Tuesday, February 01, 2011

US military brass finds new ways to cause a widow pain

Alberto B. Martinez got away with murder. Not the Alberto Martinez who -- along with Jacob Burgoyne and Douglas Woodcoff -- murdered Richard Davids July 14, 2003. This Alberto Martinez walked free after murdering Lou Allen and Phillip Esposito while the three were serving in Iraq on June 7, 2005. He used a Claymore mine to kill Phillip Esposito and wound Lou Allen and then tossed three grenades in an attempt to cover his actions. When he walked, after being aquitted December 4, 2008, Lou Allen's widow Barbara Allen exclaimed, as the verdict was announced, "He slaughtered our husbands, and that's it? You murdered my husband!"

February 21, 2009, the New York Times ran Paul von Zielbauer's "G.I. Offered to Plead Guilty, Then Went Free in Iraq Deaths" on the front page, detailing that Martinez plea agreement that got tossed aside: "This offer to plea originated 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 was 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 told 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."

Drew Brooks (Fayetteville Observer) reports that Siobhan Esposito is suing to obtain a full transcript of the court martial of Martinez -- a court martial that was open to the public and at which reporters were present but a court martial that the military refuses to provide a full transcript for. From Brooks' report:

According to Siobhan Esposito, that transcript was redacted to exclude information that was stated in open court, such as the names of lawyers, the military judge and witnesses and the names of some bases in Iraq.
"I was outraged. It was a shock," she said of the redacted transcript. "I believe the law gives me the right to those records."
Siobhan Esposito's lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said the redactions were baffling. He teaches military law at Yale Law School.
"The notion that someone would take the time to do this . there's a serious problem in the way the Army views the records related to a court-martial," he said.

How petty is the US military brass? Not only has the woman lost her husband but she saw his killer walk free because the military prosecution set aside a plea agreement because they just knew they could win it in court. And after all of that, they want to deny her a full transcript to what was an open hearing?

In news more positive, Leah Villanueva (Diamondback) reports on the University of Maryland's new pledge, "University President Wallace Loh signed a pact with other higher education administrators and the state government yesterday aimed at ensuring the success of students who return to school after serving in the military. The Maryland State Compact for Student Veterans, drafted by Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, calls attention to the unique challenges often faced by student veterans and outlines provisions for state institutions to make their campuses more accommodating to them."

Meanwhile Iraq War veteran Pablo Martinez has passed away. Eva Ruth Moraveo (San Antonio Express-News) reports that he died Sunday "in a single-vehicle crash," he had been deployed to Iraq twice and had recently been discharged from the army.

The following community sites -- plus War News Radio, The Diane Rehm Show, the Socialist Worker (US), Military Families Speak Out and Cindy Sheehan -- updated last night and this morning:

Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "People of Watsonville 4 - Migrant Education at Ohlone School" (Indybay Media):

Migrant Education is a product of the civil rights and farm worker movements of the 1960s. California's Migrant Education Program was established in 1967, two years into the five-year historic grape strike by the United Farm Workers. That strike, and the farm workers movement that it helped to ignite, gave migrant workers and their allies the political power necessary to get the state's educational system to respond to their needs. Today migrant education programs are one of the most important ways that farm worker families can win social equality and a future for their children beyond the fields.
The Pajaro Valley district includes thousands of students who travel with their families every year because their parents are migrant farm workers. The demographics of farm labor have changed radically over the last three decades. Today a large percentage of families come from Oaxaca and the states of southern Mexico. Many come from communities where people speak indigenous languages that were old when Columbus arrived in the Americas. The most common language among Watsonville students is Mixteco, although a few students speak Triqui or Zapoteco.
Families qualify as migrants because the parents work in farm labor, and have moved at least once in the last few years. In addition to education programs, children also get help with medical and dental care. The program has a very active parents group, with large meetings every month during the work season. Watsonville is close to the campus of the University of California in Santa Cruz, and university students help farm worker kids begin to think about the possibility of going to college.

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

the new york times

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends