BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- DC.
WITH FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC PRESS A GA-GA OVER ENGLAND'S PRINCE HARRY DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ AND WITH HARRY SAYING HE WANTED TO SERVE, THESE REPORTERS THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO CHECK IN WITH FIRST DAUGHTERS JENNA AND BARBARA.
AFTER FAILING TO FIND GIN AND TONICA BUSH IN ANY OF D.C.'S BEST KNOWN DIVES, THESE REPORTERS FINALLY STUMBLED UPON THE TWINS IN THE PARKING LOT OF A DENNY'S WHERE THEY WERE MIXING THEIR OWN BRAND OF SANGRIA FROM BOONES FARM AND BRASS MONKEY.
"WE LIKE TO START OUT SLOW," EXPLAINED BARBARA.
"US GO TO IRAQ?" JENNA ASKED WHILE LIGHTING A CIGARETTE. "NO, WE'RE THOSE OTHER THINGS."
"NO," JENNA SAID WAVING HER CIGARETTE, "THAT TAKES TOO MUCH WORK. WE'RE DADDY'S GIRLS! JUST LIKE OUR DADDY!"
"JUST LIKE OUR DADDY!" AGREED BARBARA.
"OUR DADDY KEEPS US OUT OF THIS WAR AND HIS DADDY KEPT HIM OUT OF VIETNAM. DADDY'S GIRLS DO NOT SERVE!" JENNA EXCLAIMED RIPPING OFF HER TOP WITH A YEE-HAW.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Turning to the United States, war resister Mark Wilkerson's court-martial took place todayat Fort Hood in Texas. Shelton Green (Austin's KVUE) reports that Wilkerson spent his last night with his wife and family. Thursday, August 31st, Wilkerson spoke at Camp Casey III -- a press conference -- where he announced his intent to turn himself in after having self-checked out a year and a half ago. Angela K. Brown (AP) reported, "Wilkerson said his views of the war changed and he realized he could no longer stay in the military, so he applied for conscientious objector status. But his request was denied a month before his unit was to return to Iraq. He said he was told his appeal would not be considered until after he came back. So Wilkerson then decided not to return from the two weeks of approved leave before the January 2005 deployment."
Also on August 31st, As Mark Wilkerson was interviewed by Dennis Bernstein for KPFA's Flashpoints, discussing the expected charge of desertion, a charge that, if found guilty of, people have been executed for. Wilkerson discussed serving in Iraq and how his views changed from those he'd held at 17-years-old. He attempted to receive c.o. status but his was denied. He attempted to prepare for the rebuttal process but was informed he'd be redeploying to Iraq and any rebuttal would have to wait until his second deployment ended.
Wilkerson, in that interview, emphasized how difficult it could be to have access to news becuase not everyone has internet access and, for many, Stars & Stripes is basically it. Bernstein asked him if he regretted his decision to self-check out? Wilkerson responded, "I completely stand by my decision. For me, this was a time in my life when I decided I had to make a stand regardless of whether [it meant] prison or death".
Wilkerson wrote (last October): "Before I deployed to Iraq during OIF1, I was full of optimism for what we could do to help the people of Iraq. One of our missions, after all, was to 'win the hearts and the minds of the Iraqi people.' And in this reagard, we have failed miserably. In the year I was in Iraq, I saw kids waving American flags in the first month. Then they threw rocks. Then they planeted IEDs. Then they blew themselves and others up in city squares full of people. The only conclusion I can come up with as to why this has happened is the way the American troops have treated the Iraqi people as a whole. From random raids of whole city blocks, to checkpoints that interrupted the daily lives of the Iraqis, to incidents of torture and even massacres, a majority of Iraqis now feel as that the American soliders, once hailed as heroes and saviors, are now seen as conquerors. Civil was has erupted in the streets, and Americans are caught in the crossfire."
Earlier this month, Dick Foster (Rocky Mountain News) reported on the plea agreement that had been reached which would guarantee no "more than 10 months in prison. But he also faces a possible dishorable or bad conduct discharge and a felony conviction on his record."
Today, Wilkerson had to enter his plea and later face sentencing. Jim Bergramo (KVUE) reports: "The military judge, who is hearing the case, accepted Wilkerson's guilty plea. Wiklerson told the judge he quit the Army and made his decision with a clear mind. He also said he planned to leave his unit, and changed his address, phone number and email address so no one in his unit could find him." Angela K. Brown (AP) reports that the prosecution called no witnesses but Wilkerson's relatives "testified on his behalf . . . and more witnesses were expected later in the afternoon at the sentecing." Jim Bergamo (KVUE) quotes Iraq Veterans Against the War Kelly Dougherty stating: "For those in the military who see the war in Iraq as immoral and wrong, I think it takes a lot of courage . . . because this is not what they signed up for. The military stresses that when you're given an illegal order, it's your duty to refuse it, so I think they see it as their duty to refuse it." [Sentenced to 7 months. See last sentence in snapshot.]
War resister Agustin Aguayo faces a court-martail on March 6th in Germany. Ehren Watada is someone the US military would love to court-martial again; however, the double-jeopardy clause may prevent that. Iraq Veterans Against the War's Ryan Elsey writes (Foreign Policy in Focus) that "Lt. Watada's lawyer is hoping to invoke the principle of double jeopardy to argue that a second trial cannot lawfully take place. Just as many members of Iraq Veterans Against the War stood by Lt. Watada as he spoke before the Veterans for Peace convention, the organization stands by him now. Even though everyone in uniform is a volunteer, it is absurd to think that a contract can relinquish a human being of the responsibility to act in a just way. It is equally abominable to claim that service members should lack the right to free speech. Those who give up so much--time, energy, blood, sweat, and even their lives--to serve deserve the right to free speech more than anyone; service members have clearly given the most to earn free speech. Service members of all ranks have the right to contribute to the public debate on any war and to provide a tempering voice when issues of war are discussed. They have perspectives that are vastly more valuable than armchair punditry. And when they are ordered to carry out unjust acts and fight in immoral wars, if they choose to resist, they at the very least have the right to a fair defense. Yet, the Army is still attempting to prosecute Lt. Watada for speaking out about the Iraq War and for refusing orders. The silent majority of Americans opposed to the Iraq War must stand up and support Lt. Watada. Now is the time to praise the war's objectors as equally as we have praised the heroes who have fought and died. If we all had Lt. Watada's courage, we could finally facilitate an end to this war and steer our country toward a foreign policy based on cooperation, diplomacy, and a respect for international law."
Meanwhile, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, doesn't expect a court-martial to even be possible before summer due to scheduling issues and that the military hasn't even refiled the charges for the March 19th date that Judge Toilet (John Head) was tossing around when he declared a mistrial.
Wilkerson, Aguayo and Watada are a 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, Camilo Meija, 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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