Monday, January 22, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Lieutenant Watada case is a difficult one for the Army prosecutors, and by extension for the commander-in-chief.
An Eagle Scout who joined the Army after finishing a degree at Hawaii Pacific University, Lieutenant Watada served so ably during a tour of duty in Korea that he was rated by his superior officers as "among the best" and "exemplary," and recommended for an early promotion. Lieutenant Watada has volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, where he believes that U.S. troops are participating in "an unambiguous war linked to the September 11 attacks." But he refuses to deploy to Iraq because, he explains, he believes that the U.S. presence in that country violates the Constitution, which requires that wars be declared by Congress, and the War Powers Act, which places limits on presidential war making. Lieutenant Watada also argues that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is in clear conflict with the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles, which bar wars of aggression.
It appears that the prosecutors do not want to provide Watada with an open and fair forum in which to explain his arguments against the war. They are frightened by the prospect that an obviously courageous and patriotic soldier might, in response to questions about why he has refused to deploy to Iraq, make an articulate and convincing case against the legitimacy of an unpopular war.

The above is from John Nichols' "Sarah Olson and the Struggle to Save Journalism" (The Notion, The Nation). We'll note the above on Ehren Watada. At the request of three journalists and a military attorney (all friends), we'll note another position. Sarah Olson is being asked to verify her report. She is not being asked, "What else happened that you did not print?" In civilian courts, reporters are often asked to do this, to go on the record about their reports. And possibly, when you consider some of the garbage that makes it into the New York Times, all bylines should be put on a witness stand to state publicly that their articles are correct?

The position of the four is that Olson is not being asked to do anything out of the norm. Their position is that any reporter asked to should be willing to affirm that what was printed or broadcast, their report, was an accurate retelling.

I disagree with that. I don't think the press is in the position of aiding the prosecution -- military or civilian -- and that prosecutors need to do their own work. (Which is why we supported Judith Miller's right to refuse to testify -- about unnamed sources which is much more than what Olson is being asked to do.) A prosecution is supposed to build a case against an individual -- they should be able to do so without the participation of journalists (my opinion) or they don't have a very strong case.

We've noted re: Olson, she's changed her position repeatedly. An e-mail came in noting that she was not the person who stated in the Glanz article that she supported Watada 100%. I'll accept that as correct without looking. (We're doing a crash course on Flickr as I type this to try to figure out how to get Isaiah's comic up. I'm also going through e-mails and on the phone with a friend from Iraq.) Therefore, Sarah Olson has never stated anything other than (this is a paraphrase): "As a journalist, it's not up to me to support or refute my sources. As a journalist my job is to cover the news." If Olson is noted again for any reason in the snapshot, we'll note that as well. That means her position is that she doesn't think journalists should be used to build a prosectuion (a point I agree with) and she cannot discuss her "legal strategy."

Rebecca raised an important point Friday: the judge has refused to allow the defense to mount a case as to Ehren Watada's reasons for refusing to deploy to Iraq. (He feels the war is illegal and immoral.) The defense cannot call Watada to the stand, if those guidelines are strictly enforced, and ask him about his reasons.

However, if the prosecution asks Olson to affirm the veracity of her reporting, the defense can, under cross, go through her reports and ask her to verify them. For example, "Watada stated that he felt the war was a violation of the Geneva Conventions, that's what you reported, is that correct?" The defense can read from the reports, line by line (the prosecution has opened that up by calling journalists to testify about their reporting) and that may be the only way that Watada's stand, his reason for doing what he did, can be entered in the record.

Dallas noted Nichols in an e-mail. Since Ehren Watada is fighting a battle that the peace movement should support (refusing to fight in an illegal war), it would be nice if he could, oh, I don't know, be the subject of reports from independent media. But we'll take what we can get.

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 Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 3019. Tonight? 3054. That's the ICCC count. Members are still voting on whether we'll stick with it or not. We're using it tonight because there's no time. (We're still not able to get Isaiah's comic to show up. And, to repeat from this morning, when you sign up for a service -- Hello! -- and they decide to stop providing a service -- such as posting images -- they have your e-mail address, it's incumbent upon them to issue an announcement that they are discontinuing their service with Blogger/Blogspot.) So, by ICCC count, that's 25 in seven days. Again the question becomes, how many more? Over 655,000 Iraqis dead. How many more? Escalation means more deaths, how many more?

From Anne Sexton's "For Mr. Death Who Stands With His Door Open" (from The Death Notebooks):

Time was when time had time enough
and the sea wa washed me daily in its delicate brine.
There is no terror when you swim in the buff
or speed up the boat and hang out a line.
Time was when I could hiccup and hold my breath
and not in that instant meet Mr. Death.

How many more get to meet Mr. Death?

What's going to stop the illegal war? Not Bully Boy, not Congress, it's going to take people standing up and demanding that it end. People doing what Ehren Watada has done, saying the war is illegal. A group of people doing just that gathered this weekend for Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq. On that hearing, Natalie notes AP's "Tacoma forum hears Iraq war denounced as illegal:"

More than 400 people turned out at a forum Saturday to hear the Iraq war denounced as a violation of international and U.S. law.
The event at the Tacoma campus of The Evergreen State College was organized by supporters of Army Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis soldier who faces a court-martial next month for refusing to deploy with his unit to Iraq.
An Army judge last week ruled that Watada can't defend himself in court by challenging the legality of the war.
Watada, who received a standing ovation, told the audience he thought the judge's decision was "a travesty of justice," and that he hoped "the truth can be brought out to the American people." The event, dubbed the "Citizens Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq," was scheduled to continue Sunday.
The chairman of the hearing, David Krieger, a peace activist who was a juror in the 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq held in Istanbul, said organizers "make no claim to impartiality, only to truth."

From Hal Bernton's "Anti-war activists hold hearing" (Seattle Times), note by Kara:

Watada, whose court-martial begins Feb. 5, also made a brief appearance. He thanked the conference organizers and denounced last week's decision by Military Judge Lt. Col. John Head to block the presentation of his defense.
"I believe that it is a travesty of justice," said Watada, who faces up to six years in military prison if convicted. "That it is a violation of our most sacred due process, and indeed it is un-American." In a pretrial ruling, Head -- citing federal court decisions -- concluded that the legality of the war was a political issue that could not be litigated in military court.
Saturday, plenty of people were eager to speak to the issue.
Richard Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, cited the Army Field Manual, which holds soldiers accountable for crimes that violate international law. He argued that the war breaches international law because the Bush administration did not go to the United Nations Security Council to gain specific approval for military action.
U.S. officials dispute that assessment, saying that a 2002 Security Council resolution, which threatened Iraq with serious consequences, put the invasion in compliance with the U.N. charter.
Some of the harshest attacks on the Bush administration came from Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 as a military analyst leaked to the press the secret Pentagon Papers, which detailed the U.S. conduct of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg accused President Bush of war crimes that could be prosecuted under international law.

"I didn't make the hearing, there's nothing I can do!" That's nonsense. There are actions in communities everywhere that you can take part in. (Or start your own.) This coming weekend, there will be demonstrations in DC and around the country. For more on that, United for Peace & Justice:

Assemble on the National Mall, between 3rd and 7th Streets, at 11 am. Rally 11am-1pm.March will kick off at 1pm.SCHEDULE OF EVENTS More details coming soon!
IT IS TIME FOR CONGRESS TO ACT!With support from, True Majority, Working Assets, the RainbowPUSH Coalition, the National Organization for Women and hundreds of other national and local groups, word about the Jan. 27th antiwar mobilization is reaching far and wide. Momentum is building and people from all walks of life and every corner of the country will be marching on Washington, DC, on Saturday, Jan. 27th.Our message will be clear, our voice will be strong: End the war in Iraq, Bring all the troops home now! We urge you to join us!
On Mon., Jan. 29th, we will take our message directly to the new Congress during our lobby day.
Click here for more info and to register for the lobby day.
You can help make these critical actions a great success:
Make a much-needed donation today.
Spread the word -- click here for flyers to download and distribute, web buttons to post, videos to share, etc.
Sign up to be a local coordinator to help mobilize people from your area to come to DC.
Be one of the first to wear an official J27 t-shirt!
Order yours today!
Read More »

I know the community is doing everything they can do. There are a variet of actions being taken. The community's been active. There's no need to say, "Take it up a notch" because that's already happened and continues to. But Francisco noted something in his column this morning (and, note, every article has an English translation right next to it, so read the newsletter), taking someone along. If you've done everything you can think of and you've got an action this weekend in your community or you've going to DC, bring someone else with you, someone who isn't already planning to attend a demonstration.

It's not the 2004 post-election period where people are trying to move on from the war. Everything you've done since the start of the illegal war has created the space for real discussions about the war (the media certainly didn't), they've effected the polls which demonstrate that the public which turned against the war after the half-way point of 2005, is still against the war (no surprise there) and that this number has been joined by many more. So mabye in 2006 there was someone you knew who was on the fence or against the war but not wanting to be 'too public' about it. Find that person, get them involved.

Pru's highlight underscores how important ending the war is, "Bush and Blair’s nightmare vision: a generation doomed to war" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Tony Blair promises us a "generation" of war. Standing on HMS Albion, a naval assault ship, he ranted last week about the need for decades of conflict, and how the British people had to harden themselves for the coming clashes.
Without a hint of regret, he defended the Iraq war, claiming that it had been caused by "alarm at the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons" -- a lie which nobody now believes.
Blair demanded that Britain be a nation of "war fighters" determined to use "hard power" across the globe.
Safe from the agony and death he has caused, Blair warned service personnel and their families that, "Conflict and therefore casualties may be part of what they are called upon to face."
He added that the enemy was "not a criminal conspiracy or even a fanatical terrorist organisation. We face something more akin to revolutionary communism in its early and most militant phase."
And the inevitable result is that, "For our part, in government, it will mean increased expenditure on equipment, personnel and the conditions of our armed forces -- not in the short run but for the long term."
This chilling speech is not just a declaration of war on ordinary people across the globe. It is also directed against us in Britain.
It is our sons and daughters who will die in these wars, our health, education and welfare that will be sacrificed to fatten the arms budget, and our civil liberties that will be snatched away.
The speech came as an extra 21,500 US troops began pouring into Baghdad -- fuelling the flames already engulfing Iraq. And George Bush has now unveiled new threats against Iran.
Bush and Blair have doomed one ­generation to war. Now they promise the same for the generation to come -- and although he may sometimes use different words, Gordon Brown will stand with them.
But on both sides of the Atlantic, opposition grows to the escalation of the Iraq war. The Stop the War Coalition in London reports a surge of its own -- in support of the demonstration called for 24 February. Join it and let’s sweep these warmongers away.
The following should be read alongside this article: » '
Surge' into Iraq threatens to spill into Iran and Syria» Somali activist: 'The US is imposing a dictatorship upon us'
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