Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ehren Watada . . . while the internet is still free

CALL/E-MAIL YOUR SENATORS ON Senate Bill S.2686: The Communications,Consumers' Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 ***************************************
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The above is from an e-mail action alert Carl passed on (he'll be writing about the latest developments in Friday's gina & krista round-robin but he was sent this e-mail alert and he asked if we could note it here "right away").

Why is that important? (Have you been reading Carl's columns?) We have the perfect example today of why it's important. The New York Times isn't covering Ehren Watada. NPR isn't covering Ehren Watada.

Is it news? Yes, it is. "We're not government organs schilling for the war," the two might say or they might go with, "We're not war cheerleaders."

That's exactly what they are -- and NPR more so than the Times. So where do you find the news that they (and others) won't cover?

Right now you can find it. You might have to search it out, but you can find it.

An e-mail this morning resulted in the second post being delayed. One of our youngest member was upset that there wasn't any coverage of Watada on her TV station or in her paper. She could tell Watada was news. She could tell there was a silence around the story. She was depressed (don't blame her) and I ended up writing a lengthy response.

We can't control what the New York Times will or will not cover. We can control what we emphasize here. Does Watada's stand matter?

Yes, it does. Does it matter that others stood up yesterday across the nation? Yes, it does.

And we can (and will) note it here. So what follows is some highlights from some (hopefully 'some,' hopefully, there is more out there) of the coverage of yesterday's rallies.

From Christian Hill's "Soldier's dissent draws defenders: Rally for Ehren Watada turns into war debate on DuPont overpass" (Washington's The Olympian):

From Tacoma to New Haven, Conn., and in nearly two dozen major cities in between, activists rallied Tuesday to support 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis officer who has become the new public face in their effort to end the Iraq War.
[. . .]
Some have called Watada a coward and traitor for his actions, but his father said they don't understand what's going on in Iraq. A strong anti-Muslim culture has developed, prompting people who want to go over there and kill Iraqis, he said.
"We label them all as enemies, as insurgents, but they're not," he said. "They're simply people who want their homes back and their lives back. If someone invaded my country, wherever it may be, I'd be on the streets fighting against that."
The elder Watada said his son is taking this stance to end the killing and bring the troops home.
Watada's immediate family is scheduled to return to Hawaii at week's end, but his father said efforts to support the officer will continue.
"The group here is still very strong," he said. "It's just amazing, the number of people who have come out to help."

For more on standing up for Watada in Washington, Jeff Paterson (Not In Our Name) has coverage (including many photos) at Indybay Indymedia, "Hundred gather at Washington capitol in run up to the National Day of Action for Lt. Watada."

Joan notes Venus Lee's "Demonstrations support soldier's stance" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):

A Hawaii-born soldier's refusal to fight in Iraq drew more than 80 supporters at demonstrations at two Oahu locations yesterday, with rush-hour commuters tooting their horns in support or raising their middle fingers in disapproval.
The demonstrators waved signs at Thomas Square and just outside the main gate of Fort Shafter supporting Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused to join his unit in Iraq on June 22. Watada is currently confined to Fort Lewis in Washington state pending possible court-martial charges for missing deployment to Iraq last week with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Yesterday's demonstrations drew strong emotions from supporters and detractors.
"One man drove by and gave us a thumbs-down while another woman in his car gave us a thumbs-up," said Warren Kundis, who held a life-size cardboard coffin to represent the thousands of people killed during the war in Iraq.
"This one young man has forced Americans to face a bunch of controversial issues that the government has been hiding," he said.

(Thank you to Joan for e-mailing the above highlight. Thanks to Wally for tracking down an article he saw in his paper and Betty who said, before "hello," "It was covered in my paper.")

From South Florida's Sun-Sentinel's "Rally backs refusal by soldier to go to Iraq" (credited to "Staff reports"):

About 20 activists took to State Road 7 outside military recruiting offices in Lauderhill on Tuesday to show support for an Army officer who has refused to participate in the Iraq war.
[. . .]
Organizer Lori Russell, of Coral Springs, was pleased with the turnout, which included members of Code Pink, the Raging Grannies and the Broward Anti-War Coalition.

To repeat, hopefully, this is "some" of the coverage, hopefully there is more. KPFA's The KPFA Evening News covered the rallies yesterday. Feel free to note anything we miss in this entry and, hopefully, we've missed a great deal. From's "Demonstrators Rally To Support Soldier Refusing Iraq Deployment: Lt. Ehren Watada Held In Custody In Washington" (San Diego):

About 30 anti-war demonstrators expressed support Tuesday for a Washington state-based Army lieutenant who refused orders to deploy to Iraq.
The activists held a rally in front of the downtown federal courthouse in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, who is in military custody at Fort Lewis, Wash.

[. . .]
Similar rallies in support of Watada, who is half Japanese and half Chinese, were held in 33 cities in the United States and Canada, Obata said, adding that the demonstrations would grow when Asian-American populations became aware of Watada's stand as a conscientious objector.
Marjorie Cohn, an anti-war activist and professor at San Diego's Thomas Jefferson School of Law, told the demonstrators the United States is guilty of war crimes in Iraq and routinely violates the Geneva Convention.

The last highlight on coverage of yesterday's rally is Bill Montgomery's "Soldier's anti-war decision praised" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

Carrying signs and banners with messages like "Stop the Merchants of War," the demonstrators said 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is justified under the Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions in refusing to take part in what they called "an illegal and immoral war."
"No soldier has absolute allegiance to any military system," said Debbie Clark, a former Army criminal investigator who's a member of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, which sponsored the brief rally.
"One's conscience and understanding of the Constitution ... requires him to to decide whether or not to obey an order he considers illegal ... to make the moral decision," she said.

Now you can read all the above, you can listen to something, your choice, because the net's still "free." Remember Carl's highlight at the top? Everyone who knows that their paper or TV station didn't cover Watada better get active. That could be the future of the net. It could be as dull, boring, uncaring and limited as so much of the corporate media. Via Rosette Royale's "A Necessary Sacrifice1st Lt. Ehren Watada told the U.S. Army he wasn't going to fight in Iraq. Now he could face a court-martial" (Real Change News), Watada gets the last word:

RC: How about we run through the timeline leading up to your decision.
Lt. Watada: Well, I signed the papers to join the Army in March in 2003, during the initial invasion of Iraq. I think that for millions of people out there -- many Americans and a lot of people in the world -- when the President and members of his administration came on national TV, we all believed in them when they said Iraq had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction; that they had the will and intent to use them against their neighbors and us; and that they also had very strong ties to al-Qaeda and 9/11. I think the majority of the people in this nation, despite the mass protests around the world and within our own country, believed the pro-war rhetoric, though, as we can see now, to our own detriment.
So, I believed-- [He pauses.] Well, maybe I didn't believe that going to invade a sovereign country was fully justified, but I felt that there was no reason to believe our leaders would betray our trust. Maybe it's a little naïve, but at that time, I think it was hard to conceive that someone would lead us into something as horrible as war and deceive us for the reasons for going into that war. So, I was commissioned [as an officer] in December of 2003, finished all my officer's training in the summer of 2004, and then I served a year in Korea.
RC: What were you doing in Korea?
Lt. Watada: I was in a rocket and missile unit. Being in a foreign country, you aren’t exposed to as many things as in America. At the time, I wasn't too motivated to look into all the things that were going wrong in Iraq. Our primary mission in Korea was against a [potential] incursion from North Korea and in the peninsula. So that was what we focused on. I redeployed back to the States in June of 2005.
Then I came here to Ft. Lewis and that's when I learned I was going to be deployed to Iraq. I had my doubts about what was going on over there but, for the most part, I was ready to go. But I remembered something that my former commander in Korea told me: Whenever you undertake something as an officer, it's your responsibility to find out everything about that mission, down to the most minute detail. So I read up on war in general, its effects on people and the soldiers, and, more specifically, what was going on in Iraq.
What I found really shocked me: that we have been misled into this war under false pretenses and were manipulating intelligence through a policy established long before 9/11 and the 2003 invasion, in order to have the public back this war and have Congress authorize force. I realized that what we were doing in Iraq at the present time, and the whole war itself, was illegal under international law. And not only that, but national law. At that time, I felt like I finally saw the truth. I felt a certain sense of shame of committing these acts and wearing the uniform. Inside, I was really in turmoil. I mean, what does someone do? I had a moral responsibility to do something about it, but yet, I couldn't.

Remember scheduled guests on Democracy Now! today:

Ahmed Rashid & Christian Parenti discuss recent developments in Afghanistan

Amy Goodman has several events coming up including one this week with Danny Schechter, Jeff Cohen but first up, tonight, the Center for Constitutional Rights:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Wed, June 28 *
TIME: 7:30 PM
Panel Discussion on State Secrets Privilege
Amy Goodman moderates the panel, which includes attorneys from the
Center for Constitutional Rights and the Legal Director from the ACLU.

* Amy Goodman in Stony Ridge, NY:
Fri, June 30 *
TIME: 7:30 PM
Sounding the Alarm for Freedom: Media Responsibility in Time of War
Tickets are $5 (students free)
For more information: (845) 876 7535

Panel Discussion featuring:
Congressman Maurice Hinchey: leader in media reform legislation
Amy Goodman: award winning investigative journalist for "
Democracy Now"
Jeff Cohen: founder of
FAIR, panelist on "News Watch" (Fox) and
"Crossfire" (CNN)
Danny Schechter: media critic and filmmaker ("Weapons of Mass
Dr. Alan Chartock, President and CEO of WAMC, will host the panel,
which will be broadcast by member stations of

* Amy Goodman in Hartford, CT:
Sun, July 2 *
Living Islam Loving Humanity -- Islamic Circle of North America
Thousands of Muslims to convene in Hartford, CT for the annual joint
convention of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim
American Society (MAS).
Amy Goodman presents Independent Media in Times of War

* Amy Goodman in Eugene, OR:
Sat, July 8 *
Oregon Country Fair
call: 541-343-4298

Rachel notes this on WBAI tomorrow night (Thursday):

10:00-11:00 pm: Rape Declaration Forum
The Rape Declaration Forum is a call-in radio live broadcast, which allows the abused to freely relate their stories to a wide and diverse audience over the airwaves in the New York region, and globally on the Internet.

Lloyd notes that Howard Zinn's "The Scourge of Nationalism" is available online at The Progressive as is Greg Palast's interview with Hugo Chavez. These are from the July issue (we discussed it Monday).

Kat says heads up: KPFA broadcasts the latest episode of Guns and Butter today at one p.m. PST.

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