Sunday, July 23, 2006

NYT: Finally reports on Ehren Watada

We're moving quickly. Carl noted, rightly, that I forgot to include Margaret Kimberley's latest in yesterday morning's entry. That was due to a phone call in the middle of writing it that asked if I was going to stress the paper of record's continued silence on the issue of Ehren Watada? The friend (who is with the New York Times) urged (strongly) that it be noted one more time. So I ended up working that in quickly and forgot about everything else. We'll note Kimberley tonight and my apologies for the delay. (Note: Online the paper has carried an AP article on Watada. Until this morning, the paper had run no articles on Watada by their own reporters.)

Of primary interest to the community will be page A16 which contains John Kifner and Timothy Egan's "Officer Faces Court-Martial for Refusing to Deply to Iraq." The article walks the reader through Ehren Watada's growing awareness about the illegal war (and notes that a review of Watada found that he possessed an "insatiable appetite for knowledge" which the paper calls "one onimous note") -- reading James Bamford's A Pretext for War, reading Seymour M. Hersh's Chain of Command, and "other publications on war-related themes, including selections on the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the British chief of intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002 that the Americans saw war in Iraq as 'inevitable' and that the facts were being fixed around the policy."

Watada went from having doubts in Feb. 2005, the article tells you, to being convinced that, in his words, "Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership."

Not one to forget which side of the centrist bread his butter is spread on, Michael E. O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute tells the Times, "The idea that any individual officer can decide which war to fight doesn't really pass the common-sense test." But an illegal war, apparently does pass the common-sense test? This is the organization that once struck fear in the heart of Richard Nixon?

Watada has stated repeatedly that he serves the Constitution -- an idea that doesn't occur to O'Hanlon -- he is aware of the oath required when you enter the service, right?

The paper's vague on when the hearing would be (or commissioned Army officers, "the first facing the prospect of a court-martial for" refusing to deploy) so we'll note this from Monday's "Iraq snapshot:"

In peace news, Eric Seitz, attorney for Ehren Watada, states that there is a date scheduled "tentatively" for "Watada's Article 32 hearing . . . Aug. 17 or 18." Seits tells Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that this hearing would "determine whether sufficient grounds exist to warrant a court-martial" and that the maximum punishment for Watada's refusal to serve in the illegal war could be 7 and one-half years in prison.

On page A9, Kirk Semple and Robert F. Worth cover Iraq. Semple offers "Iraqi Parliament Speaker Says Invasion And Aftermath Are the 'Works of Butchers" which addressed the Iraqi parliament speakers' comments (via Al Jazeera):

US forces have committed butchery in Iraq and should leave, the speaker of the country's parliament has said.
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was speaking on Saturday at a UN-sponsored conference on transitional justice and reconciliation in Baghdad.
"Just get your hands off Iraq and the Iraqi people and Muslim countries, and everything will be all right," he said in a speech as the conference opened.

Semples notes:

"We know there was a corrupt regime in Saddam, but a regime should be removed by surgery, not by butchering," he said during a speech at a United Nations-sponsored conference on transitional justice. "The U.S. occupation is butcher's work under the slogan of democracy and human rights and justice."
"Leave us to solve our problems," he continued. "We don't need an agenda from outside."

Semple also notes that, on Saturday, seven died at a construction site in Baghdad (shooting deaths); two American soldiers died (bombing and an attack on a patrol); mortar attack killed five civilians in Baghdad, a bomb in Falluja killed "at least three" Iraqi sodliers; a bomb in Baquba killed three police officers (five more wounded); a bomb in Baghdad killed one; a gunfight in Mosul killed three; a bomb in Kut killed an Iraqi soldier; a bomb in Mussayib killed an Iraqi soldier; and a police officer was killed in Amara.

Robert F. Worth offers "Lawyers for 4 Accused Soldiers Say They Acted On Orders" which addresses a May 9th incident that has four soldiers accused of killing three Iraqis: "Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Specialist William B. Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, and Specialist Juston R. Graber." They stand accused of plotting the murders of the three Iraqis. Paul Bergrin (one of the four's two attorneys, Michael Waddington is the other) states that the four first took the three Iraqis prisoner and radioed in to their "first sergeant" who asked them, "Why did you take them prisoner? Why didn't you kill them?" The lawyers say that the three Iraqis broke free (from the plastic handcuffs) and attacked the four troops who then "opened fire, killing the three Iraqis."

Worth informs the readers that, on August 1st, an Article 32 hearing will be held in Tikrit to determine whether there is enough evidence to go forward with a court-martial. The Article 32 hearing to determine if a court-martial was needed would take place, currently, at least 16 days prior to Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing to determine whether Watada, who is not accused of killing or raping or burning the corpses of any Iraqis, should face a court martial.

Remember this from Gerry Condon's "Support for War Resisters Grows" (July edition of The Objector -- PDF format):

After [Kevin] Benderman's court martial, his commander, Army Captain Gary Rowley, had some telling words: "If [the rest of the Army] saw this and found it works using smoke and mirrors to get by, we'll have other soldiers saying, 'Well, I'm a conscientious objector.' . . . They need to know there are consequences for not doing their duty." Captain Rowley also posted photos on base bulletin boards of Benderman being led off to prison, in order to intimidate his fellow soldiers from even thinking about conscientious objector status.

New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Editorial: Bully Boy's Wars
TV: 24 -- like 60 Minutes with less action
What's on Your Mind? Do the Pollsters really want to know?
What's being read?
Flanders was in the house at the National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Chicago
Protest in Mexico over the election! Over the 2004 election.
NYT triest to catch up with Third Estate Sunday Review?
Insantiy: How Little Centrists Get Ahead and Destroy America

Lastly, today on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (7:000 to 10:00 pm online, on Air America Radio and on XM satellite radio):

Stephen F. Cohen -- contributing editor to The Nation, NYU professor and like a walking Wikipedia on the subject of Russia but with the facts right! (cheap Wikipedia joke, true, but it illustrates the point) -- and Jamal Dajani (no my dyslexia did not cause me to get Dahr Jamail's name wrong, the guest is Jamal Dajani) the director of LinkTV's Middle Eastern programming. Plus Claude Anshin Thomas on the journey from Vietnam veteran to Buddhist monk and "an upcoming Los Angeles retreat to help heal post-war trauma."

And Jess & Jim both said "Stop!" They're working the e-mails this morning. They say Martha has a highlight that "must be noted" -- putting a human face on some of the tragedies. From Joshua Partlow's "Widows Often Find Help Elusive in Iraq" (Washington Post):

She has progressed a few paces in five hours under the glaring sun, but still the line of women in black robes stretches far in front of her. In three more hours, the Labor Ministry will close, and Aida Qamel will return home for another few months, until she has another free day to search for someone who will listen to a widow's story in Baghdad.
"My husband was blown up in his video game shop. I was a housewife," she begins quietly, keeping one arm firmly wrapped around her 7-year-old son, Mohammed.

Another widow interrupts. "I have seven children and my house collapsed."
Then more women from the line crowd in, speaking over one another as if it is all the same story.
"I've got two handicaps, and my husband was a farmer. Now we have nothing."
"Can someone just get me some cold water?"
"Are you going to help us at all?"
With each new car bombing, grenade explosion or mortar attack, the list of Iraq's widows grows longer. And each new case further overwhelms the beleaguered Iraqi government's welfare program intended to help them. At the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Baghdad, where staff members sometimes work in darkness during power outages, officials in charge of disbursing funds to widows admit they cannot keep up with the killings.

In the public account, Dona, Ava and Ty say a visitor noted Thomas E. Ricks' "In Iraq, Military Forgot the Lessons of Vietnam: Early Missteps by U.S. Left Troops Unprepared for Guerrilla Warfare" (Washington Post) which is copied and pasted in full and they're too tired to pull an excerpt (I am too, it's been 29 hours without sleep) but Dona notes that the a companion piece would be entitled "In DC, Administration Ignored the Lessons of Vietnam."

Isaiah goes up when this entry is done posting.

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