Wednesday, January 3, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq but it's hard for it to be reported as the useless media (especially independent media) goes after the circus that still is the aftermath of the show death.
Starting with news of Ehren Watada. In June, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In August, the US military held an Article 32 hearing. This week, Thursday, a pre-trial hearing begins leading up to his February 5th court-martial. The AP reports that Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, has been informed that his client's reasons for refusing to deploy will be exlcuded which would rob Watada of the ability to defend his own actions.
As Leila Fujimori (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) observes these decisions could "decide the trial's outcome before it even gets under way, his supporters fear." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes that "Seitz has filed motions that include declaring the intent to defend Watada based on the claim that under international law the war in Iraq is a 'war of aggression' in which he has the right to refuse to participate." Seitz explains to Rod Ohira (Honolulu Advertiser) that
"The Army is way out on a limb on this case. If they are successful (at the hearing), the trial will be a farce. . . . Missing movement is like not going to work; it's not criminal, but this is a miliatry court. They're singling him out as a deterrent for others speaking out."
The pre-trial hearing takes place tomorrow at Fort Lewis, Washington. Also tomorrow, there will be at least two rallies in support of Watada. One rally will be held at Fort Lewis, off Interstate Five, exit 119. Among those scheduled to participate are Bob Watada (father of Ehren), Sara Rich (mother of Suzanne Swift), US war resister Darrell Anderson, Chanan Suarez Diaz, Michael Cuzzort, Pia Rivera and Carrie Hathorn. The actions begin at eight a.m. and the speakers' program begins at at ten a.m. Another rally will be held in San Francisco and begin at 11:15 a.m. (Thursday, January 4th) at Japantown Peace Plaza (corner of Post and Buchanan) which will then move to the San Francisco Federal Building at noon and culminate in a Die-in at the front enterance of the Federal Building (one p.m.). More information can be found at ThankYouLt.org.
As Ann Wright (Op-Ed News) observes: "GI resistance to the war is increasing. AWOLS are increasing. War resisters are speaking out and are willing to go to prison rather than participate in an illegal war of aggression. Over 1500 active duty soldiers have signed an 'appeal for redress' to the Congress asking for the 'prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq.' They will go to Washington and deliver the appeal to individual Congressmen and women on January 15."
That resistance includes Ehren Watada and many others such as Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress this month.
Ann Wright, retired Army Colonel and retired from the State Department, wrote about the attempts she and other activists with CODEPINK had on Monday when they attempted to observe the 3,000 mark (Sunday, the number of US troops who have died in Iraq reached the 3,000 mark). Actions took place around the country on Monday and Tuesday. [Click here for photos from Pittsburgh's actions.] And did you hear or read about them? Probably not. CODEPINK noted: "We're worried that with the media focusing on Saddam's death, our 3,000th soldier death will be unduly glossed over." You think?
Yesterday (and today) Democracy Now! was all about the show death. Ironically, as Rachel pointed out, many of their viewers/listeners were probably confused in the other segment Tuesday, supposedly on Ehren Watada, when the speech Watada gave was brought up -- one used in his Article 32 hearing and one at the heart of attempts to get journalists to testify in the court-martial (NO reporters are being asked to testify in the pre-trial). Rather important speech, but one Democracy Now! never aired. Today, they brought you a vintage interview with Saddam Hussein. Where the "peace" in the so-called "war and peace" report is remains a mystery.
But Amy Goodman & co. are far from alone. As Mike (Mikey Likes It!) noted, late yesterday evening The Nation finally got around to noting the 3,000 mark. Mike: "Richard Kim's 'Gays: Uncle Sam Wants You' went up at The Notion after 6:00 pm. C.I. addresses The Notion in the snapshot. But let me note that they've finally noted the 3,000 mark. In fact, let me quote them in full on the 3,000 mark: 'Though the US death toll in Iraq just hit 3,000, President Bush remains adamant about sending a "surge" of up to 20,000 new troops to the region.' That's it. The 3,000 mark is worth exactly one sentence to The Nation. I think you know their priorities." I think Mike's correct, we do know their priorities.
Addressing local news priorities, Missy Comley Beattie (Truthout) notes: "The local news anchor said that the Pentagon had announced the 3,000th US troop death in Iraq. She continued with: 'And closer to home, it's a good time to be a Jets fan.' Closer to home? The war is very close to home for all who have lost someone they love, for the many whose child, spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, sibling, or friend has been maimed, or for those who have someone deployed or about to deploy to war. Iraq is closer to home than any sports, social event, or movie, showing at the local theater. It is especially close to home when the doorbell rings and military personnel are present to deliver the news that changes lives forever."
"A plain car pulled up. My mom knew right away what it was" is how Jeremy Blohm describes to the AP learning that his 21-year-old brother Alan Blohm (Kawkawlin, Michigan) died on New Year's Eve.
Today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 31." This brought to 114 the number of US troops who died in the month of December.
As Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports, "the number of injured has far outstripped the dead, with the Veterans Administration reporting that more than 150,000 veterans of the Iraq war are receiving disability benefits. Advances in military technology are keeping the death rate much lower than during the Vietnam War and World War Two, Dr. Col. Vito Imbascini, an urologist and state surgeon with the California Army National Guard, told IPS, but soldiers who survive attacks are often severly disabled for life. . . . Dr. Imbascini just returned from a four-month deployment to Germany, where he treated the worst of the U.S. war wounded. He said that an extremely high number of wounded soldiers are coming home with their arms or legs amputated. Imbascini said he amputated the genitals of one or two men every day." Those who would prefer audio for Glantz' report can refer to yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.
Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad that left one person wounded. Reuters also reported a mortar attack in Baghdad the left nine wounded and a Tuesday mortar attack in Ramadi that wounded a woman and five children.
Retuers reports, in Hilla, two men were shot dead.
Reuters notes one corpse discovered in Kirkuk. Reuters also reported 27 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Now do you really think that's all that happened in today? No. But when you turn a show death into a feeding frenzy, even the wire services get pulled off covering reality. Don't think the Bully Boy doesn't love it. As long as the topic is the show death, no one's following the violence. But by all means, let the Amy Goodmans and Ari Bermans (he just posted on the show death -- he's not written one word about the 3,000 deaths) continue to be useless. Just don't let them make you useless as well. The topic will be addressed at length Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.
Meanwhile, Christopher Torchia (AP) reports on the videotape that was delivered to the AP today which appears to have been shot on or around December 21st and 22nd and contains footage of Paul Johnson Ruben (Buffalo, Minn), John R. Young (Kansas City, Missouri), Jon Cote (Buffalo, NY), Josh Munz (Redding, Calif), and Bert Nussbaumer (Austria) who were kidnapped November 16th of last year in Safwan -- Cote states: "I can't be released until the prisoners from the American jails and the British jails are released" and there's nothing else noted of a demand from the kidnappers.
The AP also notes that puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is feeling the weight of the strings and has stated that he wishes he could leave his office right now. The BBC notes that the interview was given to the Wall St. Journal and that al-Maliki complained about "US-led forces and the Iraqi army" stating that their response is too slow and "gives the terrorists a chance to hit and run." After calling them 'terrorists,' al-Maliki then calls them "gangs," suggesting the puppet is in his Mariah melt-down period.
One person not crying for al-Maliki is Saleh al-Mutlaq. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) notes that al-Mutlaq joined with Muktada al-Sadr's bloc in withdrawing support from al-Maliki's government and Hayden calls the claim by US and Iraqi forces that they attacked his offices due to "a rumor that the house was an al-Qaeda front, a preposterous notion that was disproven by the results of the raid." Hayden also notes that Saleh al-Mutlaq was one of the Iraqi parliamentarians who mets with the peace delegates in Jordan last August.
Finally, Edward Luce (Financial Times) notes that Bully Boy is expected to make his announcement regarding Iraq "before his annual State of the Union address to Congress in late January" and that there is "mounting opposition" to an escalation of US troops in Iraq. Not cited by Luce, but the opposition includes the US military. Military Times' polling has found that "[o]nly 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approave of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disproved" and "only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003."
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around