Friday, August 25, 2006

Ehren Watada, Iraq and the War Hawks of Independent Media

As you probably know, Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing now has a finding and it's been passed on up the chain to Col. Cynthia Murphy who will make a decision and then pass it up to her superior. The struggle goes on and Watada needs your support so be your own media and broadcast his story in your circles. There will be more on Watada in the snapshot posted in full shortly.

What I want to deal with now is how some of the left (or "left") are taking part in the rollout for another war. The thing the independent media did a great job of with regard to the lead up of the Iraq war was present alternative views. In fact, the mainstream media failed because they refused to offer dissenting views or to question narratives.

So it's rather sad that Democracy Now! has aired yet another 'report' on Sudan and, as with all the others, there's no questioning of the narrative being handed down. For many in the independent media, and this includes many, there is no need to question the narrative that we've been handed. I wonder how they think that makes them any better than the mainstream media?

It appears that we won't get questioning from most of the independent media and that requires we ask a few questions regarding our independent media such as, "How are they any different from the mainstream?" The Darfur issue is pushed by the right and left and there's funds and prestige involved. There's just no need to present any actual thought or difference of opinion. Independent media, with few exceptions, is beating a war drum now and that's pretty disgusting. Amy Goodman has a new book coming out. Let's hope she doesn't again present herself as the last voice of truth because on the issue of Darfur, she hasn't been. Among broadcasters, I'm aware of Bonnie Faulkner's bravery. Amy Goodman's aired the equivalent of every op-ed in the mainstream.

"Save Darfur?" (Joshua Frank, CounterPunch):
George Clooney and a handful of other Hollywood big shots, along with over 164 humanitarian and religious groups, are now calling on the United States to hustle troops over to stop the ethnic conflict. Bin Laden, in his latest radio hit (if it was really him), claimed the Darfur region of the Sudan, which is largely Muslim, would be the next stop for the U.S. imperial armies. Let's hope he's wrong, even if Clooney and Amnesty International desire it. The United States, if troops were deployed, would most likely only escalate the deaths, not end them. There is absolutely no reason to believe that shipping young Americans off to the Horn of Africa to die would result in anything tangible or worthwhile. Sadly, the bloody conflict would likely continue regardless.
Some little-known facts about the Darfur situation: Both sides in the conflict are black, and both sides are Muslim. So, despite what the major news media may say, this isn't an Arab-on-black or Muslim-on-Christian nightmare. And perhaps worst of all, there isn't a good side to be on. Both have committed horrible atrocities, and both want to slaughter the other. Not to mention that entering the region militarily would only feed right into bin Laden's rhetoric ­ much like we did when we shocked and awed Baghdad. So I think it's safe to say that hatred of the U.S. would only increase among closet jihadists in the Middle East and elsewhere if we invaded Darfur. That doesn't make us, or them, any safer.
You may recall that President Clinton did his part to end the violence in the Sudan when he fired a few missiles at a pharmaceutical plant in 1998. It didn't do much good; it led to countless deaths and probably prompted al-Qaeda to attack the United States quicker. There is no reason to believe that an intervention by Bush would result in anything different. And never mind that the United States isn't all that great at "humanitarian interventions".
1992 saw the invasion of Somali, which by most accounts was an utter failure. Thousands of innocent Somalians died while others were brutally raped by UN peacekeeping forces. And for all those who claim that the late 90s Kosovo war a just conflict, don't forget that thousands of ordinary people were killed because of our intervention. Oh yeah, and NATO is still occupying the place.

Possibly if Joshua Frank received a grant, he'd be on Democracy Now! and allowed to present an opposing view? What we saw for July and much of August was wall-to-wall coverage. In that case, though tedious, the coverage was attempting to be brave (if one note). Now? There's no bravery.

I don't think I can stop the war march to Darfur. I don't think I can get out ahead of the hype that the mainstream's pushed repeatedly and independent media has been happy to repeat as well. But I can go on record, as I have already, in saying that Darfur issue has been simplified and that encouraging the Bully Boy to use force in any situation is a lose-lose situation.

I'll be limiting my choices of independent media in the future because I don't like to be lied to. I don't like to be tricked or goaded with false information. It's a real shame that with all the hours and pages devoted to Darfur, Bonnie Faulkner's Guns and Butter remains one of the few programs willing to present an actual dialogue and allow her audience to make their own decisions. It's especially surprising when you consider the fact that Amy Goodman's been quite happy to pair some anti-choice idiot with Kim Gandy or a guest from NARAL but on Darfur she only offers one point of view. Obviously the 'media gods' have issued the orders from on high and the decree is we must get on board for war with the Sudan (and that's what it will be, don't kid yourself). It's time to bed down with the devil (Bully Boy) and tell him, "Destroy, destroy! We are with you." I'll sit this one out and I'll drop independent media that refuses to inform me and instead wants to give me marching orders.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, August 25, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq despite the wave of Operation Happy Talk
launched yesterday by US military boys John Abizaid and George Casey that things are looking up and corners will be turned, equally laughable was Brit military boy Charlie Burbridge claiming that a base in Amara hadn't been abandoned. He offers a new punch line today. The inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco continues and Soldier 14 testifies again. But we'll start with the latest on Ehren Watada -- the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.
Late Thursday" J.C.Matthews told the AP that a recommendation had been reached by Lt. Colonel Mark Keith in Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the recommendation is "Ehren Watada face a general court-martial for failing to join his unit in Iraq" and Keith "has endorsed two other charges: conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt toward officials." Translation, Keith has endorsed all three charges made on July 5th. As the AP notes, "Keith could have recommended anything from dismissal of the charges to a general court-martial" as he weighed the issues and the testimony given on August 17th. Gregg K. Kakesako notes that Keith did feel that Ehren Watada was "sincere in his beliefs" which "should mitigate any future punishment" and Kakesako outlines the next step: "Keith's decision now goes to Col. Cynthia Murphy, U.S. Army Garrison commander at Fort Lewis, who will review it and then submit her recommendations to Lt. Gen James Dubik".
AP quotes Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, stating: "We always believed that when they went so far as to convene an Article 32 hearing that they had alread made a decision to proceed." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes Seitz was left "somewhat astounded" that the charges endorsed by Keith included anything other than "missing the troop movement" because of "important First Amendment issues" that surround the other two charges.
Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports this today (of the August 17th testimony of Denis Halliday: "Halliday was called to testify regarding the impace of war on the Iraqi people. 'The people of Iraq had become used to living under very difficult conditions after the destruction in the name of the United Nations by the United States of the civilian infrastructure, water supplies, sewer systems, electric power, use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs.' Halliday was prevented from providing complete testimony when the investigating officer presided over the Article 32 hearing ruled that the 'consequences of the war or the situation on the ground' were irrelevant to Lieutenant Watada's argument that the war was illegal and that he had an obligation to refuse to fight it." That is the most that's been written of Halliday's testimony to date (which, for the record, wasn't delivered via mime).
Bob Watada continues his speaking engagements in the San Francisco Bay Area to raise awareness of what his son, Ehren, is facing. The events include:

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling 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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Turning to the illegal occupation, violence and chaos continues.
Reuters reports one Iraqi soldier dead and two others wounded from a roadside bomb in Rashad and a "hand-grenade attack on a market in Hawija" left three people wounded. AFP notes the death, late Thursday, of "an Iraqi army officer" with four soldiers left wounded.
AFP notes that five were killed by gunfire in Baquba, two in Tirkit (bakery workers) with three other people wounded, Reuters notes that, in Nasiriya, gunfire claimed the lives of two and left two others wounded.
Reuters notes the discovery, in Qaim, of an Iraqi soldier ("signs of torture") while AFP notes that three corpses were discovered in Kirkuk ("tortured and bullet-riddled bodies").
In other violence, despite the British military flacks that were so eagerly allowed to
spin in this this morning's New York Times, Haidar Hani (AP) reports: "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". As Ross Colvin (Reuters) reported yesterday, the base, which had come under nightly, heavy attacks, was abandoned. The AP story today notes: "Iraqi authories had complained that the British withdrawal had caught them by surprise" and allows flack Charlie Burbridge to holler Not-true-we-gave-them-24-hours-notice! Well, Charlie, on a rental, you usually have to give a minimum of 30 days notice. But it is good to know that as they packed up everything they could carry, someone did think to make a quick call saying, "Hey, we're about to split. If there's anything you want, better grab it quick, dude!"
Along with an adequate heads up, Iraqi politicians have other complaints they're sharing.
Aparism Ghosh (Time magazine) reports that Abdul-Azziz al-Hakim states that for over three years Iraqi politicians have persistently requested "and reliable evidence" that "Iran is interfering in Baghdad's affairs" only to be rebuffed. al-Hakim is quoted as saying, "[A]nd for three years we've told them, 'Show us proof.' But they never have." al-Hakim and others speaking to Ghosh make clear that they feel there is no proof and that Iran is being blamed to divert attention from the failure of the illegal war.
This as
Aaron Glantz reports for OneWorld that Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferenczz has declared that Bully Boy and Saddam Hussein "should be tried for war crimes."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
Figuring into the most recent testimony were "
NSW Police scientific officer Stephanie Hales" and Soldier 14. Soldier 14 has made multiple appearances in the hearing. On August 9th, his testimony rejected the so-called buddy system where a pair was responsible for checking one another's weapons at the end of a shift (he also testified that what he said and what the military wrote up in his official statement were quite different). Last Friday, a DNA witness, Michelle Franco, identified some of the DNA on Jake Kovco's gun as belonging to Soldier 14. [Again from last Friday: The Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches."] Soldier 14 has maintained that he did not touch Jake Kovco's pistol (and he's refused to be questioned by the NSW).
At the start of this week, Soldier 14 again testified to the hearing and maintained that the DNA must have gotten on the pistol some other way such as via other equipment he acknowledges that he and Jake Kovco both handled such as a megaphone, a radio or telephone. Also in that testimony, Soldier 14 declared that "people" had warned him that Jake Kovco's widow, Shelley Kovco, was 'out to get him.' That was his excuse for avodiging her. Belinda Tasker (The Daily Telegraph) noted, of that testimony, that Soldier 14's avoidance of Shelley Kovco -- out of fear of being accused of something,apparently -- translates as Soldier 14 aoviding contact with her for "more than three months" and notes that Soldier 14 said "people were telling me" that Shelley Kovco was out to get him. Who these 'people' were warning him of Shelley Kovco will apparently not be explored.
That was some of the previous testimony. Today Soldier 14 testified again (not via video-link and remember he has stated he wants to get back to the apparent calm of Baghdad).
Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the issues today revolved around: "Did you silently cock Private Kovco's pistol?" which Soldier 14 asserted he did not. Soldier 14 has maintained that he saw Jake Kovco a few days prior to his death. Brown describes the process as "a silent cocking operation, where the weapon is stripped down, a round put in he chamber, then reassembled, leaving the round in the chamber." Soldier 14 will also be testifying Monday.
Stephanie Hales' testimony is
characterized by the AAP as asserting that residue tests can not determine "whether Private Jake Kovco shot himself in Iraq or if someone else pulled the trigger" for a variety of reasons including the fact that Jake Kovco's "clothes . . . were destroyed," "the barracks room where PTE Kovco was shot was cleaned before NSW Police arrived in Baghdad to carry out their forensic tests," Jake Kovco's body was washed in a Kuwait morgue, Jake Kovco's hands were not wrapped "in paper bags" and the two roommates were allowed to shower and wash their clothing with no forensic tests being performed.
Finally, in England, British soldier Jason Chelsea has been buried. The
BBC reports that the nineteen-year-old "killed himself because he feared . . . he might have to shoot children" as he asserted he had been told in his training. The BBC notes that: "Earlier this month the MoD released figures showing 1,541 soldiers who served in Iraq are suffering from psychiatric illness."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Who thinks for you? (It should be you)

The reconstruction contracts are, hands down, the most expensive contracts in Iraq. The seven largest U.S. contracts in Iraq, excluding Halliburton's, are for reconstruction. The most recent report from the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction reveals that the United States has appropriated nearly $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds for reconstruction projects in Iraq. Not a cent of this money is required to say in Iraq as an investment in Iraq's long-term economic growth. These contracts are also the most unnecessary because they pay American firms bloated rates for work that Iraqis can and should be allowed to do themselves.
-- Antonia Juhasz, The BU$H AGENDA: Invading The World One Economy at a Time, p. 316

Yesterday, I started with a selection from Juhasz' book and I had three e-mails about that. Two said they enjoyed the excerpt and asked if it was representative? I think it is. So tonight, there's another excerpt. Read it and judge for yourself. The third e-mail was from Brenda (community member) who wrote that she'd been intending to buy Juhasz's book but it was one of those things she kept forgetting. She went out and purchased the book. If nothing else is ever accomplished at my site, I was able to help Brenda purchase the book. (I'm not minimizing that. Brenda's a big reader and she shares her books. So one copy purchased by Brenda will reach a number of people.

Are you a book reader? If not, what's the area of your influence? Sunny asked me today to share a story. She has a friend (not her best friend that she's named here when she filled in while I was on vacation) who e-mails several times a day with "Cat pictures and jokes." Sunny spoke to her and told her she was getting that sort of e-mail from everyone. She said she didn't need anymore of those. She wanted to tell her friend because, and we probably all have someone like this e-mailing us, every fifth one will contain something along the lines of "Do you want to have lunch __?" and if you just ignore those e-mails completely, the person ends up thinking, "Why didn't you let me know about lunch?"

So Sunny spoke to her friend and today she got a mass e-mailing from the friend which was actually about the war? (About the stop loss policy that's going to see thousands of troops who thought they were done and back in the United States being pulled into Iraq.)

So that really made Sunny's day (and she forwarded it through her circle).

On those mass e-mailings . . .

If they're not an issue, I don't have time for them. I'm not as to the point as C.I. who will call someone and ask, flat out, "Why are you sending me this s**t?" C.I. will do that. That was before The Common Ills started. C.I. would just say flat out, "Don't send me that s**t." That included 'jokes' about France (for those who have forgotten, France, to hear our gasbags and the administration tell it in 2002 and 2003, was basically the Satan of the Europe). And at least once a year, there's always someone who goes kooky and gets into some cult (like that "Land _" club, I can't think of the name of it). They then start sending out all their jibbersh as they try to recruit others to their psuedo-religion. You get one warning and then you're blocked.

I've never been warned -- for any wondering. I have no time to hunt down cat photos or other similar items online.

I've used e-mail the way I do letters.

That's with everyone. If you get an e-mail from me, and you're a friend, I've actually attempted to put some thought into (more so than in these posts). About mid-2004, when I joined in the chorus urging C.I. to blog, it was because the e-mails were often like blogs. They'd have these links and I'd read though and think, "Everyone's right, C.I. needs to blog." That was because of a feature on Yahoo that allowed you to add links. I miss those, to be honest. I love The Common Ills but I miss those e-mails. In "joker jeff defends his 'girl' who leaves the audience with a wrong impression," Rebecca talks about that some, the pre-online days. She talks about a great deal actually and, if you missed it, you will probably enjoy it. (If you already read it, I'm sure you enjoyed it.)

But the point that stands out to me is the fact that we do need more voices. That really is the message of the community. Her comments about Brady are typical of the community. We all do get examples and apply them to our own lives. One person's activism encourages others. In "Iraq dialogue," I mentioned a professor who stressed thinking for yourself. He felt that memorizing facts was an easy drill that denied you actual thought. I agreed with that. I still do. You've never seen (and never will see) me post a list of talking points. I don't agree with our pseudo think tanks that have sprung up thinking that if we all repeat X and B and J and S, we're 'good.' We aren't. We need to learn to think for ourselves.

Take Antonio Juhasz' book. You can read it and try to memorize all these facts or you can try to absorb the message of the book (and, in the process, you'll find that you remember more than a few facts without trying). C.I. wrote about the nonsense coverage of Saddam Hussein's trial this morning. In "NYT: Iraq coverage slips right out of the paper," C.I. wrote: "The problem isn't that Saddam's on trial, the problem is that a lot of others aren't. Something to remember ten or twenty years on down the line when the next US-backed Saddam, Pinochet, go down the list, is held accountable for their crimes but treated as though they acted in a vacuum." That really is true. That's the larger issue. When you hear of Bully Boy's plans for Cuba, think about Saddam Hussein, the man we set up and kept in power. Until we start demanding that our government respects self-rule, we're going to have an Iraq every few years. It may be 'smaller' or it may be as 'large.' But at the heart of it is this belief that we can decide for others and, for many, that we should. Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush and others need to be in Baghdad right now, standing side by side with Saddam Hussein and on trial.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and be sure to read the snapshot (included in full, below).

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 chaos and violence continue in Iraq,
Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case, a new poll by the New York Times continues to demonstrate the trend of Americans turning against the war and another witness in the military inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco blasts the way the investigation was conducted.
Today Bob Watada spoke with Philip Maldari on
KPFA's The Morning Show about his son Ehren Watada, the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Bob Watada spoke of the potential consequences that his son could face but noted that Ehren was aware of the consenquences, that there's " a real crisis in this country," and that even "knowing that he may got to jail" his son knew he had to take the stand he did an refuse to deploy. Bob Watada spoke of how his son's discovery of the lies that led a nation into an illegal war changed everything: "When he found out what was going on in Iraq, the president lying to the people, lying to Congress, lying to the military," he knew that he couldn't go to Iraq both for himself and for those who'd be serving under him.
Bob Watada spoke of the expectation that the US military will use Ehren Watada as an example in an effort clamp down on the dissent within the military. And, in answer to Maldari's question of what can be done, he spoke of the importance of public opinion in his son's case: "If the military sees that there is a large swell of public opinion on behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada, they're going to think twice about what they're doing."
The importance of public support/action was also demonstrated in the calls. One that stands out is caller Alden, WWII veteran, in The Underwater Demolition, spoke of being stationed in Hawaii and "about March of '46 the word came through that all the G.I.s were going to be sent back into China to start a war against the new Chinese government. Following this, a couple of days later, there was about 10,000 GIs in Honolulu protesting, saying 'We are going home' and about three days later another one, ten-to-twelve thousand G.I.s saying 'We are going home' and that stopped it. And that was what was going on back in those days and I'm just so supportive and feel completely what Watada is doing and the way he put it and the father and the way he puts it -- that is just outstanding."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Wed. 8/23
7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933

Thu. 8/24
noon-3pm World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408

7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling 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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.

Of the various stops he's made so far to speak of his son, Bob Watada said, "It's been really postive here in the Bay Area. Just about everywhere we've gone, we've had packed crowds. . . The other day I had somebody who came up before the program started and said he was a veteran and he didn't really think he could support me or my son. . . . At the end of the evening he came up to me and said 'Whatever you need, whatever your son needs, I want to help you out.'"
In other peace news, Cindy Sheehan will rejoin
Camp Casey III after "several days" reports the Associated Press. Sheehan is back in the Providence Health Center in Waco "recovering . . . after having a hysterctomy" on Tuesday. Next week, Sheehan is scheduled to be in Salt Lake City participating with the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and others in protesting Bully Boy's August 31st speech (during a trip on which Condi Rice is accompanying him).
That's how Sheehan plans to end the month, at the beginning of the month she went to Jordan with Ann Wright, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Geal Murphy, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and others to meet with Iraqi legislators.
Eric Horsting (Washington Beachcomber) reports that also on the trip was filmmaker David Rothmiller who shot footage "to create campaign material for Jeeni Criscenzo, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 49th district in California."
As the November elections approach, many get edgy and itchy. A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News continues to note the shift in public opinion of the illegal war. Summarizing the poll,
Carl Hulse and Marjorie Connelly (New York Times) note of those surveyed: 51 percent "saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort"; 53% said the "war was a mistake"; 62% agreed that things in Iraq could be rated "somewhat or very badly"; 46 percent felt the Bully Boy "had concentrated too much on Iraq". Hulse and Connelly's article also features comments from three follow up interviews. Those views worthy of being noted? Two Republicans and a self-described independent.
In Iraq, the violence and the chaos, to no one's surprise, continues.
In the Baghdad, city of so-called crackdowns, a roadside bomb (possibly targeting Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister) claimed the lives of two civilians and left others wounded
according to the Associated Press. AFP notes that a roadside bomb killed two civilians "between Basra and Nasiriyah." KUNA reports that "[a] car exploded . . . near an army special ops check-point in Dorra" and "that the explosion resulted in several deaths and injuries among the special ops troops in the area." In Mosul, the AP reports, one woman was killed and ten people were wounded by a suicide bomber while, in Falljua, a roadside bomb claimed two lives and left twelve wounded.
AP reports that "1st Lt. Hassanein Saadi al-Zerjawi . . . was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Amarah". Reuters notes that eight people were shot dead in Baquba and a police officer shot dead in al-Hay. AFP notes that, in Kut, "two civilians were shot dead" with a child and one other adult wounded.
AFP reports that six corpses were found beneath a bridge "between the two volatile cities of Mahmudiyah and Latifyah" and three were discovered in Baquba. In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues. The most recent developments revolve around Soldier 47's testimony. Australia's ABC reports that Soldier 47, "[a] military police investigator" went to Baghdad from Melbourne to investigate the death of Jake Kovco and that "he was informed on the day of Pte Kovco's death to deploy immediately to Baghdad." AAP notes that during Soldier 47 three hour, video-link testimony (from Baghdad), he "detailed a litany of miscommunication and army bungles surrounding the death of the Victorian soldier who was shot in his Baghdad barracks room on April 21." The Daily Telegraph reports of the testiomony that "he was also angerd and surprised that Pte Kovco's body had been flown from Baghdad to Kuwait agains the orgers of the military police's special investigations branch" and "frustrated that forensic evidence was lost when the body had been washed and treated while Pte Kovco's clothes had been destroyed." ABC New South Wales notes that Soldier 47 voiced his frustration over being "told he could not view notes made by Private Kovco's room-mates" and finding out that "the room-mates were in Kuwait, not Baghdad, so he could not immediately interview them." Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 47 gave up custody of Jake Kovco's body because a) he wanted to "get to the scene of the shooting" and because "certain integrites had already been compromised" (see "forensic evidence was lost" two sentences prior).
Soldier 47's testimony of frustration and anger over the investigation echoes
Major Mark Willetts testimony yesterday where he complained about being refused access to the room Kovco died in (Willetts was "the officer in charge of the immediate investigation") and feeling that Jake Kovco's two roommates were being less than fully forthcoming.
In addition,
ABC notes that Soldier 30 is asserting that "some of the claims made about his troops during the course of the inquiry are simply not true" specifically he refutes Soldier 21's claim that "quick draw" games were played with weapons. Two weeks ago, Soldier 30 (who spoke today as he spoke then -- via video-link from Baghdad) asserted that he had given orders that the death/crime scene not be preserved for morale issues Soldier 21, the section commander, is most famous for issuing a statement following the death of Jake Kovco that he heard a cry (in the barracks) of "Allah Akbar" which translates as "God is great." When Soldier 21 testified to the inquiry earlier this month, he renounced that assertion. Then, as
Sydney 2GB reported, "He told the inquiry it had become unclear whether he'd in fact heard the comment."
In other legal news, on April 26th, Hashim Ibrahim Awad died in Hamdania after being allegedly kidnapped by US troops. Charged with kidnapping and the killing were the "Pendelton Eight" -- Saul H. Lopezromo, Derek I. Lewis, Henry D. Lever, Lawrence G. Hutchins II, Trent D. Thomas, Tyler Jackson, Marshall Magincadla, and Jerry E. Schumate Jr.
Thomas Watkins (AP) reports that four of the eight want to skip the Article 32 hearing and instead "proceed straight to trial." Reportedly, John Jodka III's attorney was the one who made the request first (and did so on Friday) which isn't in the AP report. Reportedly not all involved were informed of the request when it was first made. Jerry E. Shumate was the last to join the four in making the request. Watkins reports that the military has denied the request and the Article 32 hearing could start as early as August 28th. But Gidget Fuentes (Navy Times) reports the schedule for the hearings as: September 12th: Jerry E. Shumate Jr.; September 25th: Marshall L. Magincalda, Robert B. Pennington, John J. Jodka, Melson J. Bacos; and October 18th: Lawrence G. Hutchins, Trent D. Thomas and Tyler A. Jackson.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The hit squad that tried to silence truth tellers

The economic invasion cannot end until those companies that have been brought to Iraq with the specific mandates of transforming the country's economic and political structures are sent home. All contracts designed to transform Iraq's econmy, its schools and its media, and to control its political development, must be cancelled. The transformation of an occupied country's laws is illegal under the Geneva Confentions and the U.S. Army's rules of Land Warfare. Therefore, so too are these contracts. They take basic, vital decision making, democracy, and freedom away from Iraqis.
-- Antonia Juhasz, The BU$H AGENDA: Invading The World One Economy at a Time, p. 318

A friend of mine saw the Antonia Juhasz's book mentioned at The Common Ills recently (probably one of the "And the war drags on" entries) and he picked it up. I had a message on the machine from him where he spoke of how much he enjoyed this book and was going to make a point to pass on his copy. It really is a great book. If you haven't read it yet and are curious, you can check out the link after the excerpt for more on the book. You can also read "Two books, Ten Minutes" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) where we discuss that book at the end.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts which will cover a number of issues tonight including sports (I have no idea -- I listened and said, "Uh-huh" but I don't follow sports).

In other news, during lunch, Sunny and I heard on the radio that Richard Armitage is probably the source Bob Woodward refuses to name who told him Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. The Bully Boy's administration, for those out of the loop, were trying to discredit Joseph Wilson who'd gone public with the fact that his investigation in Niger did not turn up evidence of Iraq attempting to get ahold of yellow cake. For those who've forgotten, in Bully Boy's 2003 State of the Union address, he gave a 16 word statements about how "British intelligence has recently learned that" Iraq tried to seek yellow cake from Africa. To retaliate against Wilson, an effort was made to out his wife. They blew her cover. Judith Miller, Matt Cooper and others rolled over on their sources. Scooter Libby is facing his day in court and now it apparently turns out that Richard Armitage took part as well -- he was then serving in the State Dept. directly below Colin Powell. Word was that Valerie Plame was thinking of adding him to her lawsuit against Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

That's the story that a lot of people tried to dismiss. Some of the so-called 'left' did as well. A number of them were doing the dismissing to protect their buddy Matty Cooper who was then swearing he'd go to jail before he'd give up a source. Of course, when push came to shove, Judith Miller went to jail and little Matty Cooper, of Time magazine, went screaming, "It was Karl! It was Karl! Don't toss me in jail! It was Karl! It was Karl!"

Just to avoid the harsh life of jail, Matty could suddenly name Karl. He claimed he had a new release that had just happened. He didn't have a new release. The release he had re: Rove was the same as what he had on Scooter and he'd dropped a dime on Libby some time ago. He also appears to have been Lucy Loose Lips at Time magazine which is how Karl Rove was fed, by a Time reporter, information about a conversation Matty was thinking of mentioning to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Good thing for Karl he got that tip in time to suddenly remember the conversation and tell Fitzgerald about it.

This happened when? Valerie Plame was outed in print by the dentally challenged Robert Novak in July of 2003. It was an effort to slime her and send a message. (Sort of the way they manged to shut up a nervous Paul O'Neill when Ron Suskind's book came out-- The Price of Loyalty.) The message was: Shut up, we'll destroy you, we'll destroy your family.

The press largely looked the other way (David Corn was one of the few who didn't, Murray Waas was another). Most people were unaware of it for the longest. Now we know Rove and Libby spoke to the press and when the whole thing broke in the summer of 2003, the denial was given and it was stated anyone involved would be fired. Rove remains.

John Dean has repeatedly stated that as bad as Richard Nixon was, they didn't go after people's spouses in that adminstration. I'd agree with that notion but I would agree that Bully Boy is the heir to Nixon.

When you build a war on lies, you have to make sure that no one talks, no one questions. So the Bully administration did their best to bully anyone who questioned or anyone who had any information. (Such as Joe Wilson with his trip.) That's why Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) says that we need people on the inside to start coming out about the lies of this administration.

So that's your basic recap but, since it wasn't covere don the radio, I'll also note that one of the many pundits dismissing the outing of Valerie Plame (there were many including Condi's 'gal pal' Gwen Ifell of PBS -- Gwen cooks for Condi, no idea if she also does windows) was one Bob Woodward who went on CNN, NPR and assorted other outlets to inform everyone that there was no story here. But somehow, in all his jaw boning, he forgot to mention, "Oh by the way, I should probably disclose something here but, if I did, I'd have to testify to Patrick Fitzgerald as well." According to Woodwar, he came forward, after Libby was indicted, because his source called him and stated he (the source) was going to Fitzgerald to discuss his (the source's) part. Suddenly, Woodward wanted to talk. After years of silence.

Now, had US voters known that Libby, Rove and, apparently Armitage, were all outing a CIA agent to get back at her husband, Bully Boy might have faced some serious problems in the 2004 election. Lucky for him that Matt Cooper elected to stay silent about Karl Rove through 2004 and most of 2005. I think of them as "concealers" -- not as "reporters."

After that trip down memory lane, via today's news, I'll now move on to . . . (Please pay attention to Robin Morgan's item at the end.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, August 22, 2005. A
day after the Bully Boy's inner-dialogue in front of the world, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, British whispers say there may be a pull out, a witness says he didn't believe Jake Kovco's roommates told the truth about what happened when Kovco died April 21st, and Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case.
Starting with the Bully Boy of the United States,
Oliver Knox (AFP) reports on the "revolt" Bullly Boy's facing with some Republicans (Chris Shays) calling for a timeframe for withdrawal, some cheerleaders lagging and the general mood of the United States.
On the mood,
CNN's latest polling (released Monday) found that only 35% of those surveyed "favor the war in Iraq" while 61% were opposed to it which is "the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago."
Though Bully Boy boasted yesterday that, as long as he was the leader, US troops would remain in Iraq, there is good news in the CNN poll for Bully Boy as well. He can break that promise without shocking many -- "
Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence."
On the topic of the cheerleaders . . . Did someone cry "War Cheerleader Down!"?
Or was that the sound of Thomas Friedman ripping
another pair of tights/pantyhose? Robert Parry (Consortium News) examines the laughable Thomas Friedman's record of 'analysis' and concludes that it's past time that Friedman and his fellow War Cheerleaders, who got it all wrong from the start, "have the decency to admit their incompetence and resign." Parry digs into the writings/record of Friedman and notes that: "Friedman, despite botching the biggest foreign-policy story in the post-Cold War era, . . . retains his prized space on the New York Times Op-Ed page".
As the War Cheerleaders cheer a little lower and think a little slower (is that even possible?), the
Guardian of London reports that "a senior military commander" (British) has stated that British forces in Iraq could drop from "7,000 to between 3,00 and 4,000 by the middle of next year". This as another British commander, "British Royal Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Fry," calls Iraq "a civil war in minature." Fry tells Robert Burns (Associated Press) that it's "important that the conflict not be described as 'civil war'" (this after doing just that) because, among other things, it "encourages . . . adventurous media reporting." Perish the thought.
As one British commander offers (carless?) whispers of a partial pull-out and another wants to play word games,
Bloomberg reports that "U.K. voter support for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party fell to its lowest in 19 years" and that "[t]he Liberal Democrats, who opposed the war in Iraq and have criticized Blair's relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, gained more than the Conservatives in the past month." The BBC breaks down the poll's findings as follows: "Tories on 40% -- nine points ahead of Labour on 31%, with the Lib Dems on 22%." The Times of London, on the same poll, reports: "Nearly three-quarters of the public believe that Tony Blair's foreign policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists". Support for Blair, like support for Bully Boy, has fallen.
In Iraq?
CBS and AP report a hidden bomb claimed the lives of two civilians in Baghdad. Reuters notes a mortar attack in Muqdadiya which has wounded at least fifteen and a roadside bomb "near Yusufiya" which has wounded two civilians and killed a third. AFP reports what we'll call a 'corpse bomb' in Muqdadiya which caused damages to a police vehicle.
AFP reports that eight "young Shiite men from Najaf . . . were pulled from buses by gunmen late Monday . . . and shot dead in the street." CBS and AP note that, in Baghdad, an engineer "was shot dead while . . . in his car" while "crossfire" claimed the lives of two civilians in Amarah. Reuters notes the following: Ramadi -- a body guard of the governor of the Anbar Province was killed in a drive-by; near Kirkuk -- two civilians shot dead; Baquba -- a police major was shot dead (his driver wounded); and in Mosul -- a civilian shot dead.
Reuters notes that Dawoud Salman (Shi'ite Endowment employee) was found dead in Baghdad while another corpse was found "near Hilla."
Turning to kidnapping news, the priest kidnapped last Tuesday (
hit the wires on Friday, the Pope issued a plea for his return this weekend) in Baghdad is apparently alive. Reuters reports that a ransom note has been recived and that the Misna news agency has spoken to Father Saad Syrop Hanna.
Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer known to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Despite confusion in the e-mails, he has not been charged with anything today. (A program announced he had, they were covering Thursday's Article 32 hearing.) Lt. Col. Mark Keith is weighing the testimony and will issue a conclusion on whether or not action should be pursued. Tuesday
The KPFA Evening News had a report on Watada and they spoke to his father Bob Watada who supports his son and is currently speaking in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bob Watada stated of the illegal war, "They're killing innocent men, women and children -- that's a violation of the Geenva convention which we agreed to. We're using depleted uranium, we're using cluster bombs, we're using phosphoric, we used to call it naplam, but they're phosphoric gases to burn the people. These are all war crimes. Talk about the torture that's going on in Abu Ghraib and other places. You know the rapes of the civilians and so forth. And Ehren would be forced to participate in this illegal war and would be forced to participate in these war crimes that are going on every day."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Tu. 8/22
1-3 pm brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave.,
Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902

6-9pm Buena Vista United Methodist Church- Reception & Event 2311 Buena Vista Ave.
Alameda Contact: Rev. Michael Yoshii 510/522-2688 Wed.

10:30-noon UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026
noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711 7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933 Thu.

noon-3pm World Can't Wait ­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
"I'm trying to publicize my son's cause and publicize what's going on in Iraq,"
he tells
Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet). Scherr reports that Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, told her that, if there is a court-martial, "our intent" is to "put the Iraq War on trial". Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is preparing an editorial to run on Ehren Watada's case.
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling 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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In other resistance news,
Jeff Paterson (Indybay IMC) reports on this past weekend's rally "outside Fort Lewis, Washington" in support of Suzanne Swift which calls for "an honorable discharge for the Iraq veteran and sexual assault victim who went AWOL instead of returning to Iraq." Among those taking part were Swift's mother Sara Rich and CODEPINK's Ann Wright (US army Col. retired). [And yesterday, Jeff Paterson, of Not In Our Name, was wrongly billed by me as "Jeff Patterson." My apologies.]
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Bagdad death of Jake Kovco continues and apparently the only one not allowed to traipse through the crime scene was the officer making the assessment.
Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that, in his testimony to the inquiry, Major Mark Willetts was "refused permission to enter the room at the Australian embassy compound in Baghdad but observed it from outside and saw photos." Australia's ABC notes that Willetts testified that while he wasn't allowed to enter "the room was occupied by military people, with no investigative skills". Paul Mulvey (Perth Now) reports that Willetts encounters with Kovco's roommates (Soldiers 17 & 19) weren't productive and that Willets "believed . . . they were witholding evidence" because "I find it difficult [to believe] that two men in the room would not have had more information in regards to what happened." For those who've fogotten, both roommates have stated they saw nothing (19 has stated he was getting a drink out of the room's mini-fridge, 17 states he was looking elsewhere ). The AAP quotes Willetts stating: "It's a small room; there were three people in there; it would have been very difficult not to have known what was going on in there." Tracey Ong notes Willetts' testimony regarding Soldier 21 who has now retracted his statement that he heard "Allah Akbar" yelled "10 seconds before the shooting" -- of Soldier 21, Willetts testified: "He was quite adament, in fact he was emphatic he heard Allah Akbar."
CBS and AP report this on Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi: "An Iraqi investigative panel has launched an independent probe into the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl allegedly by American soldiers currently in U.S. custody, who will be tried in absentia if necessary, an official said Tuesday." The probe actually began Thursday and is expected to last at least a week. Abeer's 15th birthday would have been last Saturday.
Robin Morgan reported the following (Guardian of London via Common Dreams): "The victim's name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Abeer means 'fragrance of flowers'. She was 14 years old. According to a statement by one of the accused, the soldiers first noticed her at a checkpoint. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky, they changed into civvies and burst into Abeer's home. They killed her mother, father and five-year-old sister and 'took turns' raping Abeer. Finally, according to the statement, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and set them on fire. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Iraq and last week's speech

More than a little tired from last week and from the trip back. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts, which will probably be more organized than mine are. All I've really accomplished today besides work was that I put up the Sir! No Sir! poster I brought back from California. I'm in "college days" mode I guess -- I've hung it on my bedroom door. I had this thought that I would frame it, which would certainly look more "adult," but the reality, I knew, was if I waited to get a frame for it, it would never go up.

It's important to me that the poster go up because it serves to remind me that a war is going on (something you might not know from some of the media coverage) and to remind me that we, the citizens, stopped a war before (Vietnam) and we can do it again. We will do it again. With or without help from the media, we will get the word out. The protests will go, the demands to end the illegal war will amplify, and Bully Boy will go down as one of our worst leaders in history.

I'll be kind and allow someone to remain nameless but he sent an angry e-mail after reading
"Iraq, the war independent media forgot " (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and, in particular, after reading about my decision to speak about the fact that the United States is keeping a body count on Iraqis. If he read my site, he'd know a bit more than he thinks he does, but he notes that article and says that if I couldn't even talk of Ehren Watada I have a lot of nerve for complaining that independent media didn't cover his Article 32 hearing. The article he's speaking of deals with a Wednesday event. I wasn't a scheduled speaker. C.I. was. At the end of C.I.'s talk, as questions were about to begin, the student organizer made an announcement that although they'd been told they'd only have the room for a short time, they'd just been informed they could have it for three more hours. When that announcement was made, C.I. said that before questions started, since there was more time, the rest of us might want to stay something. We did. I was not prepared to speak and went after six people spoke at length about Ehren Watada (this was the day before his Article 32 hearing was to begin). C.I. had touched on that already and the six other speeches addressed it. I didn't think I could add much to what others had said so well so I decided to speak about the lies. I tied that into the fact that Ehren Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq was tied to his awakening to the lies that led us into war. I discussed how the lies continued and mentioned the lie about the body count of Iraqis. That's when people in the audience, students, began asking what and I backed up to explain to them about how the US has been keeping a body count for over a year, how they will not release it to the press or the people and how if we knew about it and there was a demand for it to be released, it might be.

The e-mailer seems to think that I showed up at an event, with a plan to speak, and a plan to speak about Ehren Watada, but just decided I had something better to speak of. That's not what happened and I did address Watada. I did not make that my focus because C.I. had addressed it at the start and six people (including Mike and Cedric) had done an amazing job of addressing it already. There is no comparison to the speeches, my own or anyone else's, focus and independent media's refusal to cover Ehren Watada last week.

A lot has happened in the last 24 hours in Iraq and I don't know what to say about what follows other than read it. It's amazing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, August 21, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq,
Ehren Watada's father Bob travels to raise awareness of what his son is facing, Cindy Sheehan and others continue to up the ante, Soldier 14 testifies he was scared of a widow, and the Bully Boy holds an inner-dialogue with himself while the world watches.
Having long ago spent any perceived political capitol his illegal war of choice or the 2004 elections might have fronted him, Bully Boy struggles to justify why the United States should continue a war that, on Sunday,
claimed the lives of three more American troops in the al Anbar Province. Daniela Deane (Washington Post) reports that the Bully Boy stated it would be a disaster to leave . . . the disaster that is Iraq (link contains video to the speech) -- sounding a bit like the guy who begs you to invest in his sure-thing investment and then, when it goes to hell, tells you that if you pull out, it will destroy him. That is what is now at stake. Not Iraq, not US trooops, Bully Boy's own historical role and don't think he hasn't grasped that. Deane quotes the Bully Boy stating: "We're not leaving so long as I'm president" apparently goading the growing impeachment movement, "That would be a huge mistake." "Huge mistake" would be a nice way of describing the illegal war the Bully Boy started with lies and inference.
If there's a grown up present in the White House, might they suggest to the "We're not leaving" Bully Boy that he listen to
KPFA's Against the Grain from this afternoon, where Sasha Lilley interviewed Dan Berger on the topic of the Weather Underground and what denials/refusals led to the formation of that group? (Lilley, not C.S. Soong as I wrongly stated Saturday, conducted the interview.) As Deane (Washington Post) notes: "Bush made his comments as support for the Iraq war among the American public continues to plummet and Bush's approval numbers stay stuck in the 30s. More conservative commentators are raising questions, expressing doubts or even attacking the president outright on his foreign policy decisions, with the Iraq war figuring prominently." That's something he might want to consider, as well as
Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decison in ACLU v. NSA ("There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution"), before he issues his next royal edict on what he says the nation will do. His only alternative is to out-Nixon Tricky Dick. (Something he already seems bound and determined to achieve before he completes his term or is removed from office.)
On the ground in Iraq, Baghdad's so
-called crackdown (6.0) returns to 'normal' crackdown status (which never worked either) as the vehicle ban is lifted in Iraq's capital. And the reaction? CNN reports an armed attack in Adan Square resulting in at least one dead and at least five wounded, while in western Baghdad an Iraqi army patrol was attacked resulting in three deaths (Iraqi soldiers) and two wounded (ditto) and, just north of Baghdad, a US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb. As Reuters notes, the roadside bomb death brought to four the number of US troops killed in the last 24 hours. In addition to the three Iraqi soldiers killed in Baghdad, AFP reports a civilian was killed by a drive-by shooting.
Outside of Baghdad, things weren't 'calm' (though that's today's talking point -- look for it in print tomorrow and wonder about domestic outlets -- whether they cheer the war or not -- who use calm to described a 24 hour period that saw four US troops die).
Reuters notes violence in Basra -- Fadhil al-Magsusi was shot dead (he's "colonel in the Facility Protection Services") and that two members "of the Interior Ministry Intelligence Service" were shot dead on Sunday -- while in Iskandariya a roadside bomb claimed the lives of two Iraqi police officers. AFP reports a bomb injured a police officer in Baquba. CNN adds to the Baquba details noting two shot dead and another two wounded in Baquba from shootings and "In another incident, gunmen shot dead an Iraqi civilian in Khalis town about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baquba. Two people, including a teacher, were killed by gunmen in Balad Ruz, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) east of Baquba Monday morning, an official with Baquba police said."
That makes eleven (includes the American soldier) and that passes for "calm" as surely as
Bully Boy's failed war of choice passes for "success." In the reality based world, The Feminist Wire reports that 35 lawyers in Iraq have been killed since October of last year "many of whom were defending women's rights." While Andy Webb-Vidal (Financial Times of London) reports that things are getting nasty between US military outsourcer Blackwater and the mercenaries they contracted for security duties from Columbia (where else?) as the mercenaries claim that they are being paid only a quarter of what they were promised. (Apparently Blackwater pays a monthly salary and not by 'the kill.') The dispute could spell problems for many reporters in Baghdad since the thirty-five mercenaries are assigned to the Green Zone.
Last Thursday, in the United States,
Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing was held. Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Currently, the presiding officer, Lt. Col. Mark Keith, is weighing whether or not the record/evidence demonstrates the need for futher action (which could include a court-martial). Washington's Spokesman Review quotes Watada stating: ""You don't join the military just to blindly follow whatever orders you're given. An order to go to an unlawful and immoral war based on false pretenses is no different than to kill innocent civilians." Following Thursday's hearing, Jeff Patterson (Indybay IMC) reports that Watada spoke to a group of supporters in Tacoma, Washington and restated "his willingness to go to jail for the truth if needed." Patterson (of Not In Our Name) reports that attorney Eric Seitz explained that the Watada's defense is based on "the duty of individual soldiers to look at the facts and fulfill their obligation to national and international law" and that it is the prosecution's efforts that put the war on trial.
Bob Watada, father of Ehren, is currently speaking at various events in the San Francisco Bay Area to raise awareness of his son's case. Upcoming events for today and tomorrow include:

Reception & Event in SF Japantown Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC (JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007 Tu.

8/22 1-3 pm
brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County
467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa
Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902

Buena Vista United Methodist Church- Reception & Event 2311 Buena Vista Ave. Alameda Contact: Rev. Michael Yoshii 510/522-2688

A full list of events can be found
here. The Santa Cruz Sentinal notes one of Friday's events, a 7:00 pm benefit showing of Sir! No Sir! at the Veterans Memorial Hall -- 846 Front St., Santa Cruz -- co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz chapter of Veterans for Peace and the Resource Center for Nonviolence.
And we'll continue to note the following:
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling 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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In other peace news,
Saturday, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and over fifty others protested an Austin, TX appearance by Karl Rove with chants of "Try Rove For Treason" and cries of "Karl Rove, You Are A Criminal." The Associated Press places the number of participants at seventy. The Austin American-Statesman reports that "Tiffany Nicole Burns of Los Angeles has been charged with inciting a riot and criminal trespass because she 'responded with physical resistance' when an officer tried to apprehend her outside a ballroom at the Renaissance Austin Hotel." Burns is out on bail but, if convicted, could face a maxiumum of 180 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2000. Burns told Austin's CBS 42, "The police made it really clear to me that their objective was to get us out of the reception so we wouldn't bother Karl Rove while he was speaking. Rather than let us, find some peaceful resolution and leave after we said what we came to say." CODEPINK notes: "Who's that telling Karl Rove he should be indicted for war crimes? Or interrupting Dick Cheney at the RNC? Or walking 40 miles for peace? Or planting a peace garden in Crawford, Texas in 105 degree heat? It's CODEPINK'S beloved Tiffany Burns. Always pushing the envelope (and getting arrested!)" (link contains video of an interview with Burns).
Despite the protests, the questions remaining about his role in the outing of then CIA agent Valerie Plame, the predictors said to bode poorly for Republican election prospects in November, there were no reports that the portly Karl Rove's extremely healthy appetite was effected.
Whether the Bully Boy and Condi Rice will have such healthy appetites next week in Salt Lake City when they are greeted by
protests led by the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and Cindy Sheehan remains unknown at present.
Associated Press notes that Sheehan traveled "about 100 miles" from Camp Casey III to take part in the demonstrations in Austin. Actions at Camp Casey III continue through September 2nd then it moves to DC for Camp Democracy (opens September 5th). CODEPINK reports on the hard work put into a recent addition at Camp Casey III: the Visions for Peace garden (link contains photos).
The upcoming DC events in September to protest the illegal war are only a few weeks away. In a review of Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's new book
The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies, and the Mess In Iraq, David Swanson (Political Affairs) notes that Rampton will be at speaking at Camp Democracy in DC and that "[o]ther speakers at Camp Democracy will include: Cindy Sheehan, Antonia Juhasz, Gael Murphy, Raed Jarrar, Anne Feeney, Lennox Yearwood, Ann Wright, John Kim, Kevin Fagan, Ryan McAllister, Regina Miranda, Mike Gravel, Elizabeth Holtzman, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth de la Vega, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, Dave Lindorff, Barbara Olshansky, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony Arnove, Howard Zinn, and many others."
Turning to Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. Last week, DNA tests came back on Kovco's gun which is identified as the weapon that killed him. Some of the DNA on it not belonging to Kovco was identified as belonging to Soldier 14. (Some, not all could be conclusively identified.) After refusing to consent to a police interview last week, Soldier 14 again took the stand today and, as Australia's
ABC reports, he continued to maintain that his DNA must "have been transferred by a megaphone, telephone or military radio they both handled on the day of Private Kovco's death." Soldier 14 also used his testimony to note Shelley Kovco, widow of Jake Kovco and the mother of their children Alana and Tyrie Kovco. Leonie Lamont (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that in reply to questioning from Shelley Kovco's attorney (Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Berkley) Soldier 14 stated he had wanted to speak to her but "felt that people were out to get me, they thought I was responsible, and I thought she was one of those people. The last thing I wanted to do was have to listen to someone accuse me when I knew I had nothing to hide." A strange statement since Soldier 14 is speaking of the time immediately after Jake Kovco's death and until Friday's DNA testing was revealed, no one was aware who, if any one, might have handled the gun that killed Jake Kovco. As Tracey Ong ( notes, Soldier 14 continues to maintain that he never touched Jake Kovco's pistol and that, via video-link from Baghdad, Kovco's roommates (Soldiers 17 and 19) gave testimony regarding how often the soldiers showered and washed their hands -- seeming to address the issue of whether stray DNA could have landed on Kovco's gun without Soldier 14 ever touching it. As Belinda Tasker (The Daily Telegraph) notes, Soldier 14's avoidance of Shelley Kovco -- out of fear of being accused of something,apparently -- translates as Soldier 14 aoviding contact with her for "more than three months" and notes that Soldier 14 said "people were telling me" that Shelley Kovco was out to get him -- apparently no one asked Soldier 14 who these people were or why, since his DNA was only identified last Friday, anyone would think he was suspected of anything in the death of Kovco. No one has placed Soldier 14 as being present in the room when Jake Kovco died, however, Leonie Lamont reports that Soldier 14 testified he was in the room next to Kovco's and, although he maintains he did not leave his room, he stated to the inquiry that he did yell "about the keeping the noise down" [music] and went over to the room after he heard the gunshot. Tracey Ong reports: "Soldier 14 will return to the stand for a fourth time as early as the end of the week for further questioning by Frank Holles, counsel representing Pte Kovco's parents, Martin and Judy. Lieutenant Colonel Holles is away on another case this week" and notes that Soldier 14's lawyer voiced his objection to this stating that the stress was too much and Soldier 14 needed to return to the, apparently, more peaceful, less stressful locale of Baghdad. The roommates testimony (via video-link from Baghdad) rejected, ABC reports, the notion that Kovco's death resulted from "a prank" Kovco was playing and both Soldiers 17 and 19 continue to maintain that although they saw him dancing around (to the Cranberries), they did not see the gun go off.