Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: "By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong," wrote Joni Mitchell ("Woodstock") and if that gathering was reported today, I can picture reports of "thousands" and "hundreds" turning out.

Saturday, Januarty 27th, at least 500,000 people were gathered in D.C. to call for the end of the illegal war and make their voices heard. If you were able to make it, you may find that hard to believe. If you were present, you understand why I use "at least 500,000" and not just "500,000."

We were not small in number and we were not alone. In terms of my family, for myself the story is two sons, two daughter-in-laws and four grandchildren. My Friday neighborhood group, where we discuss the illegal war, was also present with twenty of them headed to DC early Saturday morning. I never saw them.

I looked for them. My grandson Jayson saw them when he was doing interviews with Dona and Ty. Yesterday, I got to see their pictures in the meeting. We spoke of how huge the crowd was and how the media under reported the figure. A few of them noted "helpful" supposed participants who have been e-mailing websites, and getting their opinions posted, with the claim that they were there and the turnout was small. I had no idea the FBI and/or the CIA was attempting to infilitrate the web with disinformation but the thought does not really surprise me.

I also think those "participants" may be like a woman I will call "Twyla." It was the week leading up to Woodstock. I was not going. I had several children by that point and was not eager for a jam in the middle of nowhere. We were still living in an apartment then, my husband was still finishing his residency and had yet to start his own practice. Maybe if the festival had promised the Beatles, I would have been interested. But, as it was, I was a young wife, raising children, attempting to carve out time to protest another illegal war and was not interested in traveling to, what we called, "the sticks" for a musical experience that honestly reminded me of those revue tours Dick Clark used to do. I wished them well and was not hostile the planned event but I did not see packing the strollers and diaper bags to go native in the sticks.

Twyla lived in our building. She was either on the floor below or the floor above, that is hazy with the passage of time. But I do remember she was strongly opposed to the festival and was frequently dropping by to decry the "commercialization" of the event. I believe the original plan for the festival had included the purchasing of tickets and that plan flew out the window quickly. But Twyla had a long list of reasons for why the festival was wrong. I would be changing a diaper, at the mimeograph machine, fixing bottles, wiping chins, and trying to pick up the never ending mess. But I would listen to Twyla as I did all of that. One day, Treva visited.

She stopped on her way to Woodstock and tried to talk me into going along. Twyla ripped into her for planning to attend. Treva did go. Her car got stuck in the mud, she caught a ride with others. She had a wonderful time.

On her way back out of state, she dropped by and shared her impressions of the festival. Twyla listened attentively. A few days later, I was down in the basement doing laundry. A woman I did not know was talking about Woodstock and could not quite figure out if it was a good or a bad thing. But she knew that one of the renters in our building had gone and she had hated it. She knew the turnout was small. She explained to me, as we folded laundry, that the media was inflating the turnout. She got that information from the woman in our building who had attended. I knew what Treva had told me and knew the woman was wrong but it was nice to have company in the laundry room, so I just listened as the woman spoke.

As I finished folding, I mentioned that I had to get back up stairs because Dark Shadows would be going off soon and Twyla was watching her soaps while my children were napping, hopefully napping. "That's her," the woman explained. Twyla was the one who went to Woodstock and had told her that the turnout was very small.

Back upstairs, I repeated what I was told, during a commercial, and Twyla denied it, then affirmed parts of it, then left in a huff. From what she had said, and the way she had said it, I concluded that she felt the need to lie and belittle the turnout, as well as the music itself, because she felt she had missed something. We all miss something. Every hour of the day, we are going to miss something. A mature person can deal with that. An immature person has a need to tear down whatever big event they missed out on.

I would love to tell you that I said all of that to Twyla and that is why she stopped coming by to watch soaps on our TV. But I was really still puzzled at that moment and did not say much. She found another TV to watch in our building and pretty much avoided my husband, our kids and myself after that.

So possibly some of the "participants" writing websites this past week maintaining that they were present for last Saturday's rally in D.C. and that it was not an impressive turnout are suffering from a case of the Twylas?

I know what I saw and it was amazing. I say that as someone who participated in many marches and rallies during Vietnam. As an older woman with a grandson, Elijah, usually wrapped around me, I must have been seen as a potential human interest story because I was stopped by four reporters asking for my impressions. One followed that up with questions seeking my entire life history. But all four asked the same basic questions that went something like this: "Is this your first protest? Oh, you protested during Vietnam, how does that compare to this?"

My "soundbyte" was: "I see the birth of today." If it got used anywhere, I did not come across it. It might not have qualified as "dramatic" and, certainly, other people present had interesting stories to tell.

But "I see the birth of today" really did sum it up for me. Maybe I should have gone with Elaine's "No comment"? Elaine was of the opinion that the mainstream press was determined to distort the event however it went. If she had bet us money on that, most would be paying up right now. But Mike and I repeatedly attempted to answer questions from reporters as we went around doing our interviews.

Late Saturday night, as we were working on "Show Me What Democracy Looks Like (1-27-07)" and the two-part piece for the gina & krista round-robin, it was obvious that there were more interesting stories than the press could have used if they had devoted serious coverage to the rally and march. I missed the TV coverage so perhaps it did a better job. The print coverage?

Well there were those who felt the story was only in what was said onstage and a subgroup that felt the story was only what was said onstage by elected officials. Then there were those who had to include the small but hateful group of pro-war activists. Of course The New York Times felt the need to spread unverified myths about what happened to that hateful group. Which reminded of that paper's Woodstock coverage. If you have the time and can research that at some point, please do. You will find one contradictory report after another all appearing in the same paper.

The increasingly laughable Nation magazine posted three online pieces. None appeared to be written by someone who actually attended the march. If that is, indeed, the case, that fact should have been noted upfront in the laughable pieces. I was most ashamed of John Nichols who always talks such a good game about media reform and how the people matter, how the people need to front and center and news needs to cover them. His was one of the pieces that read like it came via a newsletter from Congressional Fan Club. Another writer, a woman, attempted to provide a better version and might have succeeded if she knew the reactions from the crowd. But, as C.I. noted, when you have missed Bob Watada's speech, you are not covering the rally. In fairness to her, I will note that The Nation magazine's refusal to cover war resisters in print is, at this point, widely known so possibly it was decided ahead of time not to mention the father of Ehren Watada. Those pieces went up last weekend. The hatchet job would come later. Elaine's done a wonderful job covering Liza Featherbrain's efforts to manipulate reality and steer everyone towards worship of the Congress. It certainly is interesting that Featherbrain's efforts at covering Wal-Mart read like "Rise up, brothers and sisters!" and now she works overtime to undermine the power of the people. That may have something to do with the amount of time she spends working for at the magazine headed by the "Peace Resister."

Rebecca and I were delighted Monday morning to hear the "Peace Resister" by a guest on WBAI's Law and Disorder. On the same day's Democracy Now!, you could also get the kind of reporting on the D.C. rally and demonstration that one might expect The Nation magazine to provide . . . provided they did not actually read the magazine but only knew the hype. On that note, let me add my own voice to those expressing outrage that the most widely circulated (for now) magazine of the left thinks it is acceptable in 2007 to print four male writers for every one female that makes it into the embarrassing magazine. This is an ongoing problem and it is outrageous. The Third Estate Sunday Review is tracking all of the issues for 2007 and I am beginning to doubt that we will see any improvement. As each issue arriving at my home demonstrates before it quickly lands in the trash can, the bulk of the magazine is useless. Possibly there are not as many useless women writers as there are men?

I will also add my own voice to the call to ask your local paper, if they ran Molly Ivins' columns, to fill that now sadly vacant space with Amy Goodman's columns. Listening to John Nichols on CounterSpin Friday was a very strange experience. Rebecca's addressed it and, when I arrived at her house Friday, she was filling me in. We went online and listened to the archived broadcast. I am not sure whether "humor" is a dirty word in John Nichols' book, whether he has a problem seeing that a woman can be humorous, or if he was just grief stricken. But it was very strange to listen to him.

It was especially strange to hear him reduce Ms. Ivins to his concept of her. Though gender neutral might be something to strive for, the reality, which CounterSpin was addressing last year, is that women are not represented on the op-ed pages. So while he is correct that Ms. Ivins' space should remain progressive, it should also remain a space for a woman. If he is unaware of how bad things are, in terms of the under representation of women in the media, he can grab any issue of The Nation and count up the bylines. Near the end, Ms. Ivins was writing a weekly column, Ms. Goodman currently writes a weekly column. It should make for an easy substitution if papers are willing to listen to their readers.

That is something that some independent media refuse to do so we will consider that up in the air at this point. Being with everyone this weekend meant hearing of some of the e-mails that come in. I was especially interested in a lengthy e-mail from a male independent voice who went on at length to express his outrage over valid critiques. I found it all the more interesting since my son Jayson had written the male and received no reply. Readers, apparently, are not important even when they attempt to correspond with you but C.I., for instance, is supposed to drop everything to address what I generously term a whine. Jasyon, writing as a concerned reader, prompts no response. The same non-response, if you remember, that Martha received. But they have all the time in the world for their unintentionally hilarious e-mails? Possibly that is why their professional writing suffers so?

Or take the issue of Durham Gal who had repeatedly voiced her objection over a publication repeating the false myth of "Red" states and "Blue" states. For two years, she had voiced that and never received a reply or had her letter printed. But she got quoted two Fridays ago and suddenly the same group repeating that false stereotype rushed to be "heard" by C.I. I thought C.I. handled that very well in the column for Polly's Brew. Durham Gal's feelings and opinions were ignored repeatedly but when they went up at The Common Ills suddenly there was a response? What does that tell you about the state of independent media?

It tells me that some just do not care about their readers. Reading The Nation, week after week, that point is quite clear. The Nation's most recent editorial is "Which Side Are You On?" and, before you get excited, there concern is over whether or not you will stand with new Democrat and newly elected Senator Jim Webb? As they hypervenilate, it might be a good time to toss that question back at the magazine: Which side are you on?

Ehren Watada will face a court-martial on Monday. Readers of the print version of the magazine should be aware that his name did not appear in the magazine until 2007. He was the focus to a sidebar of an article that mentioned him long enough to call him a coward. So, tossing the question back to the magazine, Which side are you on?

Darrell Anderson was court-martialed, Ivan Brobeck was court-martialed, Agustin Aguyao faces a court martial next month, and which side is the magazine on?

Amy Goodman and David Goodman's Exceptions to the Rulers is a book we discussed Friday in my neighborhood group. In it, they write of the war which was not all that old, compared today, and note that voices of peace were shut out by the mainstream media, that questions could not be asked before the start of the illegal war and that questions could not be asked after the war started. On page 204, they write, "So when is the right time to question war? If it's not before a war and not during it, what's left? After the war? By then, it doesn't matter."

We were able to tie that into the coverage of war resisters. A print out of that day's Christian Science Monitor was passed around, the lengthy article on Ehren Watada. Two members of my group subscribe to that paper but their subscriptions work through the postal system so it had yet to arrive. But there we were looking at a lengthy article about Ehren Watada and realizing that we had gotten nothing from The Nation. It was not a case of our priorities being skewed, it was a case of The Nation's priorities being out of whack.

The week prior, the Pooper and Mr. Nichols could both rush out "online exclusives" at the website in defense of a reporter. But the magazine's silent on Ehren Watada. So when is the right time for The Nation to address Ehren Watada? If they will not do it before the court-martial or during it, I am borrowing from the Goodmans, what's left?

It makes their inane "Which Side Are You On?" editorial not only laughable but sadly pathetic.
That is also the state of the magazine and also reflective of their coverage of the rally. "Hype" was a popular word in my day. We did not want to be "hyped." The Nation is less interested in reality and more interested in hype. We discussed that and wondered if they had bought into the myth that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election. (Mike addressed that myth here.) Is the current fawning over Democrats in office some sort of guilt payment? The oldest member of my group pointed to history of punishing those who supported war resisters at earlier times and wondered if the magazine's silence derived from cowardice?

What we could agree on was that Ehren Watada has taken a brave stand that merits support; however, those who could be using their platforms to call for support remain silent. So it is time to ask The Nation, "Which Side Are You On?"

At my granddaughter Tracey's request, I am closing with the comments of a young woman she, Wally and C.I. spoke with at the rally:

"I was just asked for a comment," she explained, "and I just smiled and walked on. I don't trust that something I say won't end up being turned into something different and one more reason to target Muslims. I'm 16. I'm first generation American. I live an hour drive away from here. I only talked to you because of his button. [She was referring to Wally's "NO BLOOD FOR OIL button.] I don't think you'll change my words up or make me sound angry or stupid. I feel like the only time a Muslim gets on TV now is if he's shouting. And we're the bad guys on every other episode of that show that ticks down the clock. [24.] Those things hurt. And it makes me think that another roundup, like after the Twin Towers were destroyed, could happen again real easy. I'm against the war. This is my first protest. My mother asked me not to go but I told her how much I wanted to be here, and what it means to me, so she finally said yes. She even said if she was 10 years younger, she probably would be here too. I'm against the war. I'm against all this blaming of Iraqis. People say things like they're dogs, just stupid dogs who were given some wonderful gift and smashed it. Invading Iraq was not a gift. War on the country was not a gift. And Muslims are not idiots. There wasn't this hate between Shia and Sunni before George Bush's war. He created it. I think if the soldiers came home that the people of Iraq would work out their differences. I don't think that would happen in a month or even two. But I do think that within a year, there would be peace. And I may be wrong, but that is what I believe. I'm here because I want the killings to stop. When I get home, I'm going to tell my mother that people in Congress were here and Jane Fonda and Sean [Penn]. And I think, next time, when I come, she's going to come with me. But, you have to understand, it can be really hard to be a Muslim in the United States today. People look at you funny. Before the Twin Towers, I was only 11, but before that, I did not feel scared here. I felt like I was any other American kid. Now I feel like people expect me to prove that I am American, to say, 'I love America.' And what they really seem to want is for me to say, 'I hate Muslims.' It feels like they want me to denounce my faith. And like the only way I can fit in is if I change my name to Jill and become a Christian and, since that won't happen, I'm always under suspicion. One of my best friends is Christian and we were at the mall Tuesday and she said, 'I see what you are talking about.' Because at every store, the women were smiling at her and asking her if they could help her and they just kind of stared at me. I don't think I should have to prove that I am a good American. I was born here, this is my country. But since 9-11, it seems like people look at Muslims and don't really think we belong here anymore. Thank you."
Did she feel welcome at the march? "Yes, people here were very nice. They smiled, they nodded. The press, I do not know. I feel like they see me and think, 'Muslim!' That's why I did not talk to that woman who asked me for a comment. But the people who are to here to protest the war, I felt very welcomed. There are a lot of different people here and it looks more like America than what you see on TV. It gives me hope that someday things will change. Not just that the war will end, but that all the hatreds and suspicions will stop."

Her story is a worthy story. However, she does not hold elected office so do not expect to read about her in The Nation. Which side are you on?

amy goodman
democracy now

"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

Santora on the helicopter shot down (NYT)

An American Apache attack helicopter was shot down on Friday just north of Baghdad and its two-member crew was killed, an American military official said.
It was the fourth American helicopter to be shot down or crash under fire in the last two weeks, a trend that American military commanders acknowledged was disturbing.
[. . .]
A man who identified himself only as Abu Ahmed, who lives near the crash site, said gunmen were hiding near a manufacturing plant in Sheik Amir village, near the town of Taji, waiting for the helicopters. Taji is a central hub for helicopter traffic around Baghdad. Americans are currently training Iraqi pilots there and the Americans have expressed concern about enemies becoming more sophisticated in shooting at the helicopters.
On Friday, just after sunrise, two American Apache helicopters flew in low, and waiting militants successfully shot down one and hit the second, Mr. Ahmed said.

The above is from Marc Santora's "2 Killed as U.S. Helicopter Is Shot Down Near Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times. Slowly, reporters go beyond "the US military said . . ." Hopefully, it's a sign of better coverage and not a fluke. (I'm not just referring to Santora.) That's it for the Times.

If you've e-mailed the public account and you're not noted today, check tomorrow morning. I will note the film that someone e-mailed on then and possibly other items. Today, right now, I'm up against Blogger/Blogspot going down in sixteen minutes.

That's my own fault because when we finally got home yesterday, I just crashed. Betty likes to use Kat and myself as her test audience before posting her latest chapter and, this morning, she just didn't feel it was coming together. It has come together (and she's posting it right now or is about to) and it was just a case of hating everything you write. (She's highly critical of her own work.) So that's where the focus was this morning and it should have been there last night but, as I said, I crashed as soon as we got back. We hadn't planned the trip, it was spur of the moment and we assumed it would be three days. Instead it ended up being Monday through Friday and we missed our scheduled flight out Friday as a result of a last minute group of students being put together. (Which is fine. They were very interested in discussing Iraq.) But between that, the freezing cold (I hate the cold) and misadventures and hijinks in traveling, it was a long week. My apologies to Betty that I wasn't able to listen last night.

Already today in Iraq, there's another mass bombing with over 90 dead. US war resister Kyle Snyder is back in Canada. A lot is going on. So let's talk about what really matters: Obama, groovy or not?

That was a joke. The title of this site is "The Common Ills," not "The Nation."

We will note Maura Reynolds' "U.S. can't prove Iran link to Iraq strife: Despite pledges to show evidence, officials have repeatedly put off presenting their case" (Los Angelse Times):

Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.
Administration officials have long complained that Iran was supplying Shiite Muslim militants with lethal explosives and other materiel used to kill U.S. military personnel. But despite several pledges to make the evidence public, the administration has twice postponed the release - most recently, a briefing by military officials scheduled for last Tuesday in Baghdad.

Susan notes this by Philip Palermo (The Mirror):

With the court martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada set for Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis, several Federal Way residents have organized to show their support.
A group called Federal Way Matters will sponsor a pair of movies Feb. 4 and a local rally in support of Watada on Feb. 5.
Watada will face one count of missing movement with his unit after refusing to deploy to Iraq with the Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade. He also faces two counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer for public statements he made this past year.
"He’s taking a stand and saying this (war) is amoral and illegal," said April Quint of Federal Way Matters.
The two movies planned for Sunday, Feb. 4, at the Federal Way Regional Library include a short documentary on Watada’s story. The other piece, called "The Ground Truth," presents stories of several people called to serve in Iraq.
The rally is set for 5 p.m. Monday at the intersection of South 320th Street and Pacific Highway. "There's a lot of people who just can't get down to Fort Lewis," Quint said of the army post in Pierce County.

Ehren Watada is scheduled to be court-martialed Monday for refusing to deploy to Iraq. Events are going on around the country. And this has to go up now before Blogger/Blogspt goes down.
E-mail address for this site is

Friday, February 02, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a US helicopter is shot down in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial is scheduled to take place in three days, 'civil war' to describe Iraq becomes a less loaded term and the myth of Najaf continues to be dispelled.

Starting with Ehren Watada who became the first comissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June and now faces a court-martial in Fort Lewis, Washington on Monday.
Daisuke Wakabayashi (Reuters) says the case "could determine the limits of free-speech rights for officers." Dean Paton (Christian Science Monitor) takes a look at the life that led up to the brave stand: "When it came time for Watada to enlist, he was diagnosed with asthma and declared physically unfit. He paid $800 to have an outside test done and was accepted into the Army's college-option program. He completed basic training in June 2003, and went to Officer Candidate School in South Carolina. He emerged 14 weeks later as a 2nd lieutenant." Ben Hamamoto (The Nichi Bei Times) reports on some of the activities Carolyn Ho has been taking part in to raise awareness of her son including suggesting people write letters to Congress, sign petitions (one is at Ehren Watada's site) and "post signs demanding that the military drop the charges and allow Watada to resign" because, Ho stated, "The way this resolves itself will speak to the soldiers and tell them whether or not they are being supported and it will speak to the politicians as to how we feel about the war (and soldiers' rights)."

Diane Kay (The Maine Campus) traces his life from college to speaking out: "Watada was a finance major, and graduated magna cum laude. The war in Iraq had just begun, and Watada, like many Americans, believed that Iraq posed a real threat to the United States, had WMDs and was connected to Sept. 11. He entered the U.S. Army officer candidate program following graduation to pursue a career in the military. Watada served in Korea in 2003 and 2004, earned the rank of lieutenant, and received excellent reviews of his work by his superior officers. In 2005, Lt. Watada and his unit returned to the United States, and were stationed in Ft. Lewis, Wash. Lt. Watada knew that his unit would eventually be deployed to Iraq, and he began to study as much as he could to prepare himself and his unit for deployment." This is where Ehren Watada starts to learn about the Bully Boy's lies of war. He had been assigned to Iraq. It was his duty (and superiors encouraged him in it) to study up so that he would be more effective and also able to answer questions from those serving under him (big one: "Why are we even here?"). It took the American people (many, not all) time to wake up to the lies of war and that didn't happen overnight. (Nor did it happen via the media as Liza Featherstone laughably suggests in The Nation. But then how would she know about the Downing Street Memos -- which The New York Review of Books, not The Nation, published. Jessica Lee, of the Indypendent, covers what Featherstone can't or won't -- click here.) What happened in the United States was activists and some journalists and publications pursued the topic (again, really not The Nation -- they had food issues and environmental issues and so much more to cover -- which is why they've never once written of the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer). People carved out a space for it and certainly Cindy Sheehan took it up a notch.

All that was needed for the lies to be exposed and the public to turn against the war. Ehren Watada was not in the United States. He was stationed in Korea. And it's really important to remember that. Many who've served in Iraq have seen the lies fall away before their eyes (which reality will do) but in terms of how the war was sold, don't think that troops serving overseas are getting the same media that those in the United States do. In the lead up to his announcing his decision to his mother on January 1, 2006, he was cramming in three-plus years worth of information, reporting, critiques, etc. Which is why Hatsue Katsura of
El Cerrito notes to The Contra Costa Times
: "It was a gradual awareness and realization of facts about the war that were publicly disclosed over time. It became obvious our administration lacked reliable intelligence and was lying to justify an illegal and immoral war.
I respect and support Watada for his decision. By refusing to obey orders, he knew he'd probably face a jail sentence. But he responded to a higher calling to serve his fellow man as an American and a world citizen."

Or, as Ehren Watada asked Daisuke Wakabayashi, "When you have leaders that are unaccountable, who have already deceived people over something as serious as war and are willing to do it again, you have to ask yourself, 'where do you stand?'" Or, as he explained to Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet), "I'm willing to go to prison for what I believe in. . . .
I've taken an oath to defend the constitution, I must be willing to sacrifice."

That sacrifice shouldn't involve sacrificing the truth of his story so possibly some might need to correct Tom Zeller Jr. (New York Times) who writes: "But Lieutenant Watada is no ordinary deserter, and he did not claim to be a conscientious objector." Ehren Watada is "no oridinary deserter" -- in fact, he's no deserter of any kind. Not since Zeller Jr. dismissed concerns over the Ohio vote immediately after the 2004 election has he seemed so out of touch with what he is supposed to be covering. Watada isn't a deserter. He refused to deploy. That is not desertion. He is not charged with desertion. Since he refused deployment, he has reported to the base for work every day. Zeller's fact-free approach to reporting made him a laughing stock in 2004 (all the more so with the recent Ohio convictions on voter fraud in the 2004 election) and he's obviously more concerned with maintaining that status. So let's speak slowly for Zeller Jr.: Desertion follows AWOL. AWOL is what most are charged with if they are gone for less than thirty days. Watada is not charged with desertion because he never went AWOL. He has been at Fort Lewis for every scheduled hour since he went public. He is not a deserter and the fact-free approach of Zeller's is not reporting. If the Junior Zeller is still confused, someone can refer him to the reporting of Andrew Buncombe (Independent of London): "When Lt Watada refused to go to Iraq last summer the army charged him with missing movement -- for failing to deploy -- as well as several counts of conduct unbecoming an officer."

Amnesty International has issued a press release entitled "USA: War objector's freedom of conscience must be respected" which notes: "'If found guilty, Amnesty International would consider Ehren Watada to be a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release', said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's Americas Programme Director. 28-year-old Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada faces a possible four year prison sentence on charges of 'missing movement' -- due to his refusal to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 -- and of 'conduct unbecoming an officer' --- because of his public comments regarding his objections to the war in Iraq. Ehren Watada has stated that his refusal is based on his belief that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral. In a pre-court martial hearing held on 16 January, a military judge ruled that he could not base his defence on the legality of the war in Iraq." As Amnesty International steps up to the plate and The Nation plays useless, is it any wonder that so many are starting to believe organizations are more worthy of their dollars than those in independent media who make themselves useless?

As noted, Watada will not be allowed to present a defense. Lt. Col. 'Judge" Head will preside. A military jury will render the verdict on the charges. The hearing itself is expected to go rather quickly since the 'judge' has disallowed Watada's right to present a defense. (The August Article 32 hearing went quickly, since witnesses like Ann Wright, Denis Halliday and Frances Boyle will not be allowed to testify for Watada this time, it's expected to be over in a couple of hours.)

Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian of London) interviewed Watada who told her, "It was so shocking to me. I guess I had heard about WMD and that we made a terrible, terrible mistake. Mistakes can happen but to think that it was deliberate and that a careful deception was done on the American people -- you just had to question who you are as a serviceman, as an American."

Saturday, Ehren Watada will be speaking:

Your last opportunity to hear from Lt. Watada
in person prior to his military court martial!!
Saturday, February 3, 7 PM
University Temple United Methodist Church
1415 NE 43rd Street,

Seattle WA(next to the University Bookstore).
$10 suggested donation for the event.
No one will be turned away.

In addition, his mother, Carolyn Ho, will be speaking Saturday in Little Tokyo (in Los Angeles) at an event Saturday organized by the Asian Emrican Veterans Organization (event starts with a meet up march at the intersection of San Pedro and Second at 4:00 pm)..
More information on all events can be found by clicking here.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Again, the court-martial beings Monday. Courage to Resist lists actions taking place at Fort Lewis and elsewhere. They note that the court-martial is open to the public (you need to get a visitors pass), will be held (at Fort Lewis base) in Building 2027 and that the proceedings are scheduled to begin at 9:00 am.
And Iraq Veterans Against the War are staging actions throughout the weekend:
Friday, February 2nd through Monday, February 5th, the day of Lt. Ehren Watada's court-martial, IVAW's Olympia Chapter and IVAW Deployed will be holding a series of events/fundraisers in order to raise awareness on the importance and details of Ehren's action, and subsequently, his court-martial.
We will show up on the day of Ehren'' trial with a presence and message that cannot be ignored nor denied. Our message is simple: George W. Bush and those who choose to partake in war crimes are the people that should be on trial. Lt. Ehren Watada's argument is legitimate and should be adopted by all who might be given unlawful orders.

Yesterday on KFPA's Flashpoints, co-host Nora Barrows Friedman interviewed Dahr Jamail about the Najaf massacre. "What we do know for sure according to Iraqi doctors," Darh explained, that "253 killed and another 210 wounded." Jamail described the people in the region as wanting to self-govern and that "members of the tribes were starting to stand up because they want to be self-governing". The violence started with a tribal leader and his wife being gunned down which is a far cry from "the bogus story about a Shia messianic cult" plotting and conspiring to kill clerics.

Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily have covered many details of the Najaf story (see "Official Lies Over Najaf Battle Exposed") and Stan Goff (Huffington Post) notes their work and compares the lies of Najaf (from the US government and from the mainstream media) to the 'glory' days of Centcom past: "They were dead at the hands of the US and its sketchy Iraqi armed forces 'allies,' and one of the perennial CENTCOM lies of the day is that every Iraqi who dies during any US operation is an 'insurgent' or a 'gunman.' In fact, most of them were religious pilgrims who were gunned down without any provocation . . . more then 200 of them. This was no 'battle.' It was a massacre. The dead were religious pilgrims, not a 'cult.' All of us should figure it out, especially news people, that urban guerillas do not concentrate in groups of 200-plus, and that any time we learn that more than 200 people have been killed, it is a pretty good bet that they were mostly civilians.

Dahr also spoke of what happened in Baquba which had been a "very mixed town" for Shias and Sunnis prior to the illegal war but "just weeks after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003" the US military "brought together all of the religous leaders into a tent" in Baquba and had Shia and Sunnis go to opposite sides which is the sort of division that the US created and cemented and which some politicians (such as US Senator Joe Biden) favor: splitting Iraq into three regions (Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites). What Dahr spoke of echoes what MADRE's Yanar Mohammed witnessed and discussed with Laura Flanders on the December 9th broadcast of RadioNation with Laura Flanders -- after the invasion, all Iraqis faced one question when dealing with the occupation government (Americans): "Are you Shia or Sunni?"

That helped solidify divisions and conflicts. Today, Karen deYoung and Walter Pincuse (Washington Post) broke the news of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq which found the biggest obstacle in Iraq today to be the sectarian conflict. David Morgan (Reuters) reports: "Escalating violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'ites met the definition for a civil war, but the politically charged term did not describe all the chaos in Iraq, the report said. . . . An unclassified version of the NIE's key judgments said the term civil war 'accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence and population displacements'."

In Iraq today, CNN reports: "A U.S. Apache helicopter went down Friday in Iraq, killing two American soldiers, the military said. It was the fourth helicopter to crash in two weeks.
The U.S. military recovered the soldiers' remains and secured the site northwest of Baghdad near Taji. The number of U.S. military fatalities in the Iraq war stands at 3,090, including seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department." For those who've forgotten, New Year's Eve brought the news that the count of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war had reached 3,000. For those who've missed it, helicopters have been coming down in Iraq for some time. "Crash landings" and "emergency landings" and no press follow up to determine what happened. In January, that finally began to change. The helicopter that went down today was shot down. This morning, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported, "An American helicopter crashed north of Baghdad Friday morning, and an Iraqi police spokesman said it had been downed by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile." AP confirms it was shot down: "A U.S. Army helicopter crashed Friday in a hail of gunfire north of Baghdad, police and witnesses said -- the fourth lost in Iraq in the last two weeks. The U.S. command said two crew members were killed, and the top U.S. general conceded that insurgent ground fire has become more effective." Note that it was brought down with gunfire. As has happened before but the flacks for the military have dismissed crashes resulting from gunfire and have maintained that the 'hardware' needed to down helicopters just wasn't to be found in Iraq. Such claims fly in the face of reality, of memories of Vietnam and of your average action adventure film that features helicopters. It's taken some time for the mainstream press to address the realities that, yes, helicopters can be shot down with gunfire.


Sahar Al Shawi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two bombings in Baghdad that left three people wounded, three people wounded in Kadhimiya "as a result of a Katiosha missile aimed at the area today", and three people wounded in Khalis from a mortar attack.

Kim Gamel (AP) notes a roadside bombing in Mosul that killed one police officer.

And Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the death toll for the two bombings in Hilla yesterday has now reached "at least 73 killed and 152 injured".


Sahar Al Shawi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that yesterday's shooting of the Dean of the College of Physical Education (Walhan Hameed Al-Timimi) and his son was carried out "in full view of the teachers on campus" at Dyala University and that some are pointing the "finger at the President of the univeristy, Dr. Alla' Al-Atbi, saying that he is involved with armed groups and facilitates their tasks by setting up targets and doing nothing in way of calling for assistance if any attacks took place".

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that "Sunni chairman of the Fallujah City Council, Abbas Ali Hussein" was shot dead.


CNN reports that 32 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.

Lastly, on CounterSpin today, John Nichols discussed Molly Ivins passing and worried that Ivins, whose columns were the most heavily circulated progressive ones in newspapers around the world, death would mean the space would go blank (of course, it could also go to a right-winger or centrist) so he suggested that if your local paper carried Ivins' columns, you contact them and ask that they continue to carry a progressive column. To go one further, Molly Ivins was one of the few women to make the top twenty most widely circulated columnists. So if you want to continue to see columns that address reality and you'd like to see a woman continue to be represented on the op-ed pages, you can ask your local paper to carry Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now!). Goodman's doing a weekly column now. I personally doubt that top 10 lists make for worthy or even "good" reading. Molly Ivins stood for something in each column (and humor was a part of it though Nichols wanted to downgrade it -- don't stand by him at a party). It's not just that any progressive voice is needed (or liberal voice), it's one that will use the space well. Goodman's demonstrated that she intends to tackle real topics. Goodman's columns can be found many places and Common Dreams is one. That said, if you're recommending that it be picked up to a newspaper, you need to note a paper that provides the column. "Resistance to war cannot be jailed" is Goodman's most recent column and the link takes you to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you're pitching Goodman to your local paper, you should also note that she wrote (with her brother David) two bestselling hardcover books (Exception to the Rulers and Static) (say "New York Times bestsellers") and that she is an award winning journalist (George Polk Award, Aflred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting and is the 2006 RECIPIENT OF THE PUFFIN/NATION PRIZE FOR CREATIVE CITIZENSHIP). You should also note that she hosts (with Juan Gonzalez) Democracy Now! which is broadcast on over 500 radio & TV stations around the world as well as online and as a podcast. Also stress that Ivins wrote a weekly column and Goodman does as well. (Important because, from time to time, a columnist may choose to do a series of columns -- think Bob Herbert -- and newspapers with a weekly slot now open aren't going to want to fill it with a twice weekly column when they only have one day open each week.)

Amy Goodman is my personal choice. Members may have their own choice. If your choice is someone else, e-mail and we'll figure out the best way to present to present your choice to your local paper. But it is not enough to say, as John Nichols did, demand a progressive voice. (He may have been trying to leave it up to listeners or may not have wanted to pick one person over another.) You need to provide a concrete example otherwise you may find that the same editorial boards that boast Thomas Friedman is a liberal (I'm referring to his column in syndication -- the Times is stuck with him) have a very different idea than you do of what "progressive" or "liberal" is. This isn't something you wait on. The op-eds are 'valuable real estate' and they have a fast turn over. Once a spot is occupied, it is very difficult to get a paper to drop a columnist. (Complaints are sometimes seen as 'proof' of how many people read the columnist.) (Sometimes it is proof -- sometimes it's just a sign of how bored and tired readers are with the same-old, same-old.)

amy goodman
democracy now

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Other Items

Carolyn Ho had a powerful partner onstage with her Thursday night, if only in spirit: her son, Army Lt. Ehren Watada.Watada is in Fort Lewis, Wash., awaiting his court-martial Monday, but Ho brought along a DVD of a speech he gave at a Vets for Peace meeting in August.Ho spoke at Emerson High School in Gary, Purdue University Calumet and Valparaiso University on behalf of her son, who faces court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq.Ho has toured the country for Watada, not only as his biggest supporter but as his mother.
"I am proud of my son because he is a citizen of the world," Ho said. "He feels the anguish of the Iraqi people, not only for the deaths of our (men and women) but the deaths of innocent men, women and children."

The above is from Mary Wilds' "Mother of man facing court-martial visits VU" (The Times of Northwest Indiana). Also on Ehren Watada, Megan notes a letter from "LETTERS TO THE CONTRA COSTA TIMES" (Contra Costa Times):

Supports Watada
Lt. Ehren Watada's court martial hearing is scheduled to begin Monday. Therein lies the fate of a courageous young Army officer who refused deployment to Iraq.
He's expressed his decision wasn't easy. It was a gradual awareness and realization of facts about the war that were publicly disclosed over time.
It became obvious our administration lacked reliable intelligence and was lying to justify an illegal and immoral war.
I respect and support Watada for his decision. By refusing to obey orders, he knew he'd probably face a jail sentence. But he responded to a higher calling to serve his fellow man as an American and a world citizen.
Like Watada, we must all learn from history and reflect on the World Court decisions at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. Leaders and officers in Germany, Italy and Japan were individually held accountable, charged with actions of inhumanity and sentenced accordingly.
Support activities for Watada continue. A rally will be held Sunday in San Francisco, and vigils are scheduled for Monday through Wednesday. More information is available on the Internet under his name.
I hope for the best outcome possible -- that Watada be allowed to resign his commission and that court martial charges be dropped.
Hatsue Katsura
El Cerrito

Just as independent print media has failed to cover Ehren Watada, the mainstream has failed to cover the realities of all those 'crash landings' and crashes. While independent media (print) turns a cold shoulder to Ehren Watada, the mainstream media does appear to be waking up to realities and willing to report crashes with something other than rah-rah press releases from the US military. Lloyd notes Ernesto Londono's "U.S. Probes Helicopter Crash Near Baghdad" (Washington Post):

An American helicopter crashed north of Baghdad Friday morning, and an Iraqi police spokesman said it had been downed by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile.
A U.S. military spokesman said he couldn't confirm the crash.

"We're looking into that," Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver said about the report.
Iraqi police major Hatem Al-Dulaimi said the helicopter was downed at approximately 8 a.m. near Taji, which is 15 miles north of Baghdad.
There was no information on the number of casualties.

Reuters notes:

Last month, 12 soldiers, were killed when a Blackhawk transport helicopter came down northeast of Baghdad. There was a media report that it was shot down although there has been no confirmation of that.
On Sunday, two Americans were killed when their attack helicopter came down during a battle south of Baghdad with what the Iraqi government described as hundreds of fighters from a militant messianic cult. Iraqi officers said it was shot down.
Last week, five American security contractors were killed in central Baghdad, four of them aboard a helicopter that came down and the fifth shot dead aboard a second helicopter.

And yesterday, Kat noted: "2:00 pm to 3:00 pm Pacific time on KPFA tomorrow will be dedicated to Molly Ivins so you can also listen (online, airwaves) to that." That's today.

The e-mail address for this site is

"Backstory: Dissent of an officer" (Dean Paton)

In his early 20s, Watada delivered packages during the day while finishing school at night. Then terrorists struck in New York and Washington. "I always wanted to join the military -- and, especially after 9/11, a lot of us wanted to do more," he says. "We had this call to duty."
Watada already had a strong military heritage in his family, which is of mixed origin: his mother is Chinese-American, his father Japanese-American. Both grandparents on his mother's side served in the US Army and were stationed in China. Two of his father's brothers enlisted as translators and interrogators in World War II. Another died in Korea, and a fourth later joined the US Marines. "We served when we were asked," Watada says. His father, Robert, took a different path.
Ehren Watada says his father saw Vietnam as a "very racist war." So he joined the Peace Corps and went to South America.
When it came time for Watada to enlist, he was diagnosed with asthma and declared physically unfit. He paid $800 to have an outside test done and was accepted into the Army's college-option program. He completed basic training in June 2003, and went to Officer Candidate School in South Carolina. He emerged 14 weeks later as a 2nd lieutenant. "Nothing dissuaded me from wanting to be in the military, not even the war in Iraq," he says. "I believed in the war. I believed in the president. I believed there were weapons of mass destruction."
During a yearlong tour in Korea, he served under a commander who told his junior officers that if they didn't learn everything about their mission, they would be mediocre leaders – and fail those serving under them. The earnest Watada took this to heart in his own way. When he returned to Fort Lewis, he began researching Iraq. The exposé at Abu Ghraib prison fueled his doubts about the war. He read the report of the Iraq Survey Group, a team formed after the 2003 invasion to see if weapons of mass destruction existed. It found they didn't. He studied the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Later, after concluding that Saddam Hussein had no ties to Al Qaeda, as the president had claimed, he became more disillusioned: "And I said, 'Wow -- it's not bad intelligence; it's manipulative intelligence.' When you put it all together, I became convinced that what we're doing is illegal and immoral. I went into a short period of deep depression. I was so shocked. I felt betrayed."
In early 2006, after telling his family of his decision not to deploy, Watada went to see his commanding officer. "I was very nervous," he says. He offered to train his replacement. He offered to fight in Afghanistan instead of in Iraq. Both requests were denied. On June 5, 2006, he called a press conference to announce that he would not fight in a war he considered "illegal and immoral." Soon afterward, the Army took a step of its own -- launching an investigation that resulted in the convening of a court-martial.

The above is from Dean Paton's "Backstory: Dissent of an officer" (Christian Science Monitor) and Ehren Watada's court-martial begins Monday. For those wondering, The Nation didn't use their last issue before the court-martial (which subscribers and buyers wouldn't have gotten before Monday) to weigh in. They've become very comfortable in the COWARDS' SILENCE.
Last week, as a 'creative trust' pushed the save 'reporters' (it wasn't plural, don't kid), The Nation could offer not one, but two 'online exclusives' to 'cover' that issue.

The reality is that the laughable 'coverage' didn't do anything, the laughable petition didn't do anything. The only reason reports won't have to testify is because Ehren Watada, who already stood up against the illegal war, took the time to stand up against reporters being asked to testify. So there he is, facing a court-martial, having to do his work and that of the cowardly press. His 'thanks' for that is press releases by idiots claiming a petition brought about a 'victory' and, the same voices that couldn't credit him last week, go out of their way this week to avoid crediting him.

The reality is that if you're ever in spot, you want Ehren Watada on your side, the bulk of independent media is too busy traveloguing. (Egyptian bloggers? Really? On the cover a magazine called "The Nation"? Really?)

Martha notes Karen deYoung and Walter Pincus' "Iraq at Risk of Further Strife, Intelligence Report Warns" (Washington Post):

A long-awaited National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, presented to President Bush by the intelligence community yesterday, outlines an increasingly perilous situation in which the United States has little control and there is a strong possibility of further deterioration, according to sources familiar with the document.
In a discussion of whether Iraq has reached a state of civil war, the 90-page classified NIE comes to no conclusion and holds out prospects of improvement. But it couches glimmers of optimism in deep uncertainty about whether the Iraqi leaders will be able to transcend sectarian interests and fight against extremists, establish effective national institutions and end rampant corruption.

The document emphasizes that although al-Qaeda activities in Iraq remain a problem, they have been surpassed by Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence as the primary source of conflict and the most immediate threat to U.S. goals. Iran, which the administration has charged with supplying and directing Iraqi extremists, is mentioned but is not a focus.

Now someone serving in the military might read that and might decide to take a stand. If so, they need to grasp ahead of time that print independent media just doesn't give a damn. People taking stands they don't care about. If, a year from now, someone in Congress comments on it, they'll be all over it as surely they go into retreat mode to avoid standing up for or with a war resister.

Turning to the New York Times, we'll note James Glanz' "Iraq Suicide Bombers Kill 60 and Wound 150 in Market in Southern City:"

In Baghdad, which sometimes resembles a deadly dartboard where citizens can die at any time, relentless shelling, bombing and other violence killed at least 46 people. Mortar shells rained down in the Adhamiya, Qahira and Khadamiya neighborhoods, killing at least five and wounding 33, an Interior Ministry official said.
Elsewhere in the city, a suicide bomber detonated the minibus he was driving near St. Raphael Hospital in the Karada neighborhood, killing 6 and wounding 12. A parked car blew up in Rusafa Square in central Baghdad, killing three and wounding nine. The official said 30 bodies of unidentified people had been found dumped around Baghdad on Thursday, apparently the victims of death squads.
Outside Baghdad, two carloads of gunmen stormed a college at Diyala University and killed the dean and his son before driving off. And a car bomb attack on an Iraqi police and Army convoy in Qaim, a town on the Syrian border in the desert province of Anbar, killed three and wounded six.
The American military said a soldier died Thursday "from wounds due to enemy action" in Anbar. Following standard procedure, the military gave no details.

With the sixty reported killed in Hilla, the Times is noting over 100 reported deaths on Thursday. And fron the Los Angeles Times, we'll note Paul Richter and Louise Roug's "Iraq plans summit with Iran and Syria: The regional security talks might include the Arab League and the U.N., but not the U.S.:"

The Iraqi government Thursday invited Iran and Syria to Baghdad for talks next month on regional security, amid growing tension and accusations by the Bush administration of foreign meddling in Iraqi affairs.
Iraqi officials have not invited the United States to the meeting, which also could include Iraq's other neighbors, the United Nations and the Arab League. The meeting is intended to "promote support for the government of Iraq on security and other issues," said Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaidy, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States.
Sumaidy, speaking in Washington, said the summit was part of a series of regional gatherings sponsored by Iraq's fledgling government that have not included nations from outside the region. It is tentatively scheduled to start March 10. The meeting comes at a time when U.S. officials have accused Iran of meddling in Iraq.

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