Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday post

Mike, Cedric and Wally were able to all visit Rebecca and Flyboy so it's a packed house this weekend and Rebecca's very happy about that. She is going to be going out and about next month. But the pregnancy meant that she really couldn't travel. She really had to take it easy (in terms of movement) so visits really do mean a great deal.

I won't lie, I was nervous. I did worry this would be another miscarriage. But this is the one. She's healthy, she's never been this far along in any pregnancy before and her doctor says that everything is smooth sailing. I understand her wanting to grab one more month of taking it slow because, if it were me, I would as well. Rebecca's not a stay a home type person. She's used to going everywhere and anywhere at the drop of a hat so this hasn't been easy for her but she's not complained. That's because this is really important and she was willing to do whatever was needed to carry this pregnancy to term.

By the way, she hasn't had any luck with the colors of "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Bully Boy & the Showboat Express'" -- we're both going to try to work on that this weekend. If we can't fix it (Isaiah has said: "It's no big deal."), I'll post it as is next week. It's a great comic, even with the yellows showing up as green.

"Truth or Consequences" (Dave Lindorff, CounterPunch):
President Bush makes a big deal out of his alleged "faith." Certainly a part of that faith ought to be speaking and behaving honestly. Just recently, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece saying Vice President Dick Cheney should come clean with the American people by either answering a few questions or resigning. But if coming clean with the American people is required of the vice president, surely it is also required of the president, and Bush too, has a few questions to answer. If failure to answer honestly means Cheney should resign, Bush should be held to at least as high a standard.
Here then are a few of the questions Bush:
* Mr. Bush, what was your role in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame? And were you lying to the press and the public when you said you had no idea who did it and wanted a thorough investigation into that leak?
We know that when information was first leaked to Robert Novak disclosing that former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame was a CIA undercover agent, you promised a vigorous investigation to find out who had done this treacherous thing. You also promised that whoever did it would be fired. Now we're seeing some evidence in the trial of Scooter Libby--including a handwritten note by Mr. Cheney--which suggests that you knew all about his role and in fact were actively involved in the leak.
* Why did you say to Congress and the American people in the 2003 State of the Union address, just weeks ahead of your invasion of Iraq, that you had just learned from British intelligence that Saddam Hussein had "recently sought" to purchase uranium ore from an African nation?
We know now that the documents in question--the forged Niger letters which purported to be receipts of sale, but which actually contained the faked signatures of officials who had not been part of Niger's government for a decade--were not new at all. In fact they had been presented to you a year and a half earlier by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. We know that you were informed by CIA and State Department intelligence people back then that the documents were fakes. That, of course, is why you didn't go straight to the press and Congress with them back in October of 2001, when you were, reportedly, looking for any excuse to have the U.S. go after Iraq. So a second question in this vein would be:
* Since you clearly were alerted that the documents were bogus way back in October of 2001, why did you cite them to Congress and the American public on January 28, 2003, and pretend that they were new information?
* While we're on the matter of the war, why did you claim in your official letter to Congress on March 18, 2003, announcing your intention to attack Iraq, that you were acting because Iraq posed "a continuing threat" against the United States" when it posed no immediate threat at all? And why did you claim the attack was part of "continuing" action against "international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001," when you knew that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and that Iraq posed no threat to the US?
These two justifications for going to war were both absolute lies, weren't they, and you certainly knew it, didn't you? You knew the UN inspectors were saying there were no weapons of mass destruction, and anyhow, you knew Saddam had no air force and no navy and no long-range rockets, so he had no delivery systems anyhow, and he was no threat to anybody. And since not one of the terrorists on those planes was Iraqi, and since there was no linkage ever demonstrated between Saddam Hussein and the hijackers or Al Qaeda, the second justification was just as bogus, right?

I prefer Lindorff's questions to Nicky K's. I think they deserve answers and have no trouble joining the call for impeachment. I think impeachment needs to be done to send a message to all future presidents that if you break the laws, if you lie to Congress, if you lie to the people, if you spy illegally, you are punished. Help the country if we don't do that and another sociopath ends up in the oval office.

Mike just asked me to mention Sunny. She was in Tacoma and got left out in some of the comments. She has written a piece that will run in Maria, Miguel and Francisco's newsletter Sunday. Mike explained to her that no one was sure if it was okay to mention to her but that he'd mention her tonight. He says she demonstrated and even went to two campuses with everyone and ended up speaking. She hadn't planned that and I'll get the back story on Monday but I'm sure she saw how comfortable the exchange was, C.I. really does set a wonderful tone, and that's why she spoke.

"The Najaf Massacre: an Annotated Fable" (Conn Hallinan, CounterPunch):
The target of the attack was not the "Soldiers of Heaven," but the al-Hatami and al-Khazali tribes, both of which oppose the current government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. According to the IPS reporters, the Iraqi Army fired on Hatami pilgrims on their way to Najaf for the Ashura holiday, which commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Muhammad and Shi'ism's most revered saint. "We were going to conduct the usual ceremonies that we conduct every year when we were attacked by Iraqi soldiers," Jabber al-Hatami, leader of the tribe told IPS. Khazaali tribal members went to their aid. "Our two tribes have a strong belief that Iranians are provoking sectarian war in Iraq which is against the belief of all Muslims," one witness told the reporters, "and so we announced an alliance with Sunni brothers against any sectarian violence in the country. That did not make our Iranian-dominated government happy."
The tribes, according to Patrick Cockburn of the Independent, are opposed to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIR) and the Dawa Party, both of which are close to Iran and which dominate the Maliki government. Some Iraqi tribes object to Sistani because of his Iranian background, and they feel that religious leadership should be kept in the hands of Arabs.
The governor of Najaf, Asad Abu Ghalal, is a prominent member of SCIR, and was one of the major sources on the incident in stories that appeared in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Tension between Arab and Iranian Shi'ites has been building in Iraq's south since death squads linked to the Maliki government began assassinating local tribal leaders. A death squad with ties to Iraq's Ministry of the Interior murdered Sheikh Faissal al-Khayoon, head of the large Beni Assad Shi'ite tribe, according to another IPS report . Beni Assad tribal members attacked the Iranian consulate in Basra in retaliation. On Jan. 1, the Mahdi Army of Moktada al Sadr assassinated Sheikh Hamid al-Suhail of the Shiia/Sunni Beni Tamim tribe. Sadr is a key ally of the Maliki government. According to Jamail and al-Fadhily, the Beni Assad and Beni Tamim tribes have worked for Shi'ite­Sunni unity.
The Independent claims that the "battle" began when the leader of the Hatami tribe, along with his wife and driver, were gunned down at an Iraqi Army checkpoint. The Iraqi Army is riddled with death squads, in particular the Badr Organization, the armed wing of the SCIR. When Hatami tribe members assaulted the checkpoint in revenge, the Iraqi Army called in U.S. helicopters and F-16s, and British Tornados. Tanks and humvees from the U.S. 25th Division were also summoned.
The tribe members fled into a plantation where they were pounded with 500-pound bombs that killed 263 and wounded 210. The Iraqi Army lost 25 soldiers, a casualty imbalance that Cockburn suggests points to not a battle but an "unprecedented massacre."

C.I. covered Najaf last week and it's mentioned in the snapshot today. I'll add to the above that when the victims are powerless or not part of the government, it's very easy for the press to say whatever it wants. No one calls for a correction and no correction gets offered. There are people who heard the 'cult' story and, no doubt, still believe it because the mainstream media has shown no interest in correcting it.

That's going to end it for me tonight. Usually, we end up blogging at the end of the night before we're all about to fall out on Friday night but since there are people I don't get to see that often, I'm going to cut this short and spend time talking.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, February 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq,
Ehren Watada's mistrial continues to be debated, "Who cooked the intel?" becomes a popular question, a leader of one group of resistance fighters in Iraq is quite clear in what is needed to end the war, and "Woops! We thought they were 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda!"

Starting with
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first commissioned officer in the US to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq because the war was illegal and immoral. On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and
"[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney
Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

Yesterday, on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the mistrial. Cohn's belief (based on expertise) is that the government's case is over -- that, military or civilian, courts must respect the laws of the land and that includes avoiding double-jeopardy (trying a person for the same alleged crimes twice). As Rebecca notes, Cohn explained that the stipulation Judge Toilet made much ado over was a stipulation (agreement between the prosecution and the defense) that both sides had agreed to, that the jury was made aware of, that Judge Toilet had looked over and, up until it was time for the defense to present their case, Judge Toilet never voiced any concerns over the stipulation, More importantly, Cohen pointed out, "When a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it. The only thing that will defeat a finding of double-jeopardy . . . is if there was manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" which, in Cohn's opinion, there wasn't. At Counterpunch, Cohen also made the case "that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officers." Leila Fujimori (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Earle Partington ("local attorney with decades in military justice") who also stated that "military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for the trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday". Marjorie Cohn had explained to Nora Barrows-Friedman that Judge Toilet floated the idea of a mistrial and when the prosecution (taking the hint) asked for one, the defense did not consent to a mistrial. Also making this point is Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: "The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Because 1st Lt. Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison. 'I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted."

Yesterday, reporting for
Free Speech Radio News, Aaron Glantz noted Carolyn Ho's reaction to the mistrial ("tears started streaming down her cheek"). Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada: "He was quite prepared to vacate his apartment. It's been all packed up and, you know, and we were arranging to have his furniture moved on Monday. The expectation was that he would be sentenced and, um, that there would be incarceration." Reporting for IPS (text), Glantz noted Eric Seitz's contention: "Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases result in mistrials."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell 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.

War resister Joshua Key self-checked out of the US army after serving in Iraq. He, Brandi Key (his wife) and their children moved to Canada. Key has written a book on his experience in Iraq and after entitled
The Deserter's Tale. Brian Lynch (The Georgia Straight) notes: "And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that 'the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told.'
This, he believes, is a tactic that the highest political and military leaders in his native country have used on the public itself. Field commanders, he says on the phone, 'try to keep you scared, keep you motivated. And that's exactly what's happened to the [American] people as well. Everybody is so afraid of terrorism... And of course, from my actions in Iraq, I think the terrorism hasn't begun yet--terrorism from all the little Iraqi children that I terrorized myself. There's going to be a flip side to that. There will be consequences'."

Cause and effect.

On today's Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman noted: "In Iraq, the US military is facing allegations of killing forty-five Iraqi civililans in an airstrike near Amiriyah. Police and hospital officials say the bombings flattened four homes in the village of Zaidan, just south Abu Ghraib, killing women, childre, and the elderly. A photograph released by the Associated Press shows the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck taken to the nearby Falluja hospital. Several other children were reportedly admitted with injuries. The US military denies the account and says thirteen insurgents were killed."

That incident was explored in yesterday's snapshot (and you can tie it with the Najaf incident which
Tom Hayden recently wrote about). Today, Al Jazeera reports: "The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell." Had? Before we get there, please note that in Najaf, in the strike near Amiriyah, in countless 'battles,' the motive is always said to be 'suspected' this or that. And when innocents die in the attacks, it doesn't change the fact that intended targets (present or not) are still only 'suspected'. So who were US forces ordered to kill in Mosul? The BBC says: "Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US helicopter strike". Lauren Frayer (AP) reports that "U.S. helicopters on Friday mistakenly killed at least five Kurdish troops, a group that Washington hopes to enlist as a partner to help secure Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said."

Now a few things to note. 1) When you have some level of power, you can have the record corrected. That's what happened here. The US military had already issued their press release claiming suspected al Qaeda had been killed. 2) Calling it a "mistake" doesn't mitigate the effects on the families and friends of the eight dead. 3) Even when 'apologizing' the flacks for the US military still want to quibble on how many were killed (
8 is the Kurdish figure and the media's figure, the US military has tried to stick 5). This is why 'suspected' or potential 'suspected' really should raise eyebrows. As evidenced by yesterday's denial, which has only continued, the US military refuses to acknowledge that children were killed in the attack. Instead the military spokespeople want to crow about how they got 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda -- 'suspected.'

Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on Abu Salih Al-Jeelani ("one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement") and his group ("20th Revolution Brigades") which has issued a statement on what it will take for there to be a ceasefire:

* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as "proof of goodwill"

* Recognition "of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people".

* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.

* The negotiations to take place in public.

* The resistance "must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades".

* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.

All starred items are direct quotes from
Fisk's article. The leader says they also want the constitution of Iraq and the deals arranged (especially with regards to the oil) cancelled -- to be replaced by things deriving from the Iraqi people and not foreign occupiers.

In the United States, one of the big stories is the cooking of intel.
Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) notes that "the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . . Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) report US Senator Carl Levin stated, "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. . . . The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war" and the reporters note: "The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work."

In some reports, Feith is noted as saying he was not wrong. Of course he wasn't wrong. He cooked the intel exactly as he wanted. Was it burned? Of course, that's how he wanted it, that's how he served it.

And on clever propaganda,
CBS and AP report that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared that there is "pretty good" evidence of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Pretty good? Gates' word is supposed to be all anyone needs. Gates paints a story of 'weapons' found that are from Iran. What is he suggesting? That the Iranian government gave the Iraqi resistance the weapons? No, he means markings show that they were made in Iran. (That's his word -- take it for what it's not worth.) How shocking! People could get weapons from a country that borders their own! Oh my!

It proves nothing -- and the US firearms are all over the Iraqi black market -- but it's the new talking point. Expect to see a lot more of it.

Addressing the issue of Iran,
Juan Cole told Steve Rendell (on this week's CounterSpin): "Of coures the entire discourse of Washington has been, for many years, to get Iran and all Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, some of which have been quite serious and wide ranging have been rebuffed. Iran has been kept as an enemy because Washington wants it as an enemy." Probably won't catch that in the mainstream.


Reuters notes 17 dead in Mosul from a roadside bomb while 2 were killed (eight wounded) in Hilla from a roadside bomb.

Reuters reports that three people were shot dead (and 10 wounded) in Baghdad today.Corpses?

AFP reports that eleven corpses were discovered today in Mahawil -- "floating in the Al-Malih river" -- after they and two others were kidnapped on Thursday (the other were released and are alive*) and, in Amara, Mohammed Qasim Kerkuki 's corpse was discovered ("riddled with bullets"). (*AFP reports that, other agencies don't address the two. Al Jazeera notes that the kidnappers were wearing "Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles".)

Yesterday's snapshot didn't note corpses. My apologies.
Reuters reported 16 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad on Thursday. Please note, it's Friday. The majority of the violence (that gets reported) will emerge slowly throughout the rest of Friday.

the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical." That brought the count for UK troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 132.

Also today the
US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." AP's count for the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 3,117.

Finally, seven days ago, the Democratica National Committee held the Winter Meeting in DC and the mainstream's coverage was -- "Who didn't stick to the time limit! Nobody said anything!" Dennis Kucinich, US House Rep and
2008 candidate for president did speak and addressed a number of issues. Our focus is Iraq so we'll focus on the Iraq section. Kucinich: "Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war. Fellow Democrats, of all decisions a President must make, the one most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occured in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it because, fellow Democrats, right now the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress' constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq. Fellow Democrats, I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give the President the money to continue the war the Democratic Party will have bought the war."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ehren Watada, Sharon Smith

"The Watada photo is available for public use at this page of the ThankYouLt. site -- it's of Carloyn Ho (Ehren's mother), Ehren Watada and his father Bob Watada and was taken by Jeff Paterson of Not In Our Name." That's C.I.'s caption of the photo. Rebecca and I were on the phone late tonight. All we needed was brownies, and something stronger, it would have been just like college! Seriously, we had about a two hour phone conversation. We talk all the time. Rebecca's infamous for dialing you up several times a day. But we're generally on the phone no longer than 10 minutes. Between the news of Ehren, her pregnancy, and other things, we must have gabbed for at least two hours.

"War Objector's Court-Martial Ends In Mistrial" (Corey Moss, MTV News):
The court-martial of Ehren Watada, an Army lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq, ended in a mistrial Wednesday (February 7) after a judge ruled that the soldier misunderstood a document he signed admitting to some of the charges against him.
(See Watada talk about the charges against him and why he refuses to go to Iraq in this video interview conducted before the mistrial.)
Military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head, who set a March 12 date for a new trial, ruled that Watada intended to acknowledge that he did not go to Iraq with his unit in June but never meant to admit he had a duty to go there.
"I'm not seeing we have a meeting of the minds here," the judge said, according to The Seattle Times. "And if there is not a meeting of the minds, there's not a contract."

I don't usually cite MTV News but Rebecca and I are both citing it and I'll just note, never underestimate the power of two committed women. (No, I do not mean Rebecca and myself.)
I have mixed feelings. It certainly did seem like Ehren's side was doing well after the prosecution fumbled everything on Tuesday. But his most powerful weapon is public awareness and I think one of the success stories of this week has been the press coverage. People who didn't even know of him were confronted with the court-martial. Hopefully, it got some thinking.

On another topic, I was on the phone a little while ago with Mike and I think we're doing a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend. Mike and C.I. have been talking about a number of things (or last night were, Mike was too hyped from the trip to Tacoma and said he couldn't stop talking and wore out everyone but C.I.)

"Why Protest Matters" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
While Democrats have kept antiwar lobbyists at arms' length since November, they have given a much warmer reception to corporate lobbyists. The Los Angeles Times observed on January 22, "Surprising as it might seem in view of the Democrats' public rhetoric, business groups are getting their telephone calls returned. And they're getting plenty of face time with the new House and Senate leaders."
Back in November, when Pelosi unveiled the Democratic majority's plans for its first 100 hours, she promised to "roll back the multibillion-dollar subsidies for Big Oil." When the bill left the House in mid-January, however, it sliced only $5.5 billion from the $32 billion in subsidies and tax breaks oil conglomerates will receive over the next five years-a small price to pay for the profit-soaked industry.
Grassroots activists must decide whether the antiwar movement will seek polite engagement for "face time" with Washington powerbrokers or to embark on an admittedly less diplomatic strategy to get in their faces. The potential clearly exists for the latter.
In a little-reported protest on January 27, 2,500 demonstrators shut down a military recruiting center in Seattle, led by the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). One observer described, "Community members emerged from houses and joined the march as it snaked through the neighborhood. As the march drew near to the recruiting center the demonstrators began chanting, "Occupation is a crime, Ehren Watada should do no time!" and "You gotta resist, don't enlist!"
Anger, not diplomacy, points the way forward for the antiwar movement at this pivotal moment, if it is to grow and prosper in the weeks and months ahead.

That's a really challenging piece (in the best sense of the word) and I hope you'll read it. C.I. actually forwarded that to me. Mia had noted it and e-mailed C.I. and the snapshot was already up, so C.I. forwarded it to me. Sharon Smith is a very interesting writer. I loaned a book by her to Sunny and I can't remember the title but C.I. had passed it on to me.
I think you should make time to read that and, if you can't, I think you should remember the words "Sharon Smith" so when you do come across her byline, you know this is a writer worth reading. If it'll get you over there, I'll note that she mentions Featherbrain in one sentence.
The thrust of the article ("face time" is the perfect term for it and I wish I'd thought of that last week) is asking what is the goal of the peace movement? Do we just want to hob-knob with politicians? (Could we, if we wanted to? I assume the bulk of the writers for The Nation already have the Congressional crotches and asses occupied.) Are we an army of unpaid lobbyists marching on DC to beg and plead? Or do we want to actually accomplish something?
This "Please Mr. Congress Man" isn't playing out with half the spirit of a Motown song. The Nation can try to steer you towards uselessness but if you want to think seriously, read Smith's article.
I just scrolled to see if I had anywhere enough to call it a night? I don't. But I'm still doing it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another US helicopter is shot down in Iraq,
Ehren Watada's court-martial is on day three, the Iranian government levels accusations at the US government, and Melanie McPherson receives a sentence of three years.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq in June of last year and now is the subject of a court-martial at Fort Lewis where, if convicted of all charges, faces up to four years in prison. L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports on the people going to Tacoma, Washington to show their support for Watada such as Rose Takamoto who states, "I think it's really important" and "It's something that needs to be discussed while noting her disappointment in "local coverage from media outlets like the Mercury News, until this week." Though some of the press accounts tell a different story, Tuesday's proceedings were a huge boost for Watada. So it may come as little surprise that Reuters is reporting that Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. John Head) declared today that the trial could end in a mistrial -- which would result in another court-martial or, as many see it, a "do over" for the prosecution.

So let's review Tuesday's proceedings. Yesterday on
The KPFA Evening News, co-anchor Sandra Lupien discussed the proceedings with Aaron Glantz. (A section of this was played today on KPFA's The Morning Show.) Lupein noted that after selecting the seven officers to serve on the jury/military panel on Monday, the prosecution argued their case Tuesday and "who were its witnesses and what were their arguments?"

Aaron Glantz: The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosection's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to [Iraq] and that it did not inspire others in his unit to also refuse to go or to speak out against the war. And, while that may not be comforting to supporters of Lt. Watada who want to see him make a big impact, it cuts against the prosecution's case that his conduct was unbecoming an officer and a gentleman because it inspired deviant behavior amongst other troops.
Another thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military before coming forward to speak to the public. For example he proffered his resignation which was not accepted , he offered to go to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. Now Lt. Col. James, who is one of the higher ranking officials at Fort Lewis, testified that, as service members, we don't have the opportunity to choose where we go and that's why his desire to go to Afghanistan was turned down but Lt. Col. James also said that when Lt. Watada came to him to discuss his opposition to the Iraq war he did not enage him a moral debate which it was discussed by many other peopl in the role of a commanding officer in the US military.

Lupien asked what was expected for the third day of the court-martial (today).

Aaron Glantz: Well one of the interesting things is that Lt. Watada is the star witness for both the defense and the prosecution. Before the human witnesses came to testify for the prosectution, they played tapes of Lt. Watada himself speaking where he said the war was illegal and immoral. In particular they played a speech that he gave at the Veterans for Peace annual convention last year where he said. [. . .] Now this speech was played by the prosectuion, tomorrow the defense will call Lt. Watada as their star witness in order to explain why it is that he said this. [. . .] The defense had hoped to call a number of witness who could speak to the morality and ethics of the war and the judge in the case, Col. Head, refused to allow that into the courtroom saying it was irrelevant so, as a result. the defense is only calling Watada himself and a captain who was one of Lt. Watada's superiors.

In response to Lupien's question of whether Glatnz was expecting the trial to conclude on Thursady, he responded, "Obviously it depends upon how long this jury of US army officers takes to reach their decision -- and then we'll see the sentencing phase -- and of course that's where the defense is really looking because they do believe that he will be found guilty, at the very least, of missing movement, refusing to go to Iraq. It's less clear whether he'll be found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. But, in any case, that's where they really hope to make their case. So his attorneys have already said that they will appeal whatever comes out of it."

In the report, Glantz quoted from the speech Ehren Watada gave at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last August, hitting some of the key points. We'll emphasize this section of the speech (
from Darh Jamail's transcription at Truthout):

The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.
As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt individuals as much as they can corrupt institutions. The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system. Neither could they believe a standing army would be used for profit and manifest destiny. Like any common dictatorship, soldiers would be ordered to commit acts of such heinous nature as to be deemed most ungentlemanly and unbecoming that of a free country.
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.
Aside from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and its protectorate, the people. If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they stood up and threw their weapons down -- no President could ever initiate a war of choice again.

Geoffrey Millard is reporting on the proceedings for
Truthout. Millard asked Bill Simpich, civil rights attorney, about Atonia's testimony on Tuesday and Simpich offered this evaluation, "The prosecution asked too many questions, by the time it was over the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was wide open, the defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury."

As Glantz and Simpich both point out, the prosecution didn't make the case they wanted on Tuesday before resting.
Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Judge Toilet had to order the prosecution "to rephrase a question that strayed close to that prohibited subject" -- the illegality of the war -- "ordering 'move on!'" Ha Bernton (Seattle Times) notes the pathetic nature of the prosecution's witnesses which seemed less bothered with Watada's actions and more upset that he went public. Watada began attempting to work the matter out privately in January. His unit deployed in June, the same month his stand became public. Apparently, they wanted Watada to stay silent while they (his commanders) did nothing.

Speaking with Glantz yesterday, Aura Bogado (anchor
Free Speech Radio News) asked about the restrictions being placed on the media?

Glantz: This court-martial is taking place on Fort Lewis which is a US army installation, where the Stryker Brigade is headquartered, and we've been told that we're free to watch the proceedings and they've been very generous they've set up a media overflow room to deal with the tremendous number of members of the press that are here. They have also allowed a number of the public and Ehren Watada supporters to come. But members of the media are actually forbidden from talking to Watada's supporters while we're on base. We're also forbidden from talking to the Lt. himself, his legal team, or his family, and actually we're even escorted to by military escort to lunch when they have their lunch break and we're escotred to a seperate restaurant on base from where the members of the public, many of Watada's supporters, are escorted.

Free Speech Radio News also noted this from Eric Seitz, Ehren Watada's civilian attorney:
"This is a young man who went through a process where he tried to avoid a confrontation with the army. He went to them in good faith on numerous ocassions and offered to resign his commission, offered to go to Afghanistan, offered to do a number of different things, so that we would not find ourselves in a situation where had had to disobey an order. That was not something he wanted to do. I'm going to tell them that he has always acted with sincerity and integritey. He has always impressed everybody with whom he's met or spoken as to the basis of his beliefs. He has not gone out of his way or at any time encouraged the counsel other people to do an act or to take any action other than to decide for themselves what they're conscienceses require and to follow the dictate of their own consciences."

In addition to a lousy day for the prosecution on Tuesday,
AFP notes that Ehren Watada has received support from Desmond Tutu ("I admire your courageous and moral stand. In Christian tradition, ethics insist on the absolute primacy of obeying one's conscience. It is categorical imperative."), Susan Sarandon ("If the definition of a patriot is one who loves and defends his country then Ehren Watada is truly a patriot for his refusal to serve in a war that is harming the people of Iraq and increasing the threat of harm to Americans.") and Amnesty International. Amnesty International's statement of support for Watada opens: "Pending the February 5 trial of Ehren Watada, who faces a possible four-year prison sentence for his refusal to participate in the Iraq war, Amnesty International stated that a guilty verdict would be a violation of internationally recognized human rights" Also David Strum (Baltimore Messenger) reports that Ralph Nader voiced his support: "'This is a criminal war. This is an unconstitutional war,' he said. Watada has every right to invoke the Nuremburg principles of World War II in refusing to go to Iraq, he added."

As Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reminds, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) has refused to allow the Nuremberg defense to be argued: "The fourth of the Nuremberg Principles states that superior orders are not a defense to the commission of an illegal act, meaning soldiers who commit a war crime after 'just following orders' are as culpable as their superiors." While the prosecution fizzles out, it's no surprise that Judge Toilet is suddenly announcing the possibility of a mistrial. AP headlines their coverage "Fort Lewis judge threatens mistrial in Watada's court martial." Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that Judge Toilet's debating over the a stipulation agreed to by Watada prevented Watada from testifying and might mean the charges he faces increase. The stipulation was Watada's agreement to affirm the reports published and broadcast about him in order that reporters wouldn't be asked to testify in his case. There's confusion about what exactly is in question regarding the stipulation. Aaron Glantz may address that this evening on The KPFA Evening News (6:00 to 7:00 pm, PST).

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell 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.

We marched against a war, long ago,
wondering if it would make a difference.
Now we march again, in conscience, knowing,
We cannot allow this lie to go unchallenged.

-- Sebastian Eggert, "Compression,"
Poets Against The War, p. 63

Wednesday night a US helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
AFP notes: "Between January 20 and February 2, four US choppers including a private aircraft crashed in Iraq, killing 20 people." Yesterday made it four US military helicopters (the "private" refers to a Blackwater's helicopter that was shot down on January 22nd -- with the fighting being outsourced some may want to count that as a military helicopter). Rob Watson (BBC) reports, "This time it was a CH-46 Sea Knight which came down near Baghdad" and raises two issues: "First, are there any indications that the insurgents in Iraq have decided to step up attacks on US aircraft? Second, have they developed new techniques or acquired new equipment to make any attacks more successful?" While the US military flacks play dumb and fall back on the usual stall tactics ("We're investigating"), eye witnesses are already telling what they saw. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that an unnamed "Iraqi air force officer" states the helicopter was shot down and that eye witnesses back that up as well -- such as Mohammad al-Janabi: "The helicopter was flying and passed over us, then we heard the firing of a missile. The helicopter, then turned into a ball of fire. It flew in a circle twice, then it went down." Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes eye witness Ali Thmir: "The helicopter was heading to Habaniya base west of Fallujah but it was hit by a missile and we could see it when it was blown up and how its parts flew through the air." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) quotes eye witness Ahmed Said, "I stopped the car and I saw the chopper was on fire and pivioting in the air." CBS News' Lara Logan noted eye "witnesses said a helicopter had gone down in a field in the Sheik-Amir area northwest of Baghdad, sending smoke rising from the scene." Dean Yates (Reuters) reports, "All seven crew members and passengers aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter were killed when it came down near Baghdad on Wednesday".

Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 6 from wounds sustained due to enemy actions while operating in Al Anbar Province." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that the total number of US troops killed in the illegal war thus far is "at least 3,111". AP reports that a roadside bomb in Diwaniya killed one Polish soldier today and left three others wounded.

On Sunday, Iraqis in military uniforms kidnapped an Iranian diplomat.
Robert H. Reid (AP) reported that those involved were thought to be with "the Iraqi Special Operations Command, an elit unit under the direct superfivision of the U.S. military." The diplomat is Jalal Sharafi and Lara Logan (CBS) reported that the Iranian media "blamed the U.S." for the kidnapping. Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes the Foreign Ministry spokesperson for Iran, Muhammad Ali Hosseini, stating: "Iran holds American forces in Iraq responsible for the safety and life of the Iranian diplomat." The kidnapping comes one month after US stormed a consulate and arrested six Iranians and at a time when Bully Boy continues to offer his gut as proof that Iran is up to no good in Iraq -- a gut that even his own circle looks skeptically at. In a piece the Times of London identifies as "Comment," Stephen Farrell shares his reasons for doubting that the Iraqi government was involved: "Mr al-Maliki is caught in a very delicate position between the competing agends of Iran and America, the regional and world superpowers. His government has repeatedly stated that both allies of Baghdad and they must not play out their differences on Iraqi soil. It would be a huge mistake to inflame the already tense relations between Tehran and Washington."


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad wounded four police officers and left one dead, while, not far from Suwayra, a woman was killed by a roadside bomb (two other people were wounded), and, in Falluja, a mortar attack left four dead. The US military announced three children died and "12 other residents" were wounded in Mzerat from a mortar attack.


Kim Gamel (AP) reports that 3 security guards "at the government-funded Iraqi Media Network" were shot dead in Baghdad while "a female government official" was shot dead in Mosul. CBS and AP say the number of security guards shot to death reached four.


Reuters reports 33 corpses were discovered "around Baghdad," and the corpses of an Iraqi soldier was discovered in Shirqat (also noted is 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Tuesday, three in Mahmudiya and two in Yusufiya).

But good news! The cracked up 'crackdown' in Baghdad has a new tactic. Along with the barbed wire,
CBS and AP report that a new tactic is being utilized: Billboards! They site several and we'll note two, a crying man (who didn't run to authorities) with the message, "I should have done the right thing" and another that reads: "Be a hero and report suspicious behavior." No word on what might be done to grafitti artists should they 'improve' on the billboards. CBS and AP also report on the general consensus of Baghdad residents about the prospects of the latest version of the crackdown and Hashem al-Moussawi may speak for many when he says, "Nothing will work, it's too late." No word on whether the US military intends to make that a billboard slogan.

Finally, Melanie McPherson entered a plea of guilty in her AWOL case Monday.
AP reports that she "faces up to a year in prison after a military judge's ruling, which superseded McPherson's guilty plea to a lesser charge of going absent without leave." AP reports that Melanie McPherson "was sentenced to three months in military prison" and that she "was also reduced in rank to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge after her prison term." Melanie McPherson is not a war resister. She self-checked out last July (turned herself in September) not because she was being sent to Iraq -- when she was called up from the reserves, she reported to Fort Bliss -- but because she was being sent to Iraq to do something she hadn't been trained in and wouldn't be trained in before her impending departure. McPherson's story isn't an oddity, it happens far too often and, while the military may feel 'good' about pushing her around, it's past time the American people started asking why troops were being deployed without the proper training? McPherson, to repeat, was not opposed to deploying to Iraq -- her problem was being expected to do things she had no training for. As Melanie McPherson herself said:

The decisions I have made are not only for my benefit, but also for the fair and better treatment of soldiers coming up who will face similarly difficult situations. We are regarded as the best military in the world. I believe we should make it better and safer for those that serve our nation. They absolutely deserve it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Norman Solomon, Ehren Watada

The "Watada photo by Jeff Paterson of Not In Our Name and available for public use at this page of the ThankYouLt. site."
At the Veterans for Peace conference in August, Ehren Watada had plenty of support. He still needs it so make sure, wherever you are, people know you stand with Ehren and support him.

Rebecca's still working on "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Bully Boy & the Showboat Express'" and not have much luck. It's fine when she's photo shopping it but when she goes to upload it to Flickr, it's green. She's been able to do it in black & white but that's all so far.

Yesterday, I noted Joshua Frank's "Cruising with Ralph Nader?" about the problems with The Nation's cruise.

My own thoughts? Do you remember after 9-11? They postponed the Emmys. They cut football games. It was a national tragedy so that may seem reasonable. But what happened during WWII?

You keep hearing complaints from punidts that Bully Boy's not asking for sacrifice, that he hasn't this entire time. The left makes those complaints, some on the right do as well. So why is The Nation doing a cruise (to raise funds) while the country's in two public wars?

Do you know the film Hollywood Canteen? During WWII, Bette Davis and John Garfield set that up. It wasn't a club for the rich and famous. It was a place where soldiers could go when they were in the area on leave. Now if the entertainment industry could tone it down during war time, it strikes me as pathetic that a left magazine is going off on some goofy cruise. Do they have no sense of perspective?

Now I know The Nation doesn't give a damn about the war. They don't give a damn about Ehren Watada either. Their "real time blog," The Notion, posted nothing today. They may yet, but by five p.m. the "real time blog" didn't post a damn thing. They've yet to show any interest in Ehren Watada's court-martial. But they've got the time to shut down the magazine (that's what the summer "double issue" nonsense is about) and go off on a merry little cruise? It's disgusting.

It makes them look so out of touch and so oblivious. Now, I see them that way already. But think about it, is this really time to be cruising?

Joshua Frank brought up some solid issues with the cruise and I hope you paid attention to those. I didn't want to bring this up yesterday because I do agree with the issues he was pointing out. Hopefully, you've now had time to digest and think about his points. Think about what I'm bringing up as well.

It has been a long day. Kat's "Tacoma, Washington and Ehren Watada need you" made me think. I can't go. I can't just dump off appointments and the Thursday group is very important. But I was talking to Sunny this morning and I ended up booking her a flight out so she could be out there to show her support for Ehren Watada. I get a temp tomorrow (for the rest of the week -- I told her to stay the week, even if it ends on Thursday, have some fun -- she's taking her fiancee). But even letting the service pick up the phones still made for a crazy day. (Sunny, I say it all the time, but your work is appreciated.)

I called C.I. to give a heads up on Sunny coming out and C.I. asked if I'd note something? Always.

"Making an Example of Ehren Watada" (Norman Solomon, CounterPunch):
Outside the fence at Fort Lewis -- while the grim farce of Watada's court-martial proceeded with virtually all substance ruled out of order -- the criminality of the war and the pain it has brought were heavy in the air.
Darrell Anderson was a U.S. soldier in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart. Later, he refused orders to return for a second tour of duty. Now, he gives firsthand accounts of the routine killing of Iraqi civilians. He speaks as an eyewitness and a participant in a war that is one long war crime. And he makes a convincing case that "the GI resistance" is emerging and pivotal: "You can't call yourself antiwar if you're not supporting the resistance."
At Fort Lewis, outside the gates, I met Carlos Arredondo. He's traveling the country in a long black hearse-like station wagon, with big photos and letters from his son Alexander plastered on the sides of the vehicle. At age 20, more than two years ago, Alexander died in Iraq. Now, a conversation with Carlos Arredondo is likely to leave you in tears, feeling his grief and his rage against this war.
"When the Marines came to inform Arredondo of his son's death and stayed after he asked them to leave, he set their van on fire, burning over a quarter of his body in the process," the Boston Globe has reported. Carlos and his wife Melida Arredondo are now members of Military Families Speak Out.
Among the speakers at a nearby event the night before Watada's court-martial began was Helga Aguayo, whose husband Agustin Aguayo is a U.S. Army medic now charged with desertion. After deployment to Iraq in 2004, he applied for recognition as a conscientious objector, without success. During a year in the war zone, he refused to put ammunition in his weapon. Today, he is looking at the prospect of up to seven years in prison.
Many others in uniform are struggling to extricate themselves from the war machine. Information about some of them is available at: .
Soldiers have to choose from options forced upon them by the commander in chief and Congress. Those who resist this war deserve our gratitude and our support. And our willingness to resist as well.
Ehren Watada faces four years in prison. Half of that potential sentence has to do with the fact that he made public statements against the war. The war-makers want such honest courage to stop. But it is growing every day.

Norman Solomon has written about Ehren. I'm not being sarcastic. I'm very glad that he has. He is an important voice. His writing about it might be able to influence some of the silent (many of the silent). C.I. mentions him in the snapshot and links to this but the plan was to do more and but that changed after the prosecution attacked Ehren's motives in the court-martial.

C.I. had to call a friend who attended the Veterans for Peace conference last summer and listen to a tape of Marjorie Cohn's speech (listen over the phone) to include that point in the snapshot. There was no time then to go back to Solomon (or anything else -- I know one item that will be in tomorrow's snapshot because there wasn't time today). I'm happy to note Solomon. I'm glad he's writing about Ehren, using his voice (which is sizeable) to draw attention.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, February 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq;
Ehren Watada's court-martial continues in Fort Lewis, Washington; press in Iraq focuses on selling the latest version of the crackdown and other rumors; and the Occupation Project takes action.

Starting with the court-martial of
Ehren Watada, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is continuing today in Washington State. Watada is the first commissioned officer in the country to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. On Monday, the judge, Lt. Col. John Head, reinforced an earlier ruling that Watada could not base his defense on his contention that the Iraq war is illegal." The court-martial is expected to run through Thursday and Watada could be sentenced to four years in prison. As Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes, "The people running the Iraq war are eager to make an example of Ehren Watada. They've convened a kangaroo court-martial. But the man on trial is setting a profound example of conscience -- helping to undermine the war that the Pentagon's top officials are so eager to protect."

Solomon's call of a kangaroo court-martial referes to
Lt. Col. John Head (aka, Judge Toilet) making the decision that Watada could not present his best defense, could not argue the reasons for his actions, could not call witnesses to back up his conclusions. In August, during the Article 32 hearing, to determine whether or not there was justification to go forward with a court-martial, Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. That type of a defense has been disallowed in the actual court-martial by Judge Toilet. In fact, Halliday's name was among the proposed defense witnesses brought up yesterday by Eric Seitz and Judge Toilet again refused.

Ehren Watada believes the war is illegal and immoral. (Rebecca walks you through here.) Judge Toilet doesn't want that argument made. Toilet's 'ruling' flushed Watada's best defense down the toilet. Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Aileen Alfandary noted "Opening arguments take place today in the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada at Fort Lewis in Tacoma Washington" and then played this clip by Watada's civilian attorney on what he planned to do in today's opening statements:

Eric Seitz: I'm going to tell them that he has always acted with sincerity and integrity. He has always impressed everybody with whom he has met or spoken as to the basis for his beliefs. He has not gone out of his way, or at anytime encouraged or counseled other people, to do an act or to take any action other than decide for themselves what their consciences require and to follow the dictates of their own consciences."

In the second hour's opening news break, Alfandary spoke with Aaron Glantz who stated: "The prosecution is expected to call three witnesses against Lt. Watada. It's a lot shorter than the original witness list of eleven witnesses".

Alfandary: Who are the witnesses that Lt. Watada's attorney is planning to call to testify on Watada's behalf?

AG: Well, Lt. Watada will make his case tomorrow. And his attorneys had hoped to call a wide array of witnesses including experts on constitutional law and war. For example, Michael Ratner, the head of the
Center for Constitutional Rights, Marjorie Cohn, the head of the National Lawyers Guild, Ray McGovern, who's a former CIA analyst. But the judge refused all of that. The judge also refused to allow Gary Solis, the former Marine Corps prosecutor and Marine court judge to testify about the nature of the dissent within the military and what's acceptable and what's not. But at the end of the day the only witnesses that will be called in Lt. Watada's defense will be Lt. Watada himself, who will testify in his own defense, and a colleague of his from the military who will speak as a character witness.

Glantz will report on the court-martial on
The KPFA Evening News later today as well as, tomorrow, on KPFA's The Morning Show. Megan and Zach transcribed that (thank you) and both asked that it be noted KPFA is in fundraising mode and that, if you have the money and can donate, you can do say online or using the 1-800 number if you're out of the listening area [1-800-439-5732]. During Music of the World, Megan notes, it was stated if you were listening online (they were apparently attempting to meet a match) you could call in. Megan wants it noted that if you're donating during a matching period and donate online, that goes towards the match. (Megan knows some members who listen online have one phone line and cannot call in without disconnecting from the internet.) Again, Aaron Glantz will report on day two of the trial later today (6:00 pm PST) on The KPFA Evening News and Aileen Alfandary will speak with him tomorrow on KPFA's The Morning Show (which airs from 7:00 am to 9:00 am PST).

Yesterday, on
The KPFA Evening News, a report Aaron Glantz filed for Free Speech Radio News was aired and featured Chanan Suarez-Diaz who stated: "There are more people in different ranks in the military that are actually speaking out and refusing to go to this war and it's not only, you know, the officers are in the minority in the military and the majority are enlisted, but I think it's important for officers to see Lt. Watada's courage as an example, if they feel that this war is wrong -- which it is -- then they should have the courage to resist like he has and countless others." Chanan Suarez-Diaz served in Iraq in 2005, was wounded in February 2006 and is the recipient of a commendation of valor and a Purple Heart.

Glantz: Here at Fort Lewis, there have been so many people who have showed up at the base which is just outside of Tacoma that they've had to create an overflow room for the dozen of reporters that have come to cover the trial, only seven were actually allowed in the courtroom, it's a very small courtroom, they're not used to these kinds of very political trials and then there's also dozens of peace activists here in the overflow room as well. Outside the gates of Fort Lewis there are demonstrations -- at this hour by
Iraq Veterans Against the War. There's another demonstration that will be held at 3:00 today by Lt. Watada's family. Fort Lewis is kind of outside of town and there's a number of entrances to it and the pickets have been set up at all the different entrances to the base

Sandra Lupien (co-anchor of
The KPFA Evening News) noted that Glantz had stated Watada made the choice to be tried by a military jury "seven offiicers were chosen today, the court will allow only two defense witnesses one of whom is Ehren Watada himself who will take the stand on Wednesday."

Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) quotes attorney Seitz stating of the jury (or military panel), "The critical thing is that he be treated as someone who is principled. Someone who is principled and has taken a stand. Not somebody who should be treated as a criminal." Adam Lynn and Mike Archbold (The News Tribune) report that the panel is made up of Col. Carl Chappel, "Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bryan, Maj. Patrick Wright and Capts. Angela Gentry, Greg Reger, Nichole White and Larry Dean." As The Honolulu Advertiser notes, the seven were selected from "a pool of 10 officers."

Mike Barber and Amy Rolph (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) report that Monday saw mass action: "Outside the base, from hundreds of supporters, the answer was a resounding "no" to the war in Iraq in which Watada refuses to fight and to the Army's prosecution of him" and that "More than 1,000 people gathered along Interstate 5 on the exit 119 overpass, spilling down the grassy slopes on either side and filling the sidewalks of the surrounding DuPont neighborhood." Actions took place outside of Tacoma as well. Melinda Tuhus (New Haven Independent) reported that activsts like Chris Schweitzer's standing out in in what felt "like one degree on Monday afternoon," Mary Adamski (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that 40 people gathered at "the Prince Kuhio Federal Building" on Monday in Honolulu. Courage to Resist offers a listing of other actions taking place around the United States.

As part of a series honoring the late Molly Ivins,
Ying Lee (Berkeley Daily Planet) observes: Individuals like Cindy Sheehan can galvanize part of the population with her just and emotionally effective call to end the war and we are grateful for our leaders against the war. Lt. Ehren Watada is one of these leaders. Lt. Watada is the first U.S. Army officer to refuse to serve in Iraq. [. . .] My gratitude to him is expressed in committing civil disobedience by blocking the doors of the San Francisco Federal Building (450 Golden Gate Ave.) last month and again this first Thursday of February (every first Thursday) as well as joining a dozen or so Bay Area people, including Berkeley resident Betty Kano, who are traveling to Ft. Lewis to support Lt. Watada and to stand in protest of the war."

Marjorie Cohn was disallowed as a witness by Judge Toilet on Monday. If she had been able to testify, she might have offered testimony similar to what she provided in US war resister Pablo Paredes trial. Speaking at the
Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last August, Cohn discussed the judge's reaction to her testimony:

At the conclusion of my testimony, and after an inept cross-examination by Navy prosecutor Lt. J.S. Freeman, Judge Klant made a statement that astonished the spectators. "I believe," he said, "the government has successfully demonstrated a reasonable belief for every service member to decide that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq were illegal to fight in."
Rick Rogers, the military reporter for the conservative San Diego Union-Tribune, characterized the judge's surprising statement as a "flip comment." Lt. commanders presiding at Navy court-martials don't make flip comments. Nevertheless, apparently at the suggestion of this reporter, the media representatives covering the trial agreed among themselves not to report the judge's statement. Only The San Francisco Chronicle, a few small newspapers, and the electronic media published the quote.

In 2005, Marjorie Cohn and Pablo Paredes discussed the above with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! --
click here for audio, text and video. Had Cohen been able to testify, she could have refuted the ridiculous claim made by the prosecution today that Ehren Watada was some sort of publicy seeker for going public in June. Watada went public in June, only after attempting to address the matter privately -- repeatedly attempting to serve in Afghanistan instead and repeatedly attempting to resign his commission. Watada went public in June only after months of attempting to handle the matter privately.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell 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.

In Iraq today the violence continued while, as
Kim Gamel (AP) notes, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki complained about the delays in starting up Crackdown version 7.0. And so important is it to treat the latest version of the cracked up "crackdown" (begun last June) as news (and push Operation Happy Talk) that Reuters is left alone to cover the daily violence today.


Reuters notes three car bombs and one roadside bomb killed 2 people and wounded 19. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that there were "eight slain by two car bombs in Baghdad" (and notes "At least 51 Iraqis also were killed or found dead" today in Iraq).


Reuters notes two police officers wounded in Baghdad, a woman shot dead in Mosul, a police officer shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters notes 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a security post southwest of the Iraqi capital Feb. 6. While manning designated battle positions in the area, the unit received small arms fire, killing one Soldier." And they announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 5 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

It's also true that the US government knew how to milk the
will-they-or-won't-they release the friendly fire tape. (Yes. CNN has the transcript of the tape.)

James Glanz (New York Times) reported that: "An Iranian diplomat was abducted Sunday evening when his convoy was stopped by men with official Defense Ministry identification in the Karrada neighborhood here, senior Iraqi and American officials said Monday." Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that the US has involved any involvement in this kidnapping despite the fact that the culprits are believed to be with "the Iraqi Special Operations Command, an elite unit under the direct supervision of the U.S. military."

In the US, Bully Boy tries yet again to slash domestic needs while pushing for more defense funding.
Leigh Ann Caldwell (Free Speech News) addressed Bully Boy's proposed budget which Congress : "The Bush tax cuts total $1.3 trillion dollars in tax revenues in three years. He asked Congress Monday to renew them when they expire. [. . . ] The budget does not include the costs of the wars past 2009. In 2009, President Bush proposes just 50 billion dollars a sharp decrease from current costs of the war. But this year's budget is the first time that the president has included war costs. He asked for $145 billion for 2008. But that's not part of the 10% increase in spending for the Defense Department -- a request of $480 billion. In addition to the budget, he sent Congress a request for an additional 100 billion dollars for the wars for the remainder of 2007. This is the first time war funding is expected to be scrutinized by Congress."

The Occupation Project is demonstrating in DC and around the United States. Kathy Kelly recounted yesterday's events to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!): "Well, we came to Washington, D.C. to be with companion groups: CODEPINK and Vets for Peace and the Military Families Speak Out, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, United for Peace and Justice. There's a long list, really, of people who are wanting to join together in the campaign called the Occupation Project. And also in Chicago, four people were arrested in Senator Barack Obama's office, four people in Senator Durbin's office. And we're aware of affinity groups that are organizing all around the country for this sustained campaign to make sure that the elected representatives know that we won't go away on this issue, that we won't be fooled by issues that are raised that would continue the spending for three, four, five years into the future. We want this funding turned off now." The Occupation Project explains it's purpose as "a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at ending the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq. The campaign will begin the first week of February 2007 with occupations at the offices of Representatives and Senators who refuse to pledge to vote against additional war funding."

The KPFA Evening News noted the group yesterday. CODEPINK's Gail Murphy stated: "Although we voted on November 7th to stop the war, our elected officials are not listening, the president is certainly not listening, and so we need the pressure of the people to make sure that they hear our message." Sandra Lupien noted that the districts offices of Mike Honda and Doris Matsui (among others) in California. From CODEPINK:

Occupation Project In early February, the White House is exptected to submit a new supplemental spending bill to Congress, and CODEPINK has joined with Voices for Creative Nonviolence to launch Occupation Project, a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end war funding. As Kathy Kelly writes, "Now is the time for seriously strategizing about the best ways, in our hometowns, to engage in sustained civil disobedience at the offices of elected representatives, demanding that they vote against the supplemental spending bill..." See Monday, Feb 5 action photos at Senator McCain's office, and click here to learn more and join us.

amy goodmandemocracy now