Saturday, October 06, 2007

Condi Rice, come on down!

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- DC.

HENRY WAXMAN, CHAIR OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT, BELIEVES THE PEN IS MIGHTER THAN THE SWORD. HE ALSO BELIEVES THE PEN IS THE ONLY TOOL AVAILABLE.

AFTER WEEKS AND WEEKS OF HAVING HIS LEGAL REQUESTS FOR DOCUMENTATION IGNORED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE AND ANGER CONDI RICE, AND WITH THE NEWS THAT THE BLACKWATER MERCENARY WHO SHOT DEAD A BODYGUARD OF IRAQ'S VICE PRESIDENT WAS NOT ONLY WHISKED OUT OF IRAQ BY BLACKWATER AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT BUT WAS ALSO BACK IN IRAQ WEEKS LATER WORKING FOR ANOTHER U.S. CONTRACTOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SUPERVISING, WAXMAN HAS PENNED YET ANOTHER LETTER TO CONDI AND WARNED OF A LOOMING SHOWDOWN.

REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, SECRETARY RICE RESPONDED, "HE'S THREATENING A SHOWDOWN? WELL BRING IT ON! I ALWAYS LOVED THE PRICE IS RIGHT AND MY FAVORITE PART WAS THE SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN!"

REPRESENTATIVE WAXMAN'S OFFICE ADVISED THESE REPORTERS THAT WAXMAN WAS "COMPOSING HIS RESPONSE."

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday. And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio. Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday." Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case. Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial." AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis." Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."

In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week. Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attemptedto enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was. He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say. They just started stuttering and mumbling." Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver. As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet". McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions. Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television. McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters. Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt. Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system. Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.

Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman. Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations. His command violated many. The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience. Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection. What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice. This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching. It is not dramatic. There is no epiphany. There is reality. Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another. No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations." Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman. The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual. (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial. In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.) Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up. Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story. Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year. The other three are Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything. The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
compelling Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006. In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that." Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen. Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal. In a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . . Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008." Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies. The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US." In addition, this week Canada refused entry to CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list. And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.



RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Other Items"
"Targeting officials, Blackwater"
"And the war drags on . . ."
"Betinna's new B.F.F."
"Liver and Onions in the Kitchen"
"past time to impeach"
"the alberto gonzales show is back on the fall lineup"
"No, it can't wait"
"Susan Faludi, Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez"
"Jeff Cohen, Helen Thomas, Dennis Kucinich"
"Lee Sustar, Bill Richardson"
"Dave Lindorff, Bill Richardson, cholera"
"THIS JUST IN! COWARD DEAN SPITS ON FLORIDA!"
"DNC Chair Coward Dean drives away Florida"

Thursday, October 04, 2007

DNC Chair Coward Dean drives away Florida

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- DC.

THE STATE OF FLORIDA HAD THE GUTS TO SAY "ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE" DOES NOT MEAN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE GET TO GO FIRST EVERY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. THE STATE OF FLORIDA MOVED UP THEIR PRIMARY AND HOWARD DEAN WHO LOST HIS VOICE, HIS SPINE AND HIS COMMON SENSE DECIDED THAT SINCE HE SOLD OUT EVERY DAMN SUPPORTER HE HAD IN 2004 WHEN HE CAMPAIGNED FOR PRESIDENT, SINCE HE WAS TOO MUCH OF A DAMN COWARD TO CALL FOR AN END TO THE ILLEGAL WAR TODAY, THE BEST THING TO DO WAS TO TRY TO PENALIZE FLORIDA BY STRIPPING THEM OF THEIR RIGHTS BY BARRING THE 210 FLORIDA DELEGATES FROM THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION NEXT YEAR.

EACH PRESIDENTIAL CYCLE, NEW HAMSPHIRE AND IOWA GET TO KICK THINGS OFF DESPITE THE WIDE SPREAD FRAUD IN IOWA AND DESPITE THAT THE UNION CONTAINS 50 STATES AND NOT 2. THE PREDOMINATELY WHITE STATES OF NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IOWA DO NOT REFLECT THE FABRIC OF THE NATION AND POSSIBLY THAT'S WHY DEMOCRATS REPEATEDLY LOSE ELECTIONS -- 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 AND 2004?

EACH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE GET TO MEET ALL THE CANDIDATES FACE TO FACE. THEY GET TO TALK TO THEM IN SMALL SETTINGS. BY THE TIME THE PRIMARIES ROLL AROUND FOR THE REST OF THE STATES, MOST RESIDENTS ARE "LUCKY" IF THEY SEE A TELEVISION COMMERCIAL.

LIAR DEAN, COWARD DEAN, HOWARD ONCE AGAINST THE ILLEGAL WAR DEAN BECAME THE CHAIR OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY WITH THE MOTTO TO CAMPAIGN IN EVERY STATE. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FIRST PRIMARIES ALWAYS GO TO IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE.

LONG AGO, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SHOULD HAVE BEGUN ADDRESSING THIS BY OFFERING A ROTATION OF THE PRIMARIES EACH ELECTION CYCLE. INSTEAD, IT HAS BEEN AS IF EACH SUMMER OLYMPICS GOES TO CHINA AND EACH WINTER OLYMPICS GOES TO SWITZERLAND. IF THE OLYMPIC PLANNING COMMITTEE GRASPS THAT FAIRNESS MEANS ROTATION, IT'S A SIGN OF HOW IGNORANT OUR POLITICAL CLASS IS THAT THEY THINK ALWAYS SHOVING NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IOWA'S CHOICES DOWN THE THROATS OF THE OTHER 48 STATES FAIR, THAT ALWAYS ALLOWING EVERY OTHER STATE TO SIT IT OUT. POOR HAWAII CAN'T EVEN COUNT ON A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE VISITNG THEIR STATE AFTER THE PRIMARY.

IT'S NOT FAIR. IT'S NOT RIGHT. THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PARTY IS EMBRACING CORRUPTION AND CRONYISM BY REFUSING TO RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE 50 STATES AND NOT JUST TWO.

SENATOR BILL NELSON STANDS UP NOT JUST FOR FLORIA BUT FOR ALL 50 STATES BY SUING THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PARTY OVER THEIR ATTEMPTS TO PUNISH THE STATE OF FLORIDA FOR MOVING UP THEIR PRIMARY.

DNC CHAIR COWARD DEAN LOST HIS VOICE ON THE ILLEGAL WAR AND MAKES A MOCKERY OUT OF HIS CLAIM TO PUT CAMPAIGNS INTO EACH STATE.

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Starting with war resisters. On Tuesday came the news that US war resister Robin Long, who self-checked out and went to Canada, had been arrested in Canada the day prior. Today Dharm Makwana (24 Hours Vancouver) reports, "Robin Long, an American army deserter, was released from Canada Border Services' custody yesterday after an anti-war activist posted a $5,000 cash bond" -- posted by Bob Ages of the War Resisters Support Campaign. The Canadian Press gives the detail of Robin Long's public statement, "A handcuffed Long told reporters at a detention review hearing that he left the U.S. Army two years ago and came to Canada because he felt it was a safe refuge. Immigration officials will conduct a pre-removal risk assessment of Long before deciding whether he will be deported to the U.S." Robin Long has been released from jail, he is not 'free.' Courage to Resist makes it clear: "He still faces a pre-removal risk assessment which could lead to deportation at a later time so the fight is not over yet." Canada's CBC notes that during that "risk" assessment, Long "will live at a home in Delta while reporting to the department [Citizenship and Immigration Canada] once a month." In a TV interview with CBC, Long noted, "It feels good to be out. The fresh air feels really good. . . . When I got arrested and was sitting in the detention cell in Nelson, I was pretty sure I was going home right away. I was pretty sure I would be deported. The way that the immigration officer made it sound, I would be deported Friday. That's not quite what happened and I'm very thankful for that." What happened was Canadians got active and mobilized. Organizations such as the War Resisters Support Campaign and the Canadian Peace Alliance, the New Democratic Party of Canada political party (click here for release in English, here for release in French) and individuals worked very hard and worked very quickly, raising awareness, getting the word out and ensuring that whatever happened would not happen in silence or shielded from the public. The Prince George Citizen reports that Long has to report to the Canada Border Service Agency monthly and quote his attorney Warren Puddicombe stating the monitoring is due to the belief "that if he were removed to the U.S. he might not report voluntarily." John Colebourn (The Province) covers the arrest and adds perspective, "In November, the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether to hear the cases of U.S. war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. The decision is expected to have an impact on all war resisters now seeking sanctuary in Canada." Referring to that decision, Long told CBC television, "Hopefully something will happen within the next couple of months with the [Canadian] government and maybe some kind of legal action will let us stay here other than the refugee protection."

Other perspective was offered by Rod Mickleburgh (Canada's Globe and Mail) who points out, "His detention on Monday follows the bizarre apprehension earlier this year of Kyle Snyder, another war resister staying in Nelson, who was taken off to jail in the middle of a winter's night, wearing just a toque, a robe and his boxers. Nelson police have refused to say on whose request they detained Mr. Snyder, or why they knocked on his door at 4 a.m. They released him three hours later, after learning that he was legally in Canada as a visitor." The arrest of Kyle Snyder came on the orders of the US and -- though Nelson police seem to have trouble grasping this -- the US cannot order around the police of Canada. After Snyder was arrested, the department and its head, Dan Maluta, repeatedly altered their story on what happened and happened. It was very similar to the way the visit to Winnie Ng's home repeatedly changed. Following the publication of Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale, the US military decided to enter Canada. Accompanied by a Canadian police officer, two members of the US military began searching for Key. The trio went to Winnie Ng's home (she had housed Joshua and Brandi Key along with their children early on when they moved to Canada) and presented themselves -- all three -- as Canadian police as they began questioning her. Ng told her story and was dismissed. She was ridiculed by the police and the US military denied it. But the story didn't go away and finally -- bit by bit -- it was learned that a Canadian police officer did escort two members of the US military around in their search for Key. Everything Winnie Ng said happened, happened. She stuck to her story and her story -- subsquently -- was proven accurate. Which is why the latest sop tossed out by Dan Maluta is greeted with skepticsm and Manluta is under investigation for his actions in Snyder's arrest. In the US media, only Gregory Levey (Salon) covered these earlier instances.

Long explains his reasons for resisting to CBC TV, "Because I feel the war in Iraq is an illegal war of aggression and its an indiscriminate killing of the Arab people and I believe it's all for lies and the wrong reasons so I couldn't with good conscience take part in that conflict. . . . When I joined the army, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I was lied to by my president. I -- The reasons that were given, I thought were valid but just because I joined the army didn't mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally and what I saw in the independent media and even in mainstream media changed my view of what was going on over there. And based on what I learned, I made a decision to desert."

Courage to Resist notes that this isn't over:
We need to keep up the pressure on Canadian politicians for a political solution to the plight of US war resisters. Canada should make a provision for them all to be allowed to stay.
It is urgent that everyone who supports the right of US war resisters to stay in Canada immediately contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley and Leader of the Liberal Party St├ęphane Dion and request that they make a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper Fax: 613-941-6900 Email:
pm@pm.gc.ca This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley Phone: 613-954-1064 (between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.) Email:
Minister@cic.gc.ca
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
St├ęphane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party Phone: 613-996-5789 Email:
dion.s@parl.gc.ca

Long's reasons aren't unique and as the realities of the lies the war was sold and the realities of the lies still being used to sell the illegal war are unmasked, more decide to resist. Jonah House and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker have issued a petition calling (link goes to Courage to Resist cross-posting) for those serving to "Refuse to fight! Refuse to kill! You are being ordered to war in the footsteps of veterans, who, more than 10 years ago, were sent to fight the first Gulf War. Many of those vets returned with severe and unacknowledge illnesses. Many gave birth to severely deformed children. All were abandoned by the Veterans Administration. You are being ordered to war by a nation whose self-acknowledged posture is that of world domination, mastery, control. This nation can have no moral justification for war."

Ehren Watada is another war resister. In June of 2006, he became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. He cited the illegal nature of the war and his concern that, as an officer, serving would also mean putting those serving under him at risk of war crimes. Prior to going public, Watada spent months working with the military brass on a solution. They gave the impression that is what they wanted but that obviously wasn't the case because not only did they shoot down alternatives (such as Watada serving in Afghanistan), they appeared to be attempting to run the clock out. As Watada's deployment date loomed ever closer, he went public. In August 2006, he faced the Article 32 hearing. In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided over the court-martial of Watada; however, it didn't go the way the military would have liked with the prosecution's case falling apart on the second day. On the third day, Judge Toilet suddenly declared a problem with a stipulation (which he had seen before the court-martial began, which he had signed off on). He attempted to convince Watada that he (Ehren) now disagreed with the stipulation. Watada stated he didn't disagree. Judge Toilet then tossed out mistrial to the prosecution who didn't immediately grasp the lifeline they were being handed. Once they did, it was all, "Yes, Judge Toilet! We move for a mistrail!" Over defense objection, Judge Toilet declared a mistrial in his attempt to hand the prosecution a "do over." However, that's not how the legal system works in the United States and military courts are as bound by the Constitution as every other court. As Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) has noted, double-jeopardy had already attached. Double-jeopardy forbids a defendant being tried more than once for the same offense. Since double-jeopardy had attached, Judge Toilet calling a mistrial (over defense objection) means that the military blew their chances at court-martialing Watada. That's the brief summary thus far. On Tuesday, Watada is scheduled -- Constitution be damnend and shredded apparently -- to face a second court-martial.

Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reports, "In an unusual appeal to civilian courts, attorneys for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada have asked a federal judge in Seattle to block a military court-martial scheduled to start Tuesday at Fort Lewis. Watada faces up to six years in prison on charges of failure to deploy to Iraq and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer." Bernton notes that in August (one year after the Article 32 hearing) the Army Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the defense claims and that the matter now lies with the Court of Appeal for the Armed Forces. Watada's attorneys have maintained that the best chance is with that court due to its makeup. Currently defense is waiting to hear on the latest round of appeals. Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, "Their request is pending before the nation's top military court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Worried a decision won't arrive before the court-martial begins, they filed a request Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking a judge's order to stop the trial." Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that the attorneys Kenneth Kagan and Jim Lobsenz (Carney Badley Spellman) are requestin "an emergency stay in a Seattle federal court because the Appeals Court for the Armed Forces has not ruled and the trial date is quickly approaching" and "Among other remedies, Watada's lawyers have asked the federal court in Seattle 'to issue a writ of habeas corpus releasing (Watada) from all restraint imposed by the pending court-martial charges, and declaring any trial on such charges to be barred and prohibited by the double-jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment'." Barber notes that Watada's service contract long ago expired and the military is extending it solely for the court-martial.


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to peace news, Andy Sullivan (Reuters) kind of reported on the peace movement yesterday. As Elaine and I noted last night, from the small (United for Peace and Justice has a national cooridnator named Leslie Cagan not "Kagan") to the large (the number of people attending rallies), Sullivan was short on facts. Often the case when you have a 'trend story' to sell. Sullivan's trend was that divisions in the peace movement (which do exist) are resulting in lower turnout (which is not fact). To 'prove' his 'trend,' he had to fudge the facts. Noting that UPFJ held a rally last January with at least 100,000 attending, Sullivan then moved to last month's ANSWER rally which he insisted was attended by only "10,000" people. Those of us present know that is not accurate (we also know A.N.S.W.E.R. was one coalition sponsor for the rally but Sullivan can't be bothered with that because his sub-trend -- his trend within a trend -- is exploring ANSWER's history) and press accounts also reported 100,000 present. To make his trend work, Sullivan has to eliminate 90,000 people. Divisions do exist and that's certainly worth exploring but no honest exploration can take place when a reporter doesn't know the estimated attendance (in this case, heavily reported estimates). In other peace news, on a recent trip to Canada, Ann Wright was stopped at the border and only allowed to enter after much hassle. Wright is retired US State Dept and a retired Col. in the US military. Yesterday, Wright and CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin attempted to enter Canada "crossing near Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition in Toronto." As CODEPINK notes, "At the Buaffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry. . . . The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience." Benjamin explains, "In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world. For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country." Wright declares, "The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country." The delivery of the petition Benjamin is speaking of also saw Missy Comley Beattie, Patti Ackerman and Cindy Sheehan arrested for the 'crime' of intent to use freed speech. At Common Dreams, Sheehan writes of the Imagine Peace project Yoko Ono has started to honor her late husband John Lennon, "Peace will only happen when every member of humanity is guaranteed prosperity, health and security which will not happen when we here in the US can't even get off our asses to protest a war that is four and a half years and hundreds of thousands of bodies old, now. We can imagine peace all we want but until each and everyone of us is willing to sacrifice some of our prosperity (because we have already had our security robbed from us by the rotten Republicans and complicit corporate Democrats) true peace -- not just the absence of war -- will be as elusive as a morsel of truth or modicum of courage coming out of Washington, DC. Voluntary sacrifice is truly a revolutionary concept here in the United States of America. So you say you want a revolution? Imagine that." Carolyn Jones (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that a marine recruiting station in Berkeley (sandwiched between UC Berkeley and Berkeley High) is now the site for weekly protests each Wednesday by CODEPINK and Grandmothers Against the War that began last week when the low profile recruiting station was discovered.

[. . .]

Heads up on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal (this Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of? Should the US strike Iran. A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well. Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station). Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War. On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card).


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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sad days for Bambi

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- DC.

THE UNSINKABLE HILLARY CLINTON TAP DANCED ACROSS THE TITANIC THAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY YET AGAIN TODAY. FOREVER LEADING IN ALL THE POLLS, SHE BEAT BAMBI OBAMA IN FUNDRAISING FOR THE QUARTER EVEN WITH BAMBI'S CAMPAIGN USING 'CREATIVE ACCOUNTING' TO COUNT T-SHIRT AND KEY CHAIN SALES AS "DONATIONS."

WHEN REACHED FOR A COMMENT BARACK "BAMBI" OBAMA TOLD THESE REPORTERS HE WASN'T OVERLY CONCERNED, "SAMMY POWER IS PLANNING A TRUMPED UP 'HUMAN RIGHTS' SCANDAL THAT WE WILL USE AS A COVER TO ADVOCATE AN AIR STRIKE ON SENATOR CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS."

WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE LEGAL AND MORAL ASPECTS OF STRIKING A CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS -- PRESUMABLY STAFFED WITH INNOCENTS -- BAMBI REFUSED TO COMMENT AND INSISTED HE HAD TO GO BECAUSE IT WAS NAP TIME AND HENRY KISSINGER HAD JUST ARRIVED TO READ HIM THE LITTLE WAR HAWK WHO COULD.

BAMBI HUNG UP BEFORE WE COULD ASK HIM ABOUT HIS LOYAL DONOR WHO IS UNDER FEDERAL INDICTMENT. A STORY MUCH OF THE PRESS APPEARS TO HAVE FORGOTTEN.

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Starting with war resistance. Yesterday, NDP (New Democratic Party of Canada) announced their support for war resister Robin Long arrested in Nelson British Columbia citing Olivia Chow (iimigration critic) and parliament member Alex Atamanenko (click here for release in English, here for release in French). The War Resisters Support Campaign also issued a statement of support. Today a support rally was held in Toronto. Timothy Schafer (Vancouver Sun) reported yesterday on Long's arrest "on Baker Street by police on a nation-wide warrant" according to Klaus Offermann who visited the jail to protest and tells Schafer that, "The city of Nelson is arrest-central for war resistors in Canada" -- referencing the February 23rd arrest of Kyle Snyder (hauled off in his boxers at the request of the US military). Today, Schafer (at Canada's Globe and Mail) cotinues covering the story and notes the cover story just issued by police chief Dan Maluta: Robin Long was smoking pot in public with four other people and that's why he was arrested! Of course the reality from eye witnesses is different and of course three others weren't arrested with Long. But it's more of the lies the Nelson city police have become famous for. Did that announced investigation in Maluta and the department ever get completed? Yes, it was signed to one of Maluta's personal friends, which should only mean the white wash moved even faster than usual. The cover story comes out after last night's strong show of support for Robin Long at the police station. Now LIAR Maluta said what about the arrest of Kyle Snyder? Oh, that's right, he repeated lies non-stop and that's why an investigation was required because it got so bad there was no doubt he was lying.

While Long is under attack in Canada, in the US Ehren Watada is scheduled to face court-martial number two next week -- despite the very clear Constitutional provision against double-jeopardy. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the court-martial is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, that Watada will be represented by Ken Kagan and James Lobsenz, that Watada service contract ended in December 2006 but the US military elected to extend it and that, "The Army has refiled four charges against Watada, including one count of missing a deployment and two counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer. Those counts cover statements Watada made criticizing the Iraq war and President Bush. Conviction on all counts could mean nearly eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge." AP's brief story is only six sentences long. It will pop up everywhere which is why the factual mistakes in it are all the more glaring. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. He will also be the first officer in which double-jeopardy is tossed out, in which the Constitution is completely shredded, if the second court-martial goes through. The more war resisters there are, the more nervous the military brass gets.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to the topic of Blackwater, John M. Broder (New York Times) and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) got into a nasty slap fight today as both used their papers to argue, "No! I love Erik Prince more!" Broder apparently sat through yesterday's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform fantasizing about Erik Prince (Blackwater CEO) instead of paying attention (maybe he's turned on by the crook of a neck?). Spiegel saw him as really, really cool and not suffering from the big head at all, but, like, a guy you can really, really talk to! which is why he referred to Prince answering "questions politely" -- in what world is repeatedly rolling your eyes, smirking and turning your head in disgust "polite"? Desperate to proclaim (in his very best Melrose Place manner), "Paws off, Petey, I saw Prince first," Broder raves over Prince's attire ("trim") and "blond hair" with "a fresh cut."

In the real world, Jeremy Scahill offered his evaluation of yesterday's hearing to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!):

JEREMY SCAHILL: When Erik Prince stepped into the room, he was mobbed by photographers, and he came in, not with an army of armed mercenaries, but with an army of lawyers and advisers. And one of the people with him was Barbara Comstock, who's a well-known Republican operative and a crisis management consultant. Blackwater had the first and second rows basically empty behind Mr. Prince, with the exception of his team of advisers and his consiglieri, and an unidentified man on several occasions during the course of the hearing himself interrupted the hearings and asked Henry Waxman to be able to consult with Prince. And then, what would result from that is that Erik Prince would turn around, and his advisers and lawyers would pile around him like a sports team plotting out their next play. It was very dramatic.
And I think that the issue here is that the Democrats really, I feel, dropped the ball on many of the most important issues surrounding Blackwater. Yes, there were some important questions raised. But for the most part, they steered away from some of the most devastating and violent incidents involving the company. The ambush at Fallujah in March of 2004, for instance, wasn't addressed at all, except in passing. And there were a number of family members of the four Blackwater operatives who were killed in that incident. That's a crucial one for the Congress to investigate, not only because of the allegations that Blackwater sent those four men into Fallujah in unarmored vehicles, short two men, and without heavy weapons, but because of the enormous price that Iraqi civilians paid for the deaths of those four corporate employees, the Bush administration ordering the leveling of Fallujah and, of course, the inflammation of the Iraqi resistance. There are a number of other incidents that never came up in the hearing.
I think that what needs to happen is that Erik Prince needs to become a more frequent visitor to Capitol Hill than his industry lobbyists have been over the past several years, and his visits should always begin with his right hand raised and cameras in front of him.

In other news of violence, Robert Parry (Consortium News) explores the death squads Bully Boy has created for Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the "kill teams," the "bait and kill teams," the teams war resister James Burmeister went public on last June and the mainstream media 'discovered' last week. Parry writes, "The ugly image of Americans killing unarmed Iraqis also helps explain the growing hostility of Iraqis toward the presence of U.S. troops. While the Bush administration has touted the supposed improved security created by the 'surge' of additional U.S. troops into Iraq, a major poll found Iraqis increasingly object to the American occupation." On a related note, Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports: "US military officials in Baghdad on Wednesday defended their support of local anti-insurgent volunteer organisations, the day after the country's largest political bloc attacked the programme as an 'adventure' and accused participants of kidnap and murder. The controversy over the scheme, which is a centrepiece of the US military's new strategy in Iraq, has flared as these local alliances against al-Qaeda spread from their point of origin in the western province of al-Anbar to other Sunni and even some Shia parts of Iraq."



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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bambi's campaign of half-truths

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- CHICAGO.

U.S. SENATOR AND POLITICAL HACK BARACK OBAMA SANG THE SAME DAMN SONG ONE MORE TIME TODAY. THE TIRED SONG IS "I WAS AGAINST THE ILLEGAL WAR BEFORE IT STARTED."

WHILE THAT ONE CHARTED, OBAMA QUICKLY BECAME A ONE HIT WONDER BY REPEATEDLY DECLARING IN 2004 THAT HE WAS AGAINST WITHDRAWING U.S. TROOPS FROM IRAQ.

LAST WEEK, HE CUT A LITTLE NUMBER ENTITLED "I THINK IT'S HARD TO PROJECT FOUR YEARS FROM NOW" BUT WHEN HE PERFORMED IT AT THE DEMOCRATIC FORUM BROADCAST BY MSNBC, IT BOMBED BIGGER THAN BRITNEY SPEARS AT THE VMAS BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO HEAR A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE SAY THEY CAN'T PROMISE, IF ELECTED, TO END THE ILLEGAL WAR BY THE END OF THEIR FIRST TERM..

NOW HE'S BACK TO PRETEND YET AGAIN THAT HE IS THE PEACE CANDIDATE. THE HAWKISH OBAMA CITED WAR CRIMINAL HANK KISSINGER IN HIS SPEECH TODAY. SAMMY POWER, HANK KISSINGER, BARACK LOVES ALL THE WAR HAWKS.

AS DENNIS KUCINICH NOTED OF SLEAZY OBAMA TODAY, "Among those supporting the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002' were Senators Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden, all of whom spoke forcefully in favor of the President's strategy -- all four of whom are now Democratic Presidential candidates. All four subsequently approved additional measures for supplemental appropriations to fund the war, as did Democratic Senator Barack Obama after he was elected to the Senate in 2004. Now, five years after they approved a war that should never have been authorized in the first place, those same Democrats are scrambling to explain, excuse, or defend their votes. At the same time, the foremost among them are refusing to pledge an end to the war, admitting that it may extend well beyond 2013. Kucinich, the only Democratic candidate for President who voted against the original war authorization and every war-appropriation since, has recently raised loud warnings, in the Congress and in public statements, that House-approved and Senate-approve measures targeted towards Iran are 'dangerously and frighteningly similar' to those anti-Iraq resolutions approved five years ago."


FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Starting with war resistance. Robin Long was arrested yesterday. War resister Long went to Canada in June 2005. He applied for refugee status. Like everyone who has applied thus far, Long was denied. The New Democratic Party of Canada issues a statement "calling on the [prime minister Stephen] Harper government to reexamine their decision to deport Long and allow him to stay in Canada." It's noted that Long "lives in Canada with his Canadian partner Renee and their young son." So the Canadian government has arrested Long, intending to deport him and thereby split up a family. Olivia Chow points to "a recent poll taken in Ontario [which] showed that almost two thirds of Ontarians believe that Canada should allow war resisters to stay in Canada." The War Resisters Support Campaign notes that the poll was "conducted by phone from June 5 to 11, 2007" and that "close to two thirds of Ontarians favour letting US Iraq War resisters settle in Canada" and that polling was "conducted by the national research firm Strategic Communications Inc". Shirley Douglas (who worked her butt of during Vietnam and is as dedicated today) is quoted declaring, "This poll shows that the Canadian tradition of welcoming Americans who dissent from the policies of war is still important to us. The Canadian government should move now to make it possible for the war resisters to settle in this country, as so many did during the Vietnam War." The Christian Radical notes that Nelson was "arrested by the Nelson B.C. Police who intend to take him to Vancouver and hand him over to the US authorities at the border nearby. He was seized as he walked along a street. He is now detained in the local jail. Robin was not allowed to receive visits from friends; however he was able to call his spouse. She says that he is calm and hopeful that he will soon be released." The is the same Nelson B.C. Police that arrested Kyle Snyder on the orders of the US military -- in direct violation of Canadian soveriegnty. In the US, Gregory Levey (Salon) becomes the first at a US news outlet to cover that and he is also the last because it's just too much work for independent media apparently. Now a similar thing has happened to Robin Long. Exactly when the hell does independent media in the United States intend to do its damn job? The Christian Radical notes: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is urging all our friends and supporters to CALL THE NELSON POLICE AT 250-354-3919 AND TELL THEM TO RELEASE ROBIN LONG. We urge you as well to contact your local Member of Parliament and ask her or him to help release Robin."

Along with Kyle Snyder being arrested in a similar stunt (on his wedding day), the US military itself crossed over into Canada and posed as Canadian police officers -- harassing Winnie Ng at her home and demanding to know where war resister Joshua Key was. As independent media in this country -- including the "Nobody owns The Nation" useless piece of crap -- has refused to cover this story, the US has grown ever more bold about issuing orders to lackeys in Canada who aren't concerned with upholding Canadian law, just with being suck ups to the United States.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Blackwater USA. Today, Erik Prince -- CEO of the mercenary company -- popped into Congress for a hearing on the issue of private security in Iraq held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Rep Henry Waxman. Prince fidgeted throughout, used the phrase "I don't know" repeatedly, showed his disdain for Congress by frequently rolling his eyes, smirking and, when Rep Peter Welch was questinging him, combined the two with an extended head turn to the right and away from Welch. With his disain on full display, the obvious question was for committee members to ask him about his physical presentation. No one did. A lot of representatives wasted time. Rep Diane Watson was the best example of wasted time on the Democratic side and Prince's nonstop smirks during that exchange may have been warranted as Watson went on and on (about topics that had nothing to do with Blackwater such as the MoveOn ad and Rush Limbaugh) only to suddenly declare "And so my question to you" before going back to yammering on. Each time she would say "my question to you," Was there a point to her remarks? It was the embarrassment from the Democratic side as she seemd determined to deliver a free association monologue. Each time she would use the term "question," Prince would lead forward, open his mouth, then close it because Watson wasn't interested in an answer and wasn't interested in getting to a question. What was her point? Who knows with lines like "You are providing a service." At one point, around the fourth or fifth time Prince had leaned in to answer only to grasp she wasn't yielding, he looked around and as if he was about to laugh. Across America -- to the left, to the right, to the center -- many others may have been laughing as well.

On the Republican side? They win as ensemble, too many did far too much for just one to be signaled out. Top honors within the ensemble go to Lynn Westmoreland who wasted everyone's time by putting on his glasses and reading his remarks from prepared text. If you can write down everything ahead of time, don't even show up, just fax your prepared remarks to the media. And that was honestly a problem for most. Those who didn't so obviously read from their prepared remarks for their entire allotted time also didn't appear to listen too closely. That was true regardless of political party. Democrats John Sarbanes and Peter Welch deserve (positive) notice for questions and comments that demonstrated they were aware of what had been asked as well as what had been asked but not answered. Bruce Braley (Democrats) also deserves credit for not wasting his allotted time with a bunch of sop but instead tearing away at the issue of the laws that would or would not govern Blackwater in Iraq -- tearing away at the topic and refusing to let go. Noting the Blackwater employee -- allegedly drunk, who shot dead an Iraqi bodyguard on Christmas Eve 2006 (the committee agreed not to ask about the September 16th incident where Blackwater slaughtered at least 11 innocent Iraqis at the request of the Justice Department) and what passed for 'punishment' --Braley pointed out the message to take away was, "If I screw up . . . the worst that's going to happen is I have to give up a window seat for an aisle seat."

Braley was referring to the fact that Blackwater didn't discipline him. Prince repeatedly -- throughout the hearing -- would immediately go to flogging insisting (over and over) "We can't flog". The inablity to flog appears to be a big issue with Prince. Prince explained (at several points) that -- though they couldn't flog -- what Blackwater did with the employee was pull his plane ticket, withheld the employee's paycheck and the employee's bonus. Prince -- falling back on the flogging -- declared that Blackwater did all they could. Witholding earned wages is supposed to be against the law so it's a shame no one asked Prince what law Blackwater was operating under when they made that decision. A bonus can be given or taken away and any dispute over it can be handled by the courts but earned wages are earned wages and companies do not have the right to withold them.

What Price left out was that the employee didn't just leave. He was proud that the employee's security clearence was pulled. But he failed to show the public his pride over the fact that Blackwater hustled the employee out of Iraq before any serious questions could be asked. Price -- noting he watches crime shows on TV -- begged off ruling whether it was murder, homicide or manslaughter but didn't quibble that, in fact, it was a crime. That being the case, why an employee who had committed a serious crime was being whisked out of Iraq is a question he should have been asked repeatedly.

The point Braley was making was US service members -- in the same situation -- would be facing a court-martial but all the Blackwater employee basically lost was a window seat on the trip home. Throughout it at all, regardless of any question other than about his time in the US Navy Seals, Prince repeatedly fell back on "I don't know." On violence, on whether Chilean thugs who worked for Pinochet were now working for Blackwater (Jan Schakowsky brought that issue up and hit hard repeatedly on the human rights issue), what the make up of the Blackwater force in Iraq was, etc. It was left to Chris Murphy (after many had left the hearing -- press and committee members) to state the obvious, "Certainly as CEO you can tell us what your profit has been?" No, he couldn't.

But he could indicate that he believes Blackwater employees are destroying Blackwater equipment intentionally. That probably wasn't his intent but he declared, to Murphy, that "Our helicopters get fragged." "Frag" is internal not external. If the Blackwater helicopters are being "fragged" then the "fragging" would have to be done by a Blackwater worker. Listening to Prince go on and on about Blackwater's "costs" What costs? That's a serious question. Replacing a helicopter? Well talk to anyone in the trucking industry or the delivery industry and they'll tell you equipment's replaced all the time. But the point was driven home best when Jan Schakowsky was asking (repeatedly) how Blackwater checks out their employees. According to Prince, they basically just run Social Security numbers. So Glory, Glory Private Business . . . as it still depends upon all the tools of the federal government. As Henry Waxman noted in his opening statement, "Over the past 25 years, a sophisticated campaign has been waged to privatize government services. The theory is that corporations can deliver government services better and at a lower cost than government can. Over the last six years, this theory has been put into practice. The result is that privatization has exploded. For every taxpayer dollar spent on federal programs, over 40 cents now goes to private contractors. Our government now outsources even the oversight of the outsourcing. At home, core government functions -- like tax collection and emergency response -- have been contracted out. Abroad companies like Halliburton and Blackwater have made billions performing tasks that used to be done by our nation's military forces. What's been missing is a serious evaluation of whether the promises of privatizing are actually realized." Instead of addressing the reality, Prince elected to play like he didn't know, couldn't recall and invent fantasies. Such as when he wanted to tale the tale of his proudest moment of life. Picture it, if you could, because he couldn't. A man, an officer, unnamed, but this is the most vivid moment of Prince's life, right? So the officer tells him that all the troops serving under him know that if they get into trouble into Iraq, call Blackwater first. A lie and an obvious one. But if Prince wants to stick by it, then the US military might want to address policy with those serving because troops do NOT first call mercenaries when they are in need of help. In fact, to do so is a violation of the chain of command.


House Rep and 2008 presidential Democratic hopeful Dennis Kucinich attempted to seriously address the issue of the contracts Blackwater has been awarded by the federal government. He raised serious issues (including the huge increase Blackwater sees each year -- $48 million in 2004, $500 million last year). Prince told Kucinich these weren't "no bid" contracts, that Kucinich misunderstood. He fell back on that repeatedly allowing him to avoid Kucinich's questions. Then, after several other members had their turn at questioning, Prince wanted to clarify the record, turns out some of those contracts he was declaring weren't no-bid, were no-bid contracts.

It was very similar to his appalling response to US service members being scapegoated for the actions of Blackwater: "I don't believe that false story lasted in the media for more than a few hours." But when you're attempting to hustle someone out of the country, every hour counts. And what's a lie to Blackwater? Prince did the same thing with Kucinich's questions. He lied. Then, after he'd eated up the time on the clock, he would clarify his statements on the no-bid contracts. In fairness, if Prince is the idiot he pretended for the committee, then his lawyer assisted him because his attorney (seated to the left of him) was advising him throughout. But that is Blackwater for you. Lying doesn't matter if they correct it . . . after they've gotten what they wanted whether it's time to whisk an employee out of the country or to run down the clock on questions.

He smirked when the e-mail on the shooting was read, when "At least the ID of the shooter will take the heat off us" was read into the record. The heat was off Blackwater and it was placed on the US service members. But Prince thinks it's fine because it -- the lie -- was just out there for "a few hours." At another point, Prince would declare (of this same incident), "Look, I'm not going to make any apologies." No, he wasn't going to. And that he hasn't been forced to goes to how little accountability there is. Which is why he could also declare, "I believe we acted appropriately at all times."

If there was a more appalling moment than that -- to hear a CEO responsible for a company where an employee killed someone (they were focusing on the one death) declare he had no apologies to make -- it was when Mike Turner elected to whine about all the sympathy being shown. Why, he insisted, no one was even noting al-Qaeda. The issue wasn't al-Qaeda. The issue was a US company (of mercenaries) are harming Iraqi civlians (specific instances cited), not facing any punishment for it and it's the US service members that get blamed for it and have to deal with the further hostilities. But Turner -- who appeared genuinely stupid -- couldn't grasp that at and let his whine continue to declare that the focus on Iraqi civilians killed by Blackwater bothered him because "I think it crosses the line between our team and their team." Fortunately for Turner, there were other moments that people will probably zoom in on.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Clarence the Cross-Eyed Injustice

BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIX MIX -- DC.

CLARENCE THOMAS AND HIS GHOST WRITER HAVE RELEASED A NEW BOOK ENTITLED MY GRANDFATHER'S SON. RUMORS ABOUND THAT THE SEQUEL WILL BE ENTITLED THAT WHITE WOMAN'S HUSBAND OR THE ART I FOUND IN THE TRIPLE X FILM THE ADVENTURES OF BAD MANA JAMA.

JOAN BISKUPIC (U.S.A. TODAY) REVEALS HERSELF TO BE BOTH A SELF-HATING WOMAN AND SCARED OF BOTH THE TRUTH AND THOMAS AS SHE 'REPORTS' THAT "HE WRITES OF HIS MISERY WHEN FORMER EMPLOYEE ANITA HILL ACCUSED HIM OF TALKING TO HER ABOUT X-RATED MOVIES AND MAKING PORNOGRAPHIC REFERENCES." THAT'S A CUTE WAY OF CONDENSING THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT INFLICTED ON ANITA HILL.

EDWARD LAZARUS (LOS ANGELES TIMES) GETS A LITTLE CLOSER TO THE TRUTH BY TERMING IT "CRUDE SEXUAL ADVANCES TOWARD" HILL BUT THAT'S SO WEAK IT HONESTLY MAKES US FEAR FOR ANY WOMAN WHO WORKS WITH THE MAN. LAZARUS THEN PROVES HIMSELF TO BE A SUCK UP EXTRAORDINAIRE AS HE FAWNS OVER THE IDIOT WHO REFUSED TO SPEAK ON THE COURT FOR YEARS -- THOUGH HE WAS HAPPY TO TAKE TO THE CONSERVATIVE LECTURE CIRCUIT -- WRITING THAT THOMAS "HAS LONG SINCE ESTABLISHED HIS ONCE-DOUBTED LEGAL AND INTELLECTUAL BONA FIDES" -- IN WHOSE INSANE WORLD DID THAT HAPPEN? -- AND REFERRING TO HILL'S GOING PUBLIC WITH THE WORK PLACE HARASSMENT SHE HAD TO ENDURE DAILY AS THOMAS' "MISERY."

APPARENTLY THE PERIOD LEFT THOMAS UNABLE TO GET OFF TO THE PORN HE RENTED ON A DAILY BASIS?

TONIC FOR THE FAWNING: READ JANE MAYER AND JILL ABRAMSON'S STRANGE JUSTICE: THE SELLING OF CLARENCE THOMAS.

FROM THE TCI WIRE:

Starting with war resistance. Saturday, Patrick Maloney (London Free Press) reported that twenty-year-old James Stepp became the latest US war resister to move to Canada's London -- driving from Ohio with wife Vicki and their two children Cheyenne and Tilford and joining war resisters Tim Richard, Linjamin Mull and Matt Lowell who are also putting down roots in the city. Maaloney quotes Stepp declaring, "We miss our friends and we miss our family very much. But it's just something that had to be done. . . . The culture in America is you're either with us or against us. Especially in the military. I just ask people to understand why I did it. I would rather be an outcast in my own country than commit war crimes and live in comfort knowing I had done that."

Another war resister in Canada should have been actively pursued by journalists last week. James Burmeister went to Canada in May of this year and went public on his reasons for self-checking out. Among those reasons were the "kill teams" of US snipers who left US property (any US Army property -- not, as the mainstream media narrative last week insisted, just weapons and materials to make weapons out of) lying around as traps for Iraqis who would then be shot for touching US property. While the US media -- All Things Media Big and Small -- played dumb, Mina Al-Oraibi (Asharq Alawsat) spoke with Burmeister: "Burmeister says he refuses to participate in the practices of what he described as 'small kill teams', which include 'four of five soldiers, with a couple of snipers, who would go out on the streets and put something out, like a camera. Then they'd put a sign out [that said] if anyone touched it, they would be killed. But a lot of these people do not read English, so they would touch it to see what it is, and then they would be shot. [This is justified by] saying the American army has the right to shoot anyone trying to steal its property'." Mina Al-Orabi also speaks with war resister Matthew Lowell who notes that, unlike Burmeister, he's not sure his family in the United States supports his decision: "I do talk to my family, although they haven't come to visit me at all. As far as them supporting my decision, I am not fully certain." He explains, "I tried to get out legitimately before deciding to go AWOL [Absent Without Official Leave]. Nothing I did worked through; I came to Candada first in September-October 2003. At that time, I didn't know about applying for refugee status or a work permit and just got a job that paid under the table." After which, Lowell went back to the United States, turned himself in, checked out from Fort Knox and eventually, November 2005, returned to Canada and states, "Call me what you want. I left my country, my friends, my family, all because of my conscience and morals. What kind of person would I be if I agreed to participate in the slaughtering of people who didn't agree with my way of life, who didn't threaten my family, my friends, and everything that I know? When I joined the military it was to defend all those that I hold dear. I volunteered for the military on those grounds, so why if we aren't defending, should I have to kill? At least I can still hold my head up high and carry myself with pride and respect."

In Friday's snapshot, we noted that three war resisters had published their stories in book form this year: Aidan Delgado with The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia shared his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale. Today, a fourth war resister joins that list. As Elaine noted Friday, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is Kevin Benderman (with wife Monica Benderman) telling his story. Kevin Benderman saw a kangaroo court in July 2005 -- his court-martial on trumped up charges -- and no applause from the military brass for any commendable actions such as refusing an order in Iraq to shoot at little kids who were throwing rocks. Prior to and during Kevin Benderman's imprisonment, Monica Benderman went to many book stores attempting to find books about COs (Kevin Benderman attempted to be granted CO status) and other forms of resistance. She found basically zilch at the time. Kevin Benderman's story is one that needs to be told. And they're getting it out.

Of course some will not know about it. For instance, The Nation has refused to review any of the three books already released. A weekly magazine, purportedly against the illegal war, that has pages and pages, and wasted pages, of really bad writing about really bad books but it can't be bothered -- thus far -- in reviewing books by war resisters. Amazingly, what a weekly -- with pages and pages of book reviews each issue -- can't do (really, what they won't do) ISR and The Progressive have been able to. This month, ISR proved they can continue to do so as they reviewed Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (not available online -- we noted it in last Monday's snapshot -- it runs on pages 73 and 74 of the print edition and is written by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field). That's the September/October edition of ISR. The October issue of The Progressive also reviews Mejia's book. JoAnn Wypijewski review ("Dilemmas of a War Resister") runs from pages 39-44 and uses the book as a starting off point to address multiple issue about the illegal war. Wypijewski notes, "Mejia seems to have found his voice, in life and in the book, in the course of saying no. At the end of his court-martial -- his description of which captures the sinking experience of witnessing justice reduce to procedure -- he tells the panel of jurors:

"Yes, you have the power to convict me, to sentence me, to discharge me with a bad conduct discharge. . . I have been a bad soldier according to you, and you have that much power, but [remember] I am part of the military. . . I am one of you, and this is my family too. We're all on trial. Not just me, sitting here, but everybody here in uniform, everybody in this country. . . . Now I feel free."

This review isn't available online. The October issue isn't up yet at the site. The Progressive makes selections available each month. There's a great deal in the October issue (and I wish I'd gone through it last night because it could have easily fit into "And the war drags on"). But we're going to leave it with that for this snapshot and hopefully pick up later in the week. We'll also note Wypijewski later in this snapshot on a different topic. For now, we'll note that both The Progressive and ISR have reviewed two of the now four books by war resisters. Aidan Delgado's only came out last month and Kevin Benderman's is out today. One is a monthly, the other a bi-monthly. Both were able to do what The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel's weekly Nation magazine won't. Just as the magazine refuses to cover war resisters.


There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

[. . .]

Staying with the US Congress. Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian addressed the US Congress on WBAI's Law and Disorder today (Ratner and Boghosian host the program along with Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner) with Ratner noting that the measures to end the illegal war have not been pushed by Democrats and the excuse offered : "What they said they were afraid of was a filibuster. . . . If they'd been forced to go through with it then the Republicans would have been forced to filibuster and they [Republicans] would have been seen as obstructing it."

Heidi Boghosian: Why? Why didn't they push for this?

Michael Ratner: Other than the fact that Democrats play softball compared to the Republicans who play hardball, you know this was never an issue when the Republicans were there. When the Democrats said we'll filibuster -- when the Republicans ran the Congress -- you know what the Republicans' reaction was? We're going to change the law, we're going to change the way Congress runs, and we're going to make it so you can't filibuster anymore. And so that was the Republicans' reaction but the Democrats instead of saying "We're going to force you to filibuster on the Iraq War and it's your problem," they just basically caved. So we're here with the Iraq War for a very, very long time, I'm afraid.


Now in last week's Democratic presidential nominee 'debate' broadcast on MSNBC, 'front runners' Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton all refused to pledge the illegal war, if elected president, by the end of their first term. As we noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review yesterday, Joe Biden -- author of the now rejected amendment (which doesn't mean the Senate won't stick with it) -- attempted to say yes and no: "Candidate Joe Biden hedged the answer. He said yes and he said no. He declared, 'Just from Iraq. You're going to bring all troops home from Iraq. If in fact there is no political solution by the time I am president, then I would bring them out because all they are is fodder. But -- but -- if you go along with the Biden plan that got 75 votes today and you have a stable Iraq like we have in Bosnia -- we've had 20,000 Western troops in Bosnia for 10 years. Not one has been killed -- not one. The genocide has ended. So it would depend on the circumstances when I became president.' He would bring them all home . . . unless his plan to partition Iraq into three sections came to be and since it won the support of 75 idiots in the Senate, it's very likely that Iraq will be carved up into three areas if the US has the last say. In which case, Biden's answer is 'no'."

Michael Ratner: The war of course is more complicated. The most cynical of people say that the Democrats don't want to vote to actually do anything about the war in part because they want the Republicans to lose the election based on the war. Of course I don't see why a filibuster wouldn't have done that same thing by the Republicans. But I actually think in some ways that it's a cyncial, political maneuver that Nancy Pelosi and others, and Reid -- the Senate Majority Leader, Pelosi of course in the House -- have basically made a calculation: the Democrats can win and they can win the presidency if things remain approximately the same around the war.

HeidI Boghosian: Hmm-hmm. The status quo.

Michael Ratner: And meanwhile Iraqis are dying every day and American soldiers are dying every day.


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