Sunday, July 27, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

James Burmeister was a class of 2007 war resister which we all know means they got NO attention from Panhandle Media. His story was compelling -- as are the stories of all war resisters -- and it was also news breaking. But Matthew Rothschild, Amy Goodman, Katrina vanden Heuvel, et al always had something 'better' to do. American Idol's not going to watch itself, after all, and they've got a Barack Obama to get into the White House. When Burmeister went public at the end of June in 2007, anyone in Panhandle Media that gave a damn could have interviewed him and broken the story on the kill-teams. Didn't happen. Again, there was always something 'better' to do. How proud they must be of themselves today. Dee Knight has been among the very few journalists during this illegal war that readers could repeatedly count on to bring them the news of war resistance. From Knight's "Military resister's father calls him 'a hero'" (Workers World):

When James Burmeister was court martialed last week, he was sentenced to six months in the stockade and a Bad Conduct Discharge. "I feel like the case was used as an example to other soldiers," his father told Workers World. "Not only will you get punished, but your loved ones will be too."
"They attacked James as more of a sociopath than a patriot," said Erich Burmeister. "They hammered on the point of his going AWOL and leaving his unit in great danger. They painted him as a coward."
"I think my son is a hero," Erich continued. "There are many Iraqis who were not killed because of what he did, and many GIs whose lives were saved because of it. He made a tremendous service to his country by standing up and bearing witness to the ‘bait-and-kill’ war crimes."
After James went AWOL he exposed this program, in which U.S. sniper teams leave "bait" to lure Iraqis and then kill them. When he denounced the program, it turned into a media scandal. (See "U.S. aims to lure insurgents with 'bait,'" Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2007.)
Being on a military base "unnerved me and my wife," Erich said. "In hindsight it was the perfect 'good cop-bad cop' thing, played to perfection.” Between the JAG lawyer the Army assigned, and the prosecution, Erich said, "They really had me convinced that the best strategy for [James] was to plead guilty. We took the bait and got our butts kicked." He said their JAG attorney "was rotten. Had we been able to afford good civilian legal defense, we could have pursued more options. I wish we had done it."
Speaking of James, Erich said, "The amazing thing is he is taking it better than those of us who love him so much. He's very strong. He told us, 'Understand this, anything the Army can do to me can't be as bad as being in Baghdad doing what they wanted me to do.' He's relieved not to have a gun in his hand anymore. That's what he cares about.
"Once he had achieved his goal, making the public aware of 'bait and kill,' he was prepared to turn himself back in. He's strong, and I'm sure he'll do okay. He didn't seem to be as troubled by it as we were. We're hoping he'll stay that way and will be with us soon."
Supporters can write to James Burmeister at Box A, Fort Knox, KY 40121.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

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Mark Larabee's "Soldiers still go over the hill even in an all-volunteer Army" (The Oregonian, July 16, 2007) broke the news in the US on James Burmeister and . . . nothing from Panhandle Media. Last Monday, a week after Burmeister was court-martialed, Goodman could finally 'make the time' to mention James on her program. In headlines. A bad headline. Barack Obama? She can't make it through a day without him. War resistance? She's got other things to do. Burmeister went public about his resistance and the kill teams was huge news. But can't force an unqualified War Hawk down the public's throat and also find time to cover the things that matter so Goody knew who buttered her bread. It's that time again, where she begs for money on air. She can't do her daily Barack Obama Lovefest without you, only with you. So give, give generously. If you didn't, she might have to get a real job.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war hit the 4,123 mark. And tonight? 4124. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,245,538 -- same as last Sunday.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad rocket attack wounded three people, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi service members, a Basra roadside bombing wounded one person, a roadside bombing outside of Baquba wounded seven Iraqi service members, a Basra bombing claimed the lives of 2 "Government guards protecting oil ministry facilities," bombers blew up 2 homes and "attacked Abo Khamees police station" wounding two children and one police officer, and an Al-Anbar Province home bombing on Zaki Obid's home resulted in no known wounded or dead but a bombing of Obid's vehicle resulted in the deaths of 2 of his guards with two more guards wounded as well as "Obid and his son."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports unknown assailants attacked and wounded Abdul Hadi al Jaza'iri ("official in Baghdad Operation Command") in Baghdad, 7 Shi'ite pilgrims were shot dead as they headed "towards the holy shrine in Kadehmiyah" according to the wires but "Officials in the Ministry of Interior and local council of Mada'in" deny this took place, and an armed clash in Neneveh resulted in the deaths of 2 Iraqi service members with three more wounded.

It's already Monday (even here on the West coast) as I rush to finish this. Mohammed Abbas (Reusters) reports 24 dead from 3 Baghdad bombings (all three bombngs are said to have been female suicide bombers) and he confirms 7 pilgrims shot dead in Baghdad on Sunday.

Dropping back to the June 25th snapshot: "Reuters notes the US military shot dead 2 'suspects' in Samara and they shot dead 3 people in a car 'near Baghdad airport'. On the 3 in Baghdad, Doug Smith (Los Angeles Times) reports, 'Officials at Yarmouk Hospital identified the dead as a manager and two female employees of a bank at the airport. Iraqi police also reported that two bodyguards were injured' while the US military maintains they were attacked by the bank employees." Today Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the US military has admitted the three slaughtered were civilians and not, as they LIED in June, criminals. They have issued an 'apology' and it's not going over that well (nor should it):

Mahdi's son, Mohammed Hafeth, said the statement was insufficient.
He said the image of his father's burning vehicle haunts him. He'd waited in his father's office that morning surprised that he wasn't there yet. They'd left at nearly the same time that morning.
Hafeth drives bank employees to work. That morning his father offered to take one of Hafeth's passengers and picked up another female bank employee who lived nearby their central Baghdad home.
As he sat in the office a colleague walked in and told Hafeth his father's car was broken down on the airport road. Hafeth reached for his car keys.
"I'll drive," he recalled his colleague saying.
As they approached his father's car he saw the flames. He jumped from the car and started to run toward the burning vehicle, but U.S. soldiers blocked his way.
"Go," he recalled them ordering. But he said he couldn't move. He dropped to the ground and wept as his father burned inside the vehicle.
"Why did they kill him like this?" Mohammed Hafeth said Sunday in a phone interview. "We demand that they send those soldiers to an Iraqi and American court."
Mahdi was the father of six, including Hafeth. Hafeth said he now shoulders the financial responsibility for his family on his approximately $100-a-month salary.
"I was shocked that my father was killed by the Americans," he said. "Supposedly we move in a secured area ... we used to wave at them and they waved at us."
Hafeth said he didn't accept the compensation offered by the U.S. military. They offered $10,000, he said, and that wasn't enough for his father's car let alone his father's life.
"My father was a peaceful man," he said. "He never did anything wrong. Everybody knew his good reputation and everybody liked him."

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