Friday, January 05, 2007

Carly Simon, Matthew Rothschild, Jorge Mariscal, Iraq

Ruth and Tracey gave Rebecca a CD today and I'm in love with it. It's Carly Simon's Into White. It was playing when Mike and I got here and as soon as it went off, I asked, "Could we listen to it again?" Fortunately, Rebecca, Flyboy and Mike love it as well because we're probably going to be listening to it all night. We're all Carly fans. Of course, the big fan of Carly's music is C.I.

I think Rebecca and I have both blogged about the pre-e-mail days and C.I.'s letters. Letters, kids, are what we used to write in the old days. Kind of like the notes you pass in class. (I'm joking.) I have kept almost all of C.I.'s letters over the years. This wonderful blend of insight, news, and music. There are times when I've written okay letters, usually because I had good news or, in some cases, bad news. But C.I. was the biggest letter writer I've ever known. Eight to ten page letters were the norm. And C.I. could make them so involving. When computers came along, Rebecca and I used to joke that C.I. wrote the same letter to everyone and just personalized the opening and the ending. That was a joke, it wasn't true. But we weren't the only ones on C.I.'s letter list so we used to joke that this was how C.I. wrote so many beautiful letters.

I say "was" and "wrote" because there's really not time now. When C.I. was first speaking out against the war in 2003, they'd still come in the mail. They'd be handwritten on various stops. But once The Common Ills started, there really wasn't time. That's not just due to posting but because there are so many e-mails and even with Jess, Ava, Martha, Shirley and Eli helping out, there are too many to read let alone reply to. I miss my letters but I do understand why they had to give. (I still get about two or three a year, Rebecca does as well. I treat them like a good book. I make a pot of tea, get comfortable and sit down to enjoy.)

But C.I. would usually work in a quote from one of Carly Simon's songs on a pretty regular basis. Rebecca and I were big fans of Carly's music but years of letters from C.I. made us see things in Carly's lyrics that we'd missed at first and made us much more familiar with her lyrics. Before, I booted up the computer, I was telling Rebecca, "I have to get this CD." Rebecca asked, "Did you check your mail?" I hadn't. After Ruth and Tracey gave her the CD this morning, when the mail came, she had another copy of it from C.I. We started laughing about that and how we haven't had to purchase Carly in years because C.I. always gifts you with it before you can. My brother hardly listens to music these days but he always knows Carly's latest because he's on C.I.'s gift list as well. Point, when I go home Sunday and check my mail, the CD will no doubt be in there.

On the topic of my brother, he's visiting this spring. I have gotten a number of e-mails asking how we can be close? We are close but he made his life in Europe years and years ago. As I've gotten older, and set in my ways, I'm really not interested in traveling to Europe. It's wonderful, don't get me wrong. But I'm not into long flights these days -- haven't been for a couple of years now. I think I last visited him in 1999 or 2000. He does come here about every two years and we do speak on the phone. Now that Mike and I are a couple, he called and joked that he needed to come over and check Mike out.

I'm sure this is the most boring thing to read. I'm just in a reflective mood. Blame it on Carly Simon's Into White. It really is a great CD.

Okay, let's roll up the sleeves now.

"A Journalistic Bias Toward Acquiescence" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
There's a sick collusion going on in Washington.
And I'm not talking about the corporate lobbyists and the elected officials who represent them.
No, I'm talking about centrist Democrats and the hack journalists who cover them.
You could see this collusion in a so-called "News Analysis" piece by Carl Hulse of The New York Times of January 5.
The headline was a big clue: "For Democrats, a Choice: Forward or Reverse?"
Let's see now. What's got a more positive connotation?
It's not reverse.
But reverse in this case means the Democrats "can spend their energy trying to reverse what they see as the flaws of the Bush Administration and a dozen years in which conservative philosophy dominated Congress."
And forward means "they can accept the rightward tilt of that period and grudgingly concede that big tax cuts, deregulation, restrictions on abortion, and other Republican-inspired changes are now a permanent part of the legislative framework."
The Times has its directions mixed up. Capitulating is not going forward. Fighting on principle is not going backward.

Jim passed on to Mike that C.I. was trying to work that into today but there wasn't enough time. (Imagine that.) Mike shared it with me and I said, "If we both note it, C.I. will be able to cross it off the things to do list." (The things to do list is legendary -- and it really exists. Around the computer in C.I.'s bedroom, it's nonstop post-its of reminders to note this or that, or that a member wishes more of something would be noted. The post-its are all over the computer monitor as well as on the wall the computer's in front of.) So hopefully, that's now taken care of. Rothschild is making strong points and it is the mainstream media that stands around with the ruler, eager to slap anyone down if they leave that cautious center. It was Newsweek that branded John Kerry a "randy conspiracy buff." It was the New York Times that mocked concerns over the 2004 Ohio vote in real time (Tom Zeller, Jnr., I belive) and then proceeded to ignore John Conyers' inquiry into it and report on it. It's also the New York Times that sold the phoney Social Security 'scare' -- not once but over the decades. They elevated the Scoop Jackson Dems and ignored the Democratic wing (forget liberal, just Democratic) of the party.
So Rothschild's critique is a strong one and an astute one. (Also a needed one.)

Speaking of strong critiques, all week, I've intended to note Trina's "Ham and Potato Casserole in the Kitchen." Please read that, there is some very strong media criticism in her post.

"Growing the Military: Who Will Serve?" (Jorge Mariscal, CounterPunch):
In late December 2006, the Bush administration reversed its previous position and agreed to a permanent expansion of the Army and Marine Corps. In reality, the size of the two "ground services" has grown steadily since 2001 when Congress approved a temporary increase of 30,000 to the Army and authorized additional increases to the Army and Marines in 2005 and 2006. The current proposal would make these increases permanent and by 2012 achieve the objective of an active-duty Army of 542,400 and a Marine Corps of 190,000.
In their public statements, Pentagon officials claimed that finding the bodies to reach these goals would not be difficult. Increased bonuses, massive publicity campaigns, and appeals to patriotism would be enough to attract volunteers, they argued.
Lesser-known programs such as the Army GED Plus Enlistment Program in which applicants without high school diplomas are allowed to enlist while they complete a high school equivalency certificate are expected to help (interestingly, the GED Plus Enlistment Program is available only in inner city areas). The Army's recent fudging of entrance requirements to accept an increased percentage of recruits with minor criminal records may also raise enlistment numbers.
Given the prospect of a prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq, however, the Pentagon's optimistic predictions about increasing the size of the ground services by making minor adjustments to existing recruiting practices may not pan out. In anticipation of difficult days ahead for recruiters, no sooner had Bush announced his decision than conservative think tanks began to recycle proposals about recruiting foreigners into the U.S. military.
In a recent Boston Globe article, unidentified Army sources reported that Pentagon officials and Congress are investigating "the feasibility of going beyond U.S. borders to recruit soldiers and Marines." Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute, and Max Boot of the Council on Foreign relations cited historical precedents for using foreign troops. Since at least 2005 Boot has been recommending the establishment of "recruiting stations along the U.S.-Mexico border" as a way to solve the problems of military manpower and illegal immigration.
But the fact that several sources in the Globe article, including spokesmen for the Army and the Latino advocacy group National Council for La Raza (NCLR), expressed disagreement with proposals to recruit foreign nationals means that other more feasible options may begin to surface.
A likely scenario is that the Pentagon will focus on one specific sector of the undocumented population--foreign nationals raised and educated in the United States. According to the Urban Institute, every year approximately 60,000 undocumented immigrants or children of immigrants (who have lived in the United States five years or longer) graduate from U.S. high schools. By marketing the military to this group, problems associated with the recruitment of foreigners such as poor English language skills and low educational levels could be alleviated.
So far military recruiters have limited their efforts to the pursuit of citizens and permanent residents (green card holders). It is a little-known fact, however, that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 amended current legal statutes by allowing military service secretaries to waive citizenship and residency requirements "if such Secretary determines that the enlistment of such person is vital to the national interest" (U.S. Code Title 10, Chapter 31, §504: 2006).

We really need to be focusing on events such as this. Ava, C.I., Dona and I were talking about this on the phone Monday and how we needed to write about it at The Third Estate Sunday Review soon. Not about what's covered above. That's an important point and one that should be included, but about how a larger march to perpetual war seems to be slipping by with very little attention. Are we seeing the puzzle or just the pieces?

This probably hasn't been a very interesting post to read. I really just want to sit and talk while listening to Carly (who's singing "Blackbird" right now -- and it's a very strong Beatles' cover which isn't easy to do). I strongly urge you to check out Into White.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister
Ehren Watada's pretrial hearing began yesterday, Bully Boy shuffles the deck while an "I told you so" travels across the Atlantic from France, and Ahmed Hadi Naji, who worked for AP, is discovered dead.
Monday, February 5th, the US military attempts to court-martial
Ehren Watada. Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, at Fort Lewis in Washington, a pretrial hearing began that will determine what arguments are allowed in the court-martial and what arguments will be disallowed. The hearing was presided over by Lt. Col. John Head, the court-martial would have a jury made up of *a panel of* officers, and the AP reports that he will make his decision on "the parameters of the case" next week. Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that on Thursday: "Watada's parents sat in the back of the courtroom during the hearing, his father at times leaning forward on the bench with his hands clasped in front of him." As Linton Weeks (Washington Post) noted, Carolyn Ho, Ehren's mother, is a high school counselor who went on leave to raise awareness about her son and is on leave for the pretrial and the court-martial. Bob Watada, Ehren's father, has also been engaged in speaking tours around the country to raise awareness about Ehren and, for any wondering, Bob Watada recently retired (and recently remarried, Rosa Sakanishi, Ehren's step-mother, has accompanied Bob Watada on his speaking tours).
The US military wants to reduce the court-martial to a "yes" or "no" -- Did you refuse to deploy to Iraq? They wish to prevent
Ehren Watada from explaining his decision -- in effect that are hoping to prevent him from making the best defense possible when he is facing six years in prison.
Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported: "At a hearing Thursday at Fort Lewis, there was little dispute about the action taken by 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who last June refused to deploy with his brigade to Iraq. But defense and prosecutors sparred much of the afternoon about whether Watada's motives for opting out of the war should affect the outcome of a February court-martial trial that could result in a six-year prison term." If the military was interested in justice (and sure of their case), they wouldn't be attempting to shut down Watada's defense.
The prosucetor, Captain Dan Kuecker has stated, "
There is no rational doubt in this situation; . . . it's a lawful order." Were he as sure of himself as he pretends to the press, there would be no attempts to prevent Watada from explaining both his actions and the reasons behind them.
Watada explained the reasons most recently to Kevin Sites (Kevin Sites in The Hotzone): "I think that in March of 2003 when I joined up, I, like many Americans, believed the administration when they said the threat from Iraq was imminent -- that there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout Iraq; that there were stockpiles of it; and because of Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist acts, the threat was imminent and we needed to invade that country immediately in order to neutralize that threat. Since then I think I, as many, many Americans are realizing, that those justifications were intentionally falsified in order to fit a policy established long before 9/11 of just toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and setting up an American presence in Iraq. . . . I think the facts are out there, they're not difficult to find, they just take a little bit of willingness and interest on behalf of anyone who is willing to seek out the truth and find the facts. All of it is in the mainstream media. But it is quickly buried and it is quickly hidden by other events that come and go. And all it takes is a little bit of logical reasoning. The Iraq Survey Group came out and said there were no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and during 2003. The 9/11 Commission came out and said there were no ties with Iraq to 9/11 or al-Qaeda. The president himself came out and said nobody in his administration ever suggested that there was a link. And yet those ties to al-Qaeda and the weapons of mass destruction were strongly suggested. They said there was no doubt here were weapons of mass destruction all throughout 2002, 2003 and even 2004. So, they came out and they say this, and yet they say it was bad intelligence, not manipulated intelligence, that was the problem. And then you have veteran members of the CIA that come out and say, 'No. It was manipulated intelligence. We told them there was no WMD. We told them there were no tides to al-Qaeda. And they said that that's not what they wanted to hear'."
In essence,
Ehren Watada is on trial for the media -- the media that sold the illegal war and the media that told the truth (eventually for some) about it. So it has been surprising to see nothing on Watada in the leading independent magazines in 2006. In 2007, The Nation discovered Watada on page 14 of the January 8 and 15th double issue in an article written by Marc Cooper (click here for Yahoo version -- subscribers only at The Nation website). Like many Americans, Watada believe the spin/lies from the US administration (repeated near word for word by most media outlets with little skepticism). Like many Americans, he's since come to see that reality and spin were two different things.
This new awareness is reflected not only in the civilian population but also, as
Rachel Ensign (Citizen Soldier) reminds us, within the military as well: "A new poll conducted by the Army Times newspaper at the end of 2006 found that a majority of soldiers polled now disapprove of how Bush has conducted the Iraq war to date. . . . Only 41% of soldiers polled today think that we should have invaded Iraq -- down from 65% in 2003. This closely mirrors sentiment among civilians; only 45% of whom now believe that the war was a good idea."
Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports that, based on comments and questions during the pretrial hearing, Lt. Col John Head "likely won't allow Lt. Ehren Watada to defend himself" by making the case for his actions and why he acted as he did and that Head declared, "At this point I'm not inclined to grant a hearing on the Nuremburg defense." The Nuremburg defense is in reference to the Nuremberg trials during which soldiers stating that they were only following orders were told that was not a legal excuse for their actions. As Ruth noted, following the August Article 32 hearing of Watada, "The message that Lieutenant Colonel Mark Keith appears to be endorsing is follow all orders but, if it later turns out that they were illegal, you are on your own and will take full responsibility. At best, like with Lieutenant Calley, the War Monger in the oval office may pardon you after you are convicted. What is the message? Why teach the obligation to follow only legal orders, why refute 'I was only following orders' as a defense and then punish Lieutenant Ehren Watada for doing just that while advising him that it is not his place to make such a determination when, in fact, the invididual who obeys the unlawful order is the one who will be held responsible by the military justice system?"
Why teach? Refer to
Ruth's Report where she goes over retired Col. Ann Wright's testimony at the Article 32 hearing on what she taught soldiers at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg while teaching the Law of Land Warfare. Taught is FM 27-10 (Law of Land Warfare):

509. Defense of Superior Orders
a. The fact that the law of war has been violated pursuant to an order of a superior authority, whether military or civil, does not deprive the act in question of its character of a war crime, nor does it constitute a defense in the trial of an accused individual, unless he did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful. In all cases where the order is held not to constitute a defense to an allegation of war crime, the fact that the individual was acting pursuant to orders may be considered in mitigation of punishment.

Ehren Watada could be prosecuted for actions committed during war by the above; however, the US military does not want to allow him to use the same law to defend himself. Only a fool would call that "justice." This is what Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, is noting when he told Linton Weeks, "The United States talks out of both sides of its mouth. We've prosecuted soldiers in other countries for following orders to commit war crimes. But God forbid you should use that refusal as a defense in this country."
Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, however, that the military prosecution may have outfoxed itself: "The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, told prosectors that he was not inclined to grant the evidentiary hearing, but 'they opened the door for him allowing it by prosecuting his statements'" thereby making it "relevant. Some of those statements have become relevant by the sheer nature of how the government has charged this case."
Head was not referring to the charge of missing deployment but the charge ("conduct unbecoming") based upon remarks Watada made about the war such as ""
The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqis is not only a terrible and moral injustice, but it's a contradiction to the Army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes." Remember: A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College.
Ehren Watada's awakening mirrors that of many Americans. It also has echoes
in the growing resistance within the military to the illegal war as many resisters vocalize sentiments similar to Watada's (usually noting the works of Howard Zinn). Others that a part of this growing resistance within the military include
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. 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 this month.
While Watada faces court-martial for questioning the illegal war, France's president earns headlines for doing the same.
AFP reports that Jacques Chirac speech today revolved largely around the illegal war: "As France had forseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects . . . exacerbated the divisions between communities and threatened the very integrity of Iraq. . . . It undermined the stability of the entire region, where every country now fears for its security and independence." (Chirac's also getting attention for, in the same speech, calling for slashing corporate taxes.)
Before noting some of the violence today in Iraq, let's note December again.
Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) notes that the Iraq Interior Ministry's figure of 1,930 Iraqis dead for the month of December (an undercount) remains "a new high" for any month. Meanwhile, the count for US troop fatalities in Iraq for the month of December reached 115.
Reuters reports: "A roadside bomb struck a U.S. marine tank in the western city of Falluja on Friday", while a roadside bomb wounded four Iraqi soldiers and killed anohter in Baiji, and a roadside bomb in Kirkuk left two police officers wounded. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports
four Iraqis killed on the "outskirts" of Baghdad from mortar attacks.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in the Diyala Province. Reuters reports that "a former colonel" was shot dead in Mosul, as were a father and son in Iskandariya.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("2 sadr city, 2 dora, 2 amil, 2 jihad, 2 hurriyah, 1 kadhemiyah, 1 abu atsheer"). Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Iskandariya. And AP reports that Ahmed Hadi Naji, 28-years-old, "was found shot in the back of the head Friday, six days after he was last seen by his family leaving work". AP notes that he is "the second AP employee killed in less than a month" and that he is the fourth "to die violently" in the illegal war. They note that Ahmed Hadi Naji is survived by his wife, Sahba'a Mudhar Khalil, and his four-month-old twins, Zaid (male) and Rand (female). Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that Ahmed Hadi Naji had worked "for the AP for 2 1/2 years".
Aref Mohmmed (Reuters) reports that one "American civilian contractor and two Iraqi translators" were kidnapped in Basra today.
Changing focus . . .

So let's be really clear, torture in Iraq is rampant and that's because it's policy even though we have had a replacement of Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld who infamously told . . . general, retired, now retired, but at the time general, [Janis] Karpinski '
make sure this happens' regarding specific torture techniques that he wanted to begin using inside places like Abu Ghraib well that policy hasn't changed as I said, these people are still being tortured, they're just not letting people bring in their video cameras and their digital cameras so that the images can find themselves splashed across the screens of 60 Minutes II program, for example.

What is that?
Dahr Jamail speaking with Nora Barrows-Friedman on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints (use either to listen to an archived broadcast -- Rebecca's "nora barrows-friedman interviewed dahr jamail on flashpoints" offers an overview of the interview).
For an hour, Nora Barrows-Friedman and
Dahr Jamail reviewed the year 2006 in Iraq, focusing on the death squads, women, children, attacks on civilians and much more.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Dahr, can you talk now about the permanent US military base structures this was being talked about openly and publicly in the spring of 2006. But how has that discussion progressed and what does a permananet US military base structure look like on the ground? How many are we talking here?

Dahr Jamail: We started out with over a hundred bases in Iraq and they are slowly consolidating this number down to, right now it's around, it was 53 last time I checked. So they're slowly consolidating them down and if people want an idea of what Iraq might look like in the next couple of years, well we just have to look at Afghanistan because that's where, kind of, this model started and there's a couple of years jump there. And if you look at Afghanistan, we've got, I believe, four major bases right around the area of where I believe the proposed pipeline's going to go. So we should expect something similar but more bases in Iraq. There's going to be, right now it looks like, between six and twelve, we're not real sure on the number, but between six and twelve of these permanent bases. The military and the corporate media won't call them permanent because they don't have to, because they just made sure that they would have permanent access into particular areas in Iraq and so there was nothing in the so-called constitutional referendum that took place on October 15 a year ago that banned access from a foreign country, that's why there was a lot of wrangling along that constitutional referendum and why even someone in the UN that I spoke with, I quoted him as saying there was 'undue, inappropriate, US influence on this constitution' and it was around Iraq's oil and it was also around permanent access. So as a result we have between six and twelves of these bases. Just to give you an example of what these bases look like there's one called Camp Anaconda which is actually an air field in Balad, just north of Baghdad, and Camp Anaconda is a base that has 250 of its own aircraft. Air Force officials there claim that it was the second busiest runway on earth. There are 20,000 soldiers on this base less than a thousand of whom ever leave whatsoever. There's a base exchange there where they sell televisions, iPods, CDs, DVDs, TVs, there's a first run movie theater, . . . very elaborate meals served by Kellog Brown & Root employing third country nationals which is kind of the way these people are referred to in Iraq by the contractors but really if we're going to call them what they are, they're slaves. They're people from places like India and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working for slave wages serving these very elaborate meals because with the cost plus fix fee contract that means that when Halliburton is serving these very elaborate meals the more money they spend in Iraq, the more money they make. So that's what's being served in a huge base like that. Soldiers actually gain weight and if they don't of course want any of that food or if they get burnt out on it like say you would at a college, for example, at a college dorm, well then they can go to the 24 hour Burger King, they can go to the Popeye's Fried Chicken, they can go to the Subway sandwich shop, and then wash it down with a latte from Starbucks. So that's just one of these bases to give you an idea, there's also AT&T phone home centers, there's also a Hertz rental car which I find kind of amusing because it's not like they're going to leave the base and go for a little drive in Al-Anbar Province but there it is, Hertz-Rent-A-Car, . . . I like to specifically name these companies so people can take note of that. So that's what these bases look like in Iraq and to contextualize that a little bit, it sounds a lot like some of these bases we have in Germany now, doesn't it, which have been there, what are we talking now, a little over sixty years, so just to give people an idea of what the situation is on the ground regarding the bases, we talk about the US' so-called embassy in Baghdad that's being built as we speak. This was a $572 million contract that was awarded to a very corrupt . . . Kuwaiti construction firm with very direct ties to the Bush administration and this is an embassy that's going to have room for between 3 and 8,000 government employees, it has its own school . . . so I don't think we should expect any Iraqi kids at this school, it has the largest swimming pool in the country, yoga studios, barbershops, beauty shops, its own water plant, it's own electricity plant, it has apartment buildings. And when it's complete, it will be, it's 21 buildings and the area will be the size of the Vatican City. So that's the so-called embassy that's being built in Iraq so if we talk about when are we going to withdraw troops and why aren't the Democrats talking about withdrawal, this sort of thing, instead why is there talk of a 'surge'? It's because we . . . just need look no further than the physical evidence on the ground, augmented by the US policy like the National Security Strategy and the Quadrennial Defense Review Report -- all of these signs point towards permanent occupation of Iraq just like we have in Germany.

But never fear, Democrats are in power in the US Congress which translates as . . . a strongly worded letter.
CNN reports that "leaders of the new Democratic Congress" sent an open letter to the Bully Boy which "said increasing troop levels in Iraq would be a 'serious mistake'." That's telling him! (And shades of the letter Carolyn Ho got from Congress.) AFP reports that the letter states "it is time to bring the war to a close." And no doubt, this wouldn't have even happened were it not for the activists on Wednesday (sse Thursday's snapshot). Cindy Sheehan, who handled the press conference Yawn Emmanuel and other Congress members fled from, today on Democracy Now!, addressed the realities too many elected Democrats want to avoid: that the war is costing the US 10 million dollars every hour, that plans and programs will cost money and defunding the war needs to be placed 'back on the table,' that the people want the war ended and the Democratic Party was voted into office not to wait around for another laughable 'plan' from the Bully Boy, to get the United States out of the illegal war.

Meanwhile, in shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic,
AFP reports that Bully Boy nominated the now former US director of national intelligence John Negroponte to be the Deputy Secretary of State -- second to Condi -- while he "announced that he had chosen vice adminiral Michael McConnell, a former head of the National Security Agency, to replace Negroponte at the head of all 16 US spy agencies". And as Christopher Torchia (AP) notes,
generals John P. Abizaid and George Casey will be replaced shortly.

Returning to news of war resisters, earlier this week,
Mary Ambrose (New American Media) took a look at war resisters who seek asylum in Canada and noted the stories of Chris and Stephanie Teske -- Chris decided to self-checkout while stationed in Germany but US troops do not "have access to their passports" so, after deciding on Canada, Stephanie: "I cried a lot and told them we'd spent $3,000 on these tickets and my parents were waiting for us and frankly, we just got lucky."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What the reaction (press) to the 3,000 mark means

I was on the phone with Betty today and she mentioned the illustration of Marilyn Monroe that went with The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Let's Make Bad Film: Destroying Marilyn." Betty's a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe and I told her I'd post the illustration here today.

So the 3,000 mark for US troops who died in Iraq was reached on Sunday. It's now Wednesday -- presumably we can assume that everyone who planned to note it has done so.

What does that say about independent media? I think you know the answer. It says that the bulk of independent media doesn't give a damn.

3,000 American service members have died in an illegal war and independent media has little or nothing to say. Which pretty much indicates that they have nothing to offer. It doesn't mean anything to them. They don't notice it because they honestly don't care. The 3,000 isn't even a number to them, let alone 3,000 people whose blood is on the Bully Boy's hands.

They're a tool to be used for 'news' when there's nothing else they can chase after. I think we're seeing how cold and calculated independent media is and how craven. There's no point in covering the war and they've used the supposed 'apethetic' public as their cover. They've told tales of how the public doesn't care but the reality is they don't give a damn, not the public. They're as much a part of the war machine as is the adminstration and the Congress.

It'll be a hard recovery from this for most of them because they're real concerns are exposed and ending the war isn't among them. They have no bravery and they have no compassion. Not for the dead nor for the loved ones left behind.

There are exceptions to that and one of them is CounterPunch which has always covered the war -- not just at election time.

"Wrapped Around a Bullet" (Kathy Kelly, CounterPunch):
Amman, Jordan.
An Iraqi friend whom I've known for ten years looked worn and very weary yesterday when he came to visit me in my apartment here in Amman, Jordan. He hadn't slept the night before because he'd been on the phone with his wife who, throughout the night, was terrified by cross fire taking place over the Iraqi village where she stays with their four small children. My friend longs to soothe and protect his wife and kids. But now he lives apart from them, in another country.
His life was completely changed when a piece of paper was tossed into his kitchen in Baghdad. It read: "Leave now or you will die like a dog." Many Iraqis have been receiving notes like this. This piece of paper was sent to him with a bit of extra emphasis. It was wrapped around a bullet.
Weeks later, assailants killed his younger brother who was returning home from University studies. My friend moved his family to a village outside Baghdad and then ran for his life.
Here in Amman, where the U.N. cites a figure of 700,000 Iraqis who've fled their country, he feels trapped. Like other Iraqis, he lives without legal protections: he is not allowed to work, he is unable to obtain proper documentation to settle here, and each Embassy to which he has applied for resettlement has given him the cold shoulder. He may walk the sunburst streets of Amman, ride in taxis, eat in kabob shops, but he lives a shadowy, underground existence. Everyday, Iraqis in Jordan are arrested (for working, for overstaying their visas, etc.) and deported. This, too, is a death threat of sorts. Meanwhile, in Iraq, his family lives in a battlefield, and who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Still, my friend's case is hardly unique. Relative to other stories we've heard, he is somewhat fortunate. He was not captured and tortured before fleeing Iraq. His wife has not been raped. His children are still alive.

While independent media turns Saddam Hussein into a martyr, people in Iraq continue to suffer. All the feeding frenzy into Saddam! Saddam! Saddam! prevents us from knowing, let alone addressing, the daily bloodshed. I never would have guessed that a despot's death would trump the brutality that a people lives under in independent media but that's because as distrustful as I was of so many self-appointed 'saviors,' I never grasped how little they actually cared.

The people will end this war. It will come in spite of Congress and in spite of the bulk of independent media. But they will end the war.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 3, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq but it's hard for it to be reported as the useless media (especially independent media) goes after the circus that still is the aftermath of the show death.
Starting with news of
Ehren Watada. In June, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In August, the US military held an Article 32 hearing. This week, Thursday, a pre-trial hearing begins leading up to his February 5th court-martial. The AP reports that Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, has been informed that his client's reasons for refusing to deploy will be exlcuded which would rob Watada of the ability to defend his own actions.
Leila Fujimori (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) observes these decisions could "decide the trial's outcome before it even gets under way, his supporters fear." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes that "Seitz has filed motions that include declaring the intent to defend Watada based on the claim that under international law the war in Iraq is a 'war of aggression' in which he has the right to refuse to participate." Seitz explains to Rod Ohira (Honolulu Advertiser) that
"The Army is way out on a limb on this case. If they are successful (at the hearing), the trial will be a farce. . . . Missing movement is like not going to work; it's not criminal, but this is a miliatry court. They're singling him out as a deterrent for others speaking out."
The pre-trial hearing takes place tomorrow at Fort Lewis, Washington. Also tomorrow, there will be at least two rallies in support of Watada. One rally will be held at Fort Lewis, off Interstate Five, exit 119. Among those scheduled to participate are Bob Watada (father of Ehren), Sara Rich (mother of Suzanne Swift), US war resister Darrell Anderson, Chanan Suarez Diaz, Michael Cuzzort, Pia Rivera and Carrie Hathorn. The actions begin at eight a.m. and the speakers' program begins at at ten a.m. Another rally will be held in San Francisco and begin at 11:15 a.m. (Thursday, January 4th) at Japantown Peace Plaza (corner of Post and Buchanan) which will then move to the San Francisco Federal Building at noon and culminate in a Die-in at the front enterance of the Federal Building (one p.m.). More information can be found at
Ann Wright (Op-Ed News) observes: "GI resistance to the war is increasing. AWOLS are increasing. War resisters are speaking out and are willing to go to prison rather than participate in an illegal war of aggression. Over 1500 active duty soldiers have signed an 'appeal for redress' to the Congress asking for the 'prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq.' They will go to Washington and deliver the appeal to individual Congressmen and women on January 15."
That resistance includes
Ehren Watada and many others such as Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. 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 this month.
Ann Wright, retired Army Colonel and retired from the State Department, wrote about the attempts she and other activists with CODEPINK had on Monday when they attempted to observe the 3,000 mark (Sunday, the number of US troops who have died in Iraq reached the 3,000 mark). Actions took place around the country on Monday and Tuesday. [Click here for photos from Pittsburgh's actions.] And did you hear or read about them? Probably not. CODEPINK noted: "We're worried that with the media focusing on Saddam's death, our 3,000th soldier death will be unduly glossed over." You think?
Yesterday (and today) Democracy Now! was all about the show death. Ironically, as Rachel pointed out, many of their viewers/listeners were probably confused in the other segment Tuesday, supposedly on Ehren Watada, when the speech Watada gave was brought up -- one used in his Article 32 hearing and one at the heart of attempts to get journalists to testify in the court-martial (NO reporters are being asked to testify in the pre-trial). Rather important speech, but one Democracy Now! never aired. Today, they brought you a vintage interview with Saddam Hussein. Where the "peace" in the so-called "war and peace" report is remains a mystery.
But Amy Goodman & co. are far from alone. As
Mike (Mikey Likes It!) noted, late yesterday evening The Nation finally got around to noting the 3,000 mark. Mike: "Richard Kim's 'Gays: Uncle Sam Wants You' went up at The Notion after 6:00 pm. C.I. addresses The Notion in the snapshot. But let me note that they've finally noted the 3,000 mark. In fact, let me quote them in full on the 3,000 mark: 'Though the US death toll in Iraq just hit 3,000, President Bush remains adamant about sending a "surge" of up to 20,000 new troops to the region.' That's it. The 3,000 mark is worth exactly one sentence to The Nation. I think you know their priorities." I think Mike's correct, we do know their priorities.
Addressing local news priorities,
Missy Comley Beattie (Truthout) notes: "The local news anchor said that the Pentagon had announced the 3,000th US troop death in Iraq. She continued with: 'And closer to home, it's a good time to be a Jets fan.' Closer to home? The war is very close to home for all who have lost someone they love, for the many whose child, spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, sibling, or friend has been maimed, or for those who have someone deployed or about to deploy to war. Iraq is closer to home than any sports, social event, or movie, showing at the local theater. It is especially close to home when the doorbell rings and military personnel are present to deliver the news that changes lives forever."
"A plain car pulled up. My mom knew right away what it was" is
how Jeremy Blohm describes to the AP learning that his 21-year-old brother Alan Blohm (Kawkawlin, Michigan) died on New Year's Eve.
Today, the
US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 31." This brought to 114 the number of US troops who died in the month of December.
As Aar
on Glantz (IPS) reports, "the number of injured has far outstripped the dead, with the Veterans Administration reporting that more than 150,000 veterans of the Iraq war are receiving disability benefits. Advances in military technology are keeping the death rate much lower than during the Vietnam War and World War Two, Dr. Col. Vito Imbascini, an urologist and state surgeon with the California Army National Guard, told IPS, but soldiers who survive attacks are often severly disabled for life. . . . Dr. Imbascini just returned from a four-month deployment to Germany, where he treated the worst of the U.S. war wounded. He said that an extremely high number of wounded soldiers are coming home with their arms or legs amputated. Imbascini said he amputated the genitals of one or two men every day." Those who would prefer audio for Glantz' report can refer to yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.
Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad that left one person wounded. Reuters also reported a mortar attack in Baghdad the left nine wounded and a Tuesday mortar attack in Ramadi that wounded a woman and five children.
Retuers reports, in Hilla, two men were shot dead.
Reuters notes one corpse discovered in Kirkuk. Reuters also reported 27 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Now do you really think that's all that happened in today? No. But when you turn a show death into a feeding frenzy, even the wire services get pulled off covering reality. Don't think the Bully Boy doesn't love it. As long as the topic is the show death, no one's following the violence. But by all means, let the Amy Goodmans and Ari Bermans (
he just posted on the show death -- he's not written one word about the 3,000 deaths) continue to be useless. Just don't let them make you useless as well. The topic will be addressed at length Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.
Christopher Torchia (AP) reports on the videotape that was delivered to the AP today which appears to have been shot on or around December 21st and 22nd and contains footage of Paul Johnson Ruben (Buffalo, Minn), John R. Young (Kansas City, Missouri), Jon Cote (Buffalo, NY), Josh Munz (Redding, Calif), and Bert Nussbaumer (Austria) who were kidnapped November 16th of last year in Safwan -- Cote states: "I can't be released until the prisoners from the American jails and the British jails are released" and there's nothing else noted of a demand from the kidnappers.
AP also notes that puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is feeling the weight of the strings and has stated that he wishes he could leave his office right now. The BBC notes that the interview was given to the Wall St. Journal and that al-Maliki complained about "US-led forces and the Iraqi army" stating that their response is too slow and "gives the terrorists a chance to hit and run." After calling them 'terrorists,' al-Maliki then calls them "gangs," suggesting the puppet is in his Mariah melt-down period.
One person not crying for al-Maliki is Saleh al-Mutlaq.
Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) notes that al-Mutlaq joined with Muktada al-Sadr's bloc in withdrawing support from al-Maliki's government and Hayden calls the claim by US and Iraqi forces that they attacked his offices due to "a rumor that the house was an al-Qaeda front, a preposterous notion that was disproven by the results of the raid." Hayden also notes that Saleh al-Mutlaq was one of the Iraqi parliamentarians who mets with the peace delegates in Jordan last August.
Edward Luce (Financial Times) notes that Bully Boy is expected to make his announcement regarding Iraq "before his annual State of the Union address to Congress in late January" and that there is "mounting opposition" to an escalation of US troops in Iraq. Not cited by Luce, but the opposition includes the US military. Military Times' polling has found that "[o]nly 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approave of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disproved" and "only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003."

ehren watada
the kpfa evening news

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Celeb reporting or the 3,000 mark -- which is news?

On Sunday, the 3,000 mark for US troops who have died while serving in Iraq was passed and I think we saw today how important or unimportant it was to various outlets. If you're not disgusted, you're not paying attention.

Who's failing us? Try the media and try especially independent media which doesn't seem to think the 3,000 mark matters. As C.I. notes in the snapshot, more time was spent in the headlines on James Brown's funeral than on the 3,000 mark. To that, I will point out that twice last week in the headlines, Democracy Now! covered James Brown. James Brown's death is worth three days of headlines but the 3,000 mark is only worth one.

In that one, it doesn't even get as much time as James Brown.

That is disgusting.

That is offensive.

Someone needs to explain that to Amy Goodman.

While she makes a fool of herself and a mockery of independent media, other people did grasp that the 3,000 mark meant something.

"Arrested on the Golden Gate Bridge for the 3,000 US Dead" (Ret. Col. Ann Wright, Common Dreams):
On New Year’s Day, sixty peace activists organized by Codepink Women for Peace gathered on both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge to walk across one of America’s great landmarks in vigil for the 3,000 US servicemen and women killed in Iraq and for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died since the US invasion and occupation.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers blocked the pedestrian walkway on the San Francisco side of the bridge saying that we did not have a permit for a demonstration. We responded that we were not demonstrating but only wanted to walk peacefully across the bridge to commemorate the 3,000 deaths. Initially the CHP allowed tourists to pass through our group and begin their walk on the bridge. We complained that this was our bridge and we could not be denied access. The CHP then stopped all walkers.
After an hour, a group of ten walkers in pink came into sight. They had come from the Marin County side of the bridge walking peacefully and respectfully to honor those who have died. Finally after two hours CHP announced that the bridge was closed to pedestrians and we had to leave, which we did not do. Ten of us were then arrested for trespass.
In October 2005, several of us were arrested in front of the White House when the US death toll hit 2,000. Now on January 1, 2006, we were arrested to commemorate 3,000 US deaths.
It was ironic that I, as a retired US Army Colonel, was arrested on the Golden Gate Bridge in sight of the Presidio of San Francisco, a former US Army base. The Presidio was my first assignment in the Army almost forty years ago. I served at the Presidio during the Vietnam War when anti-war protesters rocked the city of San Francisco and the nation when hundreds of thousands marched from the Bay to the Ocean. Thousands of GIs went AWOL from the Vietnam War and lived in the Haight Asbury area of San Francisco. When they were picked up by military police in the city, they were taken to the notorious Presidio Stockade. In 1968, twenty seven of these imprisoned soldiers protested the shotgun killing of a mentally disturbed prisoner by a guard. They sat in the prison courtyard, sang “We Shall Overcome,” and were charged and tried for “mutiny” which carried a possible death sentence. The image of GIs facing the electric chair for singing "We Shall Overcome" caused a national uproar and after the first several mutineers to be tried got 14, 15, and 16 years each, disillusionment about the military and the war grew in the civilian community and especially within the ranks of the military. Many historians consider the Presidio 27 incident as one of the first major GI resistance actions of the Vietnam War.

Ann Wright was making a difference. (Medea Benjamin was as well. I forgot who else C.I. said was there. But it was a sizeable group.) Some people grasped that 3,000 lives lost in an illegal war was news. Amy Goodman didn't.

She wants everyone to applaud her and support her work but today her work didn't deserve any support. She focused, in the headlines, on Saddam's execution and James Brown. On the show? The big segments were on . . . Saddam. That's crap and someone needs to say it flat out.
Or maybe they should say that was "a matter of emphasis"? Isn't that the phrase she mocked the New York Times with?

Well on Tuesday (when Democracy Now! aired a canned program), the New York Times' announced the 3,000 mark with a front page headline, a lengthy article, and photos and names of all 3,000 who had died. When Amy Goodman shows back to work on Wednesday, she can't be bothered with the topic. She's too busy going ape shit over Saddam Hussein.

I'm very generous about donating to charities but I don't really donate to media (outside of public broadcasting pledges) and the reaason for is that media doesn't know its ass from its head. I'd rather give to charities that actually make a difference than give to independent media which can't do a damn thing no matter how much money they get.

I think independent media is betraying the audience and I've seen that before and it's the reason they never make my year end donations.

I think anyone who does more than a pledge is a fool because independent media could make a difference right now but it refuses to. It's very happy with the status quo and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to examine what's going on in 2006 and what's going on right now as the year starts.

"Eliot Spitzer's Constitutional Hang Up" (Joshua Frank, CounterPunch):
New York will soon be inaugurating a new governor and many liberals here and across the country are excited about the prospect of having a celebrated K Street watchdog scale the ranks of the Democratic Party. Voters ushered Eliot Spitzer into office in unprecedented fashion last November, with almost 70% casting their vote for his sweeping crusade. Spitzer, like young Barack Obama, is often seen as the face of a new, invigorated Democratic Party--one that isn't afraid to shine its progressive credentials. Eliot Spitzer, unfortunately, is anything but progressive. In many ways he is not even a reformer.
Sure he's stood up for abortion rights and against tax cuts for the rich, but that's right about where Spitzer's political ideology plummets into Bushland. He unashamedly supports the neocons' war on terror, salutes the racist death penalty as a just punishment, and perhaps most telling of all, Spitzer was one of the chief architects of the New York version of the fear provoked PATRIOT Act.
Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Gov. Pataki along with Attorney General Spitzer wrote the grossly overreaching Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. Much like the federal PATRIOT Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act attempted to curtail our civil liberties in the name of national defense.
The Act sanctions "roving" wiretaps of US citizens, expands the definition of terrorist activity to include money laundering, and eliminates the statute of limitations for all "terrorist" offenses. The Act also permits the prosecution of suspects despite a pending or prior federal prosecution, and among further offensives, Spitzer and Pataki's bill prevents suspects from being freed due to a "technicality," i.e. an unlawful action made by investigators and law enforcement officials in complying with federal search and seizure regulations.
Apparently a "technicality" to Spitzer is synonymous with "Constitutional hang-up." And that's a dangerous path for any state to travel down, especially when a savvy prosecutor is at the helm. By eliminating Constitutional rights, terror suspects will not be presented with fair, impartial trials. Indeed their guaranteed rights will not assured at all -- their rights will be restricted in the name of terror prevention.

The excerpt above (author and publication) is an exception that proves the rule.

I'm disgusted with all media but most of all with independent media. So I will just suggest that you read C.I.'s snapshot below.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; independent media continues to do a lousy job of covering the war and, in fact, helps cement the US administration's 'big picture' today; Ehren Watada has a pre-trial hearing Thursday so why does a supposed journalist think Thursday is all about her?; Tony Blair plans to stick around a few months more; and the answer to who loved ham and pineapple pizza.
Starting with the lousy performance of independent media. Today, on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Antonia Juhasz rightly stated that of the two markers -- reaching the 3,000 mark for US troops who have died in the illegal war (Sunday) and Saddam Hussein's execution (Saturday), "the Bush administration wanted the latter to be the one that got the attention" because it could be promoted as "a victory for the Bush administration."
Intentionally or not, independent media was there to do the administration's bidding. On Democracy Now! today, the bulk of the show was a discussion on Saturday's execution. The 3,000 mark? Reduced to headlines.
Did it even
lead the headlines? No, it was the fifth listed item.
Did it get equal attention to the show execution? No.
Not only that, but it also got less time than the funeral of a wife beater -- but then 'friend' to children Michael Jackson didn't speak at any ceremony for the 3,000 US troops who had died.
In this morning's Washington Post,
Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White stated that "the majority of Americans, have been largely unaffected". Point the finger at the media, not the people.
To stay on
Democracy Now!, the program could have presented highlights of the various gatherings from yesterday -- though that might have required realizing that news was a 24 cycle which means you work on a 'holiday' and go to "midtown Manhattan" where "60 anti-war grandmothers" read the names of the dead -- or they could have presented a discussion featuring family members, friends, ect. whose loved ones make up the 3,000 dead. Instead, it was blah-blah-blah Saddam. At one point, on KPFA, the feed was lost and listeners instead heard the lead up to the service for Gerald Ford which made perfect sense since both that service and Democracy Now! were absorbed with covering dead officials and ignoring the realities of the people. (Micah, Rachel and Jonah e-mailed that WBAI also lost the signal in the midst of the pomp & circumstance of the show death.)
If "the majority of Americans" are removed from the war -- if -- start blaming independent media for
the shoddy performance they gave in 2006 and for the shoddy performance they're already starting 2007 off with.
3,000 mark is either an aside or ignored.
Currently, at
The Progressive's website the top story is Saddam's execution. And the 3,000 mark? Nothing. At The Notion? (The blog for The Nation.) Currently (it's past 2:00 pm EST) the last item is from 12/31 and the topic is . . . Saddam Hussein. On all the website? Not a damn thing about the 3,000 mark.
Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White postulate that "the majority of Americans, have been largely unaffected" -- well, if true, why should they feel effected when the 3,000 mark is thus far ignored by the two leading magazines of the left (in terms of sales) and when Democracy Now! thinks the funeral of James Brown -- and quoting Michael Jackson -- is more important than 3,000 Americans killed in an illegal war?
It matters. What you choose to emphasize matters. To repeat, of the two milestones, the US administration wants one emphasized, the show-death. As Antonia Juhasz noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show, "the Bush administration's intent to have that be the last image of 2006 rather than the 3,000 who have died."
In news of war resistance,
Dahr Jamail, speaking on Democracy Now! today, attempted to address Ehren Watada's remarks in August . . . however, there was no time for that. Time ran out or was wasted as Sarah Olson repeatedly asked for sympathy because she might have to decide whether she's a journalist or not.
A journalist refuses to testify. Olson has gotten a tremendous amount of publicity for someone who refuses to say what she will do (or as she put it on Democracy Now! -- what legal strategy she will "employ"). When journalists, real ones, get support, it's because they take a stand.
As we've noted in several snapshots (most recently on
Thursday of last week), Olson's being asked to tesitfy this week (Thursday) in Ehren Watada's pretrail hearing. If you want editorials and colums of support, you need to commit to something. No paper in the world is going to come out ahead of you and take a stand for you. Olson backed out of a scheduled and announced appearance on KPFA's The Morning Show with the statement that her attorney had advised her not to comment on the case. That doesn't get editorial boards rushing to defend you over what you might or might not do.
If hearing her try to press the world to stand for her when she won't stand for herself (on Democracy Now!) didn't bore you enough, you can check out her similar non-stance in
text form at ZNet. For those who are missing how ridiculous her dance is, Ehren Watada is on trial for taking a stand. Sarah Olson wants people to rush to her defense for . . . not taking a stand. Make a decision. If you testify, you're not a journalist. If you're a journalist, you say "No." It's that simple.
In the real world,
Courage to Resist reports that Lisa Brobeck is asking people write to her husband, war resister Ivan Brobeck, "so he is constantly reminded that he is not alone during this time in the brig and that he is supported in his brave and courages stand." The mail does not run (in the US) today (apparently Gerald Ford is honored by the government stopping its business) but the way to address your postcards or envelopes is:

LCPL Ivan S. Brobeck
MCB Quantico Brig
3247 Elrod Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134

Ivan Brobeck self-checked out of the US military after serving seven months in Iraq. He went to Canada in April 2005 and remained there until he returned to the US in November to
turn himself in on election day with an open letter to the Bully Boy. The day before he turned himself in, November 6, 2006, he was interviewed by Nora Barrows-Friedman on Flashpoints which remains one of the few media outlets to note his decision to return then or since. "The Full Brobeck" is the term coined for a brave stand that media outlets bend over backwards to avoid noting.
As noted earlier,
Ehren Watada faces a pre-trial hearing on Thursday. On Thursday, there will be at least two rallies in support of Watada. One rally will be held at Fort Lewis, off Interstate Five, exit 119. Among those scheduled to participate are Bob Watada (father of Ehren), Sara Rich (mother of Suzanne Swift), US war resister Darrell Anderson, Chanan Suarez Diaz, Michael Cuzzort, Pia Rivera and Carrie Hathorn. The rally will begin at ten a.m. January 4th (this Thursday). Another rally will be held in San Francisco and begin at 11:15 a.m. (Thursday, January 4th) at Japantown Peace Plaza (corner of Post and Buchanan) which will then move to the San Francisco Federal Building at noon and culminate in a Die-in at the front enterance of the Federal Building (one p.m.). More information can be found at
Jason Leopold (Truthout) notes that the pre-trial hearing "comes on the same day the new Democratic-controlled Congess returns to work and begins to investigate one of the lingering questions surrounding the nearly four-year-old war. It's the same question that Watada said led to his decision to publicly challenge the legality of the war and refuse deployment -- whether the intelligence that led to the US-led invasion was cooked by Bush administration officials."
Ivan Brobeck and
Ehren Watada are part a movment of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. 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 this month.
In fatality news, the
US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Jan. 1." And they also announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, were killed Dec. 31 as a result of an explosion while conducting operations in Diyala Province." The announcements brought the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3,003.
Lauren Frayer (AP) reports a mortar attack the left four wounded in Iraq. CBS and AP report a roadside bomb in Baghdad that took three lives and left seven more Iraqis wounded. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Tribune Newspapers) reports a mini-bus in eastern Baghdad hit a roadside bomb and at least one person was killed. Reuters notes that the mortar attack (first sentence of paragraph) in Baghdad killed four in addition to the four wounded.
Reuters reports that Ali Majeed Salbokh ("member of the Diyala provincial council) and three of his aides were shot dead in Baquba yesterday. Today, Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Tribune Newspapers) reports Mohammed Younis Hasan ("Iraqi employee of the Algerian Embassy in Baghdad") was shot dead.
Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Nahrawan. CBS and AP report that 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today. Reuters updates the body count of corpses discovered in Baghdad today to 45.
In addition,
AFP notes that "six members of a family were kidnapped" today. Reuters notes that the kidnapping took place in Madaen.
Other violence? Oh, please, like the independent media, the mainstream serves the administration by making it non-stop Saddam.
Despite that, the
Guardian of London reported today that the Iraq Interior Ministry released numbers that found "12,320 Iraqi civilians had died" in 2006. BBC notes that the figure, given out by the ministry, for last month is 1,930.
Meanwhile a US attack is leading to questions and accusations.
Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reported that the US military is referring to the action as a raid targeted at al-Qaeda while Saleh al-Mutlak ("head of the Sunni-led Iraqi National Dialogue Front") is stating that he lost two bodyguards and two buildings in the action. CNN adds that in addition to the two bodyguards killed, the dead also included "a family of four that lived next door" to the offices of the National Dialogue Front.
In political news,
Al Jazeera notes that the Baath Party in Iraq has named Izzat al-Douri "its deputy secretary-general, as secretary general" and quotes Baath party spokesperson Abu Muhammad replying to Nouri al-Maliki's offer that the Baath Party rejoin the political process with: "We would like to tell Mr al-Maliki that our only mission is to continue armed struggle until we get him and his masters [US] out of our country." Also in political news, KUNA reports that the talk in England is Tony Blair will stay on as prime minister "until this July". This as Robert Barr (AP) reports that Tony Blair's non-new New Year's message was that British troops must remain in Iraq (and Afghanistan).
Who loved ham and pineapple pizza? Dustin Donica of Spring, Texas. The 22 year-old was the 3,000th American service member killed in Iraq and news of him comes not from the US independent media or the US mainstream media.
James Bone (Times of London) reports that in addition to the pizza, Dustin also loved trance music and soccer and hoped to return to college (UT at Austin) after his service.
From Alice Walker's
We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Light In A Time Of Darkness (pp. 12-14):

An enlightened rage is building in the peoples of the world and it is antiwar. Never before have we seen war so clearly; its horror and stupidity and waste. We watch, those of us in the West, mostly on television, unimaginable blunders of planning and strategy; we walk past our rapidly deteriorating hospitals and schools while reading about the ten billion dollars a day, or is it a month, or is it a minute, spent on war in what is obviously the wrong country, in newspapers that report this news, it seems to us, casually. We feel helpless in that moment, but we do not feel ignorant. That is a great gain.

It is bad enough, we feel, that our young, often poor, badly educated and frequently desperate young men are forced into war; they have few alternatives. But to see our young women, likewise disadvantaged, leaving their babies behind in order to fight -- and sometimes facing harassment, assault and rape from their own male compatriots, in addition to the dangers and malevolence of war, feels like more than we can bear.

What does it mean to love one's child and not be able to protect him or her? Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in the war in Iraq, demonstrates the power of grief. Holding vigils outside the president's ranch and elsewhere, demanding that he sit with her; speaking everywhere, telling the truth of her sadness and exhibiting her fury, she lends us courage by her presistence. We have slumbered a long time believing the lies of those in power. Sending our children to fight those who might have been their playmates. And we know that those in power must spend a lot of their time laughing at us. Take a moment to think how gullible, how innocent, we must seem to them. Moved about the world to do their bidding, like pieces on a chessboard. But in this time we are beginning to see and hear from mothers and fathers who assume the role of Those Who Also Know. The world is getting its Elders back.

Turning to
Cindy Sheehan, writing at BuzzFlash, Sheehan concludes: "3000 dead. I can virtually guarantee who is not counting: Bloody George who readily admits that he gets a good night's sleep every night while he has condemned millions of people all over the world to agonizing nights of intensely worried or anguished insomnia. Why should Bloody George lose sleep? War business is booming and his own children are safely surrounded by Secret Service. I can never remember a time when peace has been so absent, yet so urgent. Won't you do one thing everyday to help prevent the next thousand Americans and next one-hundred thousand Iraqis? Please?"

dahr jamail

ehren watada

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 3,000 mark

This morning at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we wrote "Editorial: The 3,000 mark looms." The 3,000 mark no longer looms, it has been passed.

The illegal war of choice, built on lies, is now responsible for over 3,000 US troops dead (over because those who die from wounds after they leave Iraq are not included in the count) and over 655,000 Iraqis. How many more?

You can check many sites for demonstrations you can take part in. As most people know, United for Peace and Justice is an organization I support so I'd recommend you check that. But whatever organization is your first pick, please make a point to note the milestone. You can also read C.I.'s "And the war drags on" for more information. Whatever you do, you need to "do," not just sit around waiting for the war to end.