Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Violence in Iraq doesn't stop just because NYT fails to report it

For Kentucky mom Anita Dennis, the news of increased suicides is hardly surprising. In 2005, Dennis' son, Specialist Darrel Anderson, fled to Canada, saying he could no longer fight in what he called an "illegal war".
In 2004, Anderson says he was ordered to open fire on a car full of innocent civilians. The car had sped through a U.S. military checkpoint, and his commander said it was Army procedure to fire on any vehicle that ran through a traffic stop. Anderson refused the order.
"Darrel was so screwed up in the head when he came back from Iraq, that's why he had to go to Canada," Anderson's mother told IPS. "That was a desperate attempt to save his life because he could not face the military."
Anderson received the Purple Heart for taking shrapnel to protect the rest of his unit from a roadside bomb. Last October, he made the decision to turn himself in to military authorities, and under a special deal, is receiving treatment for his PTSD.
"There was a guy in Darrel's unit that when Darrel got wounded by the roadside bomb, this guy got so freaked out that every time they went out on a mission they left him there playing video games," Dennis said. "Darrel was like, 'This guy's messed up, shouldn't we call his parents? Shouldn't we be getting him treatment?'"
Dennis said her son's commanders refused because giving him treatment would be an admission that things weren't going well.
"So they left him there for three months playing video games," Dennis said.

The above was noted by Thomas who asked that we highlight Aaron Glantz' "Sick, Literally, of Fighting in Iraq" (IPS) one more time to include the above. No problem, Darrell Anderson is a war resister who continues to speak out and has been taking part in Iraq Veterans Against the War's Camp Resistance in support of Ehren Watada. damon reports on the latest:

So here's the deal, it’s January 14th, 2007 --22 days until the court-martial. Between now and then we would like to make an impression large enough to influence the outcome of the trial. To make this a reality, on a daily basis we will need to get as many people as we can outside the gates of Fort Lewis and on the streets across the nation. This effort, if taken seriously, as seriously as six years of a human's life, should progress until culmination; Lt. Ehren Watada’s court-martial: February 5th, 2007.
Locally we are developing relationships that will help us as far as our concerns for housing, food and transportation go. What we need nationally is financial support for getting
IVAW members here at Fort Lewis, particularly on the day of the trial. Also, we envision Camp Resistance FOBs (Forward Operating Base) starting all over the country; in front of recruiter’s offices, military bases, etcetera. When we got kicked out of our campsite, we came to the realization that Camp Resistance is not a physical place, but a place within our hearts and minds. If your heart is filled with resistance to this illegal war and Love for LT, you can start a daily vigil in your local area or join us here at Fort Lewis.

In addition to the above, all important, you can start letting your independent media outlet of choice know that they should be covering this. It's been going on since January 4th. It's going to be covered when?

(Radio station KBOO has covered it. Will anyone be next?)

Does coverage matter? If it didn't a lot of people wasted a lot of money being trained for a profession with no impact. But here's a concrete example via Abhilasha, from Jimmy Blue's
"Despite a solidier's sworn duty, support for dissenter important" (Washington's The Daily Evergreen):

The difference between Watada and me is that I am not a member of the U.S. Army. Because of this, I found it hard to support Watada at first. His role in the Army is to support the decisions of his commanders and carry out orders that are supposedly in the best interest of our nation. Furthermore, Watada enlisted in the military in 2003, the year our nation entered the war, and at this time he should have had the foresight to predict a day when he might be sent to fight in Iraq. Many would use this against him. But at that time, he could not have known that the pretenses with which we entered the war in Iraq were false or that the condition in Iraq would become so deplorable. At first I had sided against Watada, but since that time my opinion has shifted. Knowing what we do today about the Iraq war, I can understand Watada's stance. In fact, I am surprised others did not take such a position before he did. Yes, it is true Watada was a volunteer and he took an oath to serve his country, but that oath says nothing about blindly following orders even if such things are implied. The Army Officer Appointment Acceptance and Oath of Office states, "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." In his decision not to go to war, Watada was serving his country in the best way he knew how. Following his interpretation of the oath, Watada was attempting to serve our nation by protesting an unjust war that has divided our nation and cost thousands of American lives. My judgment now is to support Watada in his stance against the war.

It matters and when outlets are silent it does hurt (individuals and the movement). A friend passed this on to me, from January 12th, Kevin Dougherty's "AWOL Army medic charged with desertion" (Stars & Stripes) on war resister Agustin Aguayo:

A medic who went absent without leave in September to avoid a second tour in Iraq has been formally charged with desertion and missing movement, according to a U.S. Army spokesman.
If convicted of both offenses, Spc. Agustin Aguayo, with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, could receive a maximum prison term of seven years, said Maj. Eric Bloom, spokesman for the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwöhr, Germany. He also faces the forfeiture of all pay and allowances, demotion to the lowest enlisted rank and a dishonorable discharge.
Under military law, a deserter can be sentenced to death in a time of war. But the law also allows a more lenient sentence depending on the circumstances.
Aguayo’s case was referred to trial Monday by Brig. Gen. David G. Perkins, the commander of the JMTC, which has assumed jurisdiction in the matter. The referral follows an Article 32 hearing that was held Dec. 12 in Schweinfurt, Germany, where Aguayo had been assigned.
No trial date has been set.

From Aguayo's statement to the United States Court of Appeals in Washington D.C.:

I have received orders from my command that on August 28, 2006, I will be deployed to Iraq in support of (ISO) the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) for a minimum of 365 days. In this statement, I explain why my religious beliefs will not permit me to participate in this or any war, even as a non-combatant, and why, under compulsion of conscience, I will risk court-martial and imprisonment rather than deploy.
My beliefs and morals come from a transformation as a direct result of my combined religious/family upbringing, military experience, and new experiences I’ve created and sought. Such as, I have surrounded myself with people who cherish life and peace. I have become an active member and supporter of many peace organizations such as The Center on Conscience & War, Military Counseling Network, The Munich Peace Committee, and American Voices Abroad. I have overhauled my life with new practices such as the peaceful art of Yoga and meditation. As time progresses (it has been more than two and a half years since I became a CO) my beliefs have only become more firm and intense. I believe that participating in this (or any) deployment would be fundamentally wrong, and therefore I cannot and will not participate. I believe that to do so, I would be taking part in organized killing and condoning war missions and operations. I object, on the basis of my religious training and belief, to participating in any war. I have to take a stand for my principles, values, and morals and I must let my conscience be my guide.
After all, I and no one else has to bear the consequences of my decisions or burden of neglecting my conscience.
Initially, the Department of the Army had allowed me to remain in a non-combatant status until the Court decided my case. However, I recently was charged with an Article 15 (a non-judicial punishment which could carry reduction of rank and loss of wages) for refusing to draw a weapon. I accepted those charges and pled "not-guilty." Even though there was a standing agreement with the Army I was punished with 14 days extra duty and 1 week loss of pay.
With or without non-combatant status I will not deploy to Iraq. I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the reason for refusing to deploy. But that is incorrect. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to do guard-duty, although I chose to carry only an unloaded gun. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to patch-up, treat, and help countless soldiers for “sick-call” in order to facilitate their prompt return to combatant duties. While there as a non-combatant, I was asked to drive soldiers around on patrols, patrols which could have been deadly to Americans and Iraqis alike.
I regret involvement in those activities, because ultimately I was contributing to the war mission and enabling others to do what I oppose. By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for "sick-call" as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physically better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do. Although I myself did not pull the trigger, I now realize that what I did as a non-combatant nonetheless supported and enabled these missions.
I cannot carry that burden on my conscience. When you know better you do better. Therefore, this time I will not deploy. My conscientious objection applies to all forms and aspects of war. Even if I went there to do kitchen detail or scrub toilets I would still be supporting the very missions and operations I oppose. An Officer once explained to me how in his view the Army was like a huge machine made of many parts that all work together to achieve the desired outcome. I know this is true. If the outcome is killing I cannot be a part of the "machine." Since I deployed once before, I know what I would have to do, and that is not acceptable for me. Before I deployed last time, I knew I could not possibly purposely cause someone physical harm. Back then, I was willing to deploy to a war zone while the Army considered my application for discharge as a conscientious objector, so long as I was not required to use or train with live weapons. Because of what I learned during that experience, I cannot be part of a war effort at all, even if it is only while my case is pending, and even if I am required only to perform as a non-combatant.

Let's turn to the New York Times, specifically Marc Santora's "Top U.S. General in Iraq Says New Plan to Pacify Baghdad May Take Months to Show Results." Blah, blah, blah, blah, American officials say, blah, blah, blah. It's sort of a send off piece to Zalmay and George Casey. At the end Santora notes this:

On Monday evening, a suicide bomber in the northern city of Mosul attacked the headquarters for the Kurdish militia forces, killing at least four people, including a woman, and wounding 24, according to a local health official.
Abdullah Museeb 25, a student, said that "the explosion was so huge that some houses were destroyed," collapsing right on top of the residents. "Operations to rescue the civilians and search for survivors are still going on," he said.

That's all the violence that occurred in Iraq yesterday according to the Times. Or at least, all the news deemed fit to print.

In Baghdad on Monday a bomb killed 3 police officers and wounded 2 more, a car bomb killed 2 civilians, another car bomb killed 4 Iraqi soldiers and injured 3 more, two more bombs claimed 2 more lives, 30 corpses were discovered, another educator was kidnapped (Professor Abdul Kareem al Janabi) as were five mechanics. And that was just Baghdad.

To read of the above violence on Monday and more, check out the roundup provided by
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers). And, staying with McClatchy Newspapers, the slaughter on Haifa Street continues in Baghdad but the Times wasn't too interested in exploring that last week so let's turn to Nancy A. Youssef and Zaineb Obeid's "Residents say snipers are firing at random on Haifa Street:"

The two top U.S. officials in Iraq voiced confidence Monday that Iraq's Shiite Muslim-led government would show no favoritism in its efforts to secure the city, even as residents of a Sunni Muslim neighborhood complained that Shiite Iraqi security forces and government-backed militias were preventing them from evacuating wounded and going for food.
Eight days after a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive began to take control of the Haifa Street area in central Baghdad, residents said they had no water and no electricity and that people seeking food had been shot at random. They said they could see American soldiers nearby, but that the Americans were making no effort to intervene.
"The Americans are doing nothing, as if they are backing the militias," said one resident, who asked to be identified only as Abu Sady, 36, for security reasons. "This military siege is killing us. ... If this plan continues for one more week, I don't think you will find one family left on Haifa Street."

Violence in Iraq doesn't stop just because the Times fails to report it.