Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Hate The War

About 50 anti-war activists targeted the video game maker Ubisoft today to "help stop the Army’s child recruitment program" in the form of the free "America's Army" game. Organizers noted that the game "targets children as young as 13" while South Park game companies Ubisoft, Gameloft, and Secret Level were profiting from the illegal recruitment program.
After a brief rally in South Park, near 2nd and Bryant Streets, protesters marched a short distance to the Ubisoft office. Speakers included San Francisco Board of Education members and community activists working hard to end the military’s recruiting program JROTC in The City's public high schools, writer and poet Rebecca Solnit, Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, and a call to support Robin Long and all GI resisters by Courage to Resist.
"America's Army" -- available since 2002 as a free download -- is a game developed by the U.S. military to instruct players in "Army values," portray the army in a positive light, and increase potential recruits. The "game" is the property and brainchild of the US Army, which admit freely, and with pride, that it is one of their principal recruitment tools.

The above, noted by Zach, is from Jeff Paterson's "Community rallies to end "America's Army" recruitment program" (Indybay IMC). We'll note Robin Long in more detail tomorrow. There is so much to cover on war resistance since June that a lot of things get placed on hold. Ehren Watada is the perfect example of someone who's falling through the cracks here (he was noted in Thursday's snapshot), August 17th (ten days from now) will be the two year anniversary since his Article 32 hearing was held. That was the hearing to determine whether or not the military would attempt to court-martial him. Despite his service contract expiring at the end of December 2006, despite the military already attempting one court-martial, he will most likely still be in limbo on the second anniversary of his Article 32 hearing. It is past time the US military released him. They had their shot at court-martialing him. The prosecution blew it (their witnesses actaully ended up making the case for Watada indirectly) and Judge Toilet (aka John Head) took it upon himself to stop the court-martial (as the defense was about to present their case) and rule a mistrial over defense objection. Double-jeopardy had already attached to the proceedings. I'm real sorry (but not surprised) that Judge Toilet is such an idiot that he doesn't grasp the Constitution. But you don't get "do overs."

When Watada's court-martial moved to mistrial (as Toilet's suggestion and the prosecution's request), that was it. That's why Judge Benjamin Settle ruled the way he did in November. But the military thinks they don't have to obey the Constitution. Unless I'm mistaken, Judge Toilet took an oath to uphold the Constitution. I'm sure it's embarrassing to him to grasp that his attempt to give the prosecution another shot actually resulted in Watada not being eligible for another court-martial but that's reality and if his oath meant anything, if he valued the Constitution even a little, he'd be announcing that there would be no other court-martial, that there could be no other court-martial because the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land.

Even those who don't like Watada and think he was wrong to refuse to deploy to Iraq should grasp that the Constitution overrides their personal feelings. Either the law is the law or it isn't. Either the Constitution matters or it doesn't. You can't claim it matters and then ignore it. The double-jeopardy clause is very clear and it was put in precisely so that the government couldn't launch one prosecution after another until they could finally work out their strategy.

You get one shot, that's it. Judge Toilet guessed that the prosecution had blown it (I believe he guessed right). He could have continued with the court-martial. He made the decision not to. Not only did he make the ruling but he's the one who first 'suggested' in court to the prosecution. It's really sad that someone could sit on any bench without grasping the basics of the Constitution but that's the US military's problem.

Ehren needs to be released immediately. Nearly two years ago, they held a hearing to determine whether or not Ehren should be charged for refusing to deploy. Because he was a high profile case (the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the illegal war), the decision was made to court-martial him. From August until February, a prosecution had plenty of time to gather their evidence, choose their witnesses and plan their strategy. It's too bad they didn't do that. Even with Judge Toilet refusing to allow Watada to explain why he had refused, even with him disallowing multiple witnesses, Watada's defense (as Judge Toilet sensed) was strong. And Watada wisely asked for a jury. If he hadn't, the 'jury' would have been Judge Toilet and we can all tell Toilet would have railroaded Watada.

Ehren won in February 2007. It's time to release him.

It's easy for him and others who came before and after to get lost. Partly because so few bother to even cover war resisters. Also because there actually has been a great deal of news on war resistance and war resisters.

But Ehren played by the rules even when they changed. To change the Constitution, you need to pass an Amendment. Last time I checked, not only was none passed, none was even being proposed. The Constitution stands and it says "NO!" to double-jeopardy.

Ehren needs to be released.

The double-jeopardy principle also rests on the fact that the state has tremendous resources while the defendant may not. Carolyn Ho, Ehren's mother, had to take time off from her job repeatedly to be there for her son. She doesn't live on the mainland. It's not as if she lives in Tacoma. She lives in Hawaii and had to repeatedly take time off. Bob Watada, Ehren's father, had to do the same. They had to take time off and they did so because they love their son. They went around the country speaking out for their son. Bob Watada spoke at the last big demonstration against the illegal war (in January 2007, in DC). Carolyn Ho lobbied Congress for her son. They made a lot of sacrifices (and so did Ehren's step-mother Rosa). That's what happens for the defendant. The state? They just bill it to the tax payers.

And on the issue of tax payers, those who are ticked off by Ehren's brave stand should be outraged that he continues to be paid by the US military. That's because he reports for duty. (He did not 'desert' as too many wrongly claim. He still reports for duty on base.) So if you think Ehren's actions were just so awful, why are you putting up with the fact that he's on the payroll still?

How much money did the government waste on his Article 32 and his court-martial? How much more are they continuing to waste as they attempt to get around the double-jeopardy clause?

And they are spending tax payer monies to subvert the Constitution.

That's really not their role and someone should have explained that to them a long time ago.

Though the media coverage moved on, Ehren remains in limbo. His contract expired in December 2006, the court-martial in Feb. 2007 was declared a mistrial by the presiding judge. It's time to do the right thing (and the smart thing with tax payer monies) and discharge Ehren.
Every member of this community supports him but we do get drive-by readers and if you're one of those and one who thinks Ehren should have been sentenced, you need to be asking yourself if that desire is greater than the Constitution? If it is, you need to ask yourself if it should be?

Peace activists should support Ehren's immediate release. So should law and order types because the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land. Those concerned with government waste should be on board because the US miliary has wasted a great deal of money trying to put Ehren away and they're still wasting money. It's past time to let him go and that is an opinion most should be able to agree on regardless of their opinion of his actions.

Ehren is an officer and he was trained to refuse any order he found illegal. You can agree with his call or not (I agree with it 100%). But those who wanted to see him court-martialed repeatedly insisted that, "A soldier can't pick and choose his orders!" Well the US military can't pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they're going to swear an oath to or which parts they're going to follow.

Those wanting Ehren prosecuted like to talk about the message his actions would send. What message is sent when the military is repeatedly allowed to ignore the Constitution?

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4127. Tonight? 4134. That's seven more and, yes, M-NF only released four death announcements (they let DoD 'make the announcements' for the others). Just Foreign Policy lists 1,251,944 as the number of Iraqis killed the same as last week.

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