Monday, October 22, 2007

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Stephen Eagle Funk '08 is a self-described pacifist activist feminist optimist leftist individualist. Despite the seeming contradiction between possessing these characteristics and serving in the military, Funk enlisted for the Marine Corps in 2002 at age 19.
"I was feeling protective of our country [after 9/11] and I wanted to be a part of the institution that defended our values and freedoms," he said.
Looking back on his decision to enlist, he admitted that, "It wasn't well thought out."
In fact, Funk realized almost immediately after starting boot camp in Afghanistan that he opposed the war and could not morally be a part of violence he did not condone.
"During rifle qualifications in basic [training], I shot like an expert. My coach told me not to think anything of it -- he didn’t think I would do well in actual combat," recalled Funk of the moment he realized he could not willingly continue to be in the Marines.
"Without thinking, I told him he was right because I don't want to kill anyone. In boot camp, you're not even allowed to use the word 'I,' express personal opinions, especially opinions like that," Funk said. "Of course I got in trouble for saying that, but hearing aloud what I had been feeling inside crystallized my beliefs. After that point I could no longer just go along with the program, but I had no idea about conscientious objection as an option until I researched my military rights online."
Funk filed for conscientious objector status in November 2002 and lived in San Francisco as a reservist while he waited for confirmation. When his troop was deployed to Iraq for active duty on Feb. 9, 2003, Funk did not show up. He was under the impression that his platoon understood his reasons for not serving and did not believe he was committing a crime.

The above is from Laura Rumpf's "Students reflect on service in Iraq" (The Stanford Daily) and the first student reflecting is Stephen Funk who is also the first public war resister of the Iraq War. Iraq Veterans Against the War's chair Camilo Mejia is the first Iraq veteran to publicly resist the illegal war. On Saturday he spoke at the national conference of the Campus Antiwar Network held at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Pedro Oliveira Jr. (Badger Herald) reports that the conference had a turn out of "nearly 100 students from CAN chapters across the nation this weekend. During the conference, students had a chance to hear Iraq Veterans Against the War founder Camilo Mejia speak about his experiences in Iraq."

Meanwhile the New York Times continues their soft ball, promotional coverage of Blackwater, this time via Paul von Zielbauer (who probably wishes he could have been the one to lie that Erik Prince has a crew-cut):

The well-armed men remain, but the company's roughneck logo -- a bear's paw print in a red crosshairs, under lettering that looks to have been ripped from a fifth of Jim Beam -- has undergone a publicity-conscious, corporate scrubbing.
The company said the decision to update its logo was made long before Sept. 16, the day a Blackwater team guarding a State Department convoy in Baghdad fatally shot 17 Iraqis near a bustling traffic circle. But the new logo did not appear on Blackwater's Web site (, until after the incident, a Blackwater spokeswoman said.
The rifle-scope crosshairs so obvious in the old Blackwater logo have been reduced to a set of horizontal elipses that bracket, but no longer enclose, the paw print, which has also changed to more closely resemble an actual bear-paw imprint. The original Blackwater logo had thick white serif lettering draped over the crosshairs on a menacing black field. The new logo separates the image and the letters, which now appear in buttoned-down sans-serif black and slightly italicized on a white field.

No, PvZ, there was nothing "rough-neck" about the logo because the mercenaries of Blackwater were not in the business of going into towns plagued by rogue bears. The logo was not "rough-neck," it was xenophobic because the mercenaries were saying they'd track down any "animal" with their logo and "animals" obviously referred to people. It was an offensive logo and its equally offensive that the hardly changed logo is soft-balled by PvZ. Even more so is that the paper provides the image online so there's no need to link to Blackwater (I've disabled the link -- the web address remains). But they do link to Blackwater. The same paper that doesn't link to the Red Cross, will link to Blackwater. When the Red Cross or others pop up in stories, you have a link you can click on that takes you to other stories from the paper on that subject. But for Blackwater, they give it a little shout out and toss out a link. But then they've been offering excuses non-stop and, in fact, they repeatedly shamed themselves with their early coverage of the September 16th slaughter and they were the paper to trumpet a "US Embassy" report that was so very kind to Blackwater -- a report they've never made clear to their readers, even after CNN exposed it, that was actually written by Blackwater.

In the real world, the Chicago Sun-Times editorializes:

If the U.S. government persists in outsourcing war to private contractors, those companies need to be accountable to the American people.
They are not.
The FBI investigation into the Sept. 16 killings of 17 Iraqi civilians by employees of Blackwater USA, a private security contractor, exposes a gaping lack of accountability. U.S. soldiers are investigated and tried under clear and established rules when accused of wrongdoing. A cottage industry that has grown exponentially since Sept. 11, 2001, private military companies are policed by a patchwork of rules and agencies that have left officials unclear on how to scrutinize and prosecute them.
Contractors shouldn't be rogue militia, roaming the country shooting without justification and without consequences. This is especially true since the federal government has apparently hired out the Iraq war right under our noses: There are nearly as many private military employees there as troops.

Reuters notes that already today 11 deaths have been reported across Iraq. And they've just updated to note today's reported toll is now 16.

And a friend just called to pass on something hilarious. After Iraqi president Jalal Talabani makes the news insisting that the Kurdish reagion will turn over no PKK members to Turkey, he goes into damage control with Georges Malbrunot (France's Le Figaro) where he issues 'pithy' little statements such as, "The days of Che Guevara are past." Oh, go stuff your fat face on greasy fried foods again while you hole up in an American hotel. (Truly, the Mayo Clinic has no deserving patients waiting? They really need to deal with Talabani's health problems even while he ignores every guideline?). Repeats that Turkey better not invade and then gets in this 'funny':

Jalal Talabani openly accused Syria of protecting Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, former second-in-command of the Saddam Husayn regime and one of the chief sponsors of anti-US guerrilla in Iraq. "We know that he is still alive and safe in Damascus," the Iraqi president said. Al-Duri, who is sick, is the only Ba'thist leader to have escaped US pursuit following the collapse of the dictatorship in April 2003. He is accused of having organized the insurrection by the former Saddam-ites. "Those people cannot be integrated into the national reconciliation process," Jalal Talabani said. "However, our government does accept patriotic Ba'thists who have no blood on their hands."

The northern region of Iraq is home to the PKK. That didn't happen in secret and Talabani boasts publicly of the talks with them and that they won't be turned over to Turkey -- none of them, not even a Kurdish dog, he insisted -- then he wants to whine that Syria has a Ba'athist in its country and that "Those people cannot be integrated into the national process." For those who have been slow to notice the slaughter in the northern region, there's your reason for it, from the mouth of the president of Iraq. "Those people cannot be integrated into the national process."

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