Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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It must sound absurd, perhaps even unbelievable, that four peace women were arrested and put on trial for attempting to deliver a peace petition to the US Mission to the United Nations. But while our arrests reflect the "shoot first, ask questions later" style of George Bush and outgoing UN Ambassador John Bolton, we ended up teaching the government a lesson in diplomacy.
On March 6, 2006 CODEPINK organized a group of about 40 women, including a delegation from Iraq, and held a press conference in front of the United Nations in New York City to call for an end to the war in Iraq and commemorate International Women's Day. The group then marched a few blocks to the US Mission to deliver a petition signed by 72,000 women from around the world.
The previous year on International Women's Day, CODEPINK had delivered a similar petition without incident, with government representatives from the diplomatic office coming outside to greet us in a freak blizzard. This year, to our surprise and horror, we found the building had been locked up to keep us out and we were surrounded by armed police and security guards. After an hour of urging them to either let a small group inside or have someone come down to "just accept the damn piece of paper," the four women representatives--myself, peace mom Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Family member Missy Beattie, and Reverend Patti Ackerman--were handcuffed and dragged to a police wagon. We were booked and kept overnight in the over-crowded, roach-infested jail called "The Tombs." We were charged with trespassing, two counts of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing government administration.
Nine months later, the trial of the "CODEPINK Four" started in the Manhattan Criminal Court and dragged on for over a week. Day after day, the prosecution trotted out police officers, security guards and US Mission staff to testify that we never intended to deliver the petition but instead had planned to get arrested as a publicity stunt. They insisted that we were trespassing on private property (the US Mission is a government office but is currently housed in a commercial building), that we blocked the entrance to the building, and that we resisted when the police swarmed in to arrest us.

The above is from Medea Benjamin's "Peace Women, Convicted of Trespassing, Teach the US Government a Lesson in Diplomacy" (Common Dreams). The four women, Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin who were convicted of trespassing at the UN Mission yesterday in a Manhattan court along with Missy Comley Beattie and Rev. Patti Ackerman, were (wrongly) convicted of trespassing on Monday (the other charges were tossed out by the jury). Amy Goodman interviewed Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan on yesterday's Democracy Now! about the case (here and here). I had intended to note Kat's "This is justice?" in yesterday's snapshot but things got too hectic. If you've missed it, please make a point to read that. And Mia notes Missy Comley Beattie's "Convicted for Our Convictions" (CounterPunch):

The Manhattan criminal trial of Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Rev. Patricia Ackerman, and Missy Beattie is over, ending in a "guilty" verdict on the charge of trespassing and a "not guilty" on four more serious counts. Yes, we were relieved but a "guilty" on any is absurd because the arrest, itself, was dead wrong. Just call it another example of George Bush's post-9/11 reign of terror, aggression, and disregard for civil liberties. Another George-Orwell-must be shouting from the grave, "Don't say I didn't warn you."
We four women for peace were arrested in March of 2006 in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Yes, that's right-the U.S. Mission-our mission for which we pay rent and whose employees we compensate with our tax dollars. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations should not be housed, even temporarily, in a commercial building with a security staff that can determine who is allowed to enter.
Prosecutor William Beesch requested five days of community service for each of us. Cindy Sheehan's attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said, "My client does community service every single day and the prosecution just doesn't get it. She spends every day trying to end the war."

And we'll stay on the topic of peace and courts with Jonah's highlight, Joseph Goldstein's "Judge Shoots Down the City's Effort To Get Pacifist Group's Member Data" (New York Sun):

A federal judge has told the city it is not entitled to the membership information of a pacifist organization because such disclosure could deter the group's members from participating in future political activities.
The dispute over whether the local chapter of the War Resisters League must turn over notes from three of its meetings arises in connection with several lawsuits over the mass arrests of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Lawyers for the city, who subpoenaed the organization in 2005, have said in court that a copy of the meeting minutes could show what certain plaintiffs knew about the group's plans for an anti-war march that took place on August 31, 2004.
Police stopped the march on Fulton Street as it got under way, arresting 227 participants. Hundreds of the more than 1,800 protesters arrested during the convention weekend have sued the city.
The lawsuits are mired amid subpoenas and depositions. But the city's subpoena of the War Resisters League is unusual, because the city rarely subpoenas political organizations, several lawyers for the plaintiffs have said in interviews.

Peace under attack. While Ann Scott Tyson's "Army, Marine Corps To Ask for More Troops" (Washington Post) which finds both branches eager for "permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources." Lloyd notes this section from the article:

The U.S. military has more than 140,000 troops in Iraq and 20,000 in Afghanistan, including 17 of the Army's 36 available active-duty combat brigades. When Army and Marine Corps combat units return from the war zone, they immediately lose large numbers of experienced troops and leaders who either leave the force, go to school or other assignments, or switch to different units.
The depletion of returning units is so severe that the Marines refer to this phase as the "post-deployment death spiral." Army officials describe it as a process of breaking apart units and rebuilding them "just in time" to deploy again.

In Iraq today, the US military announces a bombing "near the Kamalia Mosque in the New Baghdad section of easter Baghdad at approximately 9:45 a.m.". Olive notes
this from AFP:

Two suicide bombers have smashed trucks into a military base housing a unit that protects Iraq's oil infrastructure, killing nine soldiers and wounding 10, an officer and a medical source said.
One after another, at 8am local time, the trucks ploughed into a camp near the town of Riyadh, 50 kilometres from the oil centre of Kirkuk, and exploded.

As Elaine noted yesterday and as Cedric and Wally pointed out as well, the barely working Bully Boy has announced there will be no 'plan' for Iraq announced until next year. In the New York Times this morning, Jim Rutenberg and David E. Sanger's "White House to Delay Shift On Iraq Until Early in 2007" tackle the subject who note 'bipartisan' "criticism . . . [that Bully Boy is] failing to show sufficient urgency about Iraq despite months of escalating violence there." We're calling it 'bipartisan' criticism based on the way the Times generally uses the term. Also in the Times today, Helen Cooper's "Saudis Give U.S. A Grim What If" addresses the government of Saudi Arabia's announcement, via King Abdullah who passed it on to Dick Cheney right after Thanksgiving, that they will back Sunnis in the civil war if the US pulls forces out of Iraq. Which you can pair with Ben's Robin Wright's "Saudi Ambassador Abruptly Resigns, Leaves Washington" (Washington Post):

Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, flew out of Washington yesterday after informing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his staff that he would be leaving the post after only 15 months on the job, according to U.S. officials and foreign envoys. There has been no formal announcement from the kingdom.
The abrupt departure is particularly striking because his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, spent 22 years on the job. The Saudi ambassador is one of the most influential diplomatic positions in Washington and is arguably the most important overseas post for the oil-rich desert kingdom.

Michael R. Gordon and Sabrina Tavernise offer "Iraq Army Plans For a Wider Role" (New York Times) attempt to report on the laughable asserting of 'readiness' by Iraqi troops (assertion made by Iraq's national security advisor).

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