I was hoping for a quote, musical, to start tonight's post with. I even asked Kat for a suggestion when I couldn't think of one myself. She said she was exhausted. I think most of us are. It was a long day. Hopefully, anyone reading this can feel a good-tired because, in some way, they made a point today to speak out about Ehren Watada.
"And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take." How about that? That's from the Beatles "The End" off Abbey Road. Abbey Road is usually my favorite Beatles' album. Some days I can rank others higher, but day in and day out, year in and year out, it's usually Abbey Road. I have no idea why. I certainly sing along more with Sgt. Pepper's. "Come Together" is a great song and I'll listen to it on Beatles' collections, but, honestly, with this album, I usually skip it and go straight to George Harrison's "Something." "Oh Darling!" has a wonderful vocal (one of my favorites) and "You Never Give Me Your Money" is equally beautifully vocally. But the 'suite' that ends the album is probably what I enjoy the most. And of the songs making up the suite, "Carry That Weight" and "The End" are my favorites.
The love you make is equal to the love you take. So did you make love today? The War Hawks made war. They always do. Even in times of peace (or peace in places), they lock themselves away and plot their future wars. As Joni Mitchell wrote in "Three Great Stimulants": "While madmen sit up building bombs and making laws and bars" what did you do today?
One thing I did today was public speaking which I hate. C.I. put a number of us on the spot. (Which is good, we all need to leave our comfort zone.) Everyone had already said everything on Ehren Watada by the time I went so I decided to talk about the fact that the United States is keeping a body count of Iraqis. That was news to a number of people so I'll note it here (it's been noted here before) one more time.
"U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" (Nancy A. Youssef, Knight Ridder now McClatchy Newspapers):
The death of civilians at the hands of U.S. troops has fueled the insurgency in Iraq, according to a top-level U.S. military commander, who said U.S. officials began keeping records of these deaths last summer.
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who as head of the Multinational Force-Iraq is the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said the number of civilian dead and wounded is an important measurement of how effectively U.S. forces are interacting with the Iraqi people.
"We have people who were on the fence or supported us who in the last two years or three years have in fact decided to strike out against us. And you have to ask: Why is that? And I would argue in many instances we are our own worst enemy,'' Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli said he reviews the figures daily. If fewer civilians are killed, "I think that will make our soldiers safer,'' Chiarelli said.
U.S. officials previously have said they don't keep track of civilian causalities, and Iraqi officials stopped releasing numbers of U.S.-caused casualties after Knight Ridder reported in September 2004 that the Iraqi Ministry of Health had attributed more than twice as many civilian deaths to the actions of U.S. forces than to "terrorist'' attacks during the period from June to September 2004.
I was surprised by the fact that the body count was new and then I had to remind myself that just because this community has (repeatedly) pointed it out doesn't mean everyone is doing the same. (In fact, as Mike noted at Polly's Brew, most weren't pointing it out.)
Golden slumbers feel your eyes
Smiles awake when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
Guess what I'm listening to? Abbey Road. I didn't bring it but C.I. put a copy of it in my room. Which is both good hosting and a sign that my devotion to that album is a little too well known.
I brought Cat Power, Michael Franti and some Brahms which was just to relax on the plane. I'm not looking forward to the flight back. (Not intended as an insult of Fly Boy's abilities, I just don't care for flying.)
While a lot of people seemed to have other things to do today, Sarah Olson provided a new piece on Ehren Watada. The military tried to make her talk, by the way. About what she had been told while researching her first article on Watada. I think they've dropped that action but it gives you an indication of the over-reach today.
(If you're asking, "What is she talking about?" I should probably explain that I haven't eaten today since breakfast. The day was too busy. And yesterday we were all doing the Troops Home Fast on the same day so we wouldn't have a week of, "Oh, I would go with but I'm fasting today." So I'm twice as hungry. We'll be eating shortly but I'm still on East Coast time where it would be ten o'clock and I'm famished.)
"Iraq War Vets' Support for Lt. Watada Growing" (Sarah Olson, Truthout):
The Army would like to depict Lieutenant Watada as a lone military voice of dissent: a renegade upon whom enlisted men and officers alike look with scorn and derision. But Clifton Hicks is joining a growing number of Iraq war combat veterans who support the Lieutenant. And, he says, for every veteran who supports Lieutenant Watada publicly, there are possibly hundreds more who feel they cannot speak out.
Geoffrey Millard is a sergeant in the Army National Guard and has no problem speaking publicly or supporting Lieutenant Watada. He spent eight years in the military, and was in Iraq between 2004 and 2005. He says GI resistance is a growing trend. "American GIs are beginning to respect the Nuremberg principles. They are resisting orders; they are going to jail, going to Canada, and going AWOL. And they're talking about why they're doing it."
When he was ordered to deploy, Millard says he didn't know how to resist the war. "Lieutenant Watada hadn't come forward. I didn't know about Camilo Mejia." This, he says, is the importance of Lieutenant Watada's public opposition to the war. It shows military personnel who disagree with the Iraq war another path.
Millard says it's important that leaders like Lieutenant Watada are supported; the brutality and duration of the US occupation demand it. He remembers a day during his tour of duty when a soldier opened fire on a car, killing an entire family. During the evening briefing, the commanding colonel said, "If these fucking Hajjis would learn to drive, this shit wouldn't happen." This is one of countless examples Millard has of the dehumanization accompanying the Iraq war. "This person wiped out an entire bloodline, and the colonel implied it was the victims' fault, using language designed to offend and demean them."
It's always someone else's fault (Bully Boy's life story?) and all the more so in a time when our government exists without accountability. Which may be the most lucid moment I can offer tonight. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and Betty's "A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does" is her latest chapter in the online novel about Betinna's life of Mrs. Thomas Friedman. Remember Watada needs support, please, get the word out.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Today, Wednesday, August 16, 2006, it's one day before Ehren Watada's Article 32 begins, a military inquiry learns that hypnosis was weighed as an option, chaos and violence continue in Iraq and curfews became the measure to address everything as the whack-a-mole 'strategy' grows more ludicrous. If news of Karbala, Mosul and Basra don't drive that point home, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on the violence spreading outward from Baghdad should.
So the Bully Boy reportedly frets about who's got his back and allegedly peruses Camus and attempts to market "Adapt & Win" (on the grave yard markers of "Adapt or Die"). And the war drags on.
Today is the day that the New York Times editorial board offered "Meanwhile, in Baghdad . . ." which includes the following: "As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test." It's a day where the American military fatality count since the illegal invastion stands at 2604, a day where the wounded count since the beginning of Bully Boy's war of choice now numbers 19323. A day when Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) report that the July death toll for Iraqis at 3,438.
Tomorrow? Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and his attorney, Eric Seitz, "expects the hearing to be over in one day." Which is why it's important to get the word out. Speaking to Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) in June, Watada spoke of how speaking out publicly could result in retaliation: "I think they will do their best to make an example of me." And, as Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported last week, the Army has now three times rejected Watada's offer of resignation leading attorney Seitz to offer that the military appears "To want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."
As Cedric Moon (KGMB9) notes the hearing is to determine whether "Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq". Robert Shikina (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that the hearing is expected to include only four witness: one called by the Army, three called by Seitz. Nina Shaprio (Seattle Weekly) has reported the three witnesses for Watada: "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Seitz told Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that Army's witness will affirm that Watada did not board the buses with others in his regiment on June 22nd and that "the Army also plans to use news clippings and video news reports".
Why would the military have a need to make an example of Ehren Watada? As Susan Van Haitsma (Austin-American Statesman) points out: "Watada joins a growing number of soldiers whose moral convictions are leading to punitive convictions in military courts. Many soldiers who have sought conscientious objector status have been denied it. Thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of the formidable legal blcks to establishing moral objections to the Iraq war. Many have sought refuge in Canada, though political asylum for U.S. military war resisters is not official there."
More information can be found at Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org.
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use email@example.com to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."
Some rallies going on today:
*Seattle, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Intersate 5, at the entrance to Fort Lewis
*Portland holds the second of its rush hour bannerings today at 4:30 pm on I5's pedistrian overpass
*Kahului. Two events. Sign-holding at 4 pm on Kaahumanu Avenue. Teach-in at 6:00 pm, Maui Community College's Ka Lama Building Room 104A and Bob Watada, Ehren's father, will be at that event.
"On the one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, goving over to Iraq and fight. On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenouse insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many lives were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, os many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
-- Ehren Watada to Courtney Scott via Rougue Valley IMC
And today in Iraq?
The BBC reports that eight died and 28 were wounded when a bomb went off in Baghdad. The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb in Hillah that killed three Iraqi soldiers (and wounded four more) and states that "[b]ombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi captial Wednesday". CBS and AP report that in addition to the bomb that killed eight in Baghdad, eleven more died (for the 19 total) via "[t]wo other bombs . . . in central Baghdad". [Reuters has just upped the total to 21 killed in Baghdad from bombings today.] Reuters notes that, in Basra, Yusif al-Mousawi ("general secretary of Tharalla Islamic Party") was targeted with two roadside bombs (he survived); in Kut, a roadside bomb wounded two police officers; in Jbala, a roadside bomb left three Iraqi soldiers dead while four were wounded; and, in Baquba, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb that wounded three others. In addition, Damien Cave (New York Times) reports on the bombing of a memorial dedicated to children killed last summer by a car bomber (and, I believe one American soldier was killed in the bombing as well). Cave speaks with Muhammad Khaitan, whose his 14-year-old son Saif Muhammad died in last year's bombing, who declares, "All they left was the foundation. They don't want the next generation to remember how we suffered."
Meanwhile, as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show noted, Basra is under curfew after the storming of a governor's office. Reuters reports that during the attacks on the city council and governor's office, one police officer was killed and five were wounded. The hour long fighting ending, AP notes, when British troops arrived. Reuters is a little more specific: "up to 180 British soldiers and 16 Warrior armored personnel carriers". By the way, in Basra fighting, rockets were used, the AFP reports. (We'll get back to rockets shortly.) And the answer to the violence? Curfew! curfew! curfew! as CNN reports. As the AFP notes, curfew's the sure cure for Karbala today as well -- in fact, forget 'crackdown' -- it's under "lockdown" -- consider it a lid tossed on a pot of boiling water. In Mosul, the armed fighting continued. AP places the death toll from the fighting at five. Reuters notes that these two cities follow the violence in Kerbala yesterday which Iraq's Defense Ministry says claimed the lives of 12 people yesterday. Finally, CBS and AP report that a "Danish soldier was shot in the back . . . in southern Iraq."
AP reports that three corpses were discovered in Kut ("bound, blindfolded . . . signs of torture").
Rockets? Poor William Caldwell IV, he was probably almost over Tuesday's sour stomach following his assurances that Sunday's most violent act in Baghdad was the result of a gas explosion. Well, someone pass him the Mylanta, CBS and the AP are reporting that the group claiming responsibility for the attack has now released a video of "showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone." Because it was four Australian troops and not four American troops wounded in the Green Zone Sunday from a rocket attack, it appears that a number of people are unaware of the incident. That's allowed Caldwell to deny rockets and bombs on the Baghdad neighborhood and, then Tuesday, allowed the military to play the split-the-difference wherein they allowed that okay-bombs-were-used-but-that's-it! Eye witness testimony cites rockets. Caldwell better chug that Mylanta and hope those using rockets on residential buildings Sunday didn't tape their attack as well.
Of the four Australian soldiers wounded in Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone, three were released and able to return to duty, the fourth remains in a hospital in Baghdad. Her name is Sarah Webster and Ian McPhedran (Australia's Advertiser) reports the injuries are minor but include "bruising and lacerations."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues and . . . Well, what do you say after the Major Michael Pemberton ("head of the military police's special investigations branch") testifies to discussions of hypnotizing one of Jake Kovco's roommates? It's the headline, it's the lede where ever you look -- not surprising. But if we can move on that attempt (not implemented) to jog memory,
here's how Pemberton characterized his relationship with the army chiefs while conducting his investigation: "I would use the term interference" (AAP). Australia's ABC reports: "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday, Major Pemberton said senior military officials in Baghdad ignored his instructions that the body was not to be moved, potentially destroying vital forensic evidence before his investigators arrived." "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday"? That was addressed in yesterday's snapshot when Soldier 46's testimony directly contradicted the claims of others that they hadn't been instructed to secure the death/crime scene.