BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- DC.
SECRETARY OF STATE AND ANGER CONDI RICE WARNED US, "HE IS IN A MOOD!"
AND BOY WAS HE.
TODAY BULLY BOY HAD TO GIVE A MEDAL OF HONOR TO AN ARMY HELICOPTER PILOT, LT. COL. BRUCE CRANDALL.
HE DIDN'T LIKE THE SPEECH THAT WAS WRITTEN FOR HIM: "THE SUFFERING AND GRIEF COULD HAVE BEEN FAR WORSE. ONE OF THE REASONS IT WAS NOT WAS BECAUSE OF THE MAN WE HONOR TODAY. FOR THE SOLDIERS RESCUED, FOR THE MEN THAT CAME HOME, FOR THE CHILDREN THEY HAD AND THE LIVES THEY MADE, AMERICA IS IN DEBT TO BRUCE CRANDALL."
COLLIE POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, ATTENDED THE CEREMONIES AND MADE CAT CALLS THROUGHOUT.
"WHAT WAR WAS THAT?"
AFTER POWELL SHOUTED THAT OUT FOR THE SIXTH TIME, A TICKED OFF BULLY BOY RESPONDED, "VIETNAM!"
SILENCE FOLLOWED AND BULLY BOY SEEMED TO RELAX.
THEN POWELL POPPED OFF ANOTHER, "AND WHERE WERE YOU?"
ANGRY, BULLY BOY STORMED OUT OF THE CEREMONY WHILE POWELL WAS SEEN CHUCKLING WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF EX-GENERALS.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Starting with the subject of war resisters. Agustin Aguayo was the topic today on KPFA's The Morning Show and Philip Maldari spoke with Jeff Englehart and Tom Cassidy of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Pointing to the common thread between Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson and Ehren Watada, Englehart observed: "These guys have basically opted not to go based on the illegality of the war and the criminality of it." They then addressed Aguayo's case specifically noting that he was "a medic who actually signed up to help people, not to take lives," that he refused to load his weapon while serving in Iraq (Cassidy: "I'd say that more than anything validates his conscientious objector status."), and how being in Germany added a physical distance (his wife Helga is attempting to raise money to travel to the court-martial). They discussed how the AWOL process varies from case to case (Cassidy: "It seems like no two AWOL cases are the same" Englehart: "Military justice is an oxymoron."), and how those serving on Aguayo's jury will be "guys who are lifers," "serious hardliners basically determining the fate of his life." The also addressed the war.
Engelhart: Jeff: Generally I kind of questioned the war from the very outset and I went into Iraq very skeptical. But it was while I was there I saw some things that really solidified in my mind what I would consider an anti-war sentiment. . . The most important thing I saw that really turned me against the war was the, uh, well two things really. A lot of the civilian deaths. Basically the way I saw a lot of the civilians deaths, and there were many, they were caused because of our complicit involvement in the occupation.
Maldari: . . . Complicity with who was killing whom and why?
Jeff: Well anytime you have an occupying force and the strongest military in the world occupying heavily populated urban areas, civilian deaths occur on any given second in response to small arms attacks from insurgents. We have to understand, we're using some of the most advanced weaponary in the world, like 50 caliber machine guns, . . . grenade launchers, you know, 500 lb bombs, 1000 lb bombs, depleted uranium, white phosphorus . . . All these things take into account. And you're dropping them essentially on civilian neighborhoods and you're using them in civilian neighborhoods. And a lot of those civilians deaths I saw were the result of sectarian differences basically what I viewed as our US forces pitting ethnic groups against each other to establish a subservient ethnicity to govern the Iraqis but a lot of those car bombs and suicide bombs that killed a lot of civilians was internal, it was in fact internal, but what I viewed as basically our own involvement was causing it. And a lot of times in any kind of urban strife just our own sheer power would destroy, you know, vast amounts of urban neighborhoods. And that's one thing I think we really lost the war in the fact that we lost the hearts and minds and you really can't win the hearts and minds with shock & awe.
Maldari: Well I interrupted you. You said you had a second reason as well.
Englehart: Just the dehumanization of Arab culture. As opposed to what the West would like to view the Arabs as backwards people who need our help. And . .. . Just scratch the surface of any kind of knowledge you would want to gain from the Arab world, you'd find that they are peaceful people, who are very intelligent and can govern themselves without any help.
Cassidy spoke of the derogatory words "used on a lot of official documents as a term to describe the Iraqi people which is sad because we had a civil rights movement like forty or fifty years ago and we still haven't gotten over just blatantly being racist to other cultures."
Elsa Rassbach (American Voices Abroad Military Projects) joined them in the last five minutes. And, FYI, re: Thomas Cassidy and Jeff Englehart. They have been speaking on campuses [AnnMarie Cornejo (San Luis Obispo Tribune) reported on a high school appearance last Thursday] and they and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are very interested in discussing their experiences. If you'd like to request a speaker, click here.
To clear up some confusion. Mark Wilkerson was sentenced to seven months as part of a plea agreement. Mark Wilkerson was also charged with being AWOL. Though he was not gone a full month (he was gone September 2nd through September 26th), Agustin Aguayo has been charged with desertion. Desertion charges come with longer potential sentences than do charges of AWOL. Aguayo is facing a maximum of seven years imprisonment if he is found guilty in the March 6th court-martial and if he receives the maximum sentence.
Maldari noted these upcoming events for Aguayo:
*6:30 War Memorial Building in San Francisco tonight. (401 Van Ness). This is a fundraising dinner.
*Tomorrow (Tuesday) 10 to noon City College of San Francisco Diego Rivera Theater, Ocean Campus, presentation of Iraq: The Case For Immediate Withdrawal and The Growing Military Resistance to the War.
* Saturday, in Oakland, 7pm to 2 am a party benefit that will include dee jays and performers (Taiko Ren, Qeen Deelah & Cov Records Artists, ICAF-Oakland, Zazous, Fuga, DJ Zahkee and Qbug.
For more information on the above, click here.
An article in Germany's Der Spiegel, by Mary Wiltenburg, mentions Aguayo but it is not about Aguayo. (About a fifth of the article covers Aguayo.) Wiltenburg looks at the growing resistance "[o]n military bases across Germany" and, noting there are "no guarantees," reports: In practice, many soldiers who go AWOL overseas follow the advice of the Army's deserter hotline and quietly turn themselves in to Ft. Sill or Ft. Knox. Ft. Knox spokeswoman Gini Sinclair says most of the 14,000-plus troops who have been processed through the two centers since the invasion of Aghanistan were discharged within two weeks." Wiltenburg speaks with Michael Sharp ("director of the Military Counseling Network, a non-profitogranisation near Heidelberg that helps American soldiers who are considering leaving the service") and reports: "Last month the group took on 30 new clients, three times its previous average."
Meanwhile, Carolyn Tate and Maizie Harris Jesse (Nevada Appeal) note: "Thirty-nine years ago in March, the horrible incident at Mai Lai in Vietnam occurred. When Lt. William Calley was court martialed, he insisted he was just following orders. Remarks were made at the time that he should have disobeyed and refused to kill civilians. Now they are trying to court martial Lt. Ehren Watada for refusing to deploy to Iraq. Lt. Watada has said he will go to Afghanistan and fight, but not Iraq, because he believes it to be an 'illegal' war (we agree). Double standard? Is it his Mai Lai? Or is he derelict for not following orders? Think about it."
Yesterday on The KPFA Evening News, Aaron Glantz reported on the army's decision to refile charges against Ehren Watada last Friday. Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, stated, "It is my professional opinion that Lt. Watada cannot be tried again because of the effects of double-jeopardy. . . . Once jeopardy has attached and it clearly did attach in this case when the jury panel was sworn in and when the first witness testified the protection against double-jeopardy applies as a Constitutional matter."
Jeff Paterson (Courage to Resist, Not In Our Name) told Glantz: "The military wanted to avoid showing to all the other people, all the other troops who are facing 2nd and 3rd and 4th deployments to Iraq is that if you don't go to Iraq and you speak out, you'll have a thousand people rally to your defense, pay all your legal bills, Sean Penn will hang out with you and [you will] go to prison for a few months or do you go to Iraq? And I think some people would go for that deal of the public support and spending a few months in prison instead of Iraq."
Glantz also noted that Mark Wilkerson was sentenced to seven months last Thursday and that he will be imprisoned until September (unless he is released early).(Glantz' report also aired on yesterday's Free Speech Radio News).
This month is an anniversary as well. First Coast News' Shannon Ogden noted: "This month is also the anniversary of Camilo Mejia's release from military prison." Mejia was released on February 15, 2005. Mejia self-checked out of the military after serving in Iraq and received a one-year sentence. Odgen spoke with Camilo Mejia who states, "You know, I couldn't really justify, I'd say, 90 percent of the things we did in Iraq." He also offers that "the entire invasion lacked authority . . . it was not in response to an attack on the US." Echoing the issue Tate and Harris Jesse raised above, Mejia noted, "In the military, we have a duty to refuse an order that we know is illegal." He also notes, "Absolutley. And I do feel like a coward but not for not going back but for going in the first place. Because I knew the war was wrong from the beginning." Odgen mentioned that Mejia will soon begin a lecture tour behind his upcoming autobiography. That book is Road from ar Ramadi: The Prviate Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia -- due out May 1st, from The New Press, with an afterword written by Chris Hedges.
Aguayo, Watada, Wilkerson and Mejia are part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Kyle Snyder, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard 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.
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