Friday, December 15, 2006

Other Items

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Dec 14 (IPS) - The U.S. military subpoenaed an independent journalist Thursday, demanding she testify as a witness for the prosecution of First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to be court-marshaled for refusing to serve in Iraq.
"This morning at 8:45 someone came to my house and delivered a subpoena," Sarah Olson, an Oakland, California-based journalist, told IPS. "It's absolutely outrageous. It's a journalist's job to report the news. It is not a journalist's job to testify against their own sources."
Olson interviewed Watada in late May 2006, a few weeks before he formally refused to deploy to Iraq. In the interview, the first lieutenant explained his decision.
"I started asking, why are we dying?" he said. "Why are we losing limbs? For what? I listened to the president and his deputies say we were fighting for democracy; we were fighting for a better Iraq. I just started to think about those things. Are those things the real reasons why we are there, the real reasons we were dying? But I felt there was nothing to be done, and this administration was just continually violating the law to serve their purpose, and there was nothing to stop them."
As a result of his public comments, Watada was charged not only for refusing to deploy, but also for "contempt toward officials" and "conduct unbecoming of an officer".
His court-marshal is scheduled to take place in February at Fort Lewis, Washington. The military has also approached at least two other reporters, independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who reports for Inter Press Service, and a reporter with the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

The above is from Aaron Glantz' "Reporter Summoned to Testify Against War Resister" (IPS). For those in need of a scorecard, you see no summons for independent media print division. They must be so proud. (LeftTurn printed the Sarah Olson interview with Ehren Watada. They are the only ones who ran a print article on Ehren Watada.)

Regarding the last entry, that's your teaser for what's coming up Sunday.

Two car bombs have gone off in Ramadi, Aileen Alfandary noted in a news break, before the first broadcast of Democracy Now!, today on KPFA. On that note, we'll note Amy Goodman's "Ask Kissinger about Pinochet's regime" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer):

As the world marked International Human Rights Day, one of the century's most notorious dictators, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, died under house arrest in Chile at the age of 91. His 17-year reign left a deep scar on Chilean society. Yet Pinochet's legacy includes an ironic upside: His regime and the U.S. support for it galvanized the modern-day international human rights movement.
On Sept. 11, 2001, as the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, on our daily broadcast of "Democracy Now!," we were looking at the connection between terrorism and Sept. 11, 1973. It was on that day that the democratically elected government of Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a violent coup, and the forces of Pinochet rose to power. The coup was supported by the U.S. government. Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and U.S. secretary of state, summed up the policy this way:
"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
As Pinochet seized power, first among the dead was the president himself, Allende. Then there were the thousands rounded up. Among them was Victor Jara, the legendary Chilean folk singer. Jara was beaten, tortured, then executed. His body was dumped on a Santiago street and found by his wife in the morgue.
Charles Horman was a U.S. journalist working in Chile. He, too, disappeared in those days following the coup. His body was found buried in a cement wall. His story was immortalized in the Academy Award-winning Constantin Costa-Gavras film "Missing." His widow, Joyce Horman, sued not only Pinochet for the death of her husband but also Kissinger and others at the U.S. State Department.
Pinochet's reign of terrorism extended beyond Chile's borders. On Sept. 21, 1976, the former foreign minister of Chile, Orlando Letelier, and his American colleague, Ronni Moffit, died in a car bombing, not in Chile, but on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the broadcast Goodman notes, also check out this one with Peter Kornbluh.

And we'll close by noting James Glanz' "Bitter Detour for Expatriate Back in Iraq" (New York Times):

Of all the Iraqi expatriates who returned to rule, rebuild and profit from their country after the invasion, none have fallen as far as Aiham Alsammarae, who was once the minister of electricity but now spends his days consumed with bitterness in a Baghdad jail as his lawyers fight multiple charges of corruption against him.
Mr. Alsammarae, an American citizen who lived in the Chicago area and built a thriving engineering firm there, is the only cabinet-level Iraqi official to be convicted and jailed for misusing money during his time in office. Four months ago, hearing that he was being accused of corruption, he walked into a Baghdad courthouse to find out if there were charges against him and was astonished to find himself placed under arrest pending trial. He has been in jail ever since.
During an interview in that jail on Thursday, Mr. Alsammarae still had the swept-back, perfectly arranged hair and obsessively polished shoes of his days in power, but he wore a shapeless zippered jacket over a beige shirt and pants rather than one of his elegant suits. Possibly in deference to his former rank, his "cell" was a converted office with a computer, a refrigerator, a potted plant, a thin mattress and other amenities -- far better than what is provided to other prisoners in the jail.
But Mr. Alsammarae is bitter because, he said, the United States has left him in his hour of need to the vagaries of an Iraqi court system that in many ways is still the opaque and frightening apparatus it was before the invasion. "When somebody is giving his life to service as an American here, he should be dealt with in a different way," he said, complaining of what he called a lack of action by the American Embassy. "If they did anything for me, I am not aware of it."

Realities? The realities include that another American is facing the death penalty (for 'evidence' not presented in an open court -- presented by American 'officials'), the realities should include that a citizen of any nation is not a minister in the government of another, and the reason he's behind bars when others aren't may include the reality that Alsammarae was in talks with the resistance in the summer of 2005 and that, more than anything else, is probably why he's behind bars today. [ADDED: Some confusion over the last remark in e-mails. Talks with the resistance -- largely Sunni -- do not fly in the government of the current puppet. Nor do any overtures to Sunnis fit into Nouri al-Maliki's government.]

Micah notes:

Amy Goodman on "Washington Journal" [this morning]:
*Amy Goodman and David Goodman will be guests on "Washington Journal" withhost Brian Lamb on C-SPAN tomorrow (Friday, December 15) from 9:00-10:00a.m. EST. It is a call-in show.

The e-mail address for this site is