Friday, November 10, 2006

Iraq, CounterPunch, Ruth

I am rushing tonight and sent out feelers for what to write about. Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy now round-table" went over a number of left outlets that weren't noting the court-martial of Ehren Watada (far too many). She got an e-mail about CounterPunch and passed that topic to me to help me have something to write about. CounterPunch, as anyone in the community or, in fact, anyone who reads it can tell you, is not a 'breaking' site. It's not updated throughout the day. I don't believe I have ever seen 'breaking news' at the site. I have, however, at the site and in the magazine, seen pieces covering the anti-war movement in many ways. Usually, that's as a movement. That includes war resistance within the military. Peter Laufer was interviewed on just that topic not long ago. In addition, the voices writing exclusively for the magazine, as well as though highlighted on the website, do not hide behind generals. Alexander Cockburn's column before last read like it could have been written by a community member disgusted with so many on the left's attempt to sell the anti-war movement on the backs of generals who aren't, in fact, anti-war.

CounterPunch isn't without its own problems, no magazine is. For me, the biggest problem is the publication. I would prefer it be out much more often. Otherwise, it generally goes where no one else will on the left. There are pieces that irritate the hell out of me and there are pieces that I think, "Thank God someone is covering this." It never plays Tasteful Lady (a character Lily Tomlin used to do). It's passionate and alive. Having repeatedly covered the peace movement in terms of music, war resistance, prominent voices and other avenues, it has been a publication that's stood up while many have slouched or tried to sneak by.

Rebecca didn't list it because of the reasons I just identified. It's not doing 'breaking news.' Nor does it have a 'feed' or a link-fest. I prefer the print version because I enjoy something I can hold in my hands and I enjoy reading on the couch, in the bathtub or while laying on the bed. But since I've started this site, I've found myself visiting the site more often (usually in search of something to write about but it's also true that when I'm done posting many nights, I'll see something I wanted to read but couldn't include in a post, so I'll stay online a bit more to check that out) and I think the site is a must-visit.

If you don't, as C.I. would say, the voice doesn't speak to you so find one that does. But CounterPunch's coverage of the war has not been wanting. Nor has it ever gone a month without noting it. Not a lot of other publications can make that claim. Well, they could, but it would be greeted with laughter.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts which will include an update on who is still not providing coverage of or links to coverage of the news that Ehren Watada is being court-martialed.

"Ruth's Report" is written by Ruth and, with her permission, I wanted to note a few things. Ruth and her family are very politically aware though she would argue she had grown "complacent" (her word). Her husband of many years (they married in college) died not all that long ago. When it happened, she felt numb and very distanced from everything around her. The world, her family, everything. What brought her back to the world was her grandson Jayson's announcement that he is gay. He made that announcement at a Sunday lunch and no one saw it coming except for Ruth's granddaughter Tracey -- the only one Jayson had confined in. Both because of the bravery it took to declare that and because of the fact that an issue she had always supported, gay rights, was now even closer to home, Ruth snapped out of "my lethargy and came back to the world."

As she re-entered the world, she began using the computer that she'd only used prior as a typewriter for letters. Her husband had been very computer savy and she always depended upon him to hunt down something for her ("a recipe or news"). The 2004 elections were over and Iraq was not an issue the left and the 'left' had much interest in addressing. They, like the Democratic Party, were in retreat over the myth of the 'vangical voters and more interested in diluting support for abortion and upping their public-God-status. She was attempting to find a site that would speak to her and Tracey recommended her favorite site, The Common Ills.

Ruth credits the site with helping her rediscover her own voice. "C.I. didn't shy from Iraq," she told me. "While everyone was looking away or ignoring reality, including what was happening in Iraq, while MoveOn was moving on, C.I. was there addressing the war and steering me and others towards other outlets. Pacifica is something I couldn't get through a day without now but I wasn't listening before C.I. kept stressing it. I was in NPR world, part of the numbness, where it was 'Oh gee, the war is still on but now let's visit with a fisherman and learn his funny tale.' There was no bravery in their coverage, there was no questioning of it. Listening to Pacifica, I was reminded so strongly of what NPR could do in its early days."

Treva, one of Ruth's oldest friends, attempted to help her reconnect with the world earlier but "it didn't take, I wasn't ready." Now that she was, she found that she and Treva had a great deal to discuss. "We can start a call noting we really only have five minutes to talk and end up on the phone for an hour."

Ruth's youngest grandson was still an infant and his mother needed to return to work. Ruth says she's fully aware that they both needed her and needed to help her "emerge from my ghost days." That's why she was asked to watch him. "Which did and does provide many wonderful moments each day, but it also drove home how important it was that this illegal war ends. My generation wanted to stop the war in Vietnam, yes, but we also wanted to put an end to wars of lies that kill so many."

She finds that what she once settled for in terms of 'coverage' is "no longer good enough" and wonders "Have I become a radical?"

Ruth remembers the day when 'liberal' wasn't a compliment on the left. "You were a dabbler if you were a 'liberal.' Phil Ochs captured that mood perfectly in 'Love Me, I'm a Liberal.' Many of us began using the term 'radical.' I'm not sure that it applied to many of us, including me, but I can understand why we used it -- especially today. The outrage I felt during Vietnam is back and all the stronger now because there's the added point that we do know better but we appear to have learned nothing from our not-so-long-ao history."

Ruth may touch on some of these topics in her next report. I want to thank her because I called her this evening as I was booting up my laptop and reminded, "You said it was okay to write about. Could I get some quotes?"

I would not have a post tonight if it weren't for Ruth, so thank you, Ruth. But her process, of waking up to the world (a reawakening for her -- and from a numbness caused by the loss of her husband) is mirrored in many members' stories. It's also, I believe, a story of many people today. We're not settling for a shout or a one day thing. We want the war addressed. The elections appear to indicate that. While it's not a surprise that elected leaders don't lead, it does shock me that so many in so-called independent media fail to offer coverage that leads or steers.

Those are my thoughts for tonight. Ruth and I both enjoyed the snapshot (below) and we also discussed that -- specifically C.I.'s nod to Lewis Carroll's White Queen. We wonder how many people will catch "a-dress" as opposed to assuming it's a typo?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 10th. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces they will court-martial Lt.
Ehren Watada, the US military also announces the death of five more US troops in Iraq, John Howard makes Australians and the rest of the world glad that there's only one of him, and David Swanson explains what really happened in DC.Starting with news on US war resister Ehren Watada. In June, Watada went public with his refusal to deploy to Iraq because the war is illegal and deploying would subject both himself and those serving under him to war crimes. In standing up, Watada became the first US commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war. On August 17th, Article 32 hearing was held. [For details on Ann Wright's testimony, click here, Dennis Halliday click here, and here for Francis A. Boyle.] Following the hearing on the 17th, the US military announced August 24th that the presiding officer of the hearing, Lt. Colonel Mark Keith, had made a recommendation, court-martial. Yesterday, The KPFA Evening News reported that the US military had decided to court-martial Watada. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that "Lt. Gen. James Dubik, agreed with the recommended charges of missing a military movement and conduct unbecoming an officer." Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that conviction during the court-martial ("held next year") could result in "six years in jail and a dishonorable discharge." Honolulu's KITV spoke with Eric Seitz, attorney for Watada, who stated, "Unfortunately the army does want to make a martyr out of him. They have told us they will not enter into any agreement that doesn't include at least a year of incarceration, and that's just simply something we are unable to agree to." Rod Ohira (Honolulu Advertiser) notes the following statements by Watada after learning of the recommendation to court-martial him:"I feel the referral of the charges was not unexpected and at this time, I'm moving forward as I always have with resilience and fortitude to face the challenges ahead. . . . I think as the recent elections show more and more Americans are opening their eyes, but we aren't there yet. It is my hope that actions such as my own continue to call for the truth behind the fundamental illegality and immorality of those who perpetrated this war."
Coverage of war resisters in the US independent media has been embarrassing and shameful.
Rebecca checks in on several independent outlets only to find that none have anything on Watada this morning. He appears to getting the full-Brobeck from independent media. (CBS notes Watada here.) War resister Ivan Brobeck returned to the US from Canada to turn himself in Tuesday and he didn't even make the indy headlines. (Nora Barrows Friedman did interview him on Monday's Flashpoints.) It's not cutting it. Not for Brobeck, not for Kyle Snyder who's also been ignored after returning to the US and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Not for Joshua Key who learned that the Canadian government was denying him refugee status.
A list of war resisters within the military would include Watada, Key, Snyder, and Brobeck. It would also include many other names such as Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.) It is a movement and should be covered as such. Ehren Watada's father and step-mother are currently on a speaking tour (tonight they're in NYC) and details on that will be at the end of the snapshot.
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. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.
Grabbing headlines is Ali al-Shemari. The Iraqi Health minister announced a number for the death toll of Iraqis due to the illegal war.
AP notes that he places the death toll at 150,000. The KPFA Evening News pointed out on Thursday that is he was actually basing his 'count' on the United Nations estimate of at least 100 Iraqis dying each day "that calculation would be closer to 130,000." CBS and AP note that he rejects the number of approximately 655,000 in the Lancet Study but thinks his own number is "OK." Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) calls the number "an off-the-cuff estimate". Puppets can't go off-the-cuff or off-script which may be why AFP is reporting that the estimates being watered down (the Health Ministry is now saying between 100,000 and 150,000).
the US military has announced today "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province" and also "Two 89th Military Police Brigade Soldiers were killed and one Soldier was wounded Thursday after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device at 12:48 p.m. Thursday in west Baghdad." Later in the day would come more announcements. This: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from non-hostile causes while operating in Al Anbar Province," and this: "One Soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) was killed and another wounded Nov. 10 during a combat logistics patrol when their truck was hit by an improvised explosive device west of Hadithah" for a total of five deaths announced today. ICCC currently lists 24 as the number of US troop deaths in Iraq for the month, thus far (2842 since the start of the illegal war). As the numbers continue to climb, Michael Luo and Michael Wilson (New York Times) report that funerals have become so common for the First Battalion, 22nd Infantry in Iraq that planning time for services have been cut from 45 minutes to five minutes.
While the numbers (on all sides) continue to mount,
AP notes Donald Rumsfled stated (yesterday), "I will say this -- it is very clear that the major combat operations were an enormous success." Oh White Queen, get someone to help you a-dress quickly. Forgetting the illegal nature of the war for a moment, that's a bit like a drunk driver who plows into a car and kills an entire family stating, "I will say this -- I pulled away from the curb nicely."In some of the reported violence today . . .
AFP reports: "In violence on the ground, a powerful blast killed an Iraqi army colonel and his five bodyguards in the northern town of Tall Afar. Reuters notes it was a car bombing and that 17 people were wounded while, in Kirkuk, a roadside bombing injured two Iraqi soldiers.
Reuters notes that, in Yusufiya, 14 people were kidnapped (by "gunmen") and then found dead and a man was shot dead in Diwaniya. Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that three family members were shot dead in Baghdad (home invasion).
Reuters reports, "Police fished the body of a woman, bearing signs of torture and bullet wounds, from the Tigris river in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said." In addition, Christopher Bodeen (AP) informs that 33 corpses were discovered "in Baghdad and several nearby cities."
In Australia, War Hawk and prime minister John Howard's
laughable comments yesterday have resulted in more punch lines. Gillian Bradford observered to Eleanor Hall (ABC's PM) that "Whatever the opinion polls here may say here about Australians' desire to get out of Iraq, the Prime Minister isn't swayed" and he intended to ring Tony Blair up just as soon as he (Howard) finished his cricket match. Give 'em Flair, Howie. AAP reports that: "Prime Minister John Howard should tell George W Bush that he's pulling Australian troops out of Iraq when the two leaders meet next week, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says. Mr Howard will have lunch with the US president during next week's APEC meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam - their first meeting since Mr Bush's Republican party was thumped in US mid-term elections." Bully Boy gets to Vietnam a lot more today than when he 'served,' doesn't he? Meanwhile Xinhau reports: "Howard said he will commiserate with Bush in person at the APEC meeting in the second half of next week.Howard said he had always accepted that the majority of the Australian public had been against the military commitment to Iraq." Howard 'accepts' the majority opinion, he just doesn't 'respect' it.
In peace news,
yesterday's snapshot noted Cindy Sheehan was arrested outside the White House while attempting to deliver a petition (with over 80,000 signatures) calling for the US troops to be brought home. Not quite. David Swanson (Let's Try Democracy) reports she was arrested outside the White House long after the petition: "Late Wednesday afternoon Cindy decided to lead a sit-in right in front of the White House, and then -- finally -- the Park Service arrested her. The Associated Press changed the lede to its article to read as follows: 'Activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested Wednesday as she led about 50 protesters to a White House gate to deliver anti-war petitions.' Not quite accurate. The petitions had been delivered several hours before the arrest. But what the heck, it probably got more editors to pick up the story. Thanks, again, Cindy!" Swasnon outlines the events as being stalled at the gates of the White House when attempting to deliver the petition leading activists to place pages in the fence and to send pages over the fence. Hours later, Cindy Sheehan staged the sit-down.
In other news of activists who refuse to hit the snooze button, Wendell Harper reported on yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News and today on KPFA's The Morning Show that Medea Benjamin was among those activists participating in a rally outside the soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco office calling for troops home now.
Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Due to increased interest there have been some date changes and a full schedule can be found here. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 10, Early PM, New York City, NY., Press ConferenceLocation: UN, 777 United Nations Plaza, First Avenue and E. 44th StreetSponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34Contact: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
ltbrin@earthlink.netGeorge McAnanama,

Nov 10, 7:30PM, New York City, NY.Location: St. Paul/St. Andrews Methodist Church -- West End Avenue and West 86th Streets,Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34Contacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,

Nov 11, 10AM-2:30PM, New York City, NY.,Veterans Day ParadeSponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapters 34 & 138, IVAW, MFSOContacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
ltbrin@earthlink.netGeorge McAnanama,

Nov 11, 3-5 PM, Flushing, NY.,Location: Macedonia AME Church (718) 353-587037-22 Union St.Sponsors: "United for Lt. Watada"Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710,

Nov 11, 7 PM, New York City, NY., Manhattan,Location: Columbia University, Broadway and W 116 St., Bldg- Mathematics Rm 312Sponsors: Asian American Alliance, "United for Lt. Watada",Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710

Nov 12, 11AM-1PM, Providence, RI., Location: Brown University, The John Nicholas Brown Center, 357 Benefit Street at WilliamsSponsor: Veterans For Peace NationalContact: Naoko Shibusawa, 401-286-1908,

Nov 12, 7PM, Rockland County, NY., Location: TBASponsor: Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace National and Veterans For Peace Chapter /Rockland CountyContact: Nancy Tsou,
LYTHRN@aol.comBarbara Greenhut

Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada,Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B,Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works,Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489,

Nov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814,

iraqkyle snyderjoshua keyehren watadabob watada