Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cindy Sheehan found not guilty, KBR claims immunity

AP notes that Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan court appearance yesterday resulted in a verdict of "not guilty of crossing a police line during an anti-war protest in March." You can click here for another AP brief on the trial. Cindy wasn't the only one on trial (the AP names no other defendants) and Jon Gold (Peace of the Action) writes about the trial and how Matthis Chiroux, Elaine Brower and Lafloria Walsh were found guilty of failure to obey" while he, Cindy and Jim Veeder were not. Jon Gold reports:

After the prosecutor and defense were finished, and the time came for the judge to make his decisions, I thought for sure we were all going to be convicted. The first words the judge said had to do with the prosecution proving things “beyond a reasonable doubt,” so I thought for sure we were done. I pulled out my prepared statement to read in the event I was convicted, and had it ready to go. Much to my surprise, I never got to read it, which was kind of a disappointment, but I did get to read it during the press conference we had this morning, so all is good.
I was the second to be let go, and Cindy was the third. The case against Cindy seemed strong enough that she was going to be convicted, but the judge seemed to be on her side. She was completely surprised when she was acquitted. I’m glad the judge was at least able to do that for her. A late birthday present.

We're turning to a different legal battle and one that Julie Sullivan (Oregonian) has long been covering: the lawsuits stemming from KBR exposing US service members and contractors to dangerous chemicals. Last night, Sullivan reported:

Documents show that within days of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Kellogg, Brown and Root delivered an ultimatum to the Pentagon:
Either the Army cover the potential cost of any soldier or civilian killed or harmed on a KBR project – or the defense contractor would not carry out its no-bid contract restoring Iraqi oil.
The Army agreed to it, according to a deposition given by a KRB attorney who delivered the ultimatum. The attorney added that KBR has also recently notified the Army that it will have to reimburse KBR for court and potential liability costs.

As Sullivan explains, KBR is arguing that, should any charge of exposure be found valid by the courts, the US government would be liable for KBR's actions and not the war profiteering outfit itself. Kristian Foden-Vencil (OPB, link has text and audio) reports on the court case and notes, "The soldiers say the military contractor knew, or should have known, that a water treatment facility it was working on in 2003, was contaminated with hexavelant chromium, a potent carcinogen." As that case continues, William Matthews (Federal Times) explains, "As the military pulls troops and equipment out of Iraq, the State Department will have to rely increasingly on contractors to perform such services as flying rescue helicopters and disarming roadside bombs, a congressional commission warned." And Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) notes the fact that "Little DC" (US Embassy in Baghdad) will require a large number of contractors and, "In a report issued today, the Commission on Wartime Contracting noted that the State Department still relies heavily on the military to support its operations. Military units do everything from flying medical evacuation missions and sweeping highways for bombs to responding to rocket attacks and sending out armed quick-reaction teams in an ambush."

In other veterans' news, James Dao (New York Times) notices a problem with the VA changes announced yesterday -- strange that he doesn't mention another problem noted at his paper's website last week.

The following community sites -- plus wowOwow and Peace of the Action -- updated last night:

We'll close with this from Andy Worthington's "The Guantánamo Archive: 3 Years, 650 Articles " (World Can't Wait):

Yesterday I published a list, with links, of all my articles over the last six months in chronological order, as the latest installment of a project to list all my articles in chronological order, which I began in January, when I published five lists covering the period from May 2007 (when I began blogging on a regular basis) to December 2009.
The category page for all these articles (which can easily be bookmarked) is here, and the six parts are here: Part One (May to December 2007), Part Two (January to June 2008), Part Three (July to December 2008), Part Four (January to June 2009), Part Five (July to December 2009), and Part Six (January to June 2010).

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

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends