Sunday, October 21, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

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Act on Saturday, October 27 during national anti-war events
October 19 update: U.S. District Court Judge Settle issued a postponement today giving himself at least until November 9 to review and weigh the "considerable portions" of the double jeopardy issue before him.
We demand: Stop the retrial, drop the charges, and honorable discharge now for Lt. Watada! Support all war resisters!
By Watada National Steering Committee. October 17, 2007
The Watada National Steering Committee of Friends and Family of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada urge to you act this week and next in support of Lt. Ehren Watada. He refused to fight in the illegal war in Iraq and is facing a possible second court martial and up to 6 years in prison.
Lt. Ehren Watada, the first Army officer to publicly refuse orders to Iraq, is now at a critical point in his struggle against the Army's attempt to imprison him. The Army tried to proceed with a second court martial despite the fact that an appeal on the basis of double jeopardy was in progress in the Army courts. This was completely illegal and a violation of the Constitution. Just days before the second court martial was to be held, Lt. Watada's lawyers went to federal court and requested an injunction to stop the Army from proceeding. At the very last moment, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle granted an emergency stay. The court martial is now postponed until at least Oct. 26. Meanwhile, Judge Settle will consider issues around double jeopardy in this case. It is unknown what decisions he might make.
For this reason, it is absolutely vital that Ehren Watada's case get the maximum possible publicity and show of support! Judge Settle has set up a briefing schedule to examine the merits of the double jeopardy argument and how long he will continue the stay. The government has until Oct. 12 to file its arguments, and Watada's lawyers must reply by Oct. 17. Judge Settle will review the case on Oct. 19.
The Watada campaign plans joint demonstrations with allied groups on Oct. 19th and Oct. 27th.
On Friday, Oct. 19, we will be working closely with our allies such as the Iraq Moratorium, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and many others to stage demonstrations around the nation along with Iraq Moratorium. We call on all peace and justice groups everywhere to come to the support of Lt. Ehren Watada on Oct. 19! We urge everyone to hold or attend demonstrations carry signs supporting Ehren Watada and listing the three demands of the Watada Campaign:
Stop the Army from putting Lt. Watada on trial again.
Drop all charges against him.
Free Lt. Ehren Watada with an honorable discharge.
On the weekend of Oct. 26 - 27, we will be participating in or holding demonstrations in support of Lt. Watada. This is the weekend of the Oct. 27 nationwide day of action called jointly by United for Peace & Justice and International A.N.S.W.E.R. We will be reaching out to them to work jointly where we can, or to have local events in cities and towns where they are not having an event.
For more information, please go to
our website , contact us online , or phone us at 877-689-4162.
Local groups who wish to support Lt. Watada can help by holding events or speaking about his case at events you are already planning, holding press conferences, writing articles in the media, or writing letters to the editor of your local media. In newspapers, the letters to the editor sections are among the most widely read sections of the paper. Letters must be short or they will not be published due to space; see the length of letters currently published in your local paper for examples.
Watada National Steering Committee
Please help Courage to Resist support the troops that refuse to fight with your urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. We also host a number of individual defense funds if you wish to contribute to a specific resister. Read more .
Sign up for our national bi-monthly e-newsletter and we will keep up-to-date about upcoming military trials, coordinated actions, letter writing campaigns, and more. (

The above is from "Support Iraq War resister Lt. Ehren Watada" at Courage to Resist and Eddie noted it. At The Third Estate Sunday Review, we scanned Courage to Resist's letter to the Canadian government that you can print up and sign ("Supporting War Resisters") and Eddie notes you can also click here for Courage to Resist's online feature that allows you to the sign the letter electronically. Ehren Watada also offers more information on Watada.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3829. Tonight? 3834 announced. 1,085,134 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war (not a full count) last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,089,455.

The way this entry works tonight is we're noting the important things up front, then we're going to turn to a whiny ass e-mail. That will be the bulk of it because I'm sick of the same idiot e-mailing every few months to threaten. For now, we're staying with things going on in the real world as opposed to in the sick mind of a psycho.

Among the reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that targeted US troops and US "Troops responded by bombing the area" and a mortar attack on Karbala Saturday claimed the life of one person. Reuters reports the Baghad air strike killed at least two toddlers, while a Falluja car bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers (four more injured) and a Kerbala mortar attack that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (three more at the base injured).


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Yousef Ibraheem (an athletics coach) was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Mosul (two more injured), "a cement factory employee" was shot dead in Mosul, and "an officer in the former Iraqi army" was shot dead in Mosul.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses ("decomposed . . . one man and three women") were discovered in Baghdad plus another 6. Reuters notes five corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Saturday.

While Watada faces years in prison for refusing to fight in an illegal war, military 'justice' demonstrates yet again how it lacks any accountability on actual crimes. In a no doubt proud moment for the US military they announced today:

An Army sergeant was convicted of possession of child pornography and of violating a general order at a trial by general court-martial Oct. 9 at LSA Anaconda. Sgt. Angel D. Escobales, 38, of New Britain, CT, assigned to the 144th Military Police Company, 97th Military Policy Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, pled guilty to one specification of possession of child pornography and one specification of possession of pornography in violation of General Order No. 1
In July 2007, while on Forward Operating Base Marez, members of Escobales’ unit discovered child pornography on his computer.
Escobales pled guilty to wrongfully possessing 12 videos of child pornography on his personal laptop and wrongfully possessing adult pornography in violation of General Order No. 1.
A military judge convicted and sentenced Escobales to 18 months confinement, reduction to the grade of private (E-1) and to receive a bad conduct discharge.

In violation of General Order No. 1 (adult pornography) and pled guilty to wrongfully possessing 12 videos of child pornography on his personal laptop? The sentence is 18 months.

In the real world, AP notes that the possession of child pornography charge in Illinois means "up to ten years" in prison. Meanwhile Robbie Byrd (The Huntsville Item) reports:

Court records show Michael Heinsohn, 22, a former Huntsville High School student and Huntsville resident, pleaded guilty in May in federal court to one count of possession of child pornography.
He was sentenced on Monday under a plea arrangement.
The U.S. District Attorney’s office in Lufkin offered Heinsohn a plea bargin in which he would serve six years and eight months in a federal prison, with three years probation after release, and a $100 fine.

Crystal McMorris (Bay City Times) notes that possession of child pornography in Michigan "is a four-year felony" while Kelly Foreman (Richmond Register) explains in Kentucky a 23-year-old man facing a trial "could face up to 15 years in prison upon conviction" of possession of child pornography. We could go on and on; however, the point is that in the civilian world, that's a serious felony. 18 months were given in the military for breaking an order and for possessing 12 child pornography videos. And people wonder why female service members are so often assaulted by males they are serving with. Only in the US military could 12 child porn videos result in a slap on the wrist. And let's not kid that it wasn't the breaking of an order that led to the 18 months.

Now we're moving to the sick and twisted who think Al Gore is the answer to everything and think that charming is issuing repeated threats in e-mails. That obsessive fixation is related to the illegal war in that it's led to that camp to excuse and ignore many very real stories related to the illegal war.

Yes, the useless Bob Somerby's smutty mouthed friend e-mails to threaten yet again. That was confusing until I was reminded Valerie Plame was telling her story on tonight's 60 Minutes. Plame was an undercover CIA agent. Her husband is former ambassador Joe Wilson. Joe Wilson was sent to Niger to see if Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger. Wilson knew the country well and also knew Hussein well (stood up to him during Poppy Bush's presidency). Wilson went to Niger to check out the rumors and found there was no truth to them. In the 2003 State of the Union speech -- the only speech a president is Constitutionally mandated to deliver and, therefore, the only one that the oath applies to without any doubts or quibbles -- Bully Boy declared his 16-word lie about Saddam seeking yellow cake from Africa. Lie. Lie and the White House eventually (long after the illegal war started) had to retract it. In his 2003 performance for the United Nations, Collie Powell would make clear what country Bully Boy was referring to. Lies, lies, lies.

Joe Wilson would go public with "What I Didn't Find In Africa" in the New York Times. The White House would immediately respond by leaking the fact that Valerie Plame was CIA. Robert Nov-a-hack would be the first to run with it. Valerie Plame would be outed, her career destroyed, by the US government.

How does this apply to Somerby? Check his archives for some of the worst writing and/or lies any alleged leftie put out on the Plame story. He repeatedly downplayed the story, he repeatedly recycled right-wing talking points (including that Plame sent Wilson to Africa which is a LIE). Interestingly enough, in all of his trashing of Joe Wilson and minimizing of Valerie Plame, he never brought up two words: Matt Cooper.

The 'reporter' was then with Time magazine. Karl Rove outed Plame to Matt Cooper as did Scooter Libby. Before the 2004 elections, Matty Coops (a Democratic operative and the best example of why operatives shouldn't be allowed to cross into journalism) would drop the dime on Scooty. But he wouldn't give up the other name. In fact, he would declare he wasn't going to. In 2005, when Judith Miller wasn't giving a name, Matty claimed he wouldn't either. Faced with jail time, Matty invented a new release (it was the same release that had always been in place) and declared it was Karl Rove.

Matty broke every journalistic rule in the book including covering this story while not acknowledging his own participation in it. Time would force that admission. As a Democratic operative, it rests on his head that Bully Boy remains in the White House. Had Matt Cooper decided to out Karl Rove prior to the election, it probably wouldn't have been a close election and issues over whether or not the Ohio vote was valid wouldn't matter because the American public, gearing up for an election and discovering the man running Bully Boy's re-election campaign had outed a CIA agent would have not only questioned the 'national security' nonsense of Bully Boy, they would have been so grossly offended that Loose Lips Rove was ever let near secrets he obviously lacked the judgement to keep.

But Matty didn't 'fess up. Matty Coops wouldn't fess up until after he was about to be sent to jail (as Judith Miller was).

Somerby and Matty are longtime friends. Longtime buds. And that's why the 'brave' Bob Somerby who is the alleged media critic never addressed the ethics of his buddy's dishonesty and lies. That's why Bob Somerby went after Joe Wilson, slimed he repeatedly, called him every name in the book and much more.

So with Plame telling her side of the story on 60 Minutes, of course it was time for Bob Somerby's foul mouthed buddy to show up with yet another barrage of threats.

Threats don't hide the fact that Somerby slimed Wilson, that Somerby justified Bully Boy's 16 words, that Somerby repeatedly -- day after day, week after week -- insisted that the outing of Plame, the 16-words lie, were non-stories. People should check the archives of that site. It is disgusting and reads like a GOP site whenever the issue of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame come up. He went after Wilson like he was attempting to impersonate Matt Drudge. He never fessed up about how that came be, never examined the issues of Matt Cooper's 'reporting' on the story that would result in him being the focus of an investigation, never called Matty out for acting like -- in print for Time -- he didn't know who outed Valerie Plame, he never called Matty out for waiting until after the 2004 election to come forward, he never noted that his sliming of Joe Wilson was wrong, that his belittling of the outing of Valerie Plame was wrong, he never did anything. Just prayed and prayed that no one would ever notice what an old fool he'd made of himself, how he'd basically stood shoulder to shoulder with Robert Novak on this issue.

This wasn't one post by Somerby, or two, or twenty. This was day after day sliming Joe Wilson, day after day pushing GOP talking points as truth.

So thanks to his little buddy for writing to threaten again. Otherwise we might not be noting this and noting that Bob Somerby, with his GOP talking points, minimized a serious story (and the pain it caused) thereby minimizing the lies that led to the illegal war. Bob Somerby helped the illegal war drag on by repeatedly screaming online that Joe Wilson wasn't truthful, that it was no big deal and, as proof, offering GOP talking points.

Which demonstrates how useless Somerby has been. Wanting to know what bad things someone just said about Al Gore or want to relive the 2000 election all over again or want to hear the lie that it all started with Clinton, check out The Daily Howler as it offers up remixes of it's tired and reality-free greatest hits. Want to know about the illegal war, you have to go somewhere else. For those who've forgotten, our 'real time' media critic never managed to call out Judith Miller's 'reporting' and, in fact, was minimizing the way she sourced those laughable stories as late as 2005.

How'd the US end up in an illegal war? People posing as 'independent' 'analysts' but actually running Al Gore fan clubs helped a great deal.

Those not running Al Gore's fan club can offer you reality and many did. Robert Parry, an actual independent voice, knows first hand how the media shifted and knows that began long before Bill Clinton's campaign. Parry runs Consortium News and those in search of reality can check there. Independent voices like John Pilger tell the truth as well.

Hacks insist Ralph Nader "cost" Al Gore the 2000 election. Al Gore cost Al Gore the 2000 election. A hack was on KPFA last week insisting Joe Lieberman was way, way, way different in 2000 than he is today. No, he wasn't. He was already a coward and an embarrassment before Gore selected him as a running mate. When Gore did make strong statements in the 2000 campaign, there was Lieberman running to the press to undercut the remarks.

Gore responded to press attacks by trying to be a good sport, trying to be included in the joke. He wasn't campaigning for "good sport," he was campaigning for the presidency of the United States.

The Clinton White House's environmental record is a joke and to upgrade it, you have to include those executive orders issued in the last moments of Clinton's presidency. If lead in water was so damn important, then it should have been addressed during any of the eight years Bill Clinton was president. How much does that effect Gore? Not much. In fairness, he was a vice president and they don't call the shots usually. But if he wanted to address the environment seriously in his 2000 campaign, he should have. He didn't.

I voted for Gore, I gave a lot of money to that campaign. Just to be clear so someone doesn't take this as "I voted for Nader and I was right!" But I think Nader voters are more entitled to make that claim than anyone else. After the voting ended, after Al Gore withdrew his concession to Bully Boy and before he had conceded publicly, Gore was back to caving again. He caved and agreed to insist Jesse Jackson leave Florida because, heaven forbid, the nation have to address the reality that race played into the election, that if you were African-American, you were less likely to be able to vote and, if you were able to vote (if your name was wrongly placed on a felons list), your vote was unlikely to be counted.

That's a very important point. We'll come back to it. As well as hustling Jackson out of Florida, Team Gore wanted to project a "good sport" image. In the meantime, Bully Boy's got Baker, Harris and countless others going before the microphones, in the meantime, phoney protests/riots are being staged by GOP operatives flown in to Florida to stop the recount.

And the recount. There was never a recount. It was halted. That's a pretty basic point that Team Gore couldn't make. "The votes have been counted and recounted" would be the GOP talking point. Team Gore refused to counter it loudly. The votes were not recounted. A small section were but the only recount would have taken place (and only in pre-selected counties) if the Supreme Court hadn't stopped the counting process.

While African-Americans couldn't get their votes counted, Joe Lieberman went on NBC's Meet the Press and, with little prodding from Tim Russert, declared that all US military votes would be counted. It didn't matter if the postmarked showed the vote had taken place after the election, it didn't matter if there was no postmark, it didn't matter if the instructions were not followed and the absentee ballot wasn't filled our correctly, it didn't matter if it had not arrived by the legal cut off date. Team Gore allowed that to happen. As if the miliary doesn't know about regulations and the need to follow them? As if democracy means that one group's votes count more than other. As if African-Americans being disenfranchised -- illegal disenfranchised -- is of no importance but let's toss out all the rules for the military.

African-American voters in Florida were disenfranchised but Team Gore didn't give a damn. They weren't concerned that the law had been broken, they weren't concerned that people trying to exercise their Constitutional rights were denied. They were concerned about appearences and it wasn't thought that Jesse Jackson holding a rally to draw attention to the very real laws broken to prevent African-Americans from voting would go over well with some White, male voters. That was the appearence they cared about and that was largely the group they courted.

Ralph Nader didn't "steal" any votes because Al Gore did not have ownership of anyone's vote but his own. Al Gore ran a lousy campaign, Al Gore ran a lousy recount. Al Gore lost the election because he refused to fight. The press was mean? Only because Gore repeatedly made it so easy by being so damn pathetic. He would carry that pose until he left DC as he presided over the count in the House and refused to support Congress members want to lodge objections or challenge the vote.

Al Gore was such a damn "good sport." Unless you were a voter. If you were a voter who voted for him, he betrayed you (include me on that list) because he wouldn't fight for you. Team Bully Boy fought like there was no tomorrow. Al Gore didn't want to get his hands dirty.

Ralph Nader is not the reason Bully Boy ended up in the White House. It's a pleasing lie we can tell ourselves to excuse the cowardice of Al Gore -- cowardice that prevented him from using Bill Clinton -- who is charasmatic and, goodness knows, there was no charisma on the Gore-Lieberman ticket. He can down in history as a good sport, a guy who didn't make waves. But people vote for fighters and that's why even the re-invented Al Gore (yes, I used that term and, yes, as Rebecca pointed out, Katrina vanden Heuverl was dead on right to use that term) still causes suspiscion away from the fan clubs and the politically uninformed.

Private Citizen Gore may be worthy of applause, but the people's candidate for president was an embarrassment. On every level, in every way. Those who doubt it should consider the fact that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton kissed and embraced in public quite often. It was never an issue because it happened often and didn't appear forced or as some sort of stunt. When Al Gore kissed Tipper Gore at the 2000 DNC, it wasn't just the press making sport of it and the GOP issuing talking points, it was the fact that this was so out of character from what Gore usually presented to the public that allowed that to register as puzzling. Al Gore was always seen as wooden (Spy magazine's 1992 comic portrayed him not just as "Tree Man" but also as an actual tree). Despite all of that, a number of Americans (including myself) voted for him and voted for him in larger numbers than they voted for Bully Boy or Nader (and Gore did win Florida). Faith was placed in him with those votes and, in the recounts, he wasn't willing to fight for it. Among the many reasons for that, chalk up the lack of support from Democratic Party establishment types who just wanted the issue resolved. Guess what, if you can't stand up to them, you can't stand up for the people. That remains Gore's real crime, his refusal to stand up for those who counted on him and voted for him.

The press can and does attack at will. Often it has nothing to do with what's being reported. In the case of the entertainment world someone may be asking for too much money, someone may have turned down a job they weren't interested in, or someone may be settling a grudge. But the press regularly attacks people in the entertainment world. It doesn't always go over because some people connect with the public and attacks on them don't work. After the 2000 election was stolen and handed over to Bully Boy, it wasn't just people who voted for Bully Boy that were disgusted with Al Gore, it was also a lot of Democrats and they didn't need to hear jokes from the press to figure out where they stood.

The Democratic Party has long been interested in running 'easy' campaigns. The bean counters don't care about a low turnout because they aren't focused on get out the vote, they're focused on how to manipulate the swing voters. Which is why, election cycle after election cycle, Dems move ever closer to the right. The disgust is real and fan pieces may make some feel good but they don't deal with reality. I didn't support Bill Clinton in the 1992 primary (I did contribute and campaign for him after) and I'll never forget encountering a huge number of students excited that they had just voted for Bill Clinton. The reason? He was for universal health care. That wasn't a bean counter issue. That came from the section of the campaign that actually had a heart and understood politics. That section didn't get close ups in trashy 'documentaries' like The War Room. Hillary actually has many of those people -- the smart ones -- working on her campaign. That's the real reason she's leading in the polls but no one can tell you that because they have had their heads up their ass for over a decade now.

That's not an endorsement of Hillary, I'm not endorsing anyone. That is noting this is what I was referring to when I said she could wipe all of her opponents off the stage. For all the snide comments about her voice (which isn't an odd voice and can be warm), the nonsense about her laugh (that is her genuine laugh and she uses it when she's very tired or surprised, it's not a forced laugh), she is real and does strike many as real. Candidates like Dennis Kucinich could strike people as real as well if they were given press attention. But in terms of the 'front runners,' Hillary's not the minute rice equivalent of politics. She didn't just emerge. People know her. While Hillary haters (such as The Nation) portray her as conniving and calculated while shoring up whomever they think is the one who can take her down, people see her as smart. And rehashing all the old charges against her only to serve to remind people of past attacks on her (and on Bill). Before one of the recent debates, Rebecca noted that John Edwards needed to take Barack Obama out. He did need to do that. He needed to move up in the polls. Instead of doing that, Obama and Edwards formed their little tag-team to go after Hillary. That probably played well to the bean counters who thought it screamed of 'machismo' but it didn't play well with people and, since that tag-team nonsense began, there's not a group I've spoken to (students, women's groups or service members) who haven't brought that up and expressed sympathy for Hillary. They and The Nation are inept because they honestly think they can grab on to the mud the GOP slung at Hillary and take her out that way. They can't. It didn't work in the 90s and it won't work today. All it does is kick in that reaction that marked the 90s, Bill or Hillary gets attacked, and people step up to say, "That's enough." That wasn't just with the witch hunt or the impeachment it led to, that was repeatedly. Yet the inept Nation magazine honestly thinks they can take out Hillary that way.

It's the biggest waste of time because while they go to the horse races day after day, the illegal war continues day after day. But whether it's spending eternity at the horse races or starting an Al Gore fan club, so much time is being wasted on the political equivalents of an arrest of a female celebrity (note, the males never get the hand wringing and we saw that this month, didn't we?). And, for those who've forgotten, the outing of Valerie Plame was also shoved aside for elections (the 2004 elections). That is yet another way that the illegal war drags on. Political junkies with their faces pressed against the frosted glass thinking fan clubs are the answer to all things plaguing humanity.

Pru gets the last word, from Great Britain's Socialist Worker, "Private armies free to kill in Iraq:"

Family speaks out after two women gunned down in Iraq
They kill with impunity. Gun down civilians, devastate families and spread terror. Yet they are beyond the law.
These are the private armies -- the corporate mercenaries that have flooded into Iraq since 2003.
They are free from prosecution and protected under a law imposed on Iraq in the early days of the occupation.
Their latest victims are two women driving students to college.
But the women’s killers cannot be arrested, charged, nor brought to justice.
These private armies are packed with former policemen, ex-special forces and soldiers of fortune. They are part of a billion dollar industry with ties to politicians and governments.
Now the families of the victims are demanding justice.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Innocents killed by corporate mercenaries in Baghdad» Rise of the private armies
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