Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gordo's war-on, still dripping

My dear friend, Diane Baker, from Dallas-Ft. Worth who is a United Church of Christ Minister and fearless crusader for peace is also a grandmother, has a degenerative disease, and was sweeping garbage in DC for being arrested there this past October protesting the illegal and immoral war in Iraq: to save your children and the children of Iraq. Three grandmas are going to Federal Prison for 1-3 months each for protesting the inhumane and horrifically criminal School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Ga. They compromised the fence line protesting how the SOA (School of Assassins) training of murderers who oppress, torture and kill people all over the world...even throwing in a few South American dictators here and there. They did it to save your children and the children of the world.
My "grannies' in the Granny Peace Brigade get arrested over and over again all over the country trying to enlist in the US military to save your children and the children of Iraq.
Diane was sentenced to eight hours of sweeping trash in DC; which is a filthy city, but the trash that needs to be taken out resides in the White House. Diane was doing what each and every American has the right and the moral duty to do: she was exercising her First Amendment freedoms and her obligation to dissent against an out of control government. The "compassionate" judge ordered Diane, who is obviously physically challenged by her disease, to do this community service in freezing weather. Diane's entire life is community service to her country and to her patients in the hospice where she lovingly helps people go to the other side.


The above is from Cindy Sheehan's "Grannies do Heavy Lifting" (Z-Net) and Susan e-mailed to highlight it and it's a wonderful note to start Saturday on. Two visitors are angry (one writes "outraged") that Friday had nothing from the New York Times. The only story in the Friday paper that was worth noting was Damien Cave (Iraq is our focus here) and we'd noted that in the Thursday snapshot. There were more important things to note and, in terms of the report on Feith cooking intel, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post were highlighted. The New York Times article on that was, my opinion, weak and not worthy of highlighting. (Somebody burp Mark Mazzetti when he spits out what he's been spoon fed.) We're moving to Joan's highlight and, for visitors who are confused, this is the sort of story that qualifies as interesting to the community, from Rick Daysog's "Retrial for Watada unlikely to be soon" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):


The court-martial of Army Lt. Ehren Watada for refusing deployment to Iraq could be held up a year or more by constitutional challenges, several prominent criminal defense lawyers said.
On Wednesday, a military judge in Fort Lewis, Wash., Lt. Col. John Head, ordered a mistrial in Watada's case and tentatively scheduled a new trial to begin March 19.
Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, said he plans to seek dismissal of the charges on the grounds of double jeopardy. If military judges reject that argument, Seitz said he's prepared to appeal the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There's clearly a double jeopardy problem," Seitz said.
Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, made international headlines when he refused to be deployed in Iraq and called the war illegal. The 28-year-old Watada was charged with one count of missing a troop movement and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer for his public statements.
Watada was assigned to administrative work at Fort Lewis after his unit deployed and is barred from traveling more than 250 miles from base.
Howard Luke, a local criminal defense lawyer who has handled military court-martial cases, believes that Seitz's double jeopardy argument carries weight.
In Watada's court-martial, the mistrial was declared over the objection of Watada's lawyers.
In such cases, a defendant can only be retried if there was a "manifest necessity," meaning there was no viable alternative for a fair trial other than aborting the court-martial, Luke said.
What's more, the mistrial was declared after a jury was seated and the government presented its witnesses and arguments. Once a trial goes that far, the defendant is considered to be in "legal jeopardy," meaning that prosecutors would be barred from bringing the same case a second time, Luke said.
"To me it looks like it should be over," said Luke. "If I were in the shoes of the prosecution, I would not be confident in getting a new trial."


One of the two visitors bothered by the Times not making it into Friday's entries also feels I have been too hard on James Glanz. Considering that I'm usually accused of the exact opposite, that was interesting. It may be true. These are my opinions. I will note that in the last four weeks, a US service member has twice tried to catch Glanz' attention and twice been ignored. I'm sure Glanz is very busy but if he doesn't make time to listen, someone else will get the story.
In terms of the criticism that's gone up here of Glanz' helicopter reporting, the Times is, as usual, focusing on the officals and they're missing reality. That's been my problem with their coverage of that this week. Not only was the issue of the crashes being ignored (the military flack says the military will do an investigation and then the press moves on) but there has been a lot of internal criticism, that has gone up the chain, and been ignored. The story of the helicopters being shot down isn't just a story of them being shot down, it's also a story of how those in the position to make changes in the policy refused to do so even when attacks were increasing. Now that we've finally crossed over from the "emergency landing and we will investigate" nonsense to acknowledging that helicopters were shot down, the questions that need to be pursued is how long did the military realize the risk and how did they deal with it? (For some time, they've known and they dealt with it by ignoring it which has risked many lives repeatedly.)

Some time ago, Bully Boy began pushing the Darwinian notion of 'adapt or die' (that's what we dubbed it here). The reality is that leaders on the ground in Iraq have refused to adapt. There's no 'win' in Iraq. It's not happening, the war is lost. But that's no excuse for leadership refusing to address the rise in attacks (which were only acknowledged, finally, on Sunday and then only in terms of the helicopters that have been shot down -- being shot at has been an issue for some time and the leadership has refused to address that).

Looking at today's New York Times, Michael R. Gordon shows up in drag. It's a wig with pixie bangs and you keep waiting for him to (falsely) snarl, "I was proved f**king right." The propaganda is entitled "Deadliest Bomb In Iraq Is Made By Iran, U.S. Says." He's jetted over to DC, the byline tells you. And he barely stumbled across the runway in high heels before anonymice descended upon him with breathy whispers. They offer him "details" and we're all supposed to buy in.

That requires forgetting previous 'scoops' like September 8, 2002's "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts." He co-wrote that planted story with the help of Judith Miller. How freeing it must be (like ditching a girdle?) to get the byline all to himself. The war pornography of Michael Gordon tells us one thing today -- the blood letting in Iraq is no longer enough to get his war-on up (what ever is?) and now he's signed on to sell the American people a war with Iran.

With Miller, she appeared to honestly believe in what she was saying (cautionary tale for reporters who get too involved in the outcome of their stories -- and Miller was selling war with Iraq long before Bully Boy got into office). Gordo just wants war. He doesn't care where, he doesn't care with who. If the world went up in flames, cameras would have to focus on Gordo to get the money shot.

So Gordo tells us that the pillow whispers he's putting into print today are "expected" to be made "public this weekend" and we'll note the NIE on Iran still hasn't surfaced (maybe they could farm out the rewrite to Gordo?). We'll note, as we did yesterday, that Iran borders Iraq which is why you will see weapons made in Iran in Iraq. Why you also see weapons made in America on the Iraqi black market is more of a question but don't expect Gordo to tackle that. It's as though he's covering a domestic police shooting and has traced the bullets from the guns back to Wal-Mart and wants to tell us how shocking that is and tie the entire nation in as a willing and knowning participant in the actual crime itself. (We went over this in yesterday's snapshot.)

As anyone knows, weapons are made to be sold. (US administrations have certainly understood that, Democratic or Republican.) It's a big business. People with money will get a hold of them. Saddam Hussein certainly got ahold of them in the eighties (from the US). If you have money to purchase weapons, you will purchase them -- and you are more apt to purchase them from Iran, which borders Iraq, than Australia, which doesn't. Gordo mentions Robert Gates' laughable performance on Friday. (Rebecca says you can see it in Democracy Now!'s headlines. He was speaking in Spain.) Watch that laughable performance and note how Gates looks down and looks around throughout. Shifty, uncomfortable and afraid to make eye contact. To Gordo that's trust worthy -- probably because that's how most people interact with him.

It's nonsense and making Iran the fall guy for the illegal war is an easy out for the US administration and war pornographers like Gordo. It allows them to avoid the real issues and instead expand warfare.

The point of what is proven by the whisper is made in "Gates says markings tie bombs to Iran" (Los Angeles Times):

Gates' remarks left unclear how the U.S. knows the numbers are traceable to Iran and knows too that such weapons were sent by the Iranian government rather than private arms dealers.

David S. Cloud offers "Inquiry on Intelligence Gaps May Reach to White House" (New York Times). Cloud tells you that Carl Levin is considering asking Stephen J. Hadley and Scooter Libby to testify (Scooter's the busy boy these days) about the cooked intel. Cloud notes that Ike Skeleton declared of that Feith's batch of cooked intel led to "extremely poor judgment for which our nation, and our service members in particular, are paying a terrible price." Left unstated is that Gordo was one of the country's servers. (Hopefully, no one left a tip on the table.)

Same topic, Greg Miller and Julian E. Barnes' "CIA doubts didn't deter Feith's team: Intelligence agencies disagreed with many of its prewar findings:" (Los Angeles Times):

Analysts from the CIA and other agencies "disagreed with more than 50%" of 26 findings the Pentagon team laid out in a controversial paper, according to testimony Friday from Thomas F. Gimble, acting inspector general of the Pentagon.
The dueling groups sat down at CIA headquarters in late August 2002 to try to work out their differences. But while the CIA agreed to minor modifications in some of its own reports, Gimble said, the Pentagon unit was utterly unbowed.
"They didn't make the changes that were talked about in that August 20th meeting," Gimble said, and instead went on to present their deeply flawed findings to senior officials at the White House.

Lesson to those preaching 'bipartisanship'? Even with the CIA, the 'brain trust' wasn't interested. They go through the motions a bit but refuse to budge. You can't make peace with that group. They will run over you and that's how they've run the country. You stand up to them or you accept that you are responsible for the outcome. Something Democratic leaders need to grasp immediately.

David S. Cloud teams with Richard A. Oppel for "U.S. Accidentally Attacks Kurdish Outpost, Killing Several." The reporters quote Kabir Goran of the PUK saying, "Everybody knows that it is a P.U.K. base and is used for protecting the main road between Mosul and Erbil. We have daily contacts with the Americans and they have been to the base." Even so, "as many as nine" died in a US attack on the post. They also address the issue of the helicopter crashes and note "a Pentagon document" which states that "a shoulder-fired missile may have played a role in bringing down an American AH-64 helicopter on Feb. 2".

In the Los Angeles Times, Louise Roug walks you through the US claims, "Errant U.S. airstrike kills Kurdish guards: An attack that leaves at least five security personnel dead was targeting insurgents in Mosul, military says:"

A statement from the U.S. military said that American troops had received intelligence that bomb makers connected to Al Qaeda were operating in the Karama neighborhood of Mosul. Seeing armed men near a targeted bunker, U.S. ground forces fired warning shots and made several calls in Arabic and Kurdish for the men to lay down their weapons, the statement said.
As the men began shooting at the U.S. forces, an American aircraft "observed hostile intention from the bunker and exercised proper self-defense measures in response to the assessed threat," said the statement, which expressed "deepest sympathies to the families of those individuals killed."
Kurdish officials reacted angrily, saying the airstrike on one of the main roads in Mosul was inexplicable.
"We don't have any explanation for what the Americans did," said Kabir Amir Koran, an official with a local Kurdish party.
Ali Sourchi, a 30-year-old grocer, said he had been watching a movie shortly before midnight when the power suddenly went out. He went outside to check his generator and saw the airstrike. He fled inside, fearing what might happen next, he said.
"Sounds of the bombings continued until 2 a.m.," he said. "In the morning, we found stone and rubble where the guards' position used to be."

Carl notes Kevin Alexander Gray's "A Valley of Buzzwords: Obama's Soulless Book" (Black Agenda Report and in the print edition of The Progressive):


My wife, Sandra, warned me, "Don't be hating." Now San (as we call her), who has worked in retail sales, selling ladies shoes, throughout her working life, is not an overtly political person. She is one of those old-timey, "salt of the earth" types. But when she doesn't like a person, there is usually something wrong with that person. For instance, before it became evident that Al Sharpton's effort in South Carolina was going nowhere fast, she coined the now-popular phrase "scampaign" to refer to the reverend's run. I know it is ill-advised not to take heed of her warning.
With San's admonition in mind, I tried to table her (and my) Oprah-tainted, media-hyped preconception of Baraka Obama so that I could read The Audacity of Hope with an open mind and with the same hopeful spirit as the title seeks to portray.But the book is like those two solid yellow lines on a two-lane mountain road. They're just there in the middle and never-ending, with a stop sign as the only relief.
[. . .]
Overall, the treatise reads like a very, very long speech of sound bites and clich├ęs arranged by topic and issue and connected by conjunctions, pleasantries, and apologies. Pleasantries like wishing for a return to the days when Republicans and Democrats "met at night for dinner, hashing out a compromise over steaks and cigars." Or, leading with apologias to describe painful parts of United States history or softening a rightfully deserved blow as when he describes racist southern Senator Richard B. Russell as "erudite." Or accusing his mom of having a "incorrigible, sweet-natured romanticism" about the ‘60s and the civil rights era as he waxes romantically about Hubert Humphrey's Democratic Party. It's like he did not have a clue about the 1964 struggles of Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
The shame of Obama's lack of depth is that Hamer's conflict over representation pretty much set the table for how the Democratic Party deals with blacks today. But of course he was only three years old and living in Hawaii when Lyndon Johnson went on national television to give a speech so that Hamer's image and the MFDP challenge would be off the airwaves. Hamer's fight was a precursor to the candidacy of Shirley Chisholm, the first black to seriously run for President in 1972 (if you exclude Dick Gregory's 1968 bid). Chisholm continued Hamer's fight for a greater black and female voice in politics and government.

Throughout, Obama proffers an unnaturally romantic view of the Democratic Party for a person of his age. His appreciation of party seems as times deeper than his understanding of the civil rights movement, which comes across as antiseptic. And he goes out of his way to comfort whites with a critique of black Americans that could tumble out of the mouth of William Bennett. "Many of the social or cultural factors that negatively affect black people, for example, simply mirror in exaggerated form problems that afflict America as whole: too much television (the average black household has the television on more than eleven hours per day), too much consumption of poisons (blacks smoke more and eat more fast food), and a lack of emphasis on educational attainment," he writes. "Then there's the collapse of the two-parent black household, a phenomenon that...reflects a casualness towards sex and child rearing among black men."

Carl suggests another roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review and is interested in Betty's comments. We are planning (planning, key word) a roundtable for Sunday's edition. The topic is media and I passed on Carl's comments to Betty last night while Kat and I were both on the phone with her. She said if we do the roundtable, it will be covered by her.

Turning to radio. RadioNation with Laura Flanders (airs on Air America, online and on XM satellite radio, Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 to 10:00 pm EST):

The mayor who would be President. As Rudolph Giuliani woos Republicans out West, we get the low-down from one of Rudy's hometown reporters, ROBERT POLNER, journalist and editor of America's Mayor: The Hidden History of Rudy Giuliani's New York.
The Nation's DAVID CORN has the latest on the Libby trial and PHYLLIS BENNIS says we need a new Boland Amendment to stop covert war with Iran.
And recording artist/activist MOBY is live in studio with a new "Very Best of MOBY" album and his own answer to global warming.
All that and what's hot at your local bookstore...

Rachel notes these upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- over the airwaves in the NYC area (and beyond) and also available online (times given are EST):

Sunday, February 11, 11am-noon
THE NEXT HOUR
Actor/author/raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, February 12, 2-3pm
CAT RADIO CAFE
Jazz pianist Stefano Bollani; poet Honor Moore on Paul Schmidt's posthumous translations, "The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems"; Choreographer Danys "La Mora" Perez and Music Director Francisco Mora Catlett on "Oyu Oro," the Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

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

Ruth is planning to do a report this weekend (hopes to do it today) and the only qualifier there is that if she participates in the roundtable (we're still trying to figure out when to start that), there won't be a report. Those things go on too long to expect her to participate and do a report.
Also, Seth posted "Checking In" this week.


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Friday, February 09, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 9, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's mistrial continues to be debated, "Who cooked the intel?" becomes a popular question, a leader of one group of resistance fighters in Iraq is quite clear in what is needed to end the war, and "Woops! We thought they were 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda!"
 
 
Starting with Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first commissioned officer in the US to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq because the war was illegal and immoral.  On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis."  Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy.  This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial."  .  On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case.  Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses.  It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked.  Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and
"[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public."  Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions.  By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open.  The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury."  On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial
 
Yesterday, on KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the mistrial.  Cohn's belief (based on expertise) is that the government's case is over -- that, military or civilian, courts must respect the laws of the land and that includes avoiding double-jeopardy (trying a person for the same alleged crimes twice).  As Rebecca notes, Cohn explained that the stipulation Judge Toilet made much ado over was a stipulation (agreement between the prosecution and the defense) that both sides had agreed to, that the jury was made aware of, that Judge Toilet had looked over and, up until it was time for the defense to present their case, Judge Toilet never voiced any concerns over the stipulation,  More importantly, Cohen pointed out, "When a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it.  The only thing that will defeat a finding of double-jeopardy . . . is if there was manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" which, in Cohn's opinion, there wasn't. At Counterpunch, Cohen also made the case "that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officers."  Leila Fujimori (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Earle Partington ("local attorney with decades in military justice") who also stated that "military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for the trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday".  Marjorie Cohn had explained to Nora Barrows-Friedman that Judge Toilet floated the idea of a mistrial and when the prosecution (taking the hint) asked for one, the defense did not consent to a mistrial.  Also making this point is Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney.  Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: "The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Because 1st Lt. Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison. 'I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted."
 
Yesterday, reporting for Free Speech Radio News, Aaron Glantz noted Carolyn Ho's reaction to the mistrial ("tears started streaming down her cheek").  Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada: "He was quite prepared to vacate his apartment.  It's been all packed up and, you know, and we were arranging to have his furniture moved on Monday.  The expectation was that he would be sentenced and, um, that there would be incarceration."  Reporting for IPS (text), Glantz noted Eric Seitz's contention: "Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases result in mistrials."
 
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.
 
War resister Joshua Key self-checked out of the US army after serving in Iraq.  He, Brandi Key (his wife) and their children moved to Canada.  Key has written a book on his experience in Iraq and after entitled The Deserter's TaleBrian Lynch (The Georgia Straight) notes: "And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that 'the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told.'
This, he believes, is a tactic that the highest political and military leaders in his native country have used on the public itself. Field commanders, he says on the phone, 'try to keep you scared, keep you motivated. And that's exactly what's happened to the [American] people as well. Everybody is so afraid of terrorism... And of course, from my actions in Iraq, I think the terrorism hasn't begun yet--terrorism from all the little Iraqi children that I terrorized myself. There's going to be a flip side to that. There will be consequences'."
 
Cause and effect.
 
On today's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman noted: "In Iraq, the US military is facing allegations of killing forty-five Iraqi civililans in an airstrike near Amiriyah.  Police and hospital officials say the bombings flattened four homes in the village of Zaidan, just south Abu Ghraib, killing women, childre, and the elderly.  A photograph released by the Associated Press shows the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck taken to the nearby Falluja hospital.  Several other children were reportedly admitted with injuries.  The US military denies the account and says thirteen insurgents were killed."
 
That incident was explored in yesterday's snapshot (and you can tie it with the Najaf incident which Tom Hayden recently wrote about). Today, Al Jazeera reports: "The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell."  Had?  Before we get there, please note that in Najaf, in the strike near Amiriyah, in countless 'battles,' the motive is always said to be 'suspected' this or that.  And when innocents die in the attacks, it doesn't change the fact that intended targets (present or not) are still only 'suspected'.  So who were US forces ordered to kill in Mosul?  The BBC says: "Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US helicopter strike".  Lauren Frayer (AP) reports that "U.S. helicopters on Friday mistakenly killed at least five Kurdish troops, a group that Washington hopes to enlist as a partner to help secure Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said."
 
Now a few things to note.  1) When you have some level of power, you can have the record corrected.  That's what happened here.  The US military had already issued their press release claiming suspected al Qaeda had been killed.  2) Calling it a "mistake" doesn't mitigate the effects on the families and friends of the eight dead.  3) Even when 'apologizing' the flacks for the US military still want to quibble on how many were killed (8 is the Kurdish figure and the media's figure, the US military has tried to stick 5). This is why 'suspected' or potential 'suspected' really should raise eyebrows.  As evidenced by yesterday's denial, which has only continued, the US military refuses to acknowledge that children were killed in the attack.  Instead the military spokespeople want to crow about how they got 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda -- 'suspected.' 
 
Meanwhile, Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on Abu Salih Al-Jeelani ("one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement") and his group ("20th Revolution Brigades") which has issued a statement on what it will take for there to be a ceasefire:
 
* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as "proof of goodwill"           
 
* Recognition "of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people".      
 
* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.        
 
* The negotiations to take place in public. 
 
* The resistance "must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades".
 
* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.
 
All starred items are direct quotes from Fisk's article.   The leader says they also want the constitution of Iraq and the deals arranged (especially with regards to the oil) cancelled -- to be replaced by things deriving from the Iraqi people and not foreign occupiers.
 
In the United States, one of the big stories is the cooking of intel.  Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) notes that "the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . . Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein."  Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) report US Senator Carl Levin stated, "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. . . .  The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war" and the reporters note: "The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work."
 
In some reports, Feith is noted as saying he was not wrong.  Of course he wasn't wrong.  He cooked the intel exactly as he wanted.  Was it burned?  Of course, that's how he wanted it, that's how he served it. 
 
And on clever propaganda, CBS and AP report that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared that there is "pretty good" evidence of Iran's involvement in Iraq.  Pretty good?  Gates' word is supposed to be all anyone needs.  Gates paints a story of 'weapons' found that are from Iran.  What is he suggesting?  That the Iranian government gave the Iraqi resistance the weapons?  No, he means markings show that they were made in Iran.  (That's his word -- take it for what it's not worth.)  How shocking!  People could get weapons from a country that borders their own!  Oh my!
 
It proves nothing -- and the US firearms are all over the Iraqi black market -- but it's the new talking point.  Expect to see a lot more of it. 
 
Addressing the issue of Iran, Juan Cole told Steve Rendell (on this week's CounterSpin): "Of coures the entire discourse of Washington has been, for many years, to get Iran and all Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, some of which have been quite serious and wide ranging have been rebuffed.  Iran has been kept as an enemy because Washington wants it as an enemy."  Probably won't catch that in the mainstream.
 
 
Bombings?
 
Reuters notes 17 dead in Mosul from a roadside bomb while 2 were killed (eight wounded) in Hilla from a roadside bomb.
 
Shootings?

Reuters reports that three people were shot dead (and 10 wounded) in Baghdad today.

Corpses?

 
AFP reports that eleven corpses were discovered today in Mahawil -- "floating in the Al-Malih river" -- after they and two others were kidnapped on Thursday (the other were released and are alive*) and, in Amara, Mohammed Qasim Kerkuki 's corpse was discovered ("riddled with bullets"). (*AFP reports that, other agencies don't address the two. Al Jazeera notes that the kidnappers were wearing "Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles".)  
 
Yesterday's snapshot didn't note corpses.  My apologies. Reuters reported 16 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad on Thursday.  Please note, it's Friday.  The majority of the violence (that gets reported) will emerge slowly throughout the rest of Friday. 
 
Meanwhile the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical."  That brought the count for UK troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 132
 
Also today the US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."  AP's count for the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 3,117.
 
 
Finally, seven days ago, the Democratica National Committee held the Winter Meeting in DC and the mainstream's coverage was -- "Who didn't stick to the time limit! Nobody said anything!"  Dennis Kucinich, US House Rep and 2008 candidate for president did speak and addressed a number of issues.  Our focus is Iraq so we'll focus on the Iraq section.  Kucinich: "Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war.  Fellow Democrats, of all decisions a President must make, the one most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat.  I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President.  This war would have never occured in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it because, fellow Democrats, right now the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home.  This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war.  Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress' constitutional power to end the war.  If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home.  Money is there now to bring our troops safely home.  Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq.  Fellow Democrats, I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran.  If we give the President the money to continue the war the Democratic Party will have bought the war."
 
 


Don't pick lemons.
See all the new 2007 cars at Yahoo! Autos.

Other Items

A local attorney with decades of experience in military justice says the judge in Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's court-martial overstepped his bounds, possibly jeopardizing the government's case against the war objector.
Attorney Earle Partington says military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday, and it could take at least year before the case can go back to trial.
"I'm surprised he thought he could do that," said Partington, who has represented numerous military service members since the 1960s and served in the military in Vietnam. He said the government might have "to start over from scratch."
Partington, who recently represented a Kaneohe Marine in a court-martial, said the judge in that case noted that he could not just reset a trial after declaring a mistrial.
Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, is being court-martialed for refusing to deploy to Iraq and for conduct unbecoming an officer. Last year, the Fort Lewis, Wash.-based officer announced his refusal to deploy based on his belief that the war in Iraq was illegal.
Head declared a mistrial after questioning Watada over an agreement he signed before the trial started, stipulating certain facts of the case. The judge said he did not believe Watada fully understood the stipulation of fact. Watada said he never intended to admit he had a duty to go to Iraq with his soldiers, part of the crime of missing troop movement.


The above, noted by Joan, is from Leila Fujimori's "Watada trial judge erred, risking case, one expert says" (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin). Staying with the topic of Ehren Watada, Carl forwards this e-mail from Courage to Resist:

Vigils called for Friday to demand immediate discharge for Lt. Watada 1,000 rallied for Lt. Watada at Ft. Lewis during court martial
Lt. Watada mistrial clear victory, "very likely" unqualifiedIn depth report and analysis by Courage to Resist
Courtroom sketch by K. Rudin / Truthout
FORT LEWIS, WA (February 8, 2007) -- In a complex and confusing turn of events yesterday, Army lead prosecutor Captain Scott Van Sweringen reluctantly requested, and was granted a mistrial in the case of First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada, the first military officer to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq.
In summation, the day after the prosecution rested a poorly presented case against Lt. Watada for "missing movement" to Iraq and two counts of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," the prosecution then requested--over the strenuous objections of Lt. Watada's defense team--in essence a "do over." Lieutenant Colonel Judge John Head then agreed to the "do over." The basis for which, and the judge's motives, may likely be a matter of debate for some time.
Lt. Watada's civilian lawyer Eric Seitz later explained, "The mistrial is very likely to have the consequence of ending this case because a retrial would be a case of double jeopardy based on the military rules for courts martial and applicable case law." Should the Army proceed with a second trial, Seitz said he would seek dismissal of the charges with prejudice so they could not be again filed. "I do not expect a retrial to ever occur," stated Seitz. Army Captain Mark Kim, Lt. Watada's appointed military defense lawyer, noted that he agreed with Seitz's conclusions.
John Junker, a University of Washington law professor independently consulted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper explained, "You can't just stop in the middle and say, 'I don't like the way it's going' and start over. If the defendant objected, it does raise the possibility" of double jeopardy. Junker noted, "That doctrine comes from the Constitution."
Read full report by Courage to Resist organizer, Jeff Paterson

Vigils called for Friday to demand immediate discharge for Lt. Watada; 1,000 rally for Lt. Watada at Ft. Lewis during court martial
Recent Iraq war vets join all day rally for Lt. Watada at Ft. Lewis 2/5/07 Photo by Jeff Paterson
Vigils continue outside the gates of Ft. Lewis and a "victory rally" is planned for Friday to demand that the Army discharge Lt. Watada and drop all charges against him. Supporters in the Ft. Lewis area will gather outside the gates of the Army base at Exit 119 from 4pm-7pm for banner and sign-holding followed by a candlelight vigil with speakers and music. (
more info)
Plan one in your community!
On Monday, the first day of the court martial, over a thousand people and giant puppets rallied at the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Lt. Ehren Watada. Formed for the occasion, the "Tacoma Puppetistas" visually dominated the mass rally by putting the war on trial via huge puppet theater. Meanwhile Iraq Veterans Against the War and families of military resisters led chants and marches from rallies in a nearby park to the base gates.
On Fort Lewis, supporters of Lt. Watada lined up at the visitors station beginning at 5:00 am in order to gain entry to the court proceedings. Many were turned away, but about 50 civilians were eventually allowed to view the proceedings from a viewing room with an audio/video feed.
Helga Aguayo and dughters outside Ft. Lewis during Watada court martial 2/5/07.
Photo by Jeff Paterson
At the rally outside, Helga Aguayo, with her two daughters and mother-in-law at her side, spoke of her husband Agustin’s three year battle with the Army for a conscientious objector discharge--only to then be forced to refuse to return to Iraq for a second deployment.(
video) Spc. Aguayo is now facing seven years imprisonment at a upcoming March 6 court martial for desertion. For more information on Agustin Aguayo's case,
to download the informational flyer to distribute, and to
contribute to his defense fund visit:
Tuesday (Day 2) photos from outside the courtroom, and at the gates of Fort Lewis .
Previous 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:

www.ThankYouLt.org

Agustin Aguayo, Helga's husband, faces a court-martial March 6th in Germany. Also present was Darrell Anderson and many with, or who heard of the court-martial via, Iraq Veterans Against the War. They and other groups did a great job organizing and getting the word out. I'm not sure if they've gotten any acknowledgement for their work from the press. Courage to Resist got some acknowledgement (not enough, they did and do amazing work) but I didn't see even that small level of applause going to Iraq Veterans Against the War -- hopefully I just missed it -- so let's note their strong, amazing work here. And with more on some of the groups and people standing with Watada, Ellen notes Kaz Suzat's "Mistrial declared in Lt. Watada war resister case" (PSL):

Outside at the park, many current and former war resisters urged the movement to support soldiers’ resistance. Randy Rowling, a Vietnam War resister and member of the Presidio 23--featured in the documentary "Sir, No Sir!" --spoke about his decision to resist military service.
Sara Rich, mother of G.I. war resister Suzanne Swift, gave an impassioned call to help the many resisters who are AWOL, underground and often homeless.
Helga Aguayo, accompanied by her two daughters and mother-in-law, spoke about her husband, Agustin. He is currently in jail in Germany, facing eight years in prison for refusing to return to Iraq.
Ricky Clousing, who served three months in prison for desertion, summed up the political mood of the day. He said that "the politicians are not going to stop the war; it will be the soldiers who will stop it." He called on the anti-war movement to create the political and material support to make that happen. "I'm done talking to politicians; I want to talk to soldiers," Clousing concluded.
Supporters were visible outside the base throughout Watada's trial. This reporter observed dozens of car loads of active duty soldiers entering the base on Feb. 5. The response to the protesters was overwhelmingly positive.
Watada's trial proceeded as expected until the judge declared a mistrial on Feb. 7.


Francisco had a highlight and wanted this noted because OpEdNews has regularly covered Watada, from Gustav Wynn's "Eyewitness: Watada Judge Panicked and Bailed" (OpEdNews):

Watada's fate remains now unclear. He may be indemnified due to double jeopardy rules, but could also be dishonorably discharged. Certainly this round goes to his supporters, but a conspicuous back-page burial or altogether media blackout has minimized impact during the immediate 24 hours.
The Army will have to deal with this issue backfiring badly - can you court martial an officer without allowing him his day in court? Apparently not.
Official post-trial statements were made by both sides, with the Army reiterating the stipulation agreement was the sticking point, but somewhat glossing over the details. Defense counsel Seitz announced he had no idea what the judge was thinking and felt that the Army had made a mess of the case.
For those that still may be confused, Bill Simpich's explanation might be the clearest available: The judge asserted that the statements in the pretrial stipulation agreement amounted to an admission of guilt by Watada, going so far to refer to it as a "confessional stipulation". He seemed to believe that signing the document precluded Watada from testifying further on the issue of missing the troop movement, as if anyone pleading innocent would sign such a document. Faced with the reality that the statements were not necessarily a final finding of guilt, and that Watada had to be allowed by law to explain, the judge suggested Watada did not understand the stipulation, repeating this numerous times to no avail. He then made the cryptic non-sequitur "I'm not seeing we have a meeting of the minds here. And if there is not a meeting of the minds, there's not a contract".
This, along with his anxious demeanor suggest the judge simply declared a mistrial to extricate himself from a sticky position, apparently wanting above all costs to avoid putting the legality of the Iraq war on trial in his courtroom.
For more details and the precedent for double jeopardy applying here, see http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020807A.shtml

And on giving credit where it's due, Francisco, Miguel and Maria's community newsletter, El Espiritu, comes out on Sundays and rarely gets mentioned due to that (on Sunday morning, I just want to go to bed). Kat has taken a ton of photos (here in Tacoma) and plans to develop them tonight (provided we're all back home by this evening) -- they'll be in El Espiritu Sunday so be sure to check your inboxes.

And from Naomi Spencer's "US Army court martial against war resister lieutenant ends in mistrial" (World Socialist Web Site), Molly asked that we note this paragraph:

Attempting to keep antiwar sentiment from bleeding into the courtroom, Head also imposed a dress code that included a prohibition against antiwar buttons or other apparel that might be construed as a support for Watada. Head told Seitz, who is a civilian attorney with a long record of defending war resisters, to "leave the dramatics at the door." Outside the Fort Lewis base, activists staged antiwar rallies during the court martial.

Molly wasn't aware that buttons were banned. Aaron Glantz covered this and I must have forgotten to include it when looking at Megan and Zach's transcripts (of Glantz' radio reports) or his reporting in print form. But yes, Spencer is correct, just another concern of Judge Toilet's when he should have been focused on the law.

Lloyd notes Joshua Partlow "Iraq, U.S. Advised To Avoid Offensive Against Militiamen" (Washington Post):

Iraqi and U.S. forces should not launch a military offensive against the militias -- most of them Shiite -- that are a major source of turmoil in Iraq, but should instead rely on nonviolent steps to bring militiamen into the political fold, according to an Iraqi report that draws largely on the views of prominent Shiite politicians.
"In the short-term at least, there can be no military offensive against the militias. Military confrontation, in the current climate, will only strengthen their appeal and swell their ranks," the Baghdad Institute for Public Policy Research concludes.
The institute said the 18-page report, "Dismantling Iraq's Militias," was based on a round-table discussion by six Shiite politicians, two Kurds and a Sunni Arab. Government officials said Thursday it would be considered in setting policy, but some here saw it as reflecting the private thinking of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as more U.S. troops arrive to try to end the violence.



Today the US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." And the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical."

Amy Goodman's latest column is entitled "Bang pots and pans for Molly Ivins" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and Brenda, Erika and Doug all e-mailed to note it:

The untimely death of Molly Ivins last week, after a long battle with breast cancer, has provoked a surge of impassioned eulogies -- yes, that would be the appropriate use of the term "surge."
Ivins was first and foremost a journalist, in the highest and best sense of the word. She spent the time, did the digging. She had a remarkable gift for words, a command of English coupled with her flamboyant Texas wit. She directed her reportorial skill at the powerful, holding to account the elected and the self-appointed. She first questioned authority, then skewered it.
I had the good fortune to meet Molly, but on too few occasions. I went to Austin, Texas, for the 50th anniversary celebration of The Texas Observer, the plucky, progressive news magazine that was Molly's journalistic home for so long. Texas' former governor, Ann Richards, was there.

[. . .]
Molly's legacy rings out, clarion calls to action from the beyond. After she was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, she implored her readers: "Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Now." The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be more than 40,000 breast cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2007. Death rates are declining, although detection and survival rates are lower for women of color. Improvements can be attributed in part to women following Molly's advice: "Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Now."
In her final column, titled "Stand Up Against the Surge," Molly wrote:
"We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. ... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!' "

Her hallmark was to call it as she saw it, and on Iraq she was clear: "It is not a matter of whether we will lose or we are losing. We have lost." She took Sen. John McCain to task for supporting the "surge." The coordinated acts of civil disobedience at his Senate offices in Washington, D.C., and in Arizona on Feb. 5 were a fitting tribute to Molly. Meanwhile, houston.indymedia.org announced the formation of The Molly Ivins Brigade, to protest the war with pots and pans.

That excerpt includes a bit of the sections Doug, Brenda and Erika each noted. And we'll return to the topic of war resisters. First up, Ehren Watada and then Joshua Key. From
Geov Parrish' "The Army blinked" (Working for Change via Axis of Logic):

How did this happen? It happened because one young officer stuck to his principles, even under enormous pressure, and the Army didn't know how to react. Its handling of the case has allowed Ehren Watada –- young, photogenic, articulate, and deeply moral -– to become a folk hero within the anti-war movement, so much so that even his (supportive) parents have become minor celebrities in their own rights.
This outcome will only cement Watada's status, with or without a second court martial. But Watada's victory shows something further. It shows us that the Army, and the government, is not a monolith. The internal contradictions posed by a war now almost universally acknowledged as both disastrous and founded upon lies are leaving America's military in disarray, just as they have left the political fortunes of the Bush administration in shambles. Iraq is a baby that tars all who touch it.
How profound is that disarray? One man, armed only with unshakable conviction and a simple truth –- that if a war is illegal, begun with lies that subverted the Constitution, then orders to deploy for that war must be illegal as well, in violation of an officer's oath to defend the Constitution –- has thrown the military justice system for a loop. The military cannot under any circumstances afford to have its officers disobeying orders to deploy. Yet an officer who did exactly that is likely now off the hook, simply because he posed an unanswerable challenge to an indefensible war.
And if Lt. Ehren Watada, against all odds, can exploit the contradictions of Iraq and do his part to refuse to support this war, so can each of us. The Bush administration is no more inflexible and unassailable than the military justice system, and a Congress reluctant to cut off war funding is more malleable still. If Ehren Watada can prevail, so can we.
The political haggling, posturing, and butt-covering? Mere details. All it takes to stop this war is persistence, unshakable conviction, and a simple truth: this war is deeply illegal, deeply immoral, and must be stopped. Now.
Just ask Lieutenant Ehren Watada.


US war resister Joshua Key has a book out, Vic noted Brian Lynch's "Profile: Joshua Key" (Vancouver's The Georgia Straight):

Before deserting the U.S. army in 2003 and fleeing to Canada with his wife and four children, Joshua Key spent over half a year in the rubble and chaos of Iraq. As he describes in his harrowing new book, The Deserter's Tale (House of Anansi Press, $29.95), written in collaboration with Canadian author Lawrence Hill, Key helped raid roughly 200 households in Ramadi and Fallujah. He searched the contents and occupants of countless cars while patrolling urban checkpoints and the Syrian border. And he watched with growing revulsion as scores of unarmed Iraqi civilians--some of them children--were beaten, maimed, or killed by his comrades with virtual impunity.
For all this, he and his fellow grunts never uncovered so much as a trace of terrorist activity or laid eyes on the insurgents who would sometimes lob mortars into their camp at night. "They were just shadows in the dust," as he tells the Straight during a call from a town in northern Saskatchewan that he declines to name, where he and his family have settled for the past year.
Key, now 28, comes from a patriotic, poverty-stricken family in rural Oklahoma. He enlisted, he says, because life in the armed forces promised health insurance and training for a career in welding. Yet, according to The Deserter's Tale, what he mainly learned from the army was xenophobia and fear. Boot-camp instructors, he says, drilled their recruits on the idea that all Muslims are bloodthirsty, every one of them a would-be terrorist. And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that "the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told."


The link to The Deserter's Tale goes to Overstock.com which two members used to purchase it and both report the turnaround was very quick. One of the two was Shirley who notes she wouldn't have purchased it at her local bookstore because "It wasn't there." She adds the price was the best she found online (currently $14.86 for a book whose list price in the US is $23.00). Joshua Key is among many war resisters who self-checked out and went to Canada (others include Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey). Remember that Camilo Mejia has a book due out in about four months and Kevin and Monica Benderman will also have a book shortly.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.





Check the stove, intel's burning

A Pentagon official who was a prime architect of Bush administration policies that led to the Iraq war presented policymakers with allegations of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda that did not accurately reflect the views of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a Defense Department investigation disclosed Thursday by a senior Senate Democrat.
The report concluded that the official's actions were inappropriate, Sen.Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said.
The report by the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. An unclassified summary of the report will be released today. Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The above is from Julian E. Barnes' "Pentagon aide's prewar work faulted: A Defense report says the ex-official alleged links between Al Qaeda and Iraq that didn't reflect intelligence" (Los Angeles Times). For some, it may seem late in the day to be noting the obvious; however, the fact remains that a number of people continue to believe the lies and continue to deny that the intel was cooked. This is one example of how it was and it's also pertinent as a case against Iran is built by the administration with sleight of hand and innuendo. On the same topic, Martha notes Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith's "Official's Key Report On Iraq Is Faulted" (Washington Post):

The report was requested in fall 2005 by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), then chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Although the committee and a number of official inquiries had criticized the administration's prewar intelligence, Democratic senators, led by Levin, demanded further investigation of Feith's operation.
"The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq," Levin said yesterday. "The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war."
The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work.
Feith's office, it said, drew on "both reliable and unreliable" intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration."
It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments "inconsistent" with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions "inappropriate" because the assessments purported to be "intelligence products" but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.


Turning to the topic of Ehren Watada, whose court-martial this week ended in a mistrial on Wednesday, Megan notes Bob Egelko's "Officer to fight against retrial" (San Francisco Chronicle):

The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy.
Because 1st Lt.
Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison.
"I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted. He said the ban on double jeopardy -- trying someone twice for the same crime -- applies equally to military and civilian courts.


Now I realize it must be embarrassing to be Eugene Fidell (quoted later in the article), having predicted what would happen and having the predictions be so far off the mark. However, there's come a time when you're offering analysis and a time when you're offering opinion. Fidell crossed the line between the two last week and comments made indicated this wasn't just analysis but also opinion (he doesn't care for Watada's stand -- to put it mildly). Having demonstrated that he has at least a bit of subjective in his "analysis," it's really past time that the press stops running to him on this case. He is not objective and, of course, he wasn't correct in his analysis/predictions.


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.





Thursday, February 08, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

This is what I would have said had I been allowed to testify at Lt. Watada's court martial:
The United States is committing a crime against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Iraq.
A war of aggression, prosecuted in violation of international treaties, is a crime against the peace. The war in Iraq violates the Charter of the United Nations, which prohibits the use of force. There are only two exceptions to that prohibition: self-defense and approval by the Security Council. A pre-emptive or preventive war is not allowed under the Charter.
Bush's war in Iraq was not undertaken in self-defense. Iraq had not attacked the US or any other country for 12 years. And Saddam Hussein's military capability had been effectively neutered by the Gulf War, 12 years of punishing sanctions, and nearly daily bombing by the US and UK over the "no-fly-zones."
Bush tried mightily to get the Security Council to sanction his war on Iraq. But the Council refused. Bush then cobbled together prior Council resolutions, none of which, individually or collectively, authorized the use of force in Iraq. Although Bush claimed to be enforcing Security Council resolutions, the Charter empowers only the Council to enforce its resolutions.
Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions constitute war crimes, for which individuals can be punished under the US War Crimes Act. Willful killing, torture and inhuman treatment are grave breaches.
The torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners in US custody at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq are grave breaches of Geneva, and therefore, war crimes. The execution of unarmed civilians in Haditha and other Iraqi cities are also war crimes.
Commanders in the chain of command, all the way up to the commander in chief, can be prosecuted for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates were committing war crimes and failed to stop or prevent them. The torture policies and rules of engagement were set at the top. It is George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell who should be on trial - for the commission of war crimes.
Inhumane acts against a civilian population are crimes against humanity and violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. The targeting of civilians and failure to protect civilians and civilian objects are crimes against humanity.


The above, noted by Mia, is from Marjorie Cohn's "Watada Beats the Government" (CounterPunch). Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and she was a guest today on KPFA's Flashpoints where she was interviewed by Nora Barrows-Friedman about the meaning of Judge Toilet declaring a mistrial in the court-martial of Ehren Watada. Rebecca's written the interview here and Cohen's point regarding no retrial is that, military or civilian, courts have to respect the laws of the land and Watada cannot be tried again because that would be double-jeopardy. As Mike pointed out (about the article Mia's highlighting), "I know she's [Cohn] right about the law because she knows it but I know this administration isn't really focused on what's legal and what isn't."

Lynda noted this from the report by Geoffrey Millard (Truthout) that was aired on Democracy Now! today ("Court Martial of First Officer to Refuse Iraq Deployment Ends in Mistrial")

GEOFFREY MILLARD: The stipulation of fact -- you know, the judge all of a sudden today started referring to it as a confessional stipulation of fact. Why was it to him, all of a sudden, a confessional stipulation of fact, and to you -- and it appeared to the prosecution still just a stipulation of fact?
ERIC SEITZ: I don't know what the judge is talking about. This stipulation didn't change from last week, when we ran it past the judge and he approved it. It didn't change from Monday, when he went through it in detail, line by line, with Ehren and then approved it. And it didn't change from yesterday, when he went through it again, because he had some issues about it. The judge acted on his own for his own reasons, and I frankly don't understand any more than the government counsel does what his thinking was or what his legal basis was, because I don't believe there was any.
GEOFFREY MILLARD: Eric, is this a victory for you with the mistrial?
ERIC SEITZ: We think it may become a very significant victory, depending upon what happens between now and the next time we go back to court. My firm belief professionally is that the consequence of granting a mistrial over our wishes means that because jeopardy attached, so the case cannot be retried. I don't know that the judge realizes that. I'm not sure that government counsel appreciates that or the spokespeople for the Army today, but in my experience and based upon my professional judgment, there is a very strong likelihood that they cannot retry this case. And if it is in fact the end of this case, then, yes, that's a very significant event and a terrific victory.


For Millard's coverage of yesterday's events and other Truthout coverage of the court-martial, click here. (That takes you to the folder they've created just for the court-martial coverage.) And Bryan notes Bill Simpich's "The Watada Mistrial: Here's What Really Happened" (Truthout):

The judge raised concerns about the document on Wednesday morning, moments before Lt. Watada was set to take the witness stand.
The judge had just received a new proposed legal instruction from Seitz. Since the judge had recently ruled that the order given to Lt. Watada to deploy to Iraq was "legal," Seitz took the logical next step. Entitled "Reasonable Mistake of Fact/Law," his new instruction was designed to inform the panel that even if Lt. Watada were "mistaken" in his belief that the order was illegal, a defense to the "missing movement" charge would be viable if the panel made a finding that Lt. Watada's belief that the order was illegal was "reasonable."
Shaken by this instruction, the judge tried to claim that Seitz had introduced some error by submitting this instruction, forgetting that the panel had not seen the instruction and hence any error was literally impossible!
Realizing the error of his ways, the judge then tried to speak to Lt. Watada about his understanding of the stipulation without asking Seitz for his permission. After initially warning the judge that he might not let him speak to Lt. Watada, Seitz relented and told the judge that he would let him speak to him over objection.
The judge repeatedly tried to shake Lt. Watada's insistence that he reasonably believed that he was following an illegal order, all the while insisting that he wasn't trying to mislead him in any way. Lt. Watada again respectfully but firmly punctuated his remarks with his state of mind.
Unsuccessful in his apparent effort to derail the defense, the judge then claimed that "I'm not seeing we have a meeting of the minds here," Head said. "And if there is not a meeting of the minds, there's not a contract." (
Seattle Times)
At this point, both the defense and the government figuratively "threw their arms around each other" and repeatedly told the judge that they wanted the trial to go forward. Courtroom observers agreed that they had never seen such a thing in their lives.
The
Seattle Times reported that "The defense and prosecution teams both believed the agreement did not constitute an admission of guilt. But the judge on Wednesday said the agreement included all the elements required to find Watada guilty. It was more than an agreement, Head said: It was what he termed a "confessional stipulation," with whatever reasons behind the action irrelevant to the question of guilt."
Lt. Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, said that the stipulation was not an admission of guilt.
"No. Absolutely no way," he said. "Lt. Watada's a smart guy. He knew exactly what he was agreeing to." (Los Angeles Times)
The judge turned to the prosecution and said "I can't unring that bell." But then, in what appeared to be a moment of panic, he suggested to the prosecution that they recall their witnesses. He warned them that he was considering issuing a mistrial. He offered to let them reopen their case if they wanted to. He offered them whatever time they needed to make a decision "thirty minutes, an hour, or more." When the prosecution assured the judge that they only needed thirty minutes, there was a disappointed look on his face.
Apparently the defense was also asked if it would be willing to withdraw the stipulation and let the case proceed on that basis. As the panel had been relying on the stipulation throughout the prosecution case, the defense was not willing to do anything of the sort.
Upon the prosecution's return, they asked for a mistrial. The defendant opposed it. The motion was granted, and a new trial date was set. But now there was a new problem that may make any new trial impossible.
Once the trial commenced, "jeopardy attached." Once jeopardy attaches, a second trial is generally not possible. This is known as "double jeopardy."
Like all maxims, there are exceptions to the rule of double jeopardy. For example, if a verdict cannot be reached by the finder of fact, defendant cannot object to the resulting mistrial. Nor can the defense create error in order to get the defendant off the hook.
But a mistrial caused by judicial or prosecutorial error is another story. Generally, the charges must be dismissed in order to ensure that the authorities are not tempted to commit error in order to obtain a second trial when events are not going their way.
This is what happened here.


Charlie notes Aaron Glantz' "Reprieve for Officer Who Denounced 'Immoral War'" (IPS) on the Ehren Watada court-martial:

Lt. Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, blamed the suppression of what he called his client's "legitimate defence" for the mistrial.
"Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases resulted in mistrials," Seitz said, mentioning a few famous cases he has handled over the years, such as the 1969 Chicago conspiracy trial where seven peace activists, including Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale, were charged with crossing state lines with the intent to incite antiwar riots and disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
"The government tried in artificial ways to prevent the defendants from explaining in their own way why they were there and why they did what they did," Seitz said. "But there is a contradiction, because they are the core issues of what led the defendant from being there in the first place."
Antiwar activists who have been monitoring the Watada trial unanimously cheered its outcome.
"I was in a very similar situation during Vietnam," noted Mike Wong, a San Francisco social worker who deserted the Army rather than fight in the Vietnam War.
Like dozens of other peace activists, Wong traveled to Fort Lewis to observe the court martial first hand. He said more and more service members are following Lt. Watada's example and opposing the war.
Wong said a GI Rights Hotline set up to help soldiers who want to get out of Iraq or out of the army is now fielding 2,000 calls a month.
"There are GIs that are rebelling in different ways," he added. "Even in Iraq there are GIs who have their own blogs, blogging against the war while they're in Iraq. GI resistance is growing:"
At trial, one of Ehren Watada's superiors, Lt. Col. William James, testified that Lt. Watada's public comments opposing the Iraq war "lowered morale" by "creating a lot of discussion in the chow hall" when soldiers should have been "zeroing in their weapons and kissing their wives goodbye."
Geoff Millard, an Iraq war veteran who covered the Watada court martial for the website truthout.org, said that was one of the most significant statements of the trial.
"The military doesn't want the American public to know that soldiers are talking about this in the barracks," Millard said. "Some soldiers think he's a disgrace and others think he's a frickin' hero. But what it's causing is for soldiers to discuss, to debate, and what's really frightening to this administration is that soldiers are thinking. They don't want soldiers to think. They want soldiers to follow orders."


Ehren Watada's stand mattered. It was good to see Norman Solomon and John Nichols step up to the plate this week (that's not sarcasm) but it was sad to see how many others took a pass. It is really sad that there are so many who didn't write about him, who haven't written about any of the war resisters to emerge in the summer of 2006. Whether they go to Canada or remain in the United States, standing up publicy takes a lot of courage. (Hence Courage to Resist.) That courage isn't honored by ignoring them to chase down the pablum on Obama or whatever the flavor of the day is. Nor does that nonsense end the war.


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 Thursday, we noted AP's number for the US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3084. Today it hit 3114. What is the magic number? At what point does it start to matter to Congress or a lot of independent media? Apparently, it hasn't been reached yet.

Speaking of numbers, a visitor named Nina (not the community's Nina) e-mailed regarding a New York Times' editorial about the money lost under Bremer. The editorial maintains it was Iraqi money and not US tax dollars. It was both. It was the money held during the sanctions period (and look at that total and be appalled). It was also US tax dollars. Bremer wasn't paid out of the Iraqi money. The Iraqi money wasn't transported over via the Iraqi money. Since Bremer elected not to keep in a bank, it was guarded and checked on (such as it was in both cases) by US tax dollars. Saying that it was 'only' Iraqi monies may be an attempt to mitigate the jaw dropping but the reality is that it was US tax dollars as well and anyone saying differently isn't very bright. The money was physically transported overseas, it was physically delivered to the Green Zone, it was supposedly protected and checked on, and one of Bremer's roles (and other Americans as well) was to keep an accounting of it. All that cost US tax dollars.

Nina's second question was about corpses discovered today in Iraq? Reuters says 16 in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad.

That should have been in the snapshot today and wasn't. There were internet problems and once it was finally possible to start writing it, Blogger/Blogspot kept going out. (There's a "failed to connect" message at the bottom of the compose screen when Blogger/Blogspot goes out.) The snapshot wasn't finished when I posted it. (Check the opening paragraph and try to find the end of that sentence.) But the failed to connect message had gone away for the first time in ten minutes so it was going up right then regardless of whether it was finished or not.

Had there been more time we would have noted the latest in the murder of Hashim Ibrahim Awad. From Reuters:

U.S. Marine who had admitted firing several rounds at an Iraqi grandfather after his unit kidnapped the man asked a military court on Thursday to withdraw his guilty plea.
Cpl. Trent Thomas, 25, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18 to murder, conspiracy, larceny housebreaking, kidnapping and lying to investigators about the incident. But as a military court was considering his punishment at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, his lawyer abruptly requested that the plea be removed.


Hopefully, we're far enough into this entry that we've lost the casual visitors so I need to bring up something that's not getting media attention. This month some US troops will be returning (to California, in fact). While that's good news, others outside the unit, some of whom have been in Iraq for over a year, are wondering why they're not going home while people who just arrived in September are?

My position is that all US troops should be brought home now. But I did promise, this morning on the phone, that I would note that. I do understand the anger over this, and there is a lot of anger over this, because you've got people who've been there forever, you've got people who were stop lossed and, if it were me, I'd be asking the same question: "Why am I stationed here month after month and these people who just arrived in September are getting ready to go home?" That question (and the anger) doesn't go to the ones going home. It goes up to the leadership, that's where it's aimed, because, like so much about the illegal war, it's not making sense to people serving on the ground in Iraq. If it does get press coverage (so far it's been ignored and it's been pointed out to at least two mainstream reporters) when it's finally noticed, let's be clear here, that the problem is not with the ones fortunate enough to return after five months, the anger is at the leadership that's kept many over there for over a year and isn't in any rush to send them home.

Changing topics, Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith have covered Watada in "online exclusives" for The Nation. Nation readers (of the print magazine) never heard his name until the 2007 issues began. There, they got to stumble upon his name for the first time where he was called a coward (great first impression!) and then, a page after, got a sidebar on him. We have noted all three of their previous pieces and noted that they were 'online exclusives.' We have quoted from and linked to two of the three. (We didn't link to the mid-December piece which mentioned him in passing.) They have a new piece and we'll note it (and I'll echo an e-mail response Ava sent out, "Don't hide behind what they did, take responsibility for what you never covered"). It's another online exclusive. Why? I have no idea. I have no idea why the magazine doesn't want to cover him. It can't be because Brecher and Smith are males because, as we noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review this past Sunday, they just had an issue that featured nothing but males with the exception of Elizabeth Holtzman. How does that happen? How do you, from the left, put out an entire issue with byline after byline and only one is a woman? This is from "Will the Watada Mistrial Spark an End to the War?" ('online exclusive,' The Nation):

A new trial is believed to be unlikely before summer, if at all. The mistrial represents a significant victory for Watada, for the rights of military resisters and for the movement of civil resistance to US war crimes in Iraq.
On the surface, the ruling by Lieut. Col. John Head appears to result from a procedural technicality, but in fact it is a defeat for the Army's central goal in prosecuting the 28-year-old officer. The judge had gone to extraordinary lengths to try to keep Watada from achieving his objective of "putting the war on trial," ruling that Watada's motivations for refusing to deploy with his unit were "irrelevant" and that no witnesses could testify on the illegality of the war.
But in its zeal to exclude the real meaning of the case, the court tied itself up in procedural knots. Prosecutors wanted the judge to find that Watada had agreed to pretrial stipulations that he had violated his duty when he refused to show up for movement to Iraq. But Watada made clear that he believed his duty, under his oath and military law, was to refuse to participate in an illegal war. As the underlying question of the war's illegality emerged like a family secret in the courtroom, the judge agreed to the prosecutor's motion to declare a mistrial. But Time.com
reported that Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, says he will file an immediate motion to dismiss the case on grounds of double jeopardy if the Army tries to resurrect it.

Tori noted that and feels that if Brecher and Smith want to appear in print, "They'll need to find a way to offer useless fawning over elected Democrats." And for the record, the sidebar was linked to. The sidebar on Ehren Watada. We didn't link to an article where he was called a coward. We did link to the sidebar. We didn't do it via The Nation (where it was subscribers' only -- consider it a 'non-online exclusive') but we did it via Yahoo where some idiot didn't seem to realize it was posted in full. [See, I do hear about the e-mails that I don't read (ref previous entry), I'm hearing about that one right now. Don't send us your dumb ass excuses and a whine that the thing wasn't linked to. Why would we link to something at The Nation that only subcribers could see when it was available to everyone on Yahoo News?)

A dem who got no fawning coverage from The Elector during the campaign season is the topic of the next highlight. KeShawn notes Cynthia McKinney's speech "The World Can't Wait, Won't Wait, Isn't Waiting" (Black Agenda Report):

It is among the greatest pleasures of my life to have been invited to participate in this Conference dedicated to peace. I look forward to joining the international community of activists dedicated to change based on the principles of dignity, justice, self-determination, and peace for all the peoples of the world.
Everyone in this room and every participant in this Conference is here because we want peace. Peace and justice.
[. . .]
Not too long ago, I was asked by Debra Sweet to endorse the activities of the American peace-seeking organization named
World Can't Wait. They advocate the impeachment of George Bush and other Members of his Administration because in their view, the World Can't Wait. I agree with them. And after having been defeated for the second time by an unsupportive Democratic Party and Republican voters who crossed over and voted in the Democratic Primary for my opponent, and knowing that George Bush had earned impeachment, I decided that I would do it if no one else would. So, on my last day in Congress, after 12 years of service to my people and my country, I offered Articles of Impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Rice.
Impeachment is America's roadmap back to dignity. Impeachment is the Constitutional way to handle an Administration that has, from the outset, violated so many tenets of the U.S. Constitution. It is also a way of saying "No, we do not condone what has been done in our name, and we are not complicit." The first time I felt the sting of Republican retribution and Democratic Party indifference was in 2002 when I questioned the Administration's explanation of what happened on September 11th, 2001. I am the Member of Congress who asked the simple question, "What did the Bush Administration know and when did it know it, about the tragic events of September 11th." After I was defeated in 2002, I traveled all over my country supporting the anti-war movement and informing the American people of the lies of the Bush Administration. The film "American Blackout" tells the whole story of how Republicans stole two Presidential elections and of how Republicans stole two elections from me.


An this a good time to note an event Zach's e-mailed about:

A Special Evening With Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney & Screening of the Film American Blackout
Wednesday February 21st, 7:00 pm

Oakland

And if you're curious as to how Bully Boy intends to avoid Crawford for at least part of his upcoming vacation (never ending vacation), check out Cedric's "Bully Boy books trip (humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY GOES TO BRAZIL!" (joint-post).