Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Today, Wednesday, August 16, 2006, it's one day before Ehren Watada's Article 32 begins, a military inquiry learns that hypnosis was weighed as an option, chaos and violence continue in Iraq and curfews became the measure to address everything as the whack-a-mole 'strategy' grows more ludicrous. If news of Karbala, Mosul and Basra don't drive that point home, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on the violence spreading outward from Baghdad should.

So the Bully Boy reportedly frets about who's got his back and allegedly peruses Camus and attempts to market "Adapt & Win" (on the grave yard markers of "Adapt or Die"). And the war drags on.

Today is the day that the New York Times editorial board offered "Meanwhile, in Baghdad . . ." which includes the following: "As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test." It's a day where the American military fatality count since the illegal invastion stands at 2604, a day where the wounded count since the beginning of Bully Boy's war of choice now numbers 19323. A day when Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) report that the July death toll for Iraqis at 3,438.

Tomorrow? Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and his attorney, Eric Seitz, "expects the hearing to be over in one day." Which is why it's important to get the word out. Speaking to Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) in June, Watada spoke of how speaking out publicly could result in retaliation: "I think they will do their best to make an example of me." And, as Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported last week, the Army has now three times rejected Watada's offer of resignation leading attorney Seitz to offer that the military appears "To want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."

As Cedric Moon (KGMB9) notes the hearing is to determine whether "Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq". Robert Shikina (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that the hearing is expected to include only four witness: one called by the Army, three called by Seitz. Nina Shaprio (Seattle Weekly) has reported the three witnesses for Watada: "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Seitz told Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that Army's witness will affirm that Watada did not board the buses with others in his regiment on June 22nd and that "the Army also plans to use news clippings and video news reports".

Why would the military have a need to make an example of Ehren Watada? As Susan Van Haitsma (Austin-American Statesman) points out: "Watada joins a growing number of soldiers whose moral convictions are leading to punitive convictions in military courts. Many soldiers who have sought conscientious objector status have been denied it. Thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of the formidable legal blcks to establishing moral objections to the Iraq war. Many have sought refuge in Canada, though political asylum for U.S. military war resisters is not official there."

More information can be found at Courage to Resist and
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."

Some rallies going on today:

*Seattle, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Intersate 5, at the entrance to Fort Lewis
*Portland holds the second of its rush hour bannerings today at 4:30 pm on I5's pedistrian overpass
*Kahului. Two events. Sign-holding at 4 pm on Kaahumanu Avenue. Teach-in at 6:00 pm, Maui Community College's Ka Lama Building Room 104A and Bob Watada, Ehren's father, will be at that event.

"On the one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, goving over to Iraq and fight. On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenouse insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many lives were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, os many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
-- Ehren Watada to Courtney Scott via Rougue Valley IMC

And today in Iraq?


The BBC reports that eight died and 28 were wounded when a bomb went off in Baghdad. The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb in Hillah that killed three Iraqi soldiers (and wounded four more) and states that "[b]ombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi captial Wednesday". CBS and AP report that in addition to the bomb that killed eight in Baghdad, eleven more died (for the 19 total) via "[t]wo other bombs . . . in central Baghdad". [Reuters has just upped the total to 21 killed in Baghdad from bombings today.] Reuters notes that, in Basra, Yusif al-Mousawi ("general secretary of Tharalla Islamic Party") was targeted with two roadside bombs (he survived); in Kut, a roadside bomb wounded two police officers; in Jbala, a roadside bomb left three Iraqi soldiers dead while four were wounded; and, in Baquba, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb that wounded three others. In addition, Damien Cave (New York Times) reports on the bombing of a memorial dedicated to children killed last summer by a car bomber (and, I believe one American soldier was killed in the bombing as well). Cave speaks with Muhammad Khaitan, whose his 14-year-old son Saif Muhammad died in last year's bombing, who declares, "All they left was the foundation. They don't want the next generation to remember how we suffered."


Meanwhile, as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show noted, Basra is under curfew after the storming of a governor's office. Reuters reports that during the attacks on the city council and governor's office, one police officer was killed and five were wounded. The hour long fighting ending, AP notes, when British troops arrived. Reuters is a little more specific: "up to 180 British soldiers and 16 Warrior armored personnel carriers". By the way, in Basra fighting, rockets were used, the AFP reports. (We'll get back to rockets shortly.) And the answer to the violence? Curfew! curfew! curfew! as CNN reports. As the AFP notes, curfew's the sure cure for Karbala today as well -- in fact, forget 'crackdown' -- it's under "lockdown" -- consider it a lid tossed on a pot of boiling water. In Mosul, the armed fighting continued. AP places the death toll from the fighting at five. Reuters notes that these two cities follow the violence in Kerbala yesterday which Iraq's Defense Ministry says claimed the lives of 12 people yesterday. Finally, CBS and AP report that a "Danish soldier was shot in the back . . . in southern Iraq."


AP reports that three corpses were discovered in Kut ("bound, blindfolded . . . signs of torture").

Rockets? Poor William Caldwell IV, he was probably almost over Tuesday's sour stomach following his assurances that Sunday's most violent act in Baghdad was the result of a gas explosion. Well, someone pass him the Mylanta, CBS and the AP are reporting that the group claiming responsibility for the attack has now released a video of "showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone." Because it was four Australian troops and not four American troops wounded in the Green Zone Sunday from a rocket attack, it appears that a number of people are unaware of the incident. That's allowed Caldwell to deny rockets and bombs on the Baghdad neighborhood and, then Tuesday, allowed the military to play the split-the-difference wherein they allowed that okay-bombs-were-used-but-that's-it! Eye witness testimony cites rockets. Caldwell better chug that Mylanta and hope those using rockets on residential buildings Sunday didn't tape their attack as well.

Of the four Australian soldiers wounded in Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone, three were released and able to return to duty, the fourth remains in a hospital in Baghdad. Her name is Sarah Webster and Ian McPhedran (Australia's Advertiser) reports the injuries are minor but include "bruising and lacerations."

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues and . . . Well, what do you say after the Major Michael Pemberton ("head of the military police's special investigations branch") testifies to discussions of hypnotizing one of Jake Kovco's roommates? It's the headline, it's the lede where ever you look -- not surprising. But if we can move on that attempt (not implemented) to jog memory,
here's how Pemberton characterized his relationship with the army chiefs while conducting his investigation: "I would use the term interference" (AAP). Australia's ABC reports: "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday, Major Pemberton said senior military officials in Baghdad ignored his instructions that the body was not to be moved, potentially destroying vital forensic evidence before his investigators arrived." "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday"? That was addressed in yesterday's snapshot when Soldier 46's testimony directly contradicted the claims of others that they hadn't been instructed to secure the death/crime scene.

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