There's an unexpected front in the Bush administration's "war on terror" -- Germany. And the roughly 68,000 US troops stationed across the country often find themselves in the center of controversy over US foreign policy.
Take Agustín Aguayo, a Mexican-American conscientious objector (CO) formerly based in Bavaria. Aguayo unsuccessfully applied for CO status before deploying in 2004, and citing non-violence, even refused to carry a loaded weapon during his year as a combat medic in Iraq.
In late 2005, Aguayo appealed to a US Federal court on grounds that his CO status had been wrongfully denied, and after his bid was rejected, fled Germany rather than redeploy to Iraq in September 2006. Before surrendering to military authorities in California less than a month later, Aguayo held a press conference stating, "I have come to believe that it is wrong to destroy life, that it is wrong to use war, that it is immoral, and I can no longer go down that path."
Aguayo was promptly sent back to Germany and thrown in the brig. His case became something of a national cause celebre, with prominent German newspapers reporting his eventual court martial and conviction for desertion.
Other US troops in Germany seeking early discharge have been luckier, and many can thank the Bammental-based Military Counseling Network (MCN). In fact, all seven of the conscientious objector applicants the MCN supported through the application process in 2006 ended up receiving Honorable discharges.
One was former US Army Specialist Kyle D. Huwer, who served for one and a half years before, as he puts it, "I finally came to my senses and realized that what I was doing was wrong."
Another was former US Army Private Clifton F. Hicks, who served from the summer of 2003 to late 2005. Hicks says, "I joined to defend the people of the United States, and when I found our Army was not doing that, and that I was in fact being used to further the goals of evil men, I began to question my involvement in such an organization."
For some troops in Germany, going AWOL (absent without leave) seems the only option, such as "John," who took a stateside leave earlier this year and never returned.
Even John's family does not know where he is now, and it could be for the best. His parents are avid Bush-supporters; his uncle works for a weapons manufacturer and his stepfather, for an oil company. The only person John has fleeting contact with is his girlfriend, "Sarah," doing her best to cope with his absence. Sarah had lived in Germany with John and is frustrated with life back in the US: "Watching the news here really makes me angry, people are so detached from reality. They increase the troop deployments from 12 to 15 months, and no one besides the military families recognizes it. They are sending back national guard people for multiple deployments, no one recognizes it. You hardly hear anything about what that puts on the families, emotionally and financially. I'm deeply mad and sad about that at the same time."
The above is from Heather Wokusch's "Hidden Wars: US Troops in Germany" (American Chronicle). Agustin Aguayo was not gone thirty days (which is the 'rule of thumb' the military generally uses) and yet he was prosecuted for desertion. He shouldn't have been court-martialed to begin with and his civilian court appeals process (ongoing before the court-martial and before he checked out) continues as he appeals to the Supreme Court. In regards to John's comment, no there is no real coverage of Iraq by media Big or Small in this country.
Instead, they're concerned with elections. Might be a good thing if they told the truth but when all three front runners in the Democratic primary are for continuing the illegal war, they decide that instead of telling the truth, they'll play favorites and enlist in one campaign (Barack Obama's) and sell a lot of lies. Which is how John Nichols suddenly discovers the Michigan Democratic Party and, surprise, surprise (as Eunice would say), he finds a way to spin it unfavorably for Hillary Clinton. No surprise, he leaves out the basics. Click here for his crap via Yahoo and search in hell for his soul. Last week, as Kat noted, Nichols semi-broke with the pack (and all the left is is a pack of unemployables who apparently want to ensure that's the case by demonstrating that they practice something other than journalism) to mention Michigan . . . in the title.
Amy Goodman of course played the game as well, but she's signed up for Bambi's campaign as well. Again, if they couldn't work in independent media they couldn't call themselves journalists.
Nichols slips in that John Conyers urged people to vote "uncommitted" and that he did so because he is a Bambi supporter. He leaves out the fact that that the Edwards and Obama campaign targeted Democrats with that message. The goal of both camps -- in fact, the FEC might want to try to determine if those are in reality two campaigns or if Edwards is also running for Obama -- was to discredit the Clinton campaign. Nichols carries their water for them and refuses to note that.
With two front runners getting out the vote for "uncommitted" Hillary still, according to Nichols, got 55% of the vote. As Nichols damn well knows, no one in a Democratic primary or caucus thus far has gotten that high. He churns out, "A remarkable 40 percent of Michiganders who participated in the primary voted for nobody" blah, blah, blah. Edwards and Obama, working together, got their supporters to turn out and Hillary still won.
That's the reality. Boo-hoo if you don't like it. Grow the hell up already.
For those wondering "Michigan primary"? They moved their primary up, the DNC told them they wouldn't get delegates seated at the primary. And 'brave' independent media? They didn't want to tick off the DNC. They want to tales about how they stood up in East Timor but despite the fact that Amy Goodman received a record number of e-mails from Michigan residents offended by the fact that she left them out of the 'news' headlines last week, it's not so easy for Amy Goodman to stand up to the DNC.
Nichols couldn't stand up either which is why he wrote a column with Michigan in the title that never mentioned Michigan in the body of the column.
So the lie is Hillary just got 55% by Nichols.
The reality is she got a record 55% in the Michigan primary despite low turnout (due to the threat that their delegates will not be seated) and despite the Edwards and Obama campaigns urging their supporters to vote "Uncommitted." The two tag-teamed against her and, using Nichols' figures, they could only pull together 40%.
Edwards and Obama (Nichols has to sidestep this as well) played cowards as well. The DNC issued orders and they shook and they trembled and their names weren't going on the ballot! Remember when Howard Dean won support for saying to campaign in every state? Not Edwards and Obama.
So against their heavy campaigns, Hillary won 55% of the vote. The best showing you. And Obama and Edwards efforts did make it a contested primary. Instead of rooting for a candidate how about independent media learn to root for the truth?
When Michigan wanted support from the DNC threats, where was independent media? Playing dumb. All their life.
Nichols is actually 'writing' a column that reads like the e-mail Obama's camp sent out to the press last night.
Let's remember Nichols prostituting his good name by noting this final paragraph (which is almost word for word Bambi's campaign e-mail last night): "It is harder still to believe that clinton will get very far claiming Michigan handed her a meaningful victory Tuesday night. When two out of every five voters chose nobody rather than a prominent candidate who is running with little or no opposition, that candidate's got no reason to celebrate."
Reality: When Edwards and Obama worked very hard to get their supporters to vote "Uncommitted," Clinton was facing a very real race and she won three out of five voters. Spin it anyway you want, lie any way you want, rewrite Bambi's campaign's e-mail if you must, but she won. And that's the truth.
If you're not vested in a candidate, you can tell it.
Another point to emphasize is that Dennis Kucincih 'gave' (tried to) his supporters to Bambi in Iowa. He got 4% in Michigan. He demonstrated he wasn't a real candidate in Iowa by 'giving' his supporters and what was the pay off? Did the Bambi campaign urge their supporters to vote for Kucinich in Michigan? No, they put all their energy into turning out voters who would vote "uncomitted."
If you're up to watching Amy Goodman today (a big if for many now, I know), watch to see if she does one of her grins as she spins this. And Michigan residents who complained about Goodman rendering them invisible last week, note if she finds time for you this week by repeating the Bambi camp spin?
I've linked to Kat and I could provide more links but I really think this will result in Ava and my TV commentary Sunday so I'm going to leave the links at that for now. But it should be noted when alleged independent media ignored Michigan Democrats last week, NPR's The Diane Rehm Show could cover it and did.
Iraq lacks any true spirit of reconciliation despite parliament's decision to let former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party return to government jobs, the United Nations' Baghdad envoy said on Wednesday.
Staffan de Mistura's comments contrasted with those of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said during a visit to Baghdad on Tuesday it was a time of hope for Iraq with a "spirit of cooperation" between ethnic and religious groups.
That would be the law that no one can decipher and has no tracking mechanism. I guess "no one could have guessed," eh, Condi?
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the diane rehm show