Thursday, August 17, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

First, picking up from the snapshot today where it was noted that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was in Jordan, five (count 'em five) reporters wrote in and Ava and Jess say they were their usual 'charming selves' as they argued that (basically) "you can't just make something up!" Oh, can't you? Seems the mainstream does that quite often. Their problem is that there is no "proof."
The Jordan item was passed on verbally over the phone by a friend who is a foreign correspondent (mainstream media). I take the friend's word, I've known him for many years. He's wanted that noted for two days now and pestered me to do so. (Which is sometimes the only way something gets included, there's a lot to cover and I don't have a lot of time.) Though I'm not surprised that the five e-mailers weren't quick to take my word, I am surprised (maybe I shouldn't be?) that the five can't do their own research instead of screaming "liar! liar!"

From Petra:

Jordanian and Iraqi parliamentarians held talks on Tuesday in Amman on bilateral ties and means of strengthening them, especially in the economic and parliamentary fields.
Talks, which were co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Mashhadani, also covered regional developments, especially in Iraq.
[. . .]
For his part, Mashhadani stressed the Iraqi keenness on enhancing relations with Jordan in all fields, noting to Jordan's supportive stances towards Iraq.
'' Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, exerts great efforts to restore security and stability to Iraq,'' said Mashhadani, calling on Jordan to play a greater role and build ties with all segment of Iraqi people.
He also underlined the importance of promoting parliamentary ties between the two sides, calling for benefiting from the Jordanian parliamentary expertise in this regard.
Mashhadani highlighted the necessity of establishing the Jordanian- Iraqi parliamentary brotherhood committee, which is expected to have a vital role in developing bilateral ties.

From KUNA:

Speaking during talks with Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani, Al-Zoo'bi said "Iraq is considered Jordan's number one trading partner since both countries have strong commercial and economic links." He added the free trade agreement with Iraq was waiting for Iraq's endorsement to become official.

Use the links, learn something. It might improve your reporting abilities. As for what you're 'entitled to,' you are entitled to listen in on a private conversation taking place in a public sphere.
That's about all you're entitled to from this site. You're not entitled to a personal reply. You're not entitled to me dropping everything to soothe your egos and walk you through reality (even if it hasn't been reported in the domestic mainstream media -- or maybe especially if it hasn't been reported in the domestic mainstream media). You're not entitled to the last word.

That was first, now second -- if you are a member, please, please use the private e-mail accounts. Ava, Jess, Shirley and Martha are working the public e-mail account because there are 10, 743 e-mails in it right now. After Friday, no one's (probably) checking it again until Monday. So use the private e-mail accounts for members if you have something to highlight or sound off on/about. When Ava told me how many e-mails there were today, my first thought was, "They'll just all have to wait." But this (and Sunday) are days when entries are built around members's highlights, so we're trying to get through the e-mails quickly.

For those e-mailing the public account (non-members), there's not time (even with all the help and thank you to everyone for their help) to reply to e-mails in an individual e-mail and also pull some entry (or what passes for one) together and post it. An automated e-mail reply goes out to everyone who writes in to the public account (if your e-mail needs a reply and there is time, one of the four reading right now will either reply now or flag it for a later reply). If you're writing about something that isn't Iraq related, you're really wasting your own time because that is the focus. We may return to other topics (that would be dependent upon coverage of Iraq returning to the forefront elsewhere). If you're a non-member writing to Ruth, Kat, Jess, Ava or me about something we've written, use the public address. If you're writing to whine about something someone wrote about you at another site, use their e-mail address. (And quit expecting that I'm going to side with you.)

If you're writing about Ehren Watada, and most of the e-mails that have been read thus far (in the public account) are ones writing about Ehren Watada, it's amazing how many people do actually care about his case. The general consensus in the e-mails read thus far (from the public account) is that he's not gotten the coverage his case/stance deserves. We hear you. We agree 100%. I would love it if we had time to note every e-mail that has come in on Ehren Watada but we don't. You're e-mails are being read and we all say, "Thank you." You are doing your part to get the word out on Ehren Watada. You are making a difference and your efforts matter. Please continue to get the word out. In silence, Ehren Watada stands alone. You believe in what he's standing for and you are doing your part so thank you and congratulations to you (seriously). You are making a difference.

Jess just read one e-mail aloud which was from a woman wondering where she could go for some serious coverage of Iraq? To which Ava and I replied (aloud), from the book of Cher, "Where do you go? I don't know, ooh." (Seriously, we've highlighted a number of sites in the past few days. If you're wanting Ehren Watada coverage specifically, your best bets remain Courage to Resist and

On the subject of Watada's hearing, Rod notes Melanthia Mitchell's "Army mounts case against Ft. Lewis soldier refusing to go to Iraq" (Associated Press):

The first witness for the defense was University of Illinois professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert.
The war in Iraq, Boyle said, is a war against peace because it was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Secondly, he said, Congress approved going to war only after being lied to by the Bush administration about Iraq having weapons of mass destructon and Saddam Hussein's ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"This constitutes ... a conspiracy to defraud the United States government," he said.
After researching the United States' invasion of Iraq, Watada has said he determined it to be an illegal and unjust war.
Watada made a very extensive study of the facts surrounding the war, Boyle said.
"The more you know, the higher your rank, the more your responsibility," he said. "If he had deployed, he would be facilitating a Neuremberg crime against peace."
Kuecker objected to the relevance of Boyle's testimony, saying the legality of the war is not to be decided by a military court.
Under questioning by Lt. Col. Mark Keith, the investigating officer presiding over Thursday's hearing, Boyle acknowled that either a U.S. federal court or the U.S. Supreme Court could declare the war to be illegal.

Rod wonders if "Kuecker is the judge?" because in the AP article he found, Keucker just pops up in the one sentence (excerpted above). It must be an editing or print error, Keucker is "Capt. Dan Kuecker, the lead prosecutor" which is noted in Bonnie's highlight, Michael Gilbert's "Witnesses say Watada would have committed war crime by deploying to Iraq" (The News Tribune):

Defense witnesses Thursday said Lt. Ehren Watada had no choice but to refuse orders to go to Iraq if he wanted to avoid complicity in what they called war crimes.
"I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council ... falls into the category of a war of aggression, which is by international law a war crime," said Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest of the war in 2003.
"So by a person saying 'Yes, I’m going to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime."
On that basis, Watada's lawyers argued Thursday he was justified in refusing to board a jet June 22 and join his fellow Fort Lewis soldiers for a year-long deployment in Iraq.

As Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, had expected, the hearing lasted only one day. The one making the finding as to whether or not a court martial should be pursued is "Lt. Col. Mark Keith."

While Watada's fate was argued, Bully Boy was in the mood for shallow reflection (the deepest possible reflection for him, apparently). Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bush out to Luncheon in Iraq" (This Just In, The Progressive):

How out to lunch is Bush?
On Monday, he held a luncheon with a bunch of academics to discuss Iraq.
And, according to some of the participants quoted in the Aug. 16 New York Times, he couldn't figure out why the Iraqi people aren't more grateful for all that he and the U.S. troops have done for them.
Rather than take responsibility for the mess he's made, Bush is going into self-pity mode.
He's entering into deep, dark Nixon territory here.The timing of the story was not so great for Bush, though. Because on the very same page was a story that noted that "July appears to have been the deadliest month of the war for Iraqi civilians," with "an average of more than 110 Iraqis" dying every day there. The rate is nearly double what it was in January.
That's just one little clue for the clueless commander in chief.

If Bully Boy needs more clues, he might want to check out Liang's highlight, Pauline Jelinek's "Troops express worries about Iraq" (Associated Press):

The Pentagon's top general says troops suggested to him during a recent trip to Iraq that they are among those who are worried.
White House spokesman Tony Snow took pains to deny a report Wednesday that Bush had privately expressed frustration with the Iraqis for not appreciating American sacrifices made there and with the Iraqi people and their leaders for not supporting the U.S. mission.
"We don't expect ... an overnight success," Snow said when asked Bush's opinion on the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Just when success might come — and whether it is even possible — are key questions for war-weary Americans. And the latest setbacks in Iraq come as congressional elections approach.
Troops are also disgruntled over Iraqi efforts, according to questions put to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited the country over the weekend.
One asked how much more time the Iraqi government should be given to achieve the political unity needed to stabilize the country.
Another wanted to know whether U.S. forces will stay if Iraqis descend into all-out civil war.
And a third ended a question about continued U.S. troop deployments to Iraq by asking, "Is the war coming to an end?"

Is it coming to an end? Doesn't look like it. Not anytime soon. It's fallen off the radar despite the fact that the war continues.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American troop fatality stood at 2597. Tonight? 2604. On The KPFA Evening News, it was noted that 26 have died this month and that 17 of them had died in the Anbar province. We learned today (via the New York Times) that July was the most violent month thus far in terms of bombs. (Bombs not dropped or discharged from US aircraft.) We might be able to offer some sort of number (probably an undercount) on how many Iraqis have died since the illegal invasion but that would require people being aware of Nancy A. Youssef's
"U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" or Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" or Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?" -- pressure can't be brought on the administration to release figures that most Americans don't know exist. So the count, like the war, drags on and it's hidden from the American people.

Dropping back to August 10th, when we highlighted Josh White and Sonya Geis' "Assault Charge Likely For Marine in Iraq Case" (Washington Post) which noted: "A Marine Corps platoon leader is expected to be charged with assault this week for his alleged role in the slaying of an Iraqi citizen in the village of Hamdaniyah earlier this year, his defense attorney said. That would make him the ninth U.S. serviceman charged in relation to the case." Nathan Phan has been charged. Lynda notes Al Jazeera's "US officer charged in Iraq assaults:"

The military has charged a US Marine Corps officer with assaulting three Iraqi civilians in April, accusing him of beating and choking them and placing a pistol in one victim's mouth.
The Marines said on Wednesday that 2nd Lieutenant Nathan Phan, the officer, was charged with three counts of assault and one count of making a false official statement relating to the incident on April 10, near Hamdania, a town west of Baghdad.

Phan, 26, was the platoon leader of the troops charged with premeditated murder in the fatal shooting of an Iraqi man on April 26 in the same town, the Marines said; but he was not charged in relation to that incident.

On the same topic, Julie notes Mark Walker's "Officer charged in Hamdania assault case" (North County Times):

A Marine second lieutenant was charged Wednesday with assaulting three Iraqis in the village of Hamdania on April 10 and later lying about it.
He thus became the first officer accused in one of two criminal cases stemming from actions in Iraq by Camp Pendleton Marines, military authorities said.
Lt. Nathan Phan is accused, along with six lower ranking Marines, of assaulting the three men during a sweep of the town in an effort to obtain information about suspected insurgent activity.
The Marines are accused of using fists and knees against the three men, one of whom allegedly had two pistols placed in his mouth during the course of the assault.
Phan is accused of using his fists and knees to beat two men and placing an unloaded M-9 pistol in the mouth of another man and choking that man "with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm." He is also charged with making a false statement about the incident.
Also charged in the assault case are Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, Lance Cpls. Saul H. Lopezromo, Henry D. Lever and Jerry E. Shumate, and Pfc. Derek I. Lewis. Assault charges against those men were filed Aug. 3.

Turning from potential war crimes to War Hawks, is War Hawk Maria Cantwell the new Scoop Jackson? That would be quite an accomplishment/embarrassment considering she's only served one term in the Senate. As Chris Matthews contemplates borrowing Demi Moore's Ghost haircut and puts "Unchained Melody" on the stereo, Melody steers us to Alicia Mundy's "State's Vietnam schism revisted" (Seattle Times):

The parallels between Jackson and Cantwell aren't perfect. Jackson, unlike Cantwell, had a lengthy track record in the Senate delivering for state interests. Although his primary challenger was popular among party activists, his opponent in the general election was forgettable. And Nixon's White House did not attack Jackson during the race.
[Note: Not unlike Bully Boy & Co. didn't attack Joe Lieberman.]
Cantwell is a freshman in the minority party with fewer accomplishments. She faces a serious, well-financed contender for the general election in Mike McGavick, and the White House has targeted her.

The issue of the day in the e-mails (members or public account -- I have read the members' e-mails myself) is Ehren Watada. "What more can be done?" is a question members are asking. First, you can continue to get the word out. estimates that he spoke to fifty people today about Ehren Watada. If we all followed Kevin's lead, the word would be out. It's not out yet.
However many people you spoke to today, try to speak to that many plus one tomorrow. (Unless you spoke to none today, in which case speaking to one person about this on Friday, while a step in the right direction, really won't cut it.)

Goldie and her mother (Marlene) are doing another house party this weekend and Goldie's dividing up Ehren Watada's speech with her friends -- they'll take turns reading from it on Saturday. (You can find the speech here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout.) The hearing has ended, the verdict/recommendation hasn't been made yet. Be creative and think of ways you can get the word out. Marci is taking the MLK quote that Watada noted in his speech, putting it at the top of postcards and adding "What do you know about Ehren Watada?" She's then e-mailing the postcards "to everyone in my address book." Tomorrow morning, check your inboxes for the latest gina & krista round-robin which includes a roundtable on this topic and what can be done. (Also included are Tracey's photos she's taken in the last few days, so be sure to check those out as well. A lot of activism you may not be aware of.)

And, once again, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."

The e-mail address for this site is (One more time, members please use the private e-mail addresses for highlights, issues and concerns.)