You can jail the resisters, but you can't jail the resistance. George W. Bush, take notice as U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada is court-martialed next week. Congress, take heed. Young people in harm's way are leading the way out of Iraq. It is time you followed.
Watada was the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. He joined the military in March 2003. He believed President Bush's claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, connections to 9/11 and al-Qaida, and that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States.
After signing on, he studied intensively to be well prepared to lead troops in Iraq. His studies, and the daily news coming out of Iraq of civilian deaths and no WMD, led him to the conclusion that the war was not only immoral, but also illegal.
On June 6, 2006, Watada said: "My moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders. ... As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must, as an officer of honor and integrity, refuse that order."
He refused to deploy. The Army charged Watada with missing the troop movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer. Watada hoped that his court-martial would be a hearing on the legality of the war. He was not claiming conscientious objection; rather, he says, he simply refused an illegal order. He offered to resign his commission. He offered to serve in Afghanistan. The Army refused his offers. A military judge ruled Watada cannot present evidence challenging the war's legality or explain what motivated him to resist his deployment order.
On our "Democracy Now!" news hour, Watada said of his upcoming Feb. 5 court-martial, "it will be a non-trial. It will not be a fair trial or a show of justice. I think that they will simply say: 'Was he ordered to go? Yes. Did he go? No. Well, he's guilty.' "
The above is from Amy Goodman's "Resistance to war cannot be jailed" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). The court-martial of Ehren Watada is four days away. All the joy in Mudville over reporters not being asked to testify (because of Ehren Watada -- and people need to grow up and grasp that, he's the one who stopped that, not some lame ass petition) that so many are writing about, issuing press releases on, and generally junking up the internet with doesn't bother to address that. Goodman's covered Ehren Watada before, it's not surprising that she's able to now. The Cowards Silence speaks for the rest -- speaks loudly for the rest.
In other Iraq news, James Glanz' "U.S. Agency Finds New Waste and Fraud in Iraqi Rebuilding Projects" in this morning's New York Times covers the news emerging yesterday of the companies who enriched themselves while Iraqis, Americans, British, et al died:
A federal oversight agency reported Wednesday that despite nearly $108 billion that had been budgeted for the reconstruction of Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the country’s electrical output and oil production were still below prewar levels and stocks of gasoline and kerosene had plummeted to their lowest levels in at least two years.
The United States alone has accounted for nearly $38 billion of the rebuilding money, according to the agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Even as the flow of reconstruction money from the United States is coming to an end, the litany of major American contractors that are suspected of having wasted large amounts of the money has lengthened, new investigations by the inspector general have found.
One of the reports released on Wednesday found that an American company, DynCorp, appeared to act almost independently of its contracting officers at the Department of State at times, billing the United States for millions of dollars of work that was never authorized and starting other jobs before they were requested.
The findings of misconduct against the company, on a $188 million job order to build living quarters and purchase weapons and equipment for the Iraqi police as part of a training program, were serious enough that the inspector general’s office began a fraud inquiry.
On the same topic, Martha notes Griff Witte and Renae Merle's "Reports Fault Oversight of Iraq Police Program" (Washington Post):
Together, the reports offer a revealing glimpse at one aspect of the $38 billion American-led reconstruction effort. The police training program has been repeatedly flagged by U.S. officials as particularly crucial to the war effort, given the need for effective Iraqi security forces to take over from the U.S. military. While yesterday's reports by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction do not address the training itself, they do find major flaws with how both the government and its contractors attempted to build the program's facilities.
The flaws, auditors concluded, all had common roots: The government's failure to monitor how contractors were spending taxpayer money.
They had other common roots: greed and a desire to reward supporters. For instance, the police training in Jordan was cancelled, despite being effective and cost-effective. Apparently a program's results weren't as important as who someone knew.
The New York Times plays dumb today (and every other?) in a really bad obit on Molly Ivins. Ivins wrote for a number of publications over the years. The print magazine (outside of Texas) she was most associated [with] during the Bully Boy years was The Progressive. The Times is fully aware of that -- especially after the "Why Kan't Nicky K Read Good?" incident. Those looking for text, audio or video can refer to an interview Amy Goodman did with Ivins on Democracy Now! in 2004. Kat and Rebecca and Elaine have all written of Ivins recently and we'll be doing something Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review. In the most recent issue of The Progressive (February 2007) her column ("Bill of Rights Heroes") concluded with this question: "Who says we can't be cheerful and joyous?"
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