Friday, August 11, 2006

Punch Line Please





Currently, we do not have evidence that there was, as part of this plot, any plan to initiate activity inside the United States or that the plotting was done in the United States
-- Michael Chertoff, who looks a great deal like the chihuahua dog in the "You quiero Taco Bell" commercials


Recommended: "Iraq Snapshot"
"And the war drags on"
"NYT: The paper has at least one grown up still in Baghdad"
"Other Items"
"Nobody pushes Thomas Friedman around!""Not much due to Blogger/Blogspot""abeer's story was the story of the illegal occupation""Iraq & Ehren Watada"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Iraq & Ehren Watada

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Thursday, August 10, 2006. At least 35 die in a bombing, Ehren Watada supporters try to raise awareness of his upcoming Article 32 hearing, no one appears to be watching the American fatality count and a witness in the death of Jake Kovco tells the military inquiry, of his statement, "
That's the words that were already on the computer" -- not what he actually told investigators.
As all things media big and small go breathless and stupid over the fact that 4 captors or "captors" of Jill Carroll may or may not have been arrested (three of which would have been arrested back in May) reality's out there and two families in America probably won't be joining the blather.
Yesterday the American military announced that on Tuesday a "60 Blackhawk helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing" crashed. The crew numbered six. Four were found (injured). Two were missing.
As some blather on over (at best) a three month old bust, the US military sneaks out the whisper that the two missing are dead. As well as those two dead,
KUNA reports US army publicist Barry Johnson announced "three soldiers died in attacks in Al-Anabar." Of the three, Reuters reports they "were assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armoured Division". We're going to drop back to June 15, 2006 for a moment when the Pentagon announced that 2500 American troops had died in Iraq.
For over six weeks, as big media and indy media have provided their wall-to-wall, non-stop coverage of Israel's armed aggression, would you guess that the body count is up to
Let's repeat that. On June 15, 2006 the Pentagon announced 2500.
97 American troops have died since then -- and where is the coverage?
Big media, little media, do American news consumers grasp that since June 15, the number of US troops killed has risen by 97?
Starting with peace news, though many in the media continues to ignore
Camp Casey III, the Green Party has announced that "Greens Join Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey." Bill Holloway states: "We stand by Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace in calling for an immediate end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The Green Party has opposed the war from the beginning, before the invasion was launched."
In other peace news,
Karen Button ( interviews war resister Kyle Snyder who went on self-leave from the US army a year ago and is now in Canada. Snyder addresses his time in the military (including being prescribed Lorazipam and Paxyl for grief -- grandfather passed away, fiancee miscarried) and the 'reconstruction' he saw: "I was in Mosul. I was in Baghdad. I was in Stryker. I was in Scania. I was in Tikrit. . . Iraq is the size of Texas, it's a small country. People need to realise that. There were reconstructions of forward operating bases and military bases, but no city work being done. I mean, none of that. So, why are engineers there."
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. In exactly six days
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
Rod Ohira (Honolulu Advertiser) reports on the upcoming rallies and speaks with Michael McPhearson who speaks of the issue of consciousness being raised by Ehren Watada's actions: "That's the most dangerous to the pro-war people." Lester Chang (Kauai Garden Island News) reports that Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, will visit Kauai September 10th (5:30 pm, United Church of Christ in Hanapepe) to talk "to Kaua'i folks about my son's stand and issues that surround that particular stand, and why he thinks the way he does." On this visit and the actions taking place to support Ehren Watada, his attorney tells Chang: "It is important that public opinion supports Lt. Watada. I think it will have impact on how the case proceeds."
Turning to the violence and chaos in Iraq, we'll start with news of bombings.
Of the reported violence today, the one most covered is the one that
Elsa McLaren (Times of London) describes this way: "A suicide bomber has killed at least 35 people and wounded 90 near a sacred Shia shrine in the city of Najaf in southern Iraq today."
The explosion occurred,
BBC's Mike Wooldridge reports, as "the streets leading to the shrine were packed with pilgrims and shoppers in the middle of the morning". CBS and the AP quote a man injured during the explosion: "Before I reached the checkpoint, only a few (feet) from the shrine, I heard a huge explosion. Something hit me on the head and I fell. I couldn't hear for a while but I saw bodies and human flesh everywhere." Elsa McLaren (Times of London) reports: "Television footage of the devastation showed the body of a child being laid besides other bloodied corpses on a patch of ground beside a hospital. The dead were marked and numbered with white labels on their foreheads for identification." AFP notes: "The attacker detonated an explosives-packed vest at a police checkpoint in the historic city of Najaf, a short distance from the mausoleum of Imam Ali, one of the most revered figures of the Shiite faith, police said Thursday." Reuters reports: " Ambulances drove through the streets of Najaf appealing for blood donations as the scale of the carnage became clear."
Reuters notes that a roadside bomb in Hawija killed two police officers and left two more wounded. Reuters reports: "Six people were killed by a bomb in a restaurant in southern Baghdad". In Baghdad, three people died and at least five were wounded when mortar bomb landed on a restaurant (this is not the same incident as the bomb that killed six in southern Baghdad).
Reuters reports a police officer shot to death in Falluja, a civilian killed in Mosul and "Maad al-Saadoun, a brother of Sunni legislator Mudhhir al-Saadoun, was shot dead by gunmen in his car in the town of Muqdadiya". CBS and AP report four police officers were shot dead in Baghdad, AFP puts the number at seven (citing "security and medical sources")..
AP notes that five corpses were found today. From AFP: "Baghdad's main morgue last month handled the corpses of 1,850 people from its immediate region alone, most of them gunshot victims, Iraqi health ministry spokesman Qasim Yahia told AFP." Reuters notes: "The July morgue toll of 1,815 marked a big jump over the 1,595 in June and is the largest since the aftermath of the February bombing of the Shiite Golden Mosque of Samarra, which triggered an explosion of sectarian violence.:
On April 21st, Jake Kovco died in Baghdad. How he died is the main issue of an inquiry currently going in Australia. Other issues include why the death scene was cleaned up before investigators arrived, how a Bosnian carpenter was confused with Kovco and shipped to his grieving family in Australia (Shelley Kovco, widow and mother of their three children; parents Judy and Martin Kovco). Soldiers serving in Iraq have been brought before the hearing in person and via "video-link" testimony. Soldiers are identified not by name but given a number.
Yesterday, "Soldier 14" dropped a bombshell.
Peter Charlton (Courier-Mail) reports that the soldier "told the inquiry that a statement he made to military investigators was not accurate." The so-called buddy system policy (where they were paired up and responsible for checking each other's weapons to be sure they were unloaded at the end of their shift) doesn't appear to exist. Which is strange considering how much the hearing had previously heard of it. Tom Allard (Sydney Morning Herald) notes that Soldier 14 "is the second soldier in Iraq to say their statements were strongly guided by military police." Allard reports of Soldier 14's statements: "His testimony came as more irregularities about the investigation emerged, with the military failing to pass on to police in NSW a second weapon in the room when Private Kovco died from a gunshot wound to the head."
Dan Box (The Australian) reminds that "Military police investigators also failed to conduct any forensic tests, while the army's decision to clean the room in which Kovco died and the clothes his roommates were wearing meant potentially vital forensic evidence was lost." The AAP reports that Soldier 30 has spoken (via video-link) to the hearing ("Jake Kovco's commanding officer") and he is claiming that the orders not to preserve the death/crime scene came from him because he saw it as a way "to help boost the morale of his soldiers." Which is either the biggest lie or the most frightening thing about the hearing this week.
In America, the legal news is over Nathan Phan will face charges. As
reported by Josh White and Sonya Geis (Washington Post), Lt. Phan is rumored to soon be facing charges for an April 26th incident in Hamdaniyah where US Marines alleged "grabbed an Iraqi man from his home, bound his arms and legs and shot him in the face." Daniel Strumpf ( traces the other allegations against Kilo Company (Phan is "the commanding officer of the Camp Pendleton based 2nd Platoon of Kil Company in the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment") noting "seven Marines and a Navy corpsman . . . were charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, in connection with the April 26 death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad . . . in Hamdaniya"; and that "six Marines from Kilo Company, three of whom were already charged in Awad's death . . . were accused of assaulting three Iraqi men on April 10".
Finally, in election news,
Derrick DePledge (Honolulu Advertiser) reports that Dennis Kucinich (who came in second in ""Hawai'i presedential cacus two years ago") is in Hawaii to campaign for US senator Daniel Akaka. Next month, Akaka faces Ed Case in a primary race. Case doesn't support a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and though Case would no doubt call it a 'tremendous oversimplification,' he's a War Hawk. His motto "The Time is Now!" apparently refers to dragging the illegal war on: "The Time is Now to Continue The Illegal War!" Like a Little Joe Lieberman, Case flounders while Akaka makes Iraq a central campaign issue. Ad DePledge notes, Daniel Akak was one of thirteen senators on June 22nd willing to call for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by July 2007.

I told C.I. I was going to write about Ehren Watada and C.I. forwarded me an e-mail which I'll post in full after I'm done writing. It's about the ways you can support Ehren Watada and was sent out by Courage to Resist.

But let's talk first. Where is the coverage of Ehren Watada? You read the snapshot. His mother is working hard to get the word out. You know his father is from previous snapshots. Who in independent media is interviewing them? Who isn't?

Does press make a difference? Yes, it does. If you're not covered, your issue isn't known. In seven days, Ehren Watada faces an Article 32 hearing for refusing to ship over to the illegal war in Iraq. He's offered various other things. He'd be willing to go to Afghanistan (which isn't peaceful). He's offered to take forms of discipline. All the military wants is to send him to an illegal war. They don't want anyone telling them "no."

When we say "no" the war ends. So it's important to support Ehren with his "no." If you've ever protested or signed a petition or done anything to try to stop this illegal war, then you must believe that you can make a difference.

Ehren is saying "no." He can make a difference. He is making a difference but it will be a huge difference with quick impact if we show our support.

If we don't, he stands alone.

We have come together for rallies. We've shown our strength in many ways.

If we stand with Ehren, we make his "no" stronger.

If we don't stand with him, we not only fail him, we fail the effort to stop the war.

Think about all the men and women serving and realize that some have to feel like Ehren does. They may be thinking about taking their own stand. If they see Ehren standing alone after doing such a brave thing, they're not going to feel that support will be there for them.

Did you ever take a stand? If you did, think about that. Did other people support you on it?

In 3rd grade there was this kid Toby who had been left back twice and was a tall kid and pretty huge. He would boss everyone around. He'd tell you to get out of the sandbox and boys and girls would do it. He'd tell you, "Get out of that swing!" and kids would.

One day, I was in line on the slide. Toby comes up and goes, "Get out of my way." There were people behind me and I was about to get to climb the ladder to the top of the slide. People always got out of line when he'd do that.

It was a long line. I might just want to go down the slide for the whole recess and try nothing else and would only get two turns because the line was so long.

So when he came up to me and said that, I didn't want to get out of line.

I was a lot smaller than Toby, a lot smaller. He was probably a foot or more taller than me.

But I'd been waiting to go down the slide and I didn't feel like giving that up because some bully wanted his way.

So I said "no."

He got in my face and snarled, "What did you say?"

He had to lean in and bend because he was so much taller. I remember his breath was like sour milk and he looked mad.

I just repeated "no." The kids were all talking about it in line and people were coming over to see what was going on.

"Get out of line!"

I told him to go to the end of the line because I'd been waiting and so had other kids.

One kid piped up (he became my best friend in school) saying, "Yeah, go to the end of the line."

All it took was one other kid. Suddenly everyone in line was chanting, "Go to the end of the line!"

Now I took my mini-playground stand and didn't know how it would turn out. It worked. He went to the end of the line. But even if he'd punched my lights out, it still would have been worth it because it was something to see everybody on the playground start chanting that. It went from my future best friend to everyone in line and then all the kids on the playground.

It was powerful for playground moments.

If we could do something like that with Ehren Watada, just stand with him saying "no" -- it would make such a huge difference.

So, if you ever took a stand, think about it. Did you get support? If you didn't, realize how lonely you probably felt. If you got support, remember how good that felt.

Ehren said no to fighting in an illegal war because he knows it's illegal. Now the Tobys want to come up and say, "You'll do what I say!" We can stand up because it's not just about Ehren. It's about all of us saying no to the war.

Here's a copy and paste of the forwarded e-mail:

Help support Lt. Watada during his pre-trial hearing
Be part of the Aug. 16 "National Day of Education" (& action)!

On August 17, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada will face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq. “It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. The war and what we’re doing over there is illegal,” explained the first military officer to publicly take such a stand.
The Friends & Family of Lt. Watada call for a National Day of Education to pose the question, “Is the war illegal?” This day can also serve to anchor a “week of outreach” leading up to the pre-trial hearing.
Teach-in's, house parties & outreach
On Wednesday, August 16 – the day prior to Lt. Watada’s pretrial court hearing – we are asking friends to organize house parties or larger public gatherings to look at the facts. This could be as simple as hosting a potluck, showing a video and sending around a petition and a collection for Lt. Watada’s legal defense fund.
A few examples
Fort Lewis, WashingtonOn Aug. 16, at the Interstate 5, Exit 119 Bridge at the entrance to Fort Lewis supporters will gather beginning at 4 PM with a 6 PM rally. Seattle’s local Support Lt. Watada Committee is helping to organize carpools. For carpool information, or to hook up the Seattle committee contact Cindy Sousa at 206.734.5040.
Lancaster, PennsylvaniaPresident Bush will visit the Eden Host Resort in Lancaster on Aug. 16th for a political fundraiser. The
Lancaster Coalition for Peace and Justice will host a peaceful demonstration outside of the Eden beginning at 5:30 PM to protest illegal war and to support Lt. Watada.
Los Angeles, California
Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress and the Asian-American Vietnam Vets Organization is holding a press conference to express support for Lt. Watada. Speakers will include Vietnam War veterans, local religious leaders, and a WWII Japanese-American draft resister. Aug. 16, 9:30 AM at the JACCC plaza in Little Tokyo.
Let us know what you’re planning!Please use visit and select Contact Us (Subject: "Other") to tell us about your upcoming event in support of the National Day of Education.
Order or download materials
Check out for videos of Lt. Watada’s statements, flyers, petitions to gather signatures, resource lists and information packets. Click on Resource Toolkit for additional materials.
Order t-shirts, posters, stickers, buttons, postcards, and info cards in time for the Aug. 16 National Day of Education. Order today to ensure you get your stuff by next Wednesday! All orders placed by Thursday morning, August 10 will ship that afternoon. All orders include free shipping, and orders of $20 or more ship 2-3 day USPS Priority Mail.
We also suggest showing a film like “Sir! No Sir!”, Voices of Patriots, or Why We Fight (available via Netflix and Blockbuster).
Help Lt. Ehren Watada put the war on trial!
Your donation toward Lt. Watada's defense is urgently needed.
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It's still all about Joe













Recoommended: "Iraq Snapshot"
"Time is full of changes, Joe, and you've got to go, Goodbye Joe"
"NYT: It takes a paper of Hazels to clean up the crimes against Abeer"
"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts The 'Strategy'"
"raped and murdered, 14 year old abeer can't defend herself, who's going to step up to the plate?"
"Death and destruction continues in Iraq even if silly fools don't cover it"
"Lamont wins, Loser-man loses"
"'A look at US media coverage of Iraq' on Weds. KPFA's The Morning Show"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lamont wins, Loser-man loses

The good and the bad news.

Good? Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary.

Bad? He's going to run as an independent.

I thought "We're supposed to support the party!" Isn't that the nonsense given for Bob Casey Junior? Joe Lieberman, today and every other, supports Joe Lieberman. Congrats to Fly Boy who cut short his honeymoon to get back in time to vote. (He told me on the phone that Rebecca "makes me political." I can see that. She's a strong woman. He's a lucky man.)

Really bad news? Cynthia McKinney lost the run off. I'm depressed about that and I don't even live in Georgia. I know Betty's probably taking it hard but remember they ran her off once and she came back. She's a fighter.

So is Rebecca and she's back blogging at her site Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Make sure to read her post tonight. It's late and I stayed up to find out the results on Lamont and McKinney's races.

Hope you're following Iraq. Know it's hard to when the media has lost all interest. A lot happened today and you can read about it below.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Tuesday, August 8, 2006. Bombings, a bank robery . . . all part of what the
AFP term "Bloody Day in Baghdad." And while people continue to dicker in the United States with games of "Is it or isn't it a civil war," Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) reports on Iraqi politicians who "way that the country is in civil war already." This as the so-called 'crackdown' (in beefed up form) appears to . . . crack apart.
Strongest dose of
reality comes from Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch): "The vast city of seven million people, almost the size of London, is breaking up into a dozen cities, each one of which is becoming a heavily armed Shia or Sunni stronghold. Every morning brings its terrible harvest of bodies. Many lie in the streets for hours, bloating in the 120F heat, while others are found floating in the Tigris river."
In the captial,
ITV notes "three near-simulaneous bomb explosins near the Interior Ministry building." Police officer Bilal Ali Majid tells the AP that at least 10 are dead and at least 8 wounded from the three bombs. Al Jazeera puts the toll at nine and notes "[t]wo roadside bombs exploded in the main Shurja market in central Bagdad within minutes of each other, killing 10 civilians and injuring 50". CBS and AP place the death toll at 10 for each bombing (20 total). AFP notes that ths market blast "set fire to several shops."
This is the AP in case anyone's confused (some early reports lumped the two attacks together): "Three bombs exploded simultaneously near the Interior Ministry buildings in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said. A couple of hours later, two roadside bombs ripped through the main Shurja market, also in central Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and wounding 50, police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun said."
Reuters notes a police officer was wounded by a roadside bomb "in the eastern Zayouna district of Baghdad"; in Iskandariya, two people were wounded by a roadside bomb; and, in Tikrit, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb (eight people wounded "including a child").
Reuters notes two civilians were shot to death in Rashad, "a police lieutenant colonel" was shot dead in Falluja (his brother was wounded), and two were shot dead in Mosul.
CNN reports that, in Muqdadiya, three people were shot dead (including a teacher) and that drive-by shootings claimed two lives in Baquba. AP notes "two Sunni brothers . . . slain in their car repair shop in southwestern Baghdad:.
In addition to the above, the
BBC notes the death of "three security guards and two bank officials" during a bank robbery in Baghdad today. AFP notes that the robbery of the al-Rasheed Bank utilized three cars and that the interior ministry is saying it only netted "seven million dinars (less than $5,000)". The AP states it was two cars.
CBS and AP note the discovery of nine "bullet-riddled" corpses in Kut. AFP notes that at least seven were "Iraqi border guards." Reuters notes that seven corpses were found "south of Baghdad" and that they were "wearing military uniforms". And the AP notes two corpses found in Baghdad ("shot in the head").
In addition, the
BBC reports: "Also on Tuesday, a US soldier died of wounds sustained in fighting, the US military said"; while CBS and AP report: "Two Iraqi journalists were killed in separate incidents in Baghdad, police said Tuesday. Mohammed Abbas Hamad, 28, a journalist for the Shiite-owned newspaper Al-Bayinnah Al-Jadida, was shot by gunmen at he left his home Monday in western Baghdad, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said. Late Monday, police found the bullet-riddled body of freelance journalist Ismail Amin Ali, 30, about a half mile from where he was abducted two weeks ago in northeast Baghdad, Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said. The body showed sign of torture, he added." The AP reminds that the two are "among more than 100 Iraqi and foreign media workers slain here since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003."
Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) notes that Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and puppet of the occupation) no longer pushes the "reconcilation project" and that Abdullah Aliawayi (Iraqi parliamentary member) describes it as "failed." Nouri al-Maliki's criticism of the "U.S.-Iraqi attack on Mahdi Army's stronghold in Baghdad's Sadr City" continues. Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) writes of the attack: "Families sleeping on rooftops to escape the summer heat were startled early Monday by helicoprters and gunfire" and that the action "killed three people, destroyed three homes and sent families scurrying for cover." (For those who wonder about the heat, a friend says it is 110 degrees in Baghdad right now). As AFP noted yesterday: "An AFP journalist in Sadr City reported that the raid on the area, a stronghold of the firebrand cleric, was accompanied by air strikes." Today AFP notes: "Coalition aircraft were called into action after the Iraqi army snatch squad came under fire, and at least three civilians were killed." Coalition aircraft would most likely mean US military aircraft. Elsa McLaren (Times of London) notes Times' colleague James Hider's observation that "This security plan is basically the last chance to save the country from civil war. It seems like he [al-Maliki] is trying to distance himself. There is a very fine line between sending your troops out to attack militia that are linked to a government party." Hider himself writes that "a clear rift" has opened between puppet al-Maliki "and the American military" which leads to "doubts about whether the security forces would have the political backing required to tackle powerful militias beholden to parties in the governing coalition."
In Baghdad, the trial into the murder of
Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members continue (as well as into the alleged rape of Abeer). This is the case that yesterday, as Reuters notes: "A US military court heard graphic testimony about how US soldiers took turns to hold down and rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murderer her and her family." Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that the attornies for the four troops currently serving (James Barker, Paul E. Cortez, Jesse V. Spielman and Bryan L. Howard; Steven D. Green is no longer in the military) accused of rape, murder and arson are calling for "a new hearing, accusing Yrbie's counsel of deliberately asking incriminating questions. A ruling was expected later in the day." Anthony Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for alleged failure to report the incident, he is not accused of rape, murder or arson. Also, CNN reports that a witness testified of "colleagues who drank whiskey and cough syrup and swallowed painkillers to cope with their jobs." The witness, Justin Cross, was asked if Steven D. Green could have done the crimes by himself and Cross responded, "Green does nothing by himself."
In the United States, peace activist Cindy Sheehan and others continue their protests in Crawford, TX.
Sheehan is quoted as saying of the Bully Boy, "He can shorten his vacations or not show up at all, but he's not hiding from the truth." Camp Casey III is up and going again this summer. Writing of Sheehan and the first Camp Casey last year, Tom Hayden noted: "Cindy Sheehan inhabits an alternative world of meaning that more Americans need to experience before this war can end. She represents the survivors' need to define a meaning in her son's death -- and her life -- that is counter to the meaning offered by President Bush. That is why she refuses any condolences, and why she continues to ask the President what was the 'noble purpose' for which Casey Sheehan died."
an interview with Dan Bacher (Toward Freedom), Sheehan spoke of the Troops Home Fast action and noted, "We hope the fast will galvanize public attention, invigorate the peace movement, build pressure on elected officials, and get our troops back home." Troops Home Fast continues with at least 4,549 people taking part today from around the world.
In other peace news,
Edwin Tanji (The Maui News) reports that Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, is getting the word out on his son (first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq) and will appear at Maui Bookseller (Wailuku) today at four p.m. as well as on the TV program Crossroads tonight at 7:00 p.m. Maui Democratic Party leader Lance Holter says of Ehren Watada: "I'm awe-struck by this man's bravery. He has taken on the entire American military machine and standing up for principles of honor and justice and American patriotism. There is no more patriotic man than this person."
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
In Australia,
AAP reports "Soldier 14" will be the next to testify into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad. In addition to Soldier 14 testifying in person, AAP reports: "The inquiry is also this week expected to hear more evidence about the bungled repatriation of Pte Kovco's body from witnesses appearing on a video link from the Middle East." Last week, one of Kovco's former roommates testified that the repatriation was contracted out and done on the cheap, tying that into the mix up that led to the body of Bosnian capenter Juso Sinanovic being sent to Australia instead of Jake Kovco. Those remembering how the scene of Jake Kovco's death was cleaned up before the investigation into what happened began won't be surprised by Ian McPhedran (Australia's Courier-Mail) report that it's happened again -- in this instance David Nary ("father-of-five SAS Warrant Officer") died in Kuwait last November and the military board's finding include "criticism for the lack of procedures to preserve an incident site."
In election news in the United States, as Ned Lamont challenges Joe Lieberman (polls close at 8:00 pm EST) for the Senate seat currently occupied by Lieberman, commentators sees the race as a sign post.
Stephen Schlesinger (Huffington Post) draws comparison to Eugene McCarthy and LBJ in 1968 and offers that: "A Lamont triumph or near success will make (and is already making) Democrats like Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden shift progressively more in favor of withdrawal from Iraq and is certainly going to alter the entire spectrum of political views over the issue of Iraq, not only for Democrats, but for Republicans, too. In short, this is likely to be the turning point". Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) takes a look at Lieberman's "strategy" noting: "Anxious to move Iraq to the backburner, Lieberma dug deep into his long history in the Senate to find a reason why Connecticut voters shouldn't send him packing tomorrow. The biggest selling point he came up with? 'I don't hate Republicans,' he said while arguing that he wasn't President Bush's 'best friend and enabler.' Talking points for the ages."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cindy Sheehan and Camp Casey

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Monday, August 7, 2006 -- even if the "world's eyes" (media) elect to focus elsewhere.
While the failed "crackdown" attempts to beef up Baghdad and
George Casey ("Top U.S. commander in Iraq") holds a press conference to proclaim the military equivalent of "Check's in the mail!" (Casey claims things will be okey-dokey by the end of September) reality suggests otherwise with the AFP reports at least 26 Iraqis dead on Monday and BBC correspondent Paul Wood noting "of John Abizaid ("head of US Central Command") "that this is the first time the generals are talking openly about the possibility of a civil war." And more details emerge into the death of Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family as a US military investigator testifies before the Article 32 hearing.
Before turning to today's violence, we'll note the latest peace news.
On Sunday, Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas for Camp Casey III. Last summer, the first Camp Casey's were set up to honor her son Casey Sheehan who died April 4, 2004 as well as the other lost lives of this illegal war.
W. Leon Smith (Lonestar Iconoclast) reports on (and from) the new location for Camp Casey (several acres owned by Sheehan) and notes Sheehan's belief that the new location "will be safer than where we were before, and we won't be in the way as much as we were before. We are good neighbors. . . . If they can't put up with our presence for a few weeks, when our soldiers and the people of Iraq are suffering constantly because of what our other neighbor George Bush did, then I think they need to learn to relax a little bit and learn to live with us because, I promise you, I love Crawford and we will be good neighbors."
As The Lonestar Iconclast notes "
Bush Is Back . . . But So Is Sheehan" which reports this is Bully Buy's "59th" trip to the ranch and that "[a]s of Saturday, he had spent all or part of 384 days (more than a year of his presidency) in the area, which has drawn considerable criticism among those who believe that presidential vacations should be limited, especially when catastrophes abound throught the world."
This August, Bully Boy cuts his vacation short because he's a "
Bully on the Run" ("Bully on the Run") with Sheehan back in Crawford. Angela K. Brown (AP) reports that, on Sunday, "Sheehan and more than 50 demonstrators again marched a mile and a half toward Bush's ranch, stopping at a roadblock" and that the activists began a chant of "This is what democracy looks like! This is what democracy sounds like!"
As the
AFP notes, Cindy Sheehan's return to Camp Crawford follows her trip to Jordan with other activists (including Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson and others) where ""We met with Iraqi parliamentarians, elected officials, who have peace plans and goals that they want to accomplish in Iraq, and all of them said the occupation is the cause of the problem and the occupation has to end."
For the Bully Boy, the only thing ending is his retreat to Crawford since he will now spend precious few days at his ranchette but
will weekend in Maine this month and hang out at Camp David. Clayton Hallmark (North Texas Indymedia) reports on the Bully Boy's ranchette, which used to be a hog farm (and still house a pig -- at least during vacations), noting that "[t]he new main house is built like a motel but with porch on the back instead of the front"; that the "style is that of an office factory" and that it "was built by a religious commune from nearby Elm Mott, TX (the FBI-decimated Branch Davidians were from Elk, also nearby), out of yellow-beige native limestone".
While Bully Boy is planning on pulling a disappearance stunt (shades of his releationship with the National Guard),
Richard Benedetto (USA Today) reports that Sheehan intends to stay in Crawford until September 3rd.
When Sheehan returned to Camp Casey, others on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan are hoping to arrive in Lebanon today -- those include Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright. Australia's Sunday Times reports:
"Medea said the group wanted to press congress, ahead of November elections, to support calls for 'a fixed timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and a commitment not to have permanent US bases in Iraq'." (
Marjorie Cohn noted on WBAI's Law and Disorder this morning that "we are now building six to fourteen permanent military bases" in Iraq.)
Jodie Evans reports on the first meeting in Jordan and notes some of the statements made by Iraqis including: "We witnessed with our own experience how American tanks used to break Universities and asked people to loot them. These people who started looting in the beginning were not from Iraq but other countries, Kuwait was involved." CODEPINK's Evans also notes the large number of Iraqis fleeing their country as the illegal war wages on and estimates that the city of Amman contains "about 500,000 Iraqis seeking safe harbor." Along with Evans, Hayden, Wright, Wilson and Benjamin, others on the trip to Jordan were: Dal LaMagna, Franciscan priest Louie Vitale, Gael Murphy, Jeeni Criscenzo, Raed Jarrar, Geoffrey Millard and Barbara Briggs-Letson.
The meeting in Amman is thought to have come about from the
Troops Home Fast actions. The fast continues and it is on day 35 with 4,549 people from around the world participating. The action started July 4th and continues through September 21st. If you're interested in participating, it is an ongoing fast and you can join at any time for a one-day strike, a one-day-a-week strike, or whatever works best for you. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Rawya Rageh (AP) reports on a "suicide truck bomber" in Samarra whose actions have resulted in the death of nine Iraqi troops as well as ten civilians wounded. CBS and AP report two bombs in Baghdad, on Palestine Street ("major shopping area of Baghdad"), resulted in ten people being injured. Reuters reports a roadside bomb near Khalis killed four civilians and wounded at least seven; a bomb in Khan Bani Saad killed two (police officer and a civilians) and left seven more wounded; and, in Faulluja, a roadside bomb claimed the lives of six civilians leaving two more wounded.
Reuters reports that an attack by armed assailants in Baquba resulted in the death of six Iraqi soldiers and fifteen more wounded. The Associated Press notes fighting going on in Iraq, cites Col. Hassan Chaloub (police chief of Sadr City -- a district in Baghdad) noting that three people have died "including a woman and a 3-year-old girl" while "three cars and three houses also were destroyed."
AP also notes that two cars did a drive-by aimed at a barbershop in Baghdad and resulting in the death of "the owner and four customers"; while in Mosul, two police officers in a taxi were shot to death.
I believe the above incidents add up to 35 reported dead in Iraq (and that's not touching on US military claims of "insurgents" killed). Corpses?
AP notes that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("hancuffed . . . shot in the head").
From corpses to courts . . . New reports are coming out of the military inquiry into the death and alleged rape of
Abeer Qasim Hamza, the fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl who was killed along with three family members reported by US troops. Reuters reports that the "U.S. military court heard graphic testimony on Monday on how U.S. soldiers took turns holding down and raping" Abeer Sasim Hamza. Elsa McLaren "and agencies" (Times of London) reports that Benjamin Bierce testified on what James Barker told him when he (Bierce) began investigating the incident: " Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl, but said he was not sure if he had done so, Special Agent Bierce told the hearing." After this, Bierce testifies, Steven Green came into the room "put down an AK-47 assault rifle and raped the girl while Cortez held her down". CBS and AP report that: "U.S. soldiers accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in the town of Mahmoudiya last March drank alcohol and hit golf balls before the attack, and one of them grilled chicken wings afterward, an investigator told a U.S. military hearing Monday, citing a soldier's sworn statement."
In peace news,
Caroline Aoygi-Stom (New America Media) notes that the national JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) has taken a non-stand on Ehren Watada (sitting out another issue they could be impacting) despite the fact that "the Honolulu JACL has come out in full support of Watada, backing his decision to refuse deployment to Iraq." Watada is the first commissioned US officer known to have refused deployment in Iraq. Aoygi-Stom notes the latter's statement: "'The JACL Hawai'i, Honolulu chapter supports Lt. Ehren Watada's thoughtful and deliberate act of conscience. We believe Lt. Watada's refusal to participate in a war that violates the U.S. Constitution and international law is a principled act of patriotism,' the chapter said in their statement. 'We believe a staunch defense of the Constitution is in keeping with JACL Hawai'i's primary mission of protecting the civil and human rights of all'."
To read the national JACL's statement you
can click here (PDF format).
Remember that
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
Meredith May (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the war resistance movement and notes that attorneys in "Toronto and Vancouver . . . compared numbers" and estimate they've advised 200 Americans soldiers who've gone AWOL. War resister Brandon Hughey is quoted saying: "I've always believed if you need to defend yourself or your family from killing, then killing could be justified, but I can't kill someone without a good reason." May also speaks to Patrick Hart, Ryan Johnson, Darryl Anderson and others and May's report is also available as a podcast.

I paired "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Bully Boy on the Run'" with the snapshot and credit to Wally for his "TROOPS CAN'T LEAVE IRAQ BUT BULLY BOY CAN RUN FROM CRAWFORD!" which gave me the idea. Do you get what's going on? You got a "Bully on the Run," a "Bully Boy on the run but the press is too busy playing Red Cross" ton note it. So Cindy Sheehan starts up Camp Casey III and Bully Boy goes on the run while the press goes AWOL.
There's only one story in the world, according to the press, and it's what Israel's doing in Lebanon and Gaza.

Cindy Sheehan reached me last summer, she reached a lot of people. But there's no time for her this year. Bully Boy and the press ignored her. That's especially sad if you grasp who I mean: the independent media. There's been more mainstream coverage of Camp Casey III than independent media coverage.

In "And the war drags on," C.I. mentioned that some had e-mailed that they'd seen Cindy Sheehan on their local news. I'm far from Texas and I got a report on it. I think most of us probably did. We saw Cindy speaking, we saw the campground and we probably all some speaking in favor of Cindy and some speaking against her. On the mainstream. On local news.
But independent media doesn't even care about it.

Camp Casey has started back up. Just because others treat it as a non story doesn't mean you should. Be glad that the mainstream media is covering it somewhat because we're getting zilch from the independent media.