Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Ehren Watada Is a Patriot" (Matt Hutaff, The Simon)

When you are looking your children in the eye in the future, or when you are at the end of your life, you want to look back on your life and know that at a very important moment, when I had the opportunity to make the right decisions, I did so, even knowing there were negative consequences.-- Lieutenant Ehren Watada, June 7, 2006
Ehren Watada's moment of truth comes February 5, 2007. As the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, that's the day he
faces a court martial for his stance against the war. The proceedings impact not only the young Hawaiian's life, but the moral compass of the United States as well.
Watada isn't opposed to the military, or wars in general. Having joined the army in 2003 "out of a desire to protect our country," he served with distinction in Korea before preparing to deploy to the Middle East. He believes the present war in Afghanistan is justified by the attacks of September 11, and even offered to fight in that theater for the duration of his service requirement. But the legality of American involvement in Iraq isn't in question to him – as far as the lieutenant is concerned, what we're doing over there breaks many laws.
"The war was based on false pretenses,"
asserted Watada in 2006. " If the president tells us we are there to destroy Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, and there are none, why are we there? Then the president said Saddam [Hussein] had ties to al-Qaeda and September 11. That allegation has been proven to be false, too. So why are we going there?
"[The] Iraq war is not legal according to domestic and international law. It violates the Constitution and the War Powers Act, which limits the president in his role as commander in chief from using the armed forces in any way he sees fit. The UN Charter, the Geneva Convention, and the Nuremberg principles all bar wars of aggression.
"There is no justification for why we are there or what we are doing."

The above is the opening to Matt Hutaff's "Ehren Watada Is a Patriot" (The Simon). On Watada, Nicholas von Hoffman has an article at The New York Observer. We're not linking to it. von Hoffman can hit major lows (his uninformed attack on Janeane Garofalo) and, in this instance, research wasn't required for his 'report.' I know of three troops who are thinking of going public right now -- from them -- and I also know of more through word of mouth. von Hoffman, who seems to be allergic to research, maintains that it's not likely more will choose to self-check out. He bases that on . . . what he saw at his desk. After the slam on Janeane, I don't care for him at all. Had he written a useful article on war resisters, we'd note it (and only on that topic). This is neither useful nor informed -- continuing a pattern in his writing. But we will note that he had to take it to The New York Observer because The Nation remains uninterested in covering war resisters.

We will, however, link to Paul Rockwell's "The war on trial: an Army officer risks prison to argue that Bush's war is illegal" (San Francisco Bay Guardian), noted by Zach:

The story has received a fair amount of media attention, in part because the Pentagon is trying to force three journalists to testify against Watada (see "A Reporter Stands Up to the Army," 1/10/07).
But the soldier's story is significant on its own.
A year ago, when Watada was on leave and out of uniform, he delivered a moving address to a Veterans for Peace convention. Watada is not a conscientious objector. He even offered to serve in Afghanistan.
But he questioned the legality of the war in Iraq, and he denounced the known lies of the George W. Bush administration. He said nothing more than what the world already knows, and he did not encourage any other soldiers to follow his example. All the major issues of the Iraq fiasco -- the fraudulent basis for the war, the absence of a formal declaration from Congress (which has no constitutional authority to transfer its war-declaring power to another branch), the war crimes, the flagrant violations of international treaties such as the United Nations Charter -- are coming to a head in this historic battle between a junior officer and an army whose Abu Ghraib torture scandals shocked the world.
Ordinarily, the truth of a claim is a strong defense against any charge of defamation. Not in the Army, however. Army prosecutors do not intend to allow Watada any opportunity to prove in court that everything he said about the president is true. Prosecutors told the presiding judge, Lt. Col. John Head, that the truthfulness of Watada's speech is irrelevant to the case.

Turning to the New York Times, Damien Cave takes a look at the state of the Iraqi parliament in "Iraq Parliament Finds a Quorum Hard to Come By:"

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament, read a roll call of the 275 elected members with a goal of shaming the no-shows.
Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister? Absent, living in Amman and London. Adnan Pachachi, the octogenarian statesman? Also gone, in Abu Dhabi.
Others who failed to appear Monday included Saleh Mutlak, a senior Sunni legislator; several Shiites and Kurds; and Ayad al-Samaraei, chairman of the finance committee, whose absence led Mr. Mashhadani to ask: "When will he be back? After we approve the budget?"
It was a joke barbed with outrage. Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000.
Part of the problem is security, but Iraqi officials also said they feared that members were losing confidence in the institution and in the country’s fragile democracy. As chaos has deepened, Parliament’s relevance has gradually receded.
Deals on important legislation, most recently the oil law, now take place largely out of public view, with Parliament -- when it meets -- rubber-stamping the final decisions.

About community sites. Three who posted yesterday have posts you can't read. Elaine says it's "no great loss" on her post and that she knew of the problems at two other sites so she didn't attempt "anything major." The problem is with the written posts posting to the sites. (Mike explains this here.) Wally and Cedric's joint-post also isn't visible at their Blogger/Blogspot sites; however, Cedric did post it at his mirror site on Blogdrive.

In addition to the above, Seth posted at his site Saturday. (He e-mailed on that late Sunday, I haven't read his post yet -- and e-mailed to apologize for that -- I'm way behind there are a ton of e-mails, everyone we can get to will be read and answered but remember, we'll be in DC this weekend and e-mails will probably be put on hold during that time.) (Gina and Krista go into daily editions of the gina & krista round-robin beginning Thursday morning. Check your inboxes each morning through Monday morning.) To three visitors who've e-mailed the public account this morning with attachments -- I don't open attachments unless I know the sender.

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