Sunday, November 18, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

In what defense attorneys are calling an "enormous victory," U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle imposed a preliminary injunction on the trial of Lt. Ehren Watada, the Sansei officer who refused deployment to Iraq on the grounds he believes the war to be illegal. The Nov. 8 decision, which temporarily prevents the Army from trying Watada a second time, represents a rare case of a civilian court intervening in the military justice system.
[. . .]
The day after the injunction was issued, Watada supporters in San Francisco rallied in Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square, partially in celebration.
"We're here to say, 'Keep hope alive,'" Rev. Norman Fong explained. "It's going very good."
San Francisco poets, led by Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, read pieces in support of the young lieutenant.
Neighborhood activist and poet Peter Yamamoto read a poem describing Watada's journey to his current position on the war. Janice Mirikitani, former poet laureate and founding president of the Glide Foundation, compared Watada to the salt Japanese throw to ward off evil spirits at New Year's time in her poem.
"We need to celebrate the small victories," Mirikitani said. "But we have a lot of work to do still. We can't be lulled by good news."

Liang noted the above which is from Ben Hamamoto's "Judge Grants Watada Temporary" (Nichi Bei Times) and was published on Thursday. Hamamoto has regularly covered this case and thanks to Liang for catching it. Ehren Watada had a huge victory and we shouldn't forget that for many reasons. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey did not have a victory last Thursday when Canada's Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal. It's equally true that when Judge Toilet (aka John Head) declared a mistrial (over defense objection) last February in Watada's court-martial, the mainstream media largely reported that as a loss for Watada. Many outlets didn't even bother to go to an expert on Constitutional law. They presented the military's side ("Another court-martial will take place immediately!") and, when that didn't happen in March as Judge Toilet wrote, continued to write their articles as though the National Lawyers Guild and Center for Constitutional Rights didn't exist. They might give a sentence to how 'some' or 'defense lawyers for Watada' claim there is a double-jeopardy issue, but they didn't go to lawyers who had some expertise on that issue. Instead they did what they'd done all along, they went to military lawyers. Now after Terry Gross embarrassed herself and her Not So Fresh Air by giving over a healthy chunk of airtime to a military lawer before the court-martial -- a military lawyer who didn't appear to know the UMCJ -- the press might have thought, "We were wrong. We were wrong because we limited our coverage." If they'd thought that, they could have sought out other voices. But they largely didn't. NLG president Marjorie Cohn was walking readers and listeners through the double-jeopardy provision and the Constitutional issues the mistrial raised immediately. She was on air (Pacifica Radio) immediately. But the mainstream media couldn't find her.

That may be why they largely ignored Watada's victory. (Those mainstream outlets who had made a point to offer more than one day coverage did cover the victory.) But they did a diservice to their readers and viewers because the victory was never unlikely. Had they gone beyond their usual approach of "Defendent says, Prosecution says, Military Law 'expert' says," their viewers and readers would have known what was at stake -- issues US District Judge Benjmain Settle clearly recognized. The worst of the mainstream 'reporting' presented 'reporting' that wasn't journalism. It was slanted against Watada from the start. It overemphasized the military's side (including going to their military law 'experts') and completely ignored the Constitution.

But if you read or watched that coverage or listened to it, February and months that followed may have been rather depressing. Not unlike the feeling after Canada's Supreme Court announced they wouldn't hear the appeals of Hinzman and Hughey. But it's not over for Hughey and Hinzman. They can apply to stay in Canada under grounds other than refugee status. The War Resisters Support Campaign and others are working to get Canada's Parliament to stand up. The worst of the mainstream coverage has stated it's over but that's not reality just like it wasn't reality when we were told another court-martial for Watada was a sure thing.

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 3860. Tonight? 3871 announced. 1,099,372 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,112,745. Today the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division-North Soldiers were killed as a result of an suicide vest attack while conducting operations in Baqubah, Diyala Province, Nov. 18."

In other reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing targeting a high school resulted in two people being wounded, a Baghdad bombing that left three wounded, a Baghdad bombing that left a "US army vehicle" burned, a Baghdad mortar attack on a market ("The American army uses the market as a military base"), a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 9 lives and left twenty more wounded ("targeted a convoy of one of the deputies of the minister of Finance Salman Mgotar"), a Tikrit bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded, a Mosul car bombing that claimed the lives of 3 civilians and left five police officers and eleven civilians wounded, a Baquba bombing that claimed the lives of 3 children and left seven more people wounded and a Baquba bombing that left two people wounded. Reuters notes the Tikrit bombing left one person wounded but two dead ("an Iraqi army officer and a sodlier").


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi police officer was wounded in gun fire at "Al Maqal essential training center". Reuters notes: "The provincial governor of Muthanna province accused U.S. troops of opening fire on civilian cars south of Baghdad, wounding six people, and threatened to suspend ties with U.S. officials over the attacks" And Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on Saturday, "Saturday afternoon, gunmen executed five civilians in front of the public in Mosul Al-Jadeda (New Mosul ) west of the city .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Emad Jawad and Barham Jawad (brothers) were kidnapped in Kirkuk.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 4 corpses were found Saturday in Baghdad and 5 in Mosul. McClatchy's Hussein Kadhim noted Saturday, "Today , Sahwa ( Awaking ) council members in Hour Rijab in Doura found 30 unidentified dead bodies in a deserted house in the area which were transferred to A Shiite mosque first then to Doura police station. - Police found ( 4 ) unidentified dead bodies in the following neighborhoods in Baghdad : ( 2 ) two were found in west Baghdad ( Karkh bank ) ; 1 in Doura and 1 in Amil. While ( 2 ) bodies were found in east Baghdad ( Risafa bank ) 1 in Sadr city and Suleikh."

Last highlight is Pru's. She highlights Phil Turner's "War and peace in Sheffield" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The 70th anniversary of Pablo Picasso's anti-war painting Guernica provided the centrepiece for a Sheffield Stop the War Coalition event. It was attended by more than 70 people on Friday of last week and was called to mark the cost of war over the remembrance weekend.
"Picasso's War and Peace" commemorated the anniversary of Guernica being painted during the Spanish Civil War.
It highlighted a visit by the artist to Sheffield for the second World Peace Conference in November 1950. This was wrecked by the then Labour government, which refused visas to many delegates, including the US singer Paul Robeson.
The event included an inspiring talk about Picasso and Guernica by Mike Gonzalez, extracts from Trimming Pablo, a play about Picasso's visit, written by Dave Sheasby and performed by Fine Time Fontayne, and a documentary film.
There was also an anti-war exhibition by local artists Jeff Perks, Nancy Pilgrim, Simon Sunderland and Annie Anthony-Mays.
A dayschool was held last Saturday to help organise Don't Attack Iran protests on 22 and 24 November and delegations for the international World Against War conference in London on 1 December.
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jeremy hinzman
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