Saturday, February 03, 2007

"The Stryker Brigade and the Watada Case" (Timothy J. Freeman)

Unfortunately, as Americans love their bread and circuses so much, the only hope for any restraint on the reckless militarism of the United States might be in the example set by the rare courage of the soldier from Hawai'i, Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces court martial for refusing deployment to Iraq. The military judge presiding over the court martial has, however, denied the attempt by Lt. Watada's defense to 'put the war on trial.' The ruling by military circuit judge Lt. Col. John M. Head on January 16 denied the defense motion for a hearing on the "Nuremburg defense" thus preventing Watada's defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war. The highest ranking soldier to refuse deployment to Iraq, Lt. Watada has argued in his defense that according to the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations he was under oath to follow only "lawful orders" and that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Lt. Watada's trial at Fort Lewis, Washington is set to begin on February 5. [8]
The ruling by Judge Head conflicts with the statement by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, that the United States must be bound by the same rule of law used to prosecute the Germans: "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."[9] The Nuremberg trials established that soldiers are not immune from prosecution for war crimes just because they were following orders. The judgement at Nuremberg means that the common view held by Judge Head and apparently many Americans that "soldiers like Lt. Watada can't pick and choose when to fight" is just flat out wrong. In denying the "Nuremberg defense" the military is simply setting aside the judgement at Nuremberg and ignoring Justice Jackson's explicit statement.

The above, noted by Mia, is from Timothy J. Freeman's "The Stryker Brigade and the Watada Case" (CounterPunch). Mia also notes Alexander Cockburn's and we'll note it tomorrow night.
Mia probably meant for both to go into the "And the war drags on" entry because on Saturdays, I usually just do the morning entry. As noted this morning, when I logged on, I learned Blogger/Blogspot was going down in sixteen minutes. On my first day back home in ten or so days (I arrived home last night), there was a lot to do. We haven't even started work on features for The Third Estate Sunday Review yet (and Dona has a wide-eyed look of panic on that). But the plan was to get back online when other things were finished and that's only just now. A number have written to ask where Ruth's Report is?

I had told Ruth I'd post it. That was before I learned Blogger/Blogspot was going down. I spoke to Ruth on the phone about an hour ago and she wondered if she'd gone "too far"? No. That's her space and she can write whatever she wants. I'm just running way behind schedule. I was also suppoed to post Kat's latest review today after I scanned the cover of Lizzie West's CD. I did that. I haven't uploaded it to Flickr and can't: "Flickr is having a massage." That's the message that Flickr has on their home page currently. When it's up, I will upload the scan and Kat's review will go up here. (They note they'll be down five hours, so Kat's review will go up Sunday.) So that's what's going on community wise. (There are also complaints that Betty's site is not showing up and Jess is checking that on his laptop right now. He says it's up now, so if you got an error message -- possibly because Blogger/Blogspot went down -- you can read her latest now.)

Olive notes that Suzanne Goldberg's article on Ehren Watada has been picked up in Australia's The Age. Dominick notes that Andrew Buncombe's article was picked up by The Belfast Telegraph. (The articles originally appeared in the Guardian of London and the Independent of London -- both were noted in Friday's snapshot.) A vistor notes that Goldberg's article was also picked up by South Africa's Mail & Guardian.

Marcia notes Marilyn Bechtel's "Kucinich calls for end to funding of Iraq war" (People's Weekly World) on last weekend's rallies:

Carolyn Ho told the crowd, "What is happening now calls for concentrated effort to bring our troops home and to support them when they get here, as well as to provide reparations to the Iraqi people.
"Lt. Watada speaks for the troops, he speaks as the conscience of the American people," she said. "I ask you to put pressure on those who have the power to make the military drop the charges and accept his resignation, and allow him to do what his conscience dictates."
Watada faces court-martial at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Feb. 5 on charges of failing to obey a movement order and conduct unbecoming an officer -- the latter for his public criticism of the war and the Bush administration. Ho challenged the conduct charges, saying the last time such charges were brought was during the Vietnam War and noting that "conduct unbecoming" usually applies to offenses such as adultery, rape or drunken behavior.
"He has spoken the truth that has been confirmed over and over by international law experts, by people in high levels of government, by people inside and outside the military," she said. "Officers and generals have criticized the conduct of the war. Why does the military consistently charge people at the bottom of the pecking order?"

During World War II, Japanese Americans were interred and Zach notes "Making Art While Interned" (New American Media), zeroing in on this section:

When Japanese Americans entered the camps, their loyalties were questioned. Men were asked if they would serve in the military to defend the U.S. Do you think there is an irony here that a Japanese American, Lt. Ehren Watada is the first U.S. soldier to refuse deployment in Iraq?
Hirasuna: I respect his integrity, and I believe his reasons are sincere for not wanting to go to Iraq. If you were in the service when Pearl Harbor was attacked, they either assigned you to KP duty or you were eased out of the armed services. But a year later, they needed more soldiers so they sent around a loyalty oath in the camps. It was a multi-questioned survey. One of the questions were are you willing to serve in the armed forces? Another question was are you willing to swear allegiance to the U.S.? It was a very troubling question for a lot of people because for one thing they were behind barbed wires. There were soldiers with guns pointing at them. They had lost everything. Many of the younger men tried to enlist in the army when Pearl Harbor was hit and they were turned away so when this question went out when they were in camp, it created a great deal of discussion in the camps. Once the oath was out, they started drafting people from camp and enlisting people from camp. My father was 37 years old when he was drafted from the camps.

A visitor found a "wonderful" article that also includes the term deserter. We're not interested in crap. I did link to Tom Zeller Jr.'s idiotic ramble while pointed out that deserter was incorrect. Zeller lives in a fact-free world. (Watada reported to base every day after he refused deployment. Deserter means you check out and, traditionally, that means you are gone for over thirty days. The military has not charged him with desertion -- nor could they because it does not apply to his case.) I'm not interested in crap.

Ed posted twice on Friday to correct Zeller's article. The New York Times chooses which comments to allow to show up and apparently pointing out that a Times writer is factually wrong isn't allowed. In addition, a member has contacted the corrections department but the paper has refused to correct it. I think it's worth noting (especially from a paper with some of the biggest cry babies to ever have e-mail accounts) that they are inviting readers to comment but it's an echo chamber. If an article is factually wrong -- and Zeller using the term "deserter" is factually wrong -- you're not allowed to comment on that. So what's the purpose of comments? It's like writing into a magazine, "Loved you! Love you everything you do!" It's a fawning forum that refuses to allow reality to intrude. The New York Times is wrong, Tom Zeller Junior is wrong and it needs to be corrected. I think that's worth noting.

[Note, not all at the Times are cry babies -- that includes friends as well as those e-mailing to complain. Some, regardless of 'tone,' have opinions worth voicing and I will consider their points. I am referring to a specific breed of cry babies who waste their time e-mailing and waste mine in reading their nonsense. Strong points have been made in e-mails -- some have used humor, some have tried to be very even toned, some have yelled -- and those are appreciated. I do factor them in. But I'm referring to a special breed of cry babies who admit they were wrong -- while minimizing it -- and then want to pout about how unfair it was that their mistakes were noted. All get the generic e-mail that goes out to everyone that writes into the public account. My rule is not to reply to e-mails from reporters who are noted here. I've broken it once with the Times and I've broken it once with independent media. I do read complaints and factor them in. That's not read it and forget it. I will spend days considering it and will contact friends at the paper to ask their opinion. Felicity Barringer is the only reporter who ever wanted her comments noted -- and they were -- and whether you agreed with her or not, she made her own case. Martha, Shirley, Eli, Jess and Ava also work the e-mail accounts. They can reply to anyone they want. Or not reply.]

Ehren Watada's court-martial is Monday. Courage to Resist notes the following:

February 5 all day rally/vigil/puppet theater outside Fort Lewis; Events nationwide in support of Lt. Watada
Lt. Watada Supporters at Seattle anti-war march 1/27/07

Photo by: Lori Hurlebaus
On 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 (8am) 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 artists12:30pm Vigil outside the Gates of Fort Lewis with IVAW1:30 pm Political Street Theater with Giant Puppet Art, Spoken word, and DJ's3:00 pm Rally4pm-6pm Vigil outside the Gates of Fort Lewis
Come early and stay all day!There 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.
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
Welcome Event in Tacoma, WA for Watada Supporters
Sunday Feb 4, 5:00 - 9:00 pm, First Congregational Church (Pilgram Hall - Downstairs),209 S J St. (near Division St) (map). Meet local community members and visiting supporters as they gear up to demonstrate outside the gates of Ft. Lewis and also fill the courtroom with supporters! The evening's event will include food, music, speakers and spoken word. A great place to get more information about the following day's event, meet and welcome people. (Additional info and full program )
Art, Puppets and Theater-Making! Street theater volunteers needed!
Puppets being prepared for Feb. 5 actions. 2/1/07

Photo by: Jeff Paterson
Art and puppet making: Saturday, Feb. 3 (10am-6pm); Sunday, Feb. 4 (noon-3pm) A group of activists and artists from Tacoma and Courage to Resist has spent the last week making art, giant puppets and theater. While the politicaly motivated military tribunal tries to convict Lt Watada, we will perform a giant street theater pageant to visibly, publicly and dramaticaly put the War on Trial in front of Ft Lewis! Join us at the Puppetista Peace Workshop , 1114 Court E, Tacoma (
map)We need folks who can come to both the Sunday Feb. 4, noon to 3pm reherasal AND the to Exit 119 outside Ft Lewis gathering at noon and then again hoping to repeat the performance in the late afternoon. (more info)
Events planned nationwide as court martial approaches
Supporters around the country are mobilizing as the court martial for Lt. Ehren Watada approaches.There are events and actions planned across the country! (
Full calendar of national events)
New York a citizens hearing on the legality of the Iraq war gets underway on Saturday. San Francisco has four days of upcoming events including vigils, a rally, freeway bannering, and more! Los Angeles brings together Carolyn Ho, mother of Lt. Ehren Watada, and Helga Aguayo, wife of imprisoned conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo for a vigil, rally and full program with local musicians and community members and many more across the country!Plan or attend an event in your community and let us know what you are planning. Send an e-mail to and
Lt. Watada news from Courage to Resist:

Army drops activist subpoenas for Lt. Watada trial (Jan. 31)
Lt. Watada prosecutors surrender on journalist subpoenas (Jan. 28)
Judge rules "illegal war" debate forbidden during court martial (Jan. 16)
For additional information about Lt. Watada's case visit:

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

In addition, Seth posted three times this week: "Rest in Peace, Molly Ivins," "Developments!"
and "Vote: Let Luke Find Love!" -- my apologies to Seth for just noting that now. (I also haven't had time to reply to his e-mails. It was a busy week.) (Marcia, your suggestion was used by Seth in two posts. That I did pass on even though I didn't have time to write a reply.)
[For those wondering, we have a member Seth, community member. He has been a member since 2004. When Seth in the City started, there was confusion that this might be member Seth's site. This is a different person in the community and when referring to Seth of Seth in the City, we do not bold face the name. When referring to long term member Seth, we do.]

The e-mail address for this site is