Thursday, June 15, 2006

NYT: Nothing to see, is there ever?

It started out with being scared for her life when she signed up for the military. She assured me that she was promised she would not go to Iraq. I was not as trusting.
She was sent to Iraq right out of her basic training. While she was packing, we cried, as she assured me she would be okay. One of her sergeants assured me, "Don't worry, ma'am, we'll take good care of your daughter." I desperately hoped that I could trust him to watch over her. I later found out he was one the first predators to try to have sex with her and make her "his private."
She spent a long year in Iraq. I feared for her safety every waking minute. She frequently called me crying, telling me very little of the horror she was witnessing - only telling me it was hard. She told me that almost all of the other soldiers were sexually harassing her and that many of her sergeants and lieutenants were really pressuring her and making her life miserable for rejecting them. Calls from her often ended with "Oh, there goes gun fire - gotta go mom, love you."
When she returned from Iraq, she was much more quiet and anxious than when she left. I offered to get her help, but she refused. She told me that if she opened that can of worms she would not be able to function as a human being. I asked her if she wanted to deal with the horrible sexual harassment charges against so many of her fellow soldiers. She said, no mom, it would only make my life even more of a living hell. Then she finally blew the whistle on one of her superiors for sexually harassing her, and she was treated like a pariah, while he was moved to a different unit and promoted. She put her head down and worked as a Military Police officer on Ft. Lewis. She was always shocked by the number of domestic violence calls she went out on. The fear of a mother of a peace officer was there, but at least I could call her and knew she was safe. We knew that she was going to be re-deployed to Iraq sometime after the mandatory 18 months' stabilization time is over. So, we were looking at November of 2006 for a second re-deployment. Our hearts were heavy at the thought.
She came home for a visit and couldn't face me to tell me she was going back to Iraq much sooner than expected. My fear was skyrocketing. I asked, how can they do that, you will have only had 11 months of stabilization time? She told me that she refused to sign the paper waiving her rights to 18 months. She was told that her life would be hell in a shit hole if she refused to sign. They screamed in her face and intimidated her to the point that she would shake when she told the story. Our family prepared. She was packed, ready to re-deploy, keys in hand. She said, "I can't do this, Mom, I can't go back there." We shifted into action to protect our daughter.

The above is from this morning's New York Times and . . . Oh come on, you didn't fall for that, did you? The New York Times run the above? The paper that sold the war and continues to? The above, noted by Tom, is from Sara Rich's "Fear for My Daughter" (Truthout). The paper of no record still can't bother with writing about Ehren Watada. If Harper's or another publication does a cover story, the Times will generally try to do one story on the war resistors a year. That's it. They've provided no coverage of the Jeremy Hinzman or Brandon Hughey cases. They've provided no coverage of Kevin Benderman's imprisonment. Camilo Mejia? The Times isn't interested.

What are they interested in? Sabrina Tavernise has an article that's appalling bad (and Happy Talk unlike the brief she wrote yesterday -- which we didn't note because we'd covered it via independent media before where it was addressed at length and better). How bad is it? It's as though she didn't even read the wire reports before filing. Meanwhile Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes an article that's either a rewrite or reads that way. There have been so many stories of Bully Boy playing Axel Rose and singing "Patience" ("Just a little patience . . .") that it's hard to keep all the nonsense straight. Stolberg cleans up Bully Boy's press conference (omitting, for instance, the laughable "darn dangerous" remark and not noting his stops and starts, his faltering words as though someone had just whispered in his ear . . . wait, that's another story).
It's useless which is why it runs in the paper.

She even fails to report accurately on the Republican legislation that will be discussed in the House today. While providing a snippet, she fails to note that the legislation boasts that the United States will "win" the global war on terror. Well if a verdict's declared, I guess the "war" is over. Bully Boy tells you that he will ignore the will of the people. While hardly surprising at this late date, Stolberg writes it up as a rebuke to Dems and not as an affront to the people and the notions of democracy (which it is). Read for laughs only.

Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer's "Iraq Amnesty Plan May Cover Attacks On U.S. Military" (Washington Post):

The violence continued Wednesday. A bomb placed in a parked car exploded in northern Baghdad, missing the police patrol that was its apparent target but killing four civilians. A photographer for the Reuters news service, caught in the traffic, reported witnessing bystanders sticking bars into vehicles in an effort to pull out victims who were burning alive.

Here's the section that will probably get the most attention:

Asked about pardons for those who had attacked Iraqi forces, he said: "This needs to be carefully studied or designed so maybe the family of those individuals killed have a right to make a claim at the court, because that is a public right. Or maybe the government can compensate them."

Tom also noted Sarah Olson's "When Soldiers Refuse to Fight: Is the US Army Trying to Silence Lt. Watada?" (Truthout):

US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada says, "I've come to believe this is an illegal and an immoral war, and the order to have us deploy to Iraq is unlawful. I won't follow this order and I won't participate in something I believe is wrong."
On Wednesday, June 7th, Lieutenant Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly announce his refusal to deploy to Iraq. He said, "The war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare."
The very next day, Watada's commanding officers read him his rights. They opened an investigation into Lieutenant Watada's alleged violations of Articles 133 and 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and making "contemptuous" statements against the president, respectively.
"I think I'm being watched very closely," Lieutenant Watada says. "But I'm still going to speak out. This isn't going to stop me." Despite the extra scrutiny, Watada says he doesn't regret his decision to publicly denounce the war. Legrand Jones is a member of Watada's legal defense team and says the lieutenant's statements are well within his rights. "Just because you join the military doesn't mean you give up the first amendment." Jones says the Army's efforts are simply intimidation tactics.
The Fort Lewis public relations office denied knowledge of any investigation. Spokesman Joe Hitt said, "Lieutenant Watada hasn't done anything wrong, and he's performing his duties to satisfaction." Further, Hitt says, he cannot comment about ongoing investigations.
Lieutenant Watada's action has sparked a groundswell of support. Veterans, anti-war advocates, military families, and members of religious communities have given Lieutenant Watada their support. On the anniversary of the distribution of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg said, "Watada's courage here, I hope, will be contagious to his fellow officers. It should leave them to question the path of honor in this illegal war." Ellsberg, who was himself an infantry officer, says Lieutenant Watada has shown foresight and courage in his defense of the Constitution.

Rod passes on today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

A look at U.S. soldiers who say no to war in Iraq. We'll hear from themother of a soldier recently arrested for refusing to fight as well as theauthor of "Mission Rejected," a new book that documents the growing dissent within the military.

You won't see the Times covering that. Peter Laufer is the author of Mission Rejected and I'm guessing (I could be wrong) Sara Rich will be the mother interviewed (Suzanne Smith's mother).

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