Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ehren Watada on Democracy Now today you can watch it or just listen or read the transcript

"Army Lieutenant Becomes First Commissioned Officer to Refuse Deployment to Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
For the first time since the start of the war, a commissioned officer is refusing deployment to fight in Iraq. On Wednesday U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada announced his intention to disobey what he says are illegal orders to deploy to Iraq. He was supposed to make his announcement at a news conference yesterday but military officials told Watada he could not attend because he was barred from speaking publicly about his case while on duty at the base.
Watada is a member of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd infantry Division based at Fort Lewis near Seattle, Washington. His unit is set to be deployed later this month. Lieutenant Watada faces court martial unless the Army allows him to resign or assigns him to duties not directly connected to the war.
On Wednesday, Lieutenant Watada issued a video recording explaining why he is refusing to fight.
1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada video statement. Courtesy of
Ron Smith.
We are joined now on the line by Ehren Watada and his lawyer, Legrand Jones.
1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. He joins us on the line from Washington State.
Legrand Jones, attorney for 1st Lt. Watada in Washington state.

That's the introduction to a story on Democracy Now! today and you need to check it out. How much do I think so? I've waited hours to log in tonight. Blogger/Blogspot is screwed up and was yesterday as well. So I've been checking and checking. Long day and all I wanted was to go to bed. I'm tired, stressful day at work, the skin around my right eyebrow is twitching. I should be asleep. But that's how important this story is. So please check it out.

Also check out C.I.'s "NYT: Angels in the outfield? No, idiots in the Green Zone" and Betty's
"Thomas Friedman, the Jayne Mansfield of the New York Times." That's it for me, I'm going to sleep.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Law and Disorder on Ahmed Omar Abu Ali

Yesterday, Mike wrote about one aspect of WBAI's Law and Disorder (which airs each Monday morning at ten). I am focusing on the first guest, Tasneem Abu Ali. She is the sister of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. Do you know either of their names?

You should. The segment was set up by noting that you should picture yourself a college student winning a scholarship and then have everything go horribly wrong.

What went wrong? Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted and sented to thirty years in federal prison. He is an American citizen who went abroad to study. In the War OF Terror, he became one of the victims. He was abducted by the Saudi Arabia government and tortured. This was with the knowledge of the American government. An American citizen was abducted and tortured by another government with the knowledge (I'd argue with the permission) of the American government.

Under over forty-days of torture, Ahmed finally confessed. During that time he was beaten, he was deprived of contact with others, he was interrogated over and over. Near the end, they presented him with a "confession" and asked him to copy it on paper (to have it in his own handwriting). Then they made him sign it.

It was pointed out by Dalia Hashad that Amnesty (she's over an American branch of Amnesty and I forget the exact title, sorry) has noted Saudia Arabia's policies of torture to coerce confessions.

But when Ahmed was brought back to this country, even with physical proof of torture, the court ignored it. They went with a confession obtained under torture. (Of a kid. No offense to any young readers or to Wally and Mike who might take offense because they're around Ahmed's age but this was a kid. Yes, an adult, but just barely.) In this country's it's still illegal to torture someone into confessing. (And torture doesn't lead to reliable confessions. People will say anything to avoid more torture.) But the court allowed the confession to be seen as legal.

If you don't care for Ahmed's sake or for the sake of his sister Tasneem (who's really standing by her brother), you should care for this country and for yourself. In fact, you should be frightened. When we start accepting confessions from torture into our court systems, the next step is not caring if it happened in another country or not. The next step is accepting torture as a feature of American life.

That's not what a democracy is supposed to believe in.

Ahmed needs to be released. Not in a few years with time off for good behavior. He needs to be released right now. If you can't make a case without something gained through torture, you don't have a case.

I think the kid's innocent. But it really doesn't matter under our legal system. Our legal system finds you not guilty if the evidence can't stand up. A confession under torture shouldn't stand up in a court of a law.

If you've never listened to Law and Disorder you should make a point to. Yes, they're talking about important issues. But also because it's four attornies who know the law talking about important issues. This is a really great show. Mike covered one segment ("Law and Disorder and more") and I'm covering this one. That way when Ruth writes her report this weekend, she can grab the third segment (which we assume is the one she wanted to grab). She can note anything she wants on the segments we covered but hopefully won't have to. What she's been doing takes a lot of work and way too much for anyone person. So we're trying to help her out by easing the burden. (And the show we're covering is never a 'burden' to listen to or write about.)

Now yesterday Elaine attempted to do a long post about the last edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review and lost it. I spoke with her for that and I think she probably wrote an amazing thing. She's not redoing it (Blogger/Blogspot lost her post in the posting stage). I don't blame her for that. She spent around four hours on it. Who has that kind of time? The thing I want to note here is that I'm not mad but, that said, I was really glad C.I. pointed out that while the short story that was never written was worked on and worked on for hours, my idea was forgotten. C.I. made a point of that. I appreciated that. I know people were focused on other things and it just got forgotten. I understand that. But I almost put it up here earlier. I didn't because they wanted to use it for the fiction edition.

Of course, I knew it was being overlooked. I should have said something but didn't want to come off whiney. (I also stayed silent about the four plus hours spent on the short story that never came -- and I stayed silent because I didn't want anyone thinking, "Well he just wants us to work on his short story.") Everyone else was focusing on the edition. And they were thinking this could be a great short story (the one that never resulted in anything). Ty also got overlooked and he had a great idea (a better one than I did).

When Ava and C.I. rejoined everyone after writing their TV commentary ("TV: TESR Investigates"), they were shocked that this non-story was still being worked on. They made their disgust very obvious. And that's really what it took to get us all to face that this thing wouldn't be written because there was no story there. But I noted to Elaine that I apreciated the fact that C.I. not only remembered my idea but pointed out to everyone that I'd held off writing it at this site because I'd been asked to save it for their site.

That jogged everyone's memory. And everyone was very apologetic about it. (Which I also appreciate.) But I got an e-mail about noting (in "news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts") the fact that C.I. had been supportive when I was worried about writing something and the e-mailer asked if that was usually the case. It's always been the case. Everyone is encouraging. I don't want to imply that they aren't. And they all listen. But C.I.'s got an elephant's memory or something. And C.I., who's never said, "Wait a minute, what about me?", is always the first to point it out when someone else is being forgotten. I was asked in the same e-mail if C.I. had ever griped about anything I'd done? Yes, about the point I made of thanking in "news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts." That's about the only thing I've ever done that's upset C.I. (that I know of).

This Sunday, we may or may not pick up with some more short stories. As for other people's thoughts on last Sunday, Elaine tried to cover it. (And she bailed on that short story. She was very vocal that it wouldn't work as a short story because it had no plot, no characters and no one knew what it was supposed to be about. The one that never ran because it never could be written.) I've covered my part of it. But no one was mad at anyone (that's the reason she wrote it, she had e-mails about that). We were all irritated that the edition was moving so slowly -- and we were irritated for a number of reasons.

That's it for me tonight. Betty's not blogging tonight. Kat called me and passed it on. Betty just started a new job (a promotion) at work last Tuesday. She's still trying to get used to the new demands of that. Kat and I are both going to offer her the chance do some joint posts with us this week if she wants to. But she's got no time right now to enter the world of Betinna (the lead character in her comic online novel).