Monday, August 14, 2006

"We have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past three years" (Ehren Watada)

On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to be at the Veterans for Peace National Convention. For that night, Lt. Ehren Watada was able to give the following speech, which I've just received permission to post here. The speech was met with a powerful, standing ovation from the vets who've been there.
Lt. Ehren Watada, for those who don't already know, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful war and occupation in Iraq. While doing this on June 22, 2006, Watada said, "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must refuse that order."
Just as Watada took the stage and began to speak, over 50 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War filed in behind him. Watada, surprised by this and obviously taken aback by the symbolic act, turned back to the audience, took some deep breaths, then gave this speech:

Thank you everyone. Thank you all for your tremendous support. How honored and delighted I am to be in the same room with you tonight. I am deeply humbled by being in the company of such wonderful speakers.
You are all true American patriots. Although long since out of uniform, you continue to fight for the very same principles you once swore to uphold and defend. No one knows the devastation and suffering of war more than veterans - which is why we should always be the first to prevent it.
I wasn't entirely sure what to say tonight. I thought as a leader in general I should speak to motivate. Now I know that this isn't the military and surely there are many out there who outranked me at one point or another -- and yes, I'm just a Lieutenant. And yet, I feel as though we are all citizens of this great country and what I have to say is not a matter of authority -- but from one citizen to another. We have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past three years. It seems as though nothing we've done, from vigils to protests to letters to Congress, have had any effect in persuading the powers that be. Tonight I will speak to you on my ideas for a change of strategy. I am here tonight because I took a leap of faith. My action is not the first and it certainly will not be the last. Yet, on behalf of those who follow, I require your help - your sacrifice - and that of countless other Americans. I may fail. We may fail. But nothing we have tried has worked so far. It is time for change and the change starts with all of us.
I stand before you today, not as an expert -- not as one who pretends to have all the answers. I am simply an American and a servant of the American people. My humble opinions today are just that. I realize that you may not agree with everything I have to say. However, I did not choose to be a leader for popularity. I did it to serve and make better the soldiers of this country. And I swore to carry out this charge honorably under the rule of law.
Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War -- but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.

The above is from Dahr Jamail's report "Ehren Watada" (Truth Out) and was noted by Ned. There are three days until Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing starts. Remember that Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th. And you should also check out Cedric's "Tell Rumsfeld 'Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go.'"

On the subject of war resisters, Mike's "KPFA reported on the war resisters in Canada" notes
Sunday's The KPFA Evening News which had a lengthy report on war resisters. (We'll note at least one thing aspect of it in Tuesday's snapshot, Mike was eager to grab this so he got first crack. Also note those quotes are paraphrases. The report was over and Mike hadn't taken notes. I don't usually take notes if I'm just going to note something so I wrote up notes on the report after it was over. To see how many words I got wrong, listen to the report and compare it to the quotes in Mike's entry.)

Kat's "The KPFA Evening News had several reports on Iraq tonight" covers Monday's broadcast. I believe Aaron Glantz also provided a report (I was in a conversation during the report from Iraq -- the house is full of guests) but Kat says she was referring to the war resisters. This was a report that also aired on Free Speech Radio News (so use those archives or The KPFA Evening News) Mark Taylor-Canfield reported on Ricky Clousing's speech at the Veterans for Peace conference (I called it a convention earlier and a member objected that it was a conference -- I see the point and have called it a "conference" today). Taylor-Canfield tied in the fact that Clousing turned himself in (he had self-checked out from the military) at Fort Lewis where Ehren Watada and Kevin Benderman also refused to serve. Suzanne Swift was mentioned as well (I believe that's where they took her after they arrested her at her mother's home). Clousing was quoted saying, "I am prepared for whatever consequence comes." Free Speech Radio News is now providing their headlines in text at the site. Eli no longer types them up but does copy and paste them to members (with hearing difficulties) to this day. Looking at Eli's e-mail (he sends it to me as well to make sure if there's Iraq coverage it can be noted -- not always possible because I'm not always been through the e-mails when I'm doing the snapshot), you have the report in the headlines on Free Speech Radio News. And, looking at Eli's e-mail, the Aaron Glantz report is in Monday's Free Speech Radio News as well (it's Glantz and Salam Talib reporting). (The report is on Sunday's US forces raid of the Health Ministry and the arrest of security guards, I believe five, as well as $35,000 worth of currency seized/stolen by US forces.)

Mia notes Norman Solomon's "Who's Afraid of Hillary Clinton?" (CounterPunch):

The leading pro-war Democrat in the Senate is hoping for a landslide in the New York primary next month. And unless progressives quickly mobilize to dent her vote total, she's likely to get it. Hillary Clinton, of course, intends to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008. But first there's her quest to win big for reelection. If antiwar voters cut into Clinton's percentage in the primary on Sept. 12, despite overwhelming media visibility and a massive campaign war chest, her momentum would take a hit.
After Sen. Joe Lieberman lost to antiwar challenger Ned Lamont in Connecticut's Democratic primary last week, I thought some more about the fast-approaching Senate race in New York, where anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini will be on the ballot next to Clinton.
Tasini, a former president of the National Writers Union, is more strongly and consistently antiwar than Lamont. And Tasini is an all-around progressive on issues from trade to economic justice to health care to the Middle East. But his campaign is underfunded. In contrast, the very wealthy Lamont self-financed his campaign with a few million dollars.

Mia noted this was hard to excerpt and included the full article. When in doubt, I go with the top of the piece. Later in the piece, Solomon addresses and how they polled Conn. members to see if the organization should endorse Ned Lamont (members said yes and did). Solomon notes that isn't polling New York members. The link's there but I know many members don't use them (either for time or other reasons). So, in case you don't use the link, later in the piece, Solomon addresses how appears to be taking a pass on the New York race for US senator.

Rebecca's "2600 u.s. troops dead the a.p. announced saturday" notes the media silence on the 2600 figure. She, rightly, notes that there was a time when the count was noted. The New York Times didn't run a headline on 2500, so we'll assume that they're done noting the figure as a headline (or as a news story). Remember the rocket attack on the Green Zone (that possibly the US military will try to turn into a "gas explosion" in their next press conference)? Four Australian troops were injured. Three were released from the hospital but the lone female was held (with the announcement that she was in stable condition). Skip notes "Wounded Aussie to be evacuated from Iraq" (AAP via Syndey Morning Herald) which identifies her as "Corporal Signaller S Webster" and notes "head and internal injuries, as well as shrapnel wounds and bruising" while explaining that she is going to Germany and then back to Australia.

Elaine's "Time goes by very quickly these days" notes the September 21st-28th upcoming actions of United for Peace & Justice. That includes activites in various areas as well as some online actions, so check that out. And wonder why we get less and less questioning of the Bully Boy? Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY SHUTS OUT THE PRESS! TO LITTLE OUTCRY!" takes a look at that.

Almost lastly, Kat noted this at her site but asked me to note it here as well: Remember the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team was supposed to be out of Iraq this month? Donald Rumsfeld extended their tour. 378 had already began the process of departure. 78 of which made it home, 300 of which had moved to Kuwait en route to home (Alaska). The 300 has been told they're staying in Iraq for at least four more months. CORRECTION: THE 300 WERE BACK IN ALASKA. New details are based on the report The KPFA Evening News aired this evening (Kat also quotes a Reuters article). (We've noted the reaction to this news from Military Families Speak Out but you might want to read that again and imagine that you get told, "You're going back.")

Finally, Susan e-mailed, guessing correctly that there would be an evening entry to get the three for today. She had two questions. First, she wondered if "C.I.'s Wanted In The Green Zone" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) was meant to be to the tune of "Cactus Tree" (written by Joni Mitchell and performed by her on Song to a Seagull)? My involvement in that piece was minimal (and I was against it). The back story is that an e-mail came in from a fluffer who has a high opinion of himself. Ava and Jess worked on a reply (for too long). When I found out, I said don't send it. He's no more special than anyone else writing the public account and when others writing don't always get a reply (let alone members writing to the public account), too bad. Our policy is noted and he could have followed it. He didn't. Boo hoo.

He wanted to gripe. He did. He probably didn't want to embarrass himself but he did that too. He wondered if I'd read his piece of writing? Actually, before I read it, it was read over the phone to me (before it was available). I was quite familiar with his nonsense and familiar with it ahead of time. But he 'worked' from the assumption that he deserved some sort of extra credit because he was in danger (ex-soldiers this weekend laughed at that notion -- he's not exactly Jill Carroll) and that danger meant he was above criticism. If he wants to be above criticism, he can always take his writing and lock it away in a trunk. He also, and this is what the piece focuses on, wrote someone (me) with all these (mistaken) assumptions. The piece responds to that. My contribution was mainly in saying, "Wait, don't mention that" or "Obscure that" (to protect friends' privacy). (And the fluffer's blended with another who wrote repeatedly last week.) The quotes are accurate and I did make sure of that. But my input was reluctant (at best) on that. I did read over it because of Susan's e-mail and I agree it could be sung to "Cactus Tree" so after this posts, I'll go in and add a note of that at the end. (Many participating are big Joni fans and probably caught that right away but I never read the piece in full or heard a read back of it. I was against it for a number of reasons including that I felt it was allowing him a response -- it serves other purposes as well and that's why I went along -- which I didn't feel he deserved. Again, he's no more special than anyone else writing in.) (P.S., "Cactus Tree" is probably my favorite song off Song to a Seagull.)

Susan's second question was what would I be listening to while writing this. I came in here (my bedroom) and put on music to (hopefully) write this quickly. I had read Susan's e-mail and I had Joni Mitchell's Taming The Tiger in here so I've been listening to that. ("No Apologies" is going off right now.)

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