Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NYT usual wire reports & pr; Honolulu Advertiser has news

In one of the first known cases of its kind, an Army officer from Honolulu is expected to refuse to go to Iraq this month with his unit, citing what he calls the "illegal" and "immoral" basis of the war, his father confirmed.
The officer, 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada, 28, son of former state campaign spending commission executive director Bob Watada, is believed to be one of the first military officers to publicly take steps to refuse his deployment orders.
"My son has a great deal of courage, and clearly understands what is right, and what is wrong," Bob Watada said yesterday. "He's choosing to do the right thing, which is a hard course."
Watada declined further comment until a news conference planned for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the state Capitol. His son is with a Stryker unit out of Fort Lewis, Wash., and is expected to participate by teleconference.

The above is from William Cole's "Lieutenant defies Army over 'illegal' war" (The Honolulu Advertiser) and Joan noted it. "11:00 am tomorrow" is 11:00 am today. That's real news. What does the New York Times offer this morning?

John F. Burns pulling together several wire pieces (yeah, I saw them yesterday as well) to pad out another of his useless "reports" (from the Green Zone). He practically soils himself writing of al Malkiki's "carrot and stick" approach and panting over the "iron fist" remark from last week. Though today's readers would never know it from Burnsie's contributions in the last years, he was once considered a real reporter. His t-shirt reads "I sold my reputation in the Green Zone and all I got was this lousy occupation."

Far from the Times, with real news, Elaine called to note United for Peace and Justice:

Wednesday: Call for Congressional Debate on Iraq!
National Call-In Day, Wed, June 7
Call your Congressional Representative:(888) 355-3588 (toll-free) or 202-224-3121
An open debate on Iraq is OVERDUE!
The people of Iraq want their nation back; they understand that the departure of U.S. troops will be the first step toward quelling the violence that has overtaken their country. People in the U.S. want their sons and daughters home. Children want their mothers and fathers home. Most of the U.S. troops think they should leave in the next 6 months, if not sooner. Facing this is a moral and non-partisan challenge.
We have a unique opportunity to demand that Congress stop passing the buck. So far, 122 members of the House of Representatives have signed a 'discharge petition' calling for immediate debate and consideration of ALL alternatives to the policy of open-ended occupation of Iraq (including an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops). All we need is 96 more members of Congress to sign the petition for debate to begin. We need your help.
Call your U.S. Representative on Wednesday, June 7th. Ask your Representative to sign H.Res. 543 OR thank them if they have already signed and ask them to ask a colleague to sign H.Res. 543.

That's today. You've got toll free numbers (no charge). What you don't have is an excuse to do nothing. (Let's leave that to p.r. release readers of the Green Zone.)

A few members have noted that Danny Schechter was on KPFA's The Morning Show yesterday. I didn't catch that part of it (he must have been on the first hour). Ruth did hear it and she'll cover it in her report on Saturday. For those who can't wait or would like to hear, you can go to KPFA for yesterday's archives or go to The Morning Show archives and listen (free of charge). I didn't know Danny was going to be on or I would've provided a heads up. I do know that this morning on KPFA's The Morning Show Larry Bensky will be among the guests.

Mia notes Chris Floyd's "Return to Ishaqi" (Counter Punch) about the examination that apparently neither needed nor required examination to produce a whitewash:

Thus, in a general sense, you would be foolish to accept the result of any of the Pentagon's self-investigations at face value, without independent corroboration. This kind of cynicism is, again, painful and unpleasant, but it has been forced upon us by the many, many lies that have emanated from that five-sided fortress over many decades. This is not to say that every Pentagon self-exoneration is false or incomplete, or that there are not many honorable military investigators doing sterling -- and thankless -- work. (The current Haditha probe -- although belated, and problematic in many respects, is an example of this.) It's merely acknowledging the indisputable reality of history -- and certainly of the current war -- that the Pentagon brass habitually lie and dissemble and look the other way when it comes to allegations of atrocities by US forces. It's only prudent to reserve judgment on any institution that investigates itself for wrongdoing. Or put it this way: if you're ever charged with murder or bank fraud or dope dealing or tax dodging, ask the cops if you can investigate yourself, and see what they say.
But the Ishaqi exoneration warrants skepticism not only in this general sense, but also in its particulars. From press accounts of the report, it largely reiterates the Pentagon's original storyline, while enlarging the death count from the original "four civilians, including one child," which it had held to until this week, when the Haditha story spilled out. And the report apparently just dismisses out of hand the large amount of credible evidence that contradicts the Pentagon's latest story.
First is the photographic evidence: pictures taken of the aftermath by Agence France Presse, and a video that emerged this week on BBC. These clearly dispute the Pentagon's account, which holds that the house was first raked with gunfire, then attack by helicopter gunships, then finally bombed by American jets: a massive barrage of firepower that left the house in ruins. But the video shows that part of the house was left standing. The photographs, which have been widely available for months, show five dead children, one of them only a few months old. They have been laid out by grieving relatives. Their bodies show no signs of having been ripped up or damaged in the course of an all-out air and ground assault; as the BBC's John Simpson points out, they had not been crushed by the collapse of the house, as the Pentagon claimed. Instead, they are unmarked, their clothes dusty but in most cases untorn. In the photographs I saw, one child clearly has blood oozing from the back of her head, while the baby has a hole in his forehead, and other damage to his face. The other children are laid on their back, with their wounds invisible, their bodies remarkably whole. Simpson, shown viewing the film, said it was clear that the children had been shot.
Second is the testimony of the villagers, and of two officials of the U.S.-backed Iraqi police, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein. These are men who risk their lives by their cooperation with the Coalition. The villagers say soldiers entered the house and killed the occupants; the house was later hit by the helicopter then bombed, apparently to cover up the killings, some of the villagers surmised. The Iraqi police said "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head." Later, a Knight-Ridder reporter saw a preliminary report indicating that the 11 victims had multiple wounds. This tallies with Simpson's viewing, which showed that one of the dead children had been shot in the side. Everyone who saw or examined the bodies agreed that the victims had been shot, most likely by bullets from the large pile of American-issue cartridges found inside the house, which can also be seen on the video.
Also dismissed by the Pentagon is the testimony of Ahmed Khalaf, brother of house's owner, who told AP that nine of the victims were family members and two were visitors, adding, "the killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death."

From Ishaqi to Haditha, Brad steers us to Ari Berman's "Occupation Unhinged" (The Notion, The Nation):

The US Army long ago lost control of Iraq's security. Now it's losing a grip on its own soldiers, who are exhausted and demoralized by everything they've seen. According to a study at the Army's own Walter Reed Hospital, nearly twenty percent of soldiers returning from Iraq screened positive for potential mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress syndrome. In a break with past policy, some of these troops are being sent back into combat.
Haditha probably would've remained a secret, to Americans at least, if it wasn't for the repeated warnings of
Rep. John Murtha, who's been called a coward, a traitor and worse by right-wing chickenhawks. This week Senator Barbara Boxer joined Murtha's call for a swift redeployment of troops out of Iraq.
We've been told over and over by mindless pundits that the next six months will be "
make or break" in Iraq. If ever there was a question of whether the US occupation was doing more harm than good, this week provided a heartbreaking answer. Iraq is brutally broken, and the US is incapable of handling the repairs.

And Eddie notes Cindy Sheehan's "The Abominations of War: From My Lai to Haditha" (BuzzFlash):

The massacre in Haditha on November, 19, 2005, is just another way to underscore the fact that our troops are being turned into war criminals in what one article called: "The Worst War Crime of the Iraq War." (Sydney Morning Herald; May 28 , 2006). In a stunning display of shameless hypocrisy George Bush said of the (not uncommon) butchering of innocent civilians in Haditha:
"Our troops have been trained on core values throughout their training, but obviously there was an incident that took place in Iraq,"
Bush also said this following a meeting of his cabinet: the world will see a "full and complete" investigation.
Another false piece of propaganda that we are fed is that we need to support the president, especially when we are "at war." I say, "No, way!" Our kids know the difference between right and wrong before they are sucked into a military system that dehumanizes our soldiers and forces them to dehumanize the "enemy" to the point where it is apparently acceptable behavior to kill children and to cover up the murders. Can we all assume that little Georgie was never told that cold-blooded murder is wrong seeing that his family has supported wars and their inherent crimes for at least
three generations?
The double standard that our leaders have set for themselves and the troops is amoral and corrupt. I have not seen anywhere in the discussion of this topic that, not only is Haditha not the worse war crime committed by American or coalition troops, but the entire war is a war crime. The Pentagon needs to be dismantled, cleansed with holy water and purified by incense and left to lie fallow for generations in atonement for all of the crimes that have been planned and committed within its walls.

Make the call today to Congress. Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) of Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is