Monday, February 05, 2007

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Each generation of young Americans being sent off to war is invariably told that they will be fighting for "Freedom and Democracy." Tragically, that is rarely the case. First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, United States Army, made a personal decision to fight for those very ideals: Freedom and Democracy. For that reason, we are honored that this soldier will receive our first annual Freedom and Democracy Award.
It is important to bear in mind that Ehren Watada has, in all likelihood, voluntarily sacrificed his liberty, going from being a free man to risking incarceration -- for years -- in his struggle for the very things his government says he was trained to fight for. Perhaps most importantly, he has reminded us that the most courageous battles are often fought not with a gun, but with resolve.
No falsehood stands as a greater affront to civilization than the notion that people can be made democratic by the use of military force against them. At its core, democracy is based on non-violent dissent. Ehren Watada has given us a rare demonstration of the true power of democracy - by choosing resistance to an unjust war, rather than silence and complicity.
The ongoing US military operation in Iraq is often billed by its proponents as, "a war over there, to spare us from a war over here." But the war in America rages too. The war here is a war for freedom and democracy, as surely as any war ever fought. It is fought in public squares and libraries and in voting booths and town halls. It is fought in courtrooms and prison cells, at lecterns and in eateries, in places large and small across this nation.
Our battle, like any other, needs leaders. The United States Army trained Lieutenant Watada to be "a leader of men." He is leading the men and women of our armed services in speaking out against an unjust and illegal war. He is inspiring Americans who are struggling to make real the promise of freedom and democracy in this country.

Truthout handed out their "Freedom and Democracy Awards" to three worthy individuals, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and Ehren Watada -- the above on Watada was written by Marc Ash (executive director of Truthout). Just as you should remember the useless (see previous entry), you should remember who stood up. [Watada photo by Jeff Paterson of Not In Our Name and available for public use at this page of the ThankYouLt. site.]

One of the biggest surprises to me when I started traveling to speak out against the war in Feb. 2003 (at that point, the impending war) was how many women I would meet who would talk about their husbands being seized by the government. That did happen, it's shameful and shouldn't have, but it did. But where was the coverage? The independent media (print) wasn't all over the story. The first time, I thought, "I can't believe this has happened to this woman and her family." A few more times later, it was obvious it wasn't one woman or a woman here and a woman there. It was a very common problem (even if The Nation chose to stick its head in the sand). Deepa Fernandes (host of WBAI's Wakeup Call) has a new book out entitled Targeted. I hope to read it this week but I'm tossing it out now because the COWARDS' SILENCE on Ehren Watada and other war resisters reminds me a great deal of the silence on this topic.

In this morning's New York Times, Damien Cave and Richard A. Oppel Jr. offer "Many Iraqis Say Pace of U.S. Plan Allowed Attack." The headline . . . The article has more to offer than the headline. The basics are this some Shia (that the reporters spoke to) feel that the disbanding of militias (that should be "kind of disbanding") has left a vacuum and incidents like Saturday's mass bombing that took over a 100 lives are happening because of the 'disbanding.' (The US military -- not the flacks, the ones on the ground -- know that there's a difference between lying low and disbanding.) So 17,000 US troops will go to Baghdad if Bully Boy is allowed to escalate and that's not going to change anything.

Cave and Oppel speak with Shia ("Mahdi guard) who tells them: "The only tragedy was when we voted for weak officials. . . . This is the result." Another tells them that US troops are the problem (a feeling that is not new or resulting from the bombing Saturday but reflected in polling of Iraqis for some time now): "They're the ones who brought us the catastrophe."

James Glanz has an article and get better sources. We're not linking to it. I've heard complaints about it already this morning including from one who ships out [of Iraq] this month (provided he's not stop-lossed at the last minute).

Ehren Watada's court-martial takes place today at 9:00 am at Fort Lewis, Washington. Iraq Veterans Against the War isn't staying silent or playing dumb:

Days of Action to support Lt. Watada - Feb. 5

Friday, February 2nd through Monday, February 5th, the day of Lt. Ehren Watada's court-martial, IVAW's Olympia Chapter and IVAW Deployed will be holding a series of events/fundraisers in order to raise awareness on the importance and details of Ehren's action, and subsequently, his court-martial.

We will show up on the day of Ehren's trial with a presence and message that cannot be ignored nor denied. Our message is simple: George W. Bush and those who choose to partake in war crimes are the people that should be on trial. Lt. Ehren Watada's argument is legitimate and should be adopted by all who might be given unlawful orders.

Courage to Resist isn't offering useless blather:

February 5 all day rally/vigil/puppet theater outside Fort Lewis; Events nationwideOn Monday, February 5th the court martial of Lt. Ehren Watada is set to begin on Fort Lewis, Washington (approx. 45 miles south of Seattle). There will be an all-day vigil, and other scheduled events, at the Interstate-5 Exit 119 gate (map image map pdf) to the Army base. Supporters are arriving early that morning (7am) to display banners in support of Lt. Watada and hold vigil as court martial begins. Below is the schedule of events including info on housing, transportation, and attending the court martial.

9:00 am Court Martial begins (how to attend the trial)

11:30 am Rally with Iraq Veterans Against the War, students and spoken word youth artists

12:30 pm Vigil outside the Gates of Fort Lewis with IVAW

1:30 pm Political Street Theater with Giant Puppet Art, Spoken word, and DJ's

3:00 pm Rally

4:00 pm to 6pm Vigil outside the Gates of Fort Lewis

Come early and stay all dayThere will be a space to get warm throughout the day at the Liberty Inn located at I-5 Exit 118. Shuttles to and from to the demonstration location at I-5 Exit 119 will be provided by Friends and Family of Lt. Watada.

WELCOME EVENT (Feb. 4) in TacomaART MAKING (Feb. 3, 4) in Tacoma

GETTING TO the Fort Lewis area (bus, train, auto & air)

HOUSING information around Fort Lewis

TRANSPORTATION Driving directions, regional buses and car pools to Fort Lewis (Feb. 5)ATTENDING the court martial on Fort Lewis (Feb. 5, 6, 7)NATIONAL calendar of events in support of Lt. Watada (Feb. 2-7)Lt. Watada news from Courage to Resist:

For additional information about Lt. Watada's case visit:

Events are taking place around the country, not in the offices of The Nation, mind you, but around the country people will be standing with Ehren Watada. Call that a "real victory" -- not a simpy, little "sweet" one.

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