Thursday, October 12, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

"Denial is killing us."

It certainly is. Today, I spoke to a group of students and one brought along her mother. Until a few weeks ago, as the woman discussed, she didn't pay attention to the war. She made a point to avoid it.

What changed? Her son ships out the 22nd of this month to Iraq. He signed up before the Iraq war and he wasn't going to have serve there, that's what he told her. She avoided the Iraq war in the news which isn't very hard to do. It usually meant skipping one story in the paper a day ("if that," as she noted). She's preparing dinner during the evening news and the news magazines "aren't really interested in Iraq." The only thing her son's stated that he's worried about is storing his car but he thinks the military will pay for that (this is what he's told her) so when he gets back, he won't have any hassles.

She's not sure how much truth she's getting from him as opposed to sugar coatings to keep her from worrying. Right now what she's pinning her hopes on are:

* That he makes it home safely in seven months.
* The November elections.

The press? She's not pinning any hopes on the press. When she first learned he was going to Iraq (it was in a week at that point then it got moved back to the 22nd of this month), she stopped "hiding" and started trying to immerse herself in what was going on in Iraq. There's a day here, there's a day there in the print and broadcast media. She's been reading books (and cited Aaron Glantz' How America Lost Iraq as the best she's read).

She said it's not very difficult to avoid the topic of Iraq if "you try a little, it's not like it's anything that the media's interested in." Her biggest disappointment? Independent media.

Her daughter's a community member and has written about this for tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin so be sure to check your inboxes tomorrow. (I checked with both ___ and her mother to be sure that it was okay to include what's noted here.)

The mother spoke very movingly and explained that she was in denial thinking if she avoided the issue, it would protect her son. "But it didn't," as she noted. The three of us went to lunch after (one of the reasons the snapshot was so late today) she asked a question she's asked everyone she knows: How can she stop him from going?

She can't. The answer she gets from everyone. He's an adult. If he refuses to deploy (there's no indication that he will), it will have to be his decision. She blames herself and she doesn't need to. Yes, she could have paid attention to the war before this but it's a natural impulse for many who have a loved one that could be involved. I know people involved with fire fighters or police officers that avoid breaking local news for the same reason.

People like that especially need others to pay attention. There are people to blame for not paying attention but someone who can't deal with facing the possibility isn't anyone I'd blame.

She knew about Ehren Watada but that was really it. (She and her daughter haven't been able to talk about the war, she wouldn't listen when her daughter would bring it up.) Ricky Clousing was offered as a war resister and we were filling her in on him and his case today.

She couldn't belive someone was being court-martialed for resisting the war and the news was no where. But that's the reality of today and those who e-mailed about this statement in today's snapshot: "WHERE THE HELL WAS INDEPENDENT MEDIA?" -- that's the background on it. No one complained about it in the e-mails. But some did enjoy that it was "finally in a snapshot" (to quote Keesha).

So Ricky Clousing had a court-martial today and did you even hear about it or read about in the media? Did your day start with a heads up to it and a note that there would be a rally today, that he would speak to the press? Where was independent media?

Clousing? He was on his own. He was at the mercy of the big media which has not demonstrated a great deal of interest in the subject.

The AP was there. From the AP's "Paratrooper gets three months confinement for going AWOL:"

A Fort Bragg paratrooper who says he left his military base because he disagreed with the U.S. mission in Iraq was sentenced to three months of confinement after pleading guilty Thursday to going absent without leave.
Sgt. Ricky Clousing, 24, of Sumner, Wash., also will receive a reduction in rank before getting a bad conduct discharge. His plea allowed him to avoid a more severe sentence for desertion.

Where was independent media?

David Miner, Clousing's attorney, is quoted as saying that Ricky Clousing doesn't regret his decision (by the AP). Good for him. He shouldn't. He should be proud of himself, he's demonstrated true bravery. But any war resister who wants to complain about the lack of coverage has every right to do so. Bob Watada is on his second speaking tour and who's interviewing him and who isn't?

Mark Wilkerson is in a state of limbo, awaiting to hear what charges will be brought against him. He was a one day news cycle and, if he's charged, after his hearing he might get another one-day cycle. It doesn't cut it.

There have been some improvements. The Nation has upped their coverage. One piece by Katrina vanden Heuvel that I don't believe we noted was "Quagmire Accomplished" (which ran on Tuesday at their site).

Mark Mericle is covering Clousing right now on The KPFA Evening News but that's been one of the few exceptions when it came to providing coverage on Iraq. He's also covered a story I haven't heard of today, about a woman who interrupted Bully Boy's energy speech today by yelling "Out of Iraq now!" and, as she was being pulled out, yelling, "What are you doing? You're killing us!"

He is. So is the silence, so is the denial. Again, I'm not going to slam anyone who's in denial because they're not ready to deal with picturing a loved one in the service being sent to Iraq. I am willing to slam media, big and small, which won't address the war.

This summer, a movement got traction, the war resistance movement within the military. It got traction via word of mouth, it had very little assistance from independent media and it still has very little traction in the independent media. Marcus forwarded an e-mail (it's already been noted at the mirror site) and we'll note it here:

"In Iraq, we are fighting an immoral war, much the same as Vietnam was 40 years ago. Today's soldiers, armed with the knowledge gained from watching Sir! No Sir! have the potential to rise up and stop another war that should have never started. Get this into the hands of our troops in Iraq and just wait for the movement to erupt."--Tim Goodrich, Co-Founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War
Ehren Watada, Katherine Jashinski, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson--The past few months have seen a sharp rise in GI resistance, spearheaded by these and other courageous individuals who are publicly refusing deployment to Iraq and speaking out against the war.
In honor of the growing resistance in the military and as Veterans Day approaches, WE HAVE SLASHED THE PRICE OF THE LIMITED EDITION DVD of Sir! No Sir! from $19.95 to $14.95. If you haven't yet bought the DVD, now is the time to do so. Buy the film, show it to friends, and organize house and public screenings to support GI and veteran resisters from Vietnam to Iraq.
And let us be the first to announce that the Holidays are just around the corner! Pick up extras for friends and loved ones–especially those serving in the military today. Buy them now at
The GI Movement Trilogy

We are also now offering new books that are essential reading for those who want to support GI resisters--what we call the GI Movement Trilogy:
--Soldiers in Revolt by David Cortright
The first and most thorough portrayal of the Vietnam GI Movement.
--The Spitting Image by Jerry LembckeThe book that exposes the myth of spat-upon Vietnam Vet.
--Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq by Peter Laufer
The first book describing the experiences of current military resisters.
These books are now available at
We also want to take this opportunity to urge you to buy, watch and spread The Ground Truth, Patricia Folkroud's incredible film that reveals the brutality of American military tactics in Iraq through the eyes of the soldiers themselves, and chronicles the burgeoning resistance among today's "War on Terror" veterans.
Act Now
Go to to purchase these crucial materials, or go to one of our many affiliate sites. Please help spread this exciting offer and announcement by forwarding it to your email lists.

[Tim Goodrich spoke out against the war many times, including at the World Tribunal on Iraq in June of 2005.]

War resistance within the military is only one area of resistance against this war. The war the Bully Boy lied a nation into, the war big media sold you and the war small media lost interest in has many strands of protest. Each one of them is needed to stop the war.

"Denial is killing us," said a mother today. "You are killing us," screamed a woman at the Bully Boy. Why?

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 total number of US troop fatalities stood at 2738. Right now? 2758. That's twenty additional deaths since last Thursday. It stands at 45 for the month. As the war drags on, the numbers climb. For Iraqis, a study published in The Lancet gives the best estimate thus far, approximately 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the illegal war. 'Freedom,' 'liberation,' are the buzz words of Operation Happy Talk but the reality is corpses. As George McGovern noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the cut & run started the second the administration "cut & run on reality and common sense" and it's only continued. The 'plan' (as opposed to the buzz words) was documented by Naomi Klein in "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine).

While some paid (with their lives, their limbs, their loved ones), some stuffed their pockets. Such as with the next highlight, Brenda notes "Ex-Army Corps of Engineers employee pleads guilty to taking payments" (AP) on Gheevarghese Pappen:

A former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee pleaded guilty Thursday to taking almost $50,000 in bribes from a Kuwaiti real estate agent while working to get apartments for U.S. personnel stationed in Kuwait and en route to Iraq, officials said.

You can pair the above with "American Accused of Taking a Bribe for Work on Iraq" (credited to "The New York Times") which addressed the case of Bonnie Murphy:

A former Pentagon employee accepted gold jewelry worth thousands of dollars for illegally steering nearly $6 million in contracts to an Iraqi company for work at a sprawling American military base adjacent to Baghdad’s main airport, according to an indictment released yesterday by the Justice Department.

You can also pair it with this from Amit R. Paley's "Parliament Approves Measure Allowing Autonomous Regions" (Washington Post):

Also on Wednesday, former electricity minister Aiham al-Sammarae was convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. Afterward, U.S. troops took custody of Sammarae, who holds dual Iraqi-American citizenship, because he feared being killed if he was placed in jail, said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

I've pulled probably sixteen paragraphs from this. I'm sure members can supply their own critiques of what we've gotten instead of Iraq coverage. But, more importantly, check out the round-robin tomorrow morning for a member writing about how her brother's about to be shipped to Iraq. It contains a blistering critique of independent media and I doubt any member will disagree with her or be offended by her examples.

The e-mail address for this site is