, there are guidelines for court-martials and other military court things. So, to me, this just shows how scared the government is of a fair case and being exposed as torturers and liars who've imprisoned people wrongly for 5 years.

That's it. Blogger/Blogspot gives you the message if you're connected or not and I keep getting the "not connected" message which means it is still going in and out and they haven't fixed their problem so let me post this before it goes out again. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, Janurary 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, accuses Bully Boy and Condi Rice of helping "terrorists"; new developments in the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza and the murder of three members of her family by members of the US military emege; and support for Ehren Watada continues -- even as the 'judge' in the military 'justice' system does his part to railroad Watada.

Starting with war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 'judge' of the pre-trial has issued a ruling on what is and isn't acceptable in the February 5th court-martial. As Courage to Resist notes "ALL POLITICAL SPEECH CHARGES GO TO TRIAL."
Teresa Watanabe (LA Times) reports that Watada has called for everyon to "stop the war so the death and sacrifices of American soldiers will not be in vain" and "I firmly stand by my belief that this war is illegal and immoral."

"Judge" Head issued his rulings on Tuesday and since Watada will not be allowed to present a defense, why even waste time and money on a court-martial? "Judge" Head has refused Watada's right to present a defense and, in his ruling, "Judge" Head is quite clear about "
a preponderance of evidence" and is disallowing any evidence that could counter it so the kangaroo court-martial will go foward but the ruling is already pre-determined and contained in "Judge" Head's ruling. That's the only 'value' in the ruling (well, that and the revelation that, by his signature, John Head apparently thinks he's a young starlet).

AP reports that "Army officials said in a statement that they had full confidence in the military justice system". Of course they're gloating -- JUDGE TOOL handed them a win before the first argument is made in the court-martial. Now if they had any self-respect, they'd realize that this isn't justice and that obviously there's no faith in their abilities to fairly prosecute Watada.

Earlier this month,
Watada spoke with Lance Holter and Ave Diaz (Haleakala Times) and shared his expectations of the trial: "I certainly expect the army to make an example out of my stand and what I'm speaking against." He was correct. Holter and Diaz also note US war resister Pablo Parades who was allowed, in his court-martial, to argue his case. From Parades' statement at his court-martial (via Democracy Now!): "I am convinced that the current war in Iraq is illegal. I am also convinced that the true causality for it lacked any high ground in the topography of morality. I believe as a member of the Armed Forces, beyond having duty to my Chain of Command and my President, I have a higher duty to my conscience and to the surpreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect, in the current aggression that has been unleased on Iraq. In the past few months I have been continually asked if I regret my decision to refuse to board my ship and to do so publicly. I have spent hour upon hour reflecting on my decision, and I can tell you with every fiber of certitude that I possess that I feel in my heart I did the right thing."

Ehren Watada will not be allowed to present a similar defense. What is the military afraid and what sort of 'judge' acts in such a cowardly craven manner?

Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that what Watada will not be able to present in 'court' of 'judge' Head, he will be able to present "this weekend, a 'Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq' will convene in Tacoma to address that issue in support of Watada." The hearing will take place at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus on January 20th and 21st from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day. Among the participants will be Antonia Juhasz, Ann Wright, Daniel Ellsberg, Enis Halliday (who was on yesterday's Flashpoints speaking with Dennis Bernstein about the deaths caused by sanctions against Iraq), Bejmain G. Davis, Richard Falk, Francis Boyle, Dennis Kyne, and US war resister Darrell Anderson. In addition, Karen Hucks (The News Tribune) reports that Daniel Ellsberg ("who started a national uproar in 1971 when he released the Penatagon Papers") will speak in Tacoma Friday "from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Washington State History Museeum, 1911 Pacific Ave. The University of Washington Tacoma is sponsoring the free event." In addition
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance on the edge of Fort Lewis to show their support for Watada.

Ehren Watada spoke in Seattle on Monday (MLK day) and Kay Suzat (PSL) reports: "A tremendous standing ovation greeted Watada and concluded his remarks. The crowd demonstrated its solidarity and support for his refusal to deploy to Iraq and be part of the imperilist occupation."

Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, 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 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.

And, good news!, you can find information about a war resister at The Nation . . . provided he's a resister of the Vietnam war, a professional athlete and a household name.
Dave Zirin
covers sports and he's always managed to cover the war (unlike The Nation). To read his column "
Muhammad Ali: The Brand and the Man" use the link freely, it takes you to Yahoo and not to The Nation which still can't manage to show interest in war resisters.

Turning to the topic of 14-year-old
Abeer Qasim Hamza who was gang raped and murdered on March 12, 2006 by what was spun as 'insurgents.' The reality is that it was by American soldiers who also murdered her five-year-old sisters and both of her parents. The soldiers watched the 14-year-old, making her uncomfortable with their inappropriate attention to the point that she complained to her parents who immediately began making arrangements to get their daughter the hell away from perverts supposedly stationed in their area to protect the Iraq people. Abeer was due to move but, before she could, Paul Cortez, James P. Barker, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and Steven D. Green wanted to have a little 'fun' and, boozed up to the gills in a war zone, they decided the most 'fun' they could have would be in murdering a family after gang raping the 14-year-old daughter. So they changed into civies, approached the home via a hole in a fence they'd already created, and the 'fun' began -- adult males holding down a 14-year-old girl to take turns gang raping her while her parents and sister were shot dead and then, after the gang rape, murdering Abeer.

At the Article 32 hearing in August, Captain Alex Pickands declared: "
They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

In November, James P. Barker confessed to his role in the planning of the war crimes and to his raping Abeer. He also named Steven D. Green as the one who shot and killed Abeer, her parents and her sister. He identified Green as taking part in the gang rape and also identified Paul Cortez as taking part in the gang rape. Green has denied any involvement and will be tried in a civilian court because the US military had discharged him before the crimes were uncovered. Last week, Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Green had been diagnosed by the Army Combat Stress Team with "homicidal ideations" on December 21, 2005, three months prior to the rape and murders. Today, Ryan Lenz reports that William Cassara, attorney for Paul Cortez, has stated, "Sgt. Cortez is going to go in and accept the responsibilities for his part in what occurred" which would be WAR CRIMES and that "Our version of events is that he knew what was going to take place and participated as an observer." According to Barker's confession, Paul Cortez took part in the gang rape -- that's a bit more than 'observing.'

AFP is now reporting that Cortez "has pleaded guilty in the rape and murder" of Abeer

Silence has largely greeted the story of Abeer in many media outlets (big and small). The same sort of silence that leads many to wrongly hail the 'symbolic' bi-partisan nonsense in the Senate.
Cedric and Wally addressed that yesterday. The Senate resolution championed by US senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Chuck Hagel and others is a joke. Reporting on what proposals are in the US Congress currently, Leigh Ann Caldwell (aired on Free Speech Radio News, The KPFA Evening News) termed the Jo-Jo proposal "the tamest of them all" noting US Senator Christopher Dodd's proposal calls for Congressional approval before any more troops are sent to Iraq and caps the total number of US troops at the number in Iraq on Tuesday, noting US Senator Ted Kennedy's proposed legislation "would not fund any troops increase" and noting that US Senator Hillary Clinton ("I do support cutting funds for Iraqi forces if the Iraqi government does not meet set conditions") has spoken of a cap on the level of US troops and cutting off funds for the Iraqi military. Caldwell's report quoted US Rep. Lynn Woolsey on the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act which she, US Rep. Barbara Lee and US Rep. Maxine Waters have proposed: "It will save lives, bodies and minds and it will give Iraq back to the Iraqis. It is an important step in regaining our credibility in the region and our credibility throughout the world."

Caldwell noted that the proposed legislation would lead to withdrawal of US troops in six months, fully funded health care for veterans and two years of funding for the training of Iraqi forces.
Woolsey's speech can be read, heard or watched at Democracy Now!

While Waters, Lee and Woolsey propose legislation that, get this, actually does something, Levin, Biden and Hagal propose legislation that does nothing. It provides politicians with cover to hide behind in the 2008 elections (a point I believe Robert Knight made on yesterday's
Flashpoints) but it has no teeth and is non-binding. Consider it a poll of the pulse in the Senate and nothing more.

What may be most offensive is the way Joe Biden speaks when he attempts to sell it (listen to Caldwell's report): "The president ignored the advice of every major voice, every major voice! In the government, outside the government, military personell in the government, military personell outside the government, former secretaries of state, former secretaries of defense, and leading foreign policy scholars! He has to listen!"

Every major voice, Jo-Jo? Who did you leave you out? The most obvious major voice: THE PEOPLE. Considering that Jo-Jo's job depends upon public support (votes) and that he intends to run for 2008 president, someone might want to tell him that the advice from the people is "major" and possibly the most important anyone occupying the Oval Office should heed. Reporting on what the people are saying,
Ronald Brownstein (LA Times) covers the results of the latest LA Times & Bloomberg poll which found three-fifths of respondents stating that they opposed Bully Boy's planned escalation (21,500 more troops in Iraq), "more than three-fifhts of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting" and "half said they believed he deliberately misled the U.S. in making his case for invading Iraq."


In Iraq today.


Salam Faraj (AFP) reports five car bombs went off in Baghdad with three going off "almost simultaneously in the southern district of Dora, leaving 10 people dead and 30 wounded" in an attack on "the Rasheed vegetable market, the main market in southern Baghdad that is often crammed with residents shopping for food." Reuters notes, in Baghdad, a car bomb attack on police that killed 4, a car bomb in the eastern area of the capital that took 3 lives and left seven more wounded, and, in the New Baghdad district, a car bomb kille 2 and left four wounded; while in Mosul a car bomber killed 1 civilian wounded six people and a bomb tossed "at a police checkpoint" took the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded. That's a total of 21 killed by bombs in Iraq that were reported.


Reuters notes an attack on "a wedding convoy in Mosul" that left 2 people shot dead and four more wounded.Corpses?

Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Iskandariya.

And the
US military announced: "A Sailor assigned to 16th Military Police Brigade, Camp Bucca, Iraq, died Jan. 17 in a non-combat related incident."

Lara Logan (CBS) reports on the corpse of a young Iraqi: "He was young, possibly in his early twenties, and he'd been shot three times. It was hard to tell at first, because of his clothes, but I could see the small bullet hole next to his nose. Funny how the entry wound often doesn't look like much, it's the exit wound that tells the real story of how much damage that bullet has done. That's where it gets really messy. [. . .] Here was somebody's son, probably someone's brother, possibly someone's husband or lover. I didn't know anything about him or why he'd been killed or who may have done it. That's part of the strategy here with these murders — remove all identification, obscure the facts and make it that much harder to find the truth. If you're lucky — and most of the killers usually are — then that will be enough to make sure no one even looks for you, let alone finds you and holds you accountable."

CNN reports that the US military has explained their violations of the Sudanese Embassy in Baghdad with this pithy statement: "The compound was searched as part of an operation aimed at denying insurgents safe haven to carry out attacks against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens." Having already shown no respect for diplomatic areas with their raid on the Iranian consulate, the US military does not, this time, attempt to wiggle out of whether or not the facility was a recognized diplomatic site -- instead, they simply say, "We don't give a damn." An attitude that will have historic consequences in the future.

Meanwhile, as US Senator Hillary Clinton states she approves of cutting off funding the Iraqi army (if they can't meet set goals), suddenly the puppet of the occupation springs to life.
No, not the laughable claims that Nouri al-Maliki is finally addressing the issue of Shi'ite militias. The puppet of the occupation is whining,
reports Stephen Farrell (Times of London), that the US won't give Iraq "sufficient guns" -- since US guns abound in Iraq, possibly al-Maliki could just buy them off the black market the way other Iraqis do? (Or is he still attempting to play Big Spender -- on the US dime -- by continuing to dole out millions to neighboring countries?) Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that al-Maliki says the comments by the Bully Boy and Condi Rice "probably helped the 'terrorists'" because they "give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort" and yada, yada, yada.

Remember how Bully Boy trots out the lie that anyone who questions him undermines his illegal war and the so-called war on terrorism, apple pie and who knows what else? Well al-Maliki also takes time to criticize the Bully Boy's administration -- naming US Secretary of State Condi Rice specifically and claiming that Iraq's government is
undermined by the US administration's talk of "borrowed time." Realities must be ignored, argue both the Bully Boy and al-Maliki, or 'freedom' is undermined. Today, that laughable argument gets tossed back in Bully Boy's face.

center for constitutional rights

democracy now
ronald brownstein

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fire Charles Stimson

Hump day, hump day. I got a shout out in the snapshot and wasn't expecting that due to what I was writing about last night (besides war resisters). And, like usual when I get a shout out, the e-mails bump up. I've only read a few but I'll try to answer some more after I post.

I think I'm going to focus on one topic. If you caught Democracy Now! today, the last segment was about the latest bullying from Bully Boy's administration. They know they can't win in court on Guantanamo so they're trying to force lawyers to stop representing the prisoners (this is my belief) by making them lose clients. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs is Charles Stimson and he went on the radio last week saying that corporations better start looking to see who's representing the Guantanamo prisoners and then taking their corporate business elsewhere.

It's like what they did with the Dixie Chicks all over again, the Bully Boy's henchbullies are out to bash people. This is a statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights' "GONZALES BLAMES ATTORNEYS FOR LACK OF GITMO TRIALS:"

New York, NY - After the recent controversy surrounding Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Charles "Cully" Stimson's comments about major law firms representing Guantánamo detainees pro bono, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales then blamed attorneys for the lack of trials to date. "It's not for lack of trying. We are challenged every step of the way," Gonzales said in a radio interview on January 16, 2007. "We are trying as hard as we can to bring these individuals to justice." According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which organizes the representation of the detainees, the Bush administration is twisting the notion of justice.
"The only delay in charging, trying or releasing detainees has been by the Bush administration. To suggest that the legal challenges are what have prevented the detainees from seeing justice is really through the looking glass," said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. "We have been trying for five years to get their cases heard in federal court, and the Bush administration has continued to try to circumvent two Supreme Court rulings and do everything in its power to keep the men at Guantánamo from challenging their detention. Only 10 of the 775 men who have been imprisoned at Guantánamo have even been designated for the military commissions, which are a sham tribunal to begin with."
The Supreme Court ruled the military commissions unconstitutional in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld this past summer, prompting the administration to work with Congress to pass the Military Commissions Act in an attempt to retroactively strip detainees of the right of habeas corpus.
Last week, Stimson came under fire for claiming that the pro bono work of major law firms representing detainees was somehow suspicious and that their corporate clients should put pressure on them to withdraw.

Now here's a bit of Marjorie Cohn's "Stimson's Outrageous Threat:"

In one of the most severe threats the Bush administration has dealt to our constitutional democracy, the Pentagon attacked the lawyers who have volunteered to represent the Guantánamo detainees. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Stimson threatened corporate lawyers who agree to defend the men and boys imprisoned there. Flashing a list of corporations that use law firms doing this pro bono work, Stimson declared, "Corporate C.E.O.'s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists."
In 1770, John Adams defended nine British soldiers including a captain who stood accused of killing five Americans. No other lawyer would defend them. Adams thought no one in a free country should be denied the right to a fair trial and the right to counsel. He was subjected to scorn and ridicule and claimed to have lost half his law practice as a result of his efforts. Adams later said his representation of those British soldiers was "one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country."
Federal Judge Green, who has handled the many habeas corpus petitions filed by the Guantánamo detainees, expressed appreciation for the lawyers: "I do want to say we are very grateful for those attorneys who have accepted pro bono appointments. That is a service to the country, a service to the parties. No matter what position you take on this, it is a grand service." More than 750 men and boys have been held like animals in cages during the last five years at Guantánamo. Many were picked up by warlords and sold to the US military for bounty. None has been tried for any crime. Very few even have any criminal charges against them.
Ironically, there were no alleged terrorists connected with 9/11 there until Bush recently transferred 14 men from his secret CIA prisons to Guantánamo. Meanwhile, hundreds of detainees languish in custody, aided by 500 courageous lawyers from 120 firms who have volunteered countless hours to represent them.
Under the Military Commissions Act Bush just got Congress to okay without any notable qualms, the Guantánamo prisoners could be held for the rest of their lives without ever seeing a judge. Those who decide that death could not be worse than life at Gitmo have participated in a hunger strike. Rather than subject the Bush administration to embarrassment when prisoners die in US custody, military guards force feed them. Thick plastic tubes are forced down their throats with no anesthesia. Tubes are not sterilized before being reused on other prisoners. The UN Human Rights Commission called the force-feeding "torture." Many prisoners also report being tortured during interrogations.

So hopefully that gives you a pretty good idea of what rotten trick the administration is trying to pull now. When they can't win fair, they play dirty. And that's not right on the playing field and it's not right when we're talking about the government of the United States that is supposed to play fair. Marjorie Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild and they have a link for a statement at their website but I get an error message when I click on it. The title says they're calling for "censure" of Stimson. I disagree with that, I think his ass should be fired. He doesn't belong in the Defense Department if his idea of 'winning' is to try to force lawyers to quit cases so that they won't lose business.

This is like when John Asscroft was the Attorney General and went on Letterman to trash Lynne Stewart. They fight dirty because it's the only way they can win and that's not justice and not how the US government should act. The US government should fight for fairness, not try to force people out. I know that's not the way it works but that should be the goal.

And I think he should be fired because if it's just a censure then the next man or woman is going to think, "I can do it, I won't lose my job." So what's the next thing? If you're accused of murder, they're going to try to intimidate your attorney into quitting your case? If you're accused of some drug charge, they're going to try it?

It was wrong and I heard something, probably on Democracy Now!, about how the Justice Department is saying that those are Stemson's personal opinions and not the Defense Dept.'s -- doesn't matter. (I don't think that's true, but doesn't matter.) His ass should be fired. He works in the government, IN the goverment, which means he works for us. So he needs to be fired because those words aren't about liberty & justice for all. He chose to say them and they are what he believes -- well they don't fit with democratic government that prizes justice for all. So he needs to go. His statements demonstrate that.

I'm sure the National Lawyers Guild has a very good argument for censure (and I wish I could read it) but I doubt it would change my opinon because I find what Stemson said outrageous and I don't believe that he should get away with it.

So those are my thoughts on the subject. Please check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. And Tony read Rebecca's post from last night and decided he'd do something for the newsletter too. He's not sure what but he e-mailed Francisco with some ideas and he'll work on anything Francisco thinks is worth it. Also, check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT'S A SYMBOLIC WORLD AFTER ALL!" and Cedric's "Serving symbolism and trying to pass it off as the real thing" because they get to the heart of the matter: No one does a damn thing, they just signal and then want to be applauded and praised for not taking a stand.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and boy howdy! :D:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; two more US troops are announced dead; Mad Maddie sticks up for her daddy's favorite pupil; Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters stand strong in the US Congress; the US military is accused of again breaking diplomatic policies and flouting the law in Iraq; and US war resister Ehren Watada learns just how hollow 'justice' can be.

Starting with the latest news of
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. A strong stand that took tremendous courage (even his parents, Bob Watada and Carolyn Ho, have spoken of how they attempted to talk him out of it because of the scorn, silence and hostility he'd be greeted with). He faces a court-martial on February 5th and Lt. Col. John Head -- the so-called judge -- has issued a decision based on arguments presented in the pre-trial hearing earlier this month. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized it today: "The judge in the case has ruled Watada's defense won't be able to present evidence challenging the legality of the war nor explain Watada's motive to resist deploying to Iraq." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes it is "a major blow to the court-martial defense," which is putting it mildly, and quotes Watada's attorney Eric Seitz who declares, "We have been stripped of every defense. This is a disciplinary system, not a justice system. Otherwise, we would have been entitled to defend ourselves."

Which they are not. Ehren Watada was just stripped of any defense. As
noted on January 4th when the prosecution presented their pre-trial arguments: "What the military would like to do in today's pre-trial hearing is reduce everything to whether or not Watada deployed with his unit? The answer, of course, is that he did not. The military does not want the issue of the legality of the war addressed. By closing off this discussion, they not only would destroy Watada's right to defend himself, they would be able, as the Bully Boy long has been able to, set the terms of the discussion and control what is and is not discussed."

Political Affairs offers a survey of the travesty and notes that Head's ruling reads: "The defense motion for a hearin gon the 'Nuremberg defense' is DENIED. The government motion to prevent the defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war is GRANTED." Of the political prosecution (let's be honest, Watada's being politically prosecuted), Political Affairs notes that, in the pre-trial hearing, "Kueker replied that there are two separate prosecutions going on. The first is for Lt. Watada missing movement to Iraq -- a prosecution where his MOTIVE is so irrelevant that it needs to be barred from the military jury. The second prosecution will be for Lt. Watada publicly explaining his MOTIVE! Apparently this Orwellian formulation passes for military justice."

Apparently and sadly it does. It's complete nonsense. It's doesn't remotely resemble justice. It's a political prosecution of
Ehren Watada where he is silenced to the point of being gagged. (Shades of the Chicago Eight.) He can be charged with crimes that, if convicted, carry six years of prison time, the prosecution can do whatever they want in the court-martial, but Ehren Watada cannot make the best defense he is entitled to. Not only can his attorney not put forth the best defense, the reasons for the actions he is now being persecuted for, those reasons cannot be discussed by the defense.

The prosectution can discuss it. They'll be discussing what
Ehren Watada said here or there and why it is supposedly so objectionable but Ehren Watada will not be allowed to explain why he acted as he did, why he said what he did.

That's not justice. It's railroading him. It's denying him the right to offer any response to a government case against him. But the
Coward's Silence will continue to cause many in independent media to ignore Ehren Watada. Follow that closley and note who stays silent. Those that stay silent are useless. They'd stay silent if you needed them as well.

Ehren Watada has been prevented from arguing any kind of defense. His court-martial now consists of nothing more than "yes" and "no" answers from him. That's not a defense. He took a stand. He's shown bravery. There is no hemming or hawwing, there is only standing up on his part. And for doing that, for saying no to an illegal war, he faces six years in prison -- all the more likely when he's not allowed to make his case.

To repeat, during
the Article 32 hearing, Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. These three witnesses addressed the issue of the war, it's legality, and the responsibilities of a service member to disobey any order that they believed was unlawful. The testimony was necessary because Watada's refusing to participate in the illegal war due to the fact that he feels it is (a) illegal and (b) immoral. That will not happen now, 'judge' Head has denied that, has denied Watada the right to argue any sort of defense.

While the military attempts to throw the book at him (and asks that he stand still and repeat, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?") and independent media plays dumb (with few exceptions) the people react differently. On Saturday,
Ehren Watada spoke at the Coupeville Recreation Center in Washington. Paul Boring (Whidbey News-Times) reports that over a 100 people showed up to hear him and burst into applause at various intervals. Watada asked: "Do we wanta a military that without hesistation, will turn on people simply because they ordered to do so? . . . What I have embarked upon and what I sacrifice today is for those who have lost their lives and for those still struggling to stay alive. . . . I do have the power to make you aware of why soldiers are dying and why this war is unjust. I do have the power to compel you to care. It is the American people who have the power to end this war. . . . They can try me, convict me or acquit me. My life does not matter. The lives of thousands of soldiers do . . . it is one thing to end a war. It is another to ensure it never happens again. We have the power to change history."

We do have that power. But only if we use it. Mark Taylor-Canfield reported for
Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News yesterday on a speech Ehren Watada
gave as part of Seattle's MLK celebration where, no surprise, he received a standing ovation. The people are hearing him (which no doubts scares the military to death). Taylor-Canfield also noted
Camp Resistance had set up "just outside the gates of Fort Lewis where Watada's hearing is being held." So that's two independent media outlets that have noted Camp Resistance -- will anyone be next? In a show of support for Ehren Watada, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance and intend to maintain it through the court-martial. They need money, volunteers and press attention.

Yesterday, we noted that Agustin Aguayo has received not the expected charge of being AWOL but the charge of "desertion." With Aguayo the US military is attempting to send a message both due to Aguayo's standing up and saying "no" and due to the fact that (as Mike pointed out last night) Aguayo didn't just sue the US military, he's made it up all the way up to the DC Court of Appeals. With Ehren Watada the US military is also attempting to send a message, to initmidate and frighten others from following in Watada or Aguayo's footsteps. Guess what? It's too late. It's already happening. (About the only one scared at this point is a healthy chunk of independent media.) Watada and Aguayo are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, 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 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.

Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, US Congress member Barbara Lee discussed the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act. Which is? Legislation proposed by Lee and fellow Congress members Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters calling for the start of troop withdrawal and the start of "work with the regional countries in the Middle East to come up with a multilateral solution," Lee explained. Repeatedly, Representative Barbara Lee noted that the presence of US troops was fueling the violence. In addition, she noted that the violence "is only going to escalate as long as US troops are there," that "there is no 'win'" and that Bully Boy mentions mistakes but "whether than talk about to rectify it, he's talking about escalating the war." Andrea Lewis asked what everyone could do to support Lee, Waters and Woolsey's proposal and Lee responded that "the bill needs co-sponsors, the more co-sponsors you build, the more chance the bill will get a fair hearing" so start contacting your Congressional reps (especially the House because this is a House proposal) -- get on the phone, on the fax, on your feet, into your e-mail account . . . and tell them you want to see some support for Waters, Woolsey and Lee's bill -- Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.

Also appearing on
The Morning Show was Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) stated, "I hope she gets a whole lot more signers on that" and that "This is what we need. This is what we must from our leadership, we must have courageous leadership." He then discussed how when the talk of escalation was first being floated, US Senator Harry Reid (Majority Leader) was all ready to go along publicly but public outrage changed that. "The Democratic Leadership, if left to their own devices will go along with Bush on that". Rothschild stated he is for all avenues ("Bascially, I'm for everything") including phone calls and e-mails (which he believes are counted -- they are, a tally is kept by your rep) but it's time to get "past the passive protests." He shared how he was speaking with an activist about the events to note the 3,000 mark for number of US troops killed in Bully Boy's illegal war. The activist stated, "We got to do more than candle light vigils 'cause they're fine with candle light vigils" and that until the actions turn to massive civil disobedience ("until we start interrupting Wall St.," his friend told him) "this war's going to go on" -- instead "the volume needs to go up, needs to increase and just passive resistance to this war" will not change anything.

Philip Maldari raised the issue of the way Bully Boy continues to attempt to sell the escalation on every and any outlet that will have him. Maldari noted that Bully Boy was on the NewsHour as part of the push and "he says he has faith in generals -- well, he just changed the generals." Rothschild responded that "The reason they can't defend the policy is its indefenseable" but Bully Boy "views himself as The Great Liberator -- he thinks he's got God talking to him in one ear and Cheney in the other" which is why he can drop the number of Iraqis killed into a speech (Rothschild was referring to last year when Bully Boy decided to use the Iraqi Body Count figure) and "it didn't have an impact on him . . . he just dropped it off . . . At what point will these catostrophic casualty figures coming out of Iraq really make an impact on Bush?"

In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue following what
Leila Fadel and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) term the "worst day of carnage in more than a month".


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that 17 people have died from a car bombing "in the Shiite district of Sadr City". Mariam Karouny and Claudia Parsons (Reuters) report that the bombing left a "mangled wreckage of a white and orange taxi and blood on the street". The BBC notes that this took place "near the outdoor Mereidi market, one of the neighbourhood's most popular commerical centres" and that "[t]he force of the blast shattered windows of nearby stores and restaurants."

Al Jazeera notes a truck bomb which claimed 10 lives in Kirkuk with at least 42 wounded and "[r]escuers are still searching for bodies." CNN notes that the truck bomb was "detonated remotely, police said. The blast heavily damaged the station, leaving a number of people trapped under the rubble and causing structural damage to other buildings."

Reuters notes a roadsidebomb in Basra has left "two coalition force soldiers" wounded in Basra and it is presumed those are British soldiers, while, in Baghdad, one roadside bomb killed a police officer and left three more wounded, another roadside bomb ("near a minibus") left six people wounded and mortar rounds are being used in the continued assault on Haifa Street.


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports in an attack on two brothers who were construction workers, one was killed and the other wounded in Mahaweel,


Reuters reports a corpse was discovered (police officer) in Iskandariya. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes five corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

In addition,
Reuters reports that a "local government official in Mansour district of Baghdad was kidnapped" along with four his body guards.

Today, the
US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday and one Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The two deaths bring the ICCC count to 3028 (3028 is the AP count today as well).

Returning to the bill Barbara Lee spoke of, The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act,
AFP reports that it is "calling for a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq within six months" and that it "would repeal congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq . . . [,] would also force the withdrawl from Iraq of US military contractors, and would prohibit permanent US military bases there, while continuing economic and political aid to the country."

From legal news to diplomatic news, the US military stands accused of raiding another diplomatic mission in Iraq.
Al Jazeera reports that: "Sudan has summoned the senior US diplomat in Khartoum after it said American troops raided the Sudanese embassy in Baghdad, violating diplomatic conventions, a foreign ministry spokesmen has said." Last week, an Iranian consulate was stormed by US forces and diplomatic staff rounded up. Five still remain in US custody.

Staying with the topic of bully diplomacy, Mad Maddie Albright, the Sanctions Queen whose policies under Bill Clinton led to the unnecessary deaths of many Iraqis, marches her bald spot into the US House's Foreign Relations Committee today and, as
KUNA's report demonstrates, proceeds to prop up Condi Rice (who studied with Mad Maddie's Daddy) and to boo and hiss the idea of cutting off funding for the illegal war. Cut off funds? Never says Mad Maddie who cut off medicine and a great deal more while once famously bragging, in an interview with Lesley Stahl (60 Minutes) that a half-million dead Iraqi children was "a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

asked about that by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Mad Maddie showed her churlish side as she snapped and attempted to avoid making eye contact with Goodman. The neo-liberal is here to sell the war and while she may present herself as a disinterested party, Naomi Klein's groundbreaking reporting as 2004 wound down was not just on James Baker's efforts to make a quick buck in Iraq, Mad Maddie was a part of the effort as well. It should also be noted that Mad Maddie argued, immediately prior to the war, for Iraq to be broken up into three regions. She's hardly the disinterested diplomat she attempts to present herself as. But she's never been a honest broker.

While Mad Maddie laughably attempts to portray Condi Rice's Middle East trip as proof the Condi understands the importance of "a meaningful peace process," the reality of the trip?
Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) observes that "Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and five other neighboring states" have issued a statement "warning against foreign interference in Iraq" (excluding the US, of course) and that Rice was "traveling the region this week to build support for President Bush's new Iraq policy." That's why Rice has been traveling to the areas, to drum up support for Bully Boy's desired escalation, it's not about peace in the region. Mad Maddie also burped and growled about NATO.

Turning to true diplomacy,
yesterday we noted the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's report and this statement was included: "Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere" -- first eight months of 2006 -- it was the first eight months. We'll pick back up on the topic of Iraqi women in a moment. But, if you missed it, the reports states that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 and 36,685 were wounded and that the US led forces "restrict the enjoyment of human rights and . . . cause severe suffering to the local population." As Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes: "The report paints a harrowing picture of life in Iraq. At least 470,000 Iraqis have become refugees in their own country" and that "Baghdad accounted for about 75% of all deaths in the last two months of 2006".

The report is harrowing and
Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) interviewed Um Qasim (who lives on Haifa Street in Baghdad) whose life demonstrates the realities -- since the illegal war began, Qasim has seen three brothers die, a sister-in-law die, a nephew, a step-son a son . . . while two of her own sons are imprisoned and her 16-year-old son was just shot dead.

So we've noted that. When will the press get serious about the report and note its findings on honor killings and sucides among Iraqi women? The rapes, the kidnappings, the attacks on women and the destruction of women's rights?

December 9th, on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders and MADRE's Yanar Mohammed spoke about these killings. Mohammed described an 'honor' killing in November where a woman was taken from her home by fundamentalists and then beaten and flogged "in the middle of the street. Then they brought a cable and wrapped it around her neck" and used that cable to pull her to the "nearest football field and they hanged her". That's not isolated. Yanar Mohammed could speak of two other 'honor' killings in November as well.
While grateful that Flanders and Mohammed can discuss it, when will the mainstream media? These crimes are in the UN report.

Ehren Watada is on trial, not Sarah Olson. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) writes about Olson today (that's not a slap at Rothschild) and let's note this, while remembering Rothschild is not a 'creative' journalist (meaning he doesn't invent facts): "Olson says she is not in a position to discuss what she is ultimately going to do or 'what kind of legal strategy I will employ,' she says. But she appears to give a hint when she adds: 'My duty as a journalist is to the public and to their right to know, and not to the government."

Okay, are we all confused again?

She can't support her sources one moment, then the next
she's telling Aaron Glantz she has always supported Ehren Watada and doesn't know why anyone would suggest otherwise. Rothchild writes today and Olson's doing what? Saying she can't declare what she intends to do. And yet . . . Olson goes on RadioNation with Laura Flanders and declares she will not testify. (This page takes you to archives where you can listen or just note "Journalist Sarah Olson on why she won't testify against Lieut. Ehren Watada.")

After we're all over the what-mixed-message-is-she-sending-now moment, it bears repeating that Olson is NOT the story. She is a reporter. Her public drama is boring, tiring and embarrassing. She needs to take herself off the public stage because Ehren Watada is facing six years in prison, not Sarah Olson. Or as Dolly Parton says in Straight Talk, "Climb down off the cross, honey. Somebody needs the wood."

Olson tells Rothschild, she's 'holding up' "just fine." Good. Good to know she's maintaining. Now how about remembering that reporters are not the story? Gregg Kakesako, also subpoenaed, told Rothschild "no comment" -- two words Olson would do well to learn unless "Naval Gazer" is the new occupation she intends to list on her passport. All journalists, say it together, "We are not the story. We are not the story. We are not . . ."

Programming note, tomorrow
KPFA presents LIVE, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the US Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting entitled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice." Larry Bensky will host the KPFA coverage which will begin at 6:00 am PST. Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the committee.

center for constitutional rights

amy goodman
democracy now