Saturday, February 21, 2009

Getting away with fragging

On the front page of today's New York Times, Paul von Zielbauer's "G.I. Offered to Plead Guilty, Then Went Free in Iraq Deaths" which is about Alberto B. Martinez. We've covered Martinez here but we've covered two men named Alberto Martinez so, to be clear, this is not the Alberto Martinez who murdered Richard Davis. Richard Davis joined the US miltary in 1999 and served in Bosnia and Iraq. He was murdered July 14, 2003 by Jacob Burgoyne, Martinez and Douglas Woodcoff. They murdered him because Richard was multi-racial. After beating him and stabbing him over thirty times, they set fire to Richard's corpse. The US military's response was to contact Lanny Davis (Richard's father) and tell him his son must be AWOL. Lanny Davis is the only reason that anyone ever found out that Richard was dead and why and how. The military (as with Maria Lauterbach -- 'disappeared' while pregnant, later found -- by civilian police -- to have been murdered and her corpse was also set on fire) had other things to do. Burgoyne, Matinez and Naverrette were convicted though their punishments are laugghable (Martinez and Naverette are likely to be paroled in two more years).

So that's one Alberto Martinzez. But this Alberto Martinez is the one who walked on charges of murdering Lou Allen and Phillip Esposito while the three served in Iraq (Martinez served under the two). June 7, 2005, at their base in Tirkirt, Martinez killed Phillip Esposito with a Claymore mine which wounded Lou Allen. To cover his tracks (to make it appear that base was under attack), Martinez then tossed three grenades. It was "fragging" -- killing a superior officer or officers.

Another fragging case took place during the first weeks of the illegal war, Hasan Akbar launched a grenade and shooting attack at Camp Pennslyvania in Kuwait. Fourteen US service members were wounded in the attack and Christopher Seifert and and Gregory Stone were killed. (Click here for NYT's Stephen Farrell's report on that at NYT's International Herald Tribune.)

December 4, 2008, Alberto B. Martinez was aquitted in the murders of Lou Allen and Phillip Esposito causing widow Barbara Allen to exclaim as the verdict was announced, "He slaughtered our husbands, and that's it? You murdered my husband!" Today Paul von Zielbauer reports on the April 3, 2006 confession Martinez signed as part of a plea agreement: "This offer to plea orginated with me. No person has made any attempt to force or coerce me into making this offer." The agreement was also signed by the same two attorneys who represented Martinez. Barbara Allen is quoted by von Zielbauer stating, "They had a conviction handed to them and chose not to take it." The plea would have meant life in prison. Georgetown law professor and former Marine judge Gary D. Solis tells von Zielbauer, "The only reason you should turn this down is if you have an absolutely bulletproof case. I can't imagine why they didn't take it. You've got life in prison in hand."

United for Death and Destruction or Leslie Cagan's United for Pathetic and Juvenile (take your pick) gets a mention from Ron Jacobs in his "It Ain't Over 'Til It’s Over: Protest the Occupations and Wars of Washington" (Dissident Voice):

As Barack Obama's troop escalation begins in Afghanistan and talking heads debate how many more troops the US should send, the leadership of what was once the largest antiwar organization (UFPJ) in the United States rejected a call for a unified antiwar protest on March 21st, 2009. Instead, they issued a call to go to Wall Street on April 4th, 2009 and encourage the war profiteers to move "beyond a war economy," while toning down the demand to end the wars and occupations now to a demand to merely end them. Like antiwar organizer Ashley Smith told me in an email: "(That is) something Dick Cheney could support." The implication of this call by UFPJ is that now that Barack Obama and the Democrats are in power, there is no longer any need to protest against war. Not only is this incredibly naive, it is downright dangerous for the future of the world.
As anybody who has paid the least bit of attention to the nature of the US economy over the past century, its very foundations rest on the production of war and materials for war. Also apparent to those of us who have been paying attention is that the Democrats are just as responsible for this reality as the Republicans are. Just because George Bush and his administration were personally reprehensible and their arrogance and disregard for principles most Americans hold dear was as obvious as the nose on Pinocchio's wooden face doesn't mean that the policies of the Democrats are substantially different.
Consequently, the antiwar movement would be foolish to think they have a government of allies in Washington, DC now. There may be a more personable bunch of folks ruling the country now, but the odds of those folks pulling out of Afghanistan or Iraq now instead of later without a major push from the American people insisting that they do so are about as poor as they were under the Bush administration. The time for the antiwar movement to demand that the Obama administration end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is now, before its political ego becomes entangled in a military exercise that is ill-advised, poorly done, and just plain wrong.

Jacobs notes that The National Assembly to End the Wars and the ANSWER coalition are among those taking part in the upcoming action. Others include (but are not limited to) World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Here's IVAW's announcement of the March action (which we are trying to note in some way each day between now and March 21st):

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st
As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

And Ron mentions Ashley Smith in his article, Smith and Eric Ruder wrote about United for Pathetic and Juvenile decision to be inactive for the next four years in the Socialist Worker back in December. The e-mail address for this site is

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