Saturday, August 19, 2006

Laura Flanders is back at the helm of RadioNation with Laura Flanders

This goes up once, just FYI. (Meaning, Monday there will be no reminders of what's going to be broadcast that day. Make a note now if you see something of interest.)

Today, Laura Flanders returns to RadioNation with Laura Flanders (which airs online, over the airwaves of Air America Radio stations and is podcast -- usually around Tuesday or Wednesday following the weekend episodes; it airs Saturday and Sunday nights -- two different shows -- from 7:00 pm EST to 10 pm EST).

Here's what's scheduled for this weekend's shows:

How about those British airplane bombers? James K. Galbraith shares his doubts about the plotters who seem to have had neither passports nor bombs. In California and Massachusetts, progressives run for Secretary of State. We'll talk to Debra Bowen and John Bonifaz about what they'd do to protect our votes. Plus, artist of all trades Carl Hancock Rux on his latest CD and social work. And next week we return to New Orleans.

Martha passed on the above (because she signed up for e-mail alerts at Flanders' sites and you can do the same if you're interested). Sunday, KPFA's Sunday Salon, as Zach notes, features a first hour discussion (9:00 am PST) on immigration with Matt Gonzlez sitting in for Larry Bensky. Cindy notes, same station, same day, that Adam's Rib is the Act One Radio Drama at 7:30 PST.

On Monday, KPFA has Matthew Rothschild scheduled as one of the guests for The Morning Show who will address the federal court ruling that found Bully Boy's warrantless, illegal spying . . . illegal (airs 7:00 am to 9:00 am PST -- you can listen online). The Center for Constitutional Rights has a press release we're noting in full because the Times's front pages a decision as "questionable" and many line up to follow. This is "CCR WELCOMES RULING DECLARING DOMESTIC SPYING ILLEGAL & UNCONSTITUTIONAL:"

On August 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) welcomed the ruling in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in ACLU v. NSA. Filed on the same day as CCR v. Bush, CCR's companion case filed in the Southern District of New York, the verdict testifies to the effectiveness of our coordinated struggle to defend the Constitution and the rights of individuals from unchecked executive power.
Particularly encouraging was the Court's overruling of the state secrets privilege, striking down one of the pillars of the Administration's argument in advance of oral arguments on 5 September in CCR v. Bush. The Court struck down the program on both statutory and constitutional grounds, agreeing with CCR that it violates the FISA statute and both the First and Fourth amendments.
"This ruling demonstrates what we've argued all along: The Bush Administration's domestic spying program is both illegal and unnecessary," said Shane Kadidal, one of the lead attorneys on CCR's companion case. "The President lied about the existence of the NSA Program for four years. Today's opinion proves that he was also lying when he insisted that the program was legal. We will continue our fight to stop the President's illegal spying, and this ruling clearly shows Congress that illegal conduct can not be tolerated in the executive branch."
CCR has a long and effective record of protecting constitutional rights endangered by illegal Presidential actions such as warrantless wiretapping. CCR helped terminate illegal wiretapping by the Nixon Administration and brought the landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision establishing the illegality of warrantless domestic surveillance (United States v. United States District Court).

Also on Monday (also on KPFA), C.S. Soong will take a look back at the Weather Underground with author and historian Dan Berger on Against the Grain.

Lastly, taking place today and noted earlier this week:

In other peace news, nycnion (NYC Indymedia) reports that August 19th will be a non-silent vigil for Abeer Qassim Hamza who would have turned 15-years-old Saturday had she not been murdered (along with three family members) and allegedly raped (alleged by US troops).. Actions will take place from 7:30 pm to 9:30 p.m. at the following locations: in NYC at Washington Square Park -- W. 4th STreet & MacDougal; in Los Angeles at MacArthur Park -- 6th and Alvarado St.; and in Berkeley at Willard Park -- Telegraph & Derby St.

Again, were she alive, this would be Abeer Qassim Hamza's fifteenth birthday.

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: Lost in the 'crackdown'

Edward Wong's "Fearful Iraqis Avoid Mosques As Attacks Rise" is on the front page and that alone is a relief after a week where we saw a possible suspect in a child murder become front page news while, on the same Thursday, blink and you missed it, Abby Goodnough's nine paragraph "1951 Civil Rights Murders Solved, Florida's Attorney General Says" was buried on page A20. (The murders of non-blondes and pre-cable Harry and Harriette Moore apparently are far less news worthy to the New York Times -- even when the issue is not 'suspected' but solved according to Florida's attorney general.) Wong examines the changes at some mosques since the invasion. (Increased violence, targeted by other sects, etc.) The article's timing fits in with the crackdown 6.0 in Baghdad.

Erick Eckholm's "On Technical Grounds, Judge Sets Aside Verdict of Billing Fraud" addresses the issues arising from the Ronald Reagan appointed T.S. Ellis III's decision to give Custer Battles a get ouf jail free card by arguing that the line is blurred between government and private contractor (a blurring that the administration created) and calls to mind his earlier refusal to allow the German citizen Khalid el-Masri's case against the CIA for kidnapping, torture and transportation to Afghanistan. As Eckholdm points out, in el-Masri's case, Ellis sided with the administration and claimed "national security" and this decision also favors the administration while slapping the public in the face with a form of circular reasoning. Oh, wait! none of those issues are raised! No noting of who appointed Ellis, no noting of el-Masri. Apparently, only if you're a Clinton or Carter appointed federal judge do you or your decision get examined (see the front page for the latest wave of that trend).

Lesson here? Apparently, according to the Times, questions may arise from decisions but you only examine them and the judge when he or she is appointed by Democrats. For any who want to argue that the Justice Department issued an adivsory opinion, Eckholm notes that. For those who want to say that JD opinion demonstrates the administration's good-faith efforts, they might want to wonder why Alberto Gonzales did not immediately issue a press release of an impending press conference within hours of the decision? Why he or the Bully Boy haven't issued statement after statement of how unfair the decision is? The tax payers are the ones being ripped off so it's presumably not "personal" to the administration (which did, after all, award contracts -- no-bid contracts -- to Custer Battles). Gonzales is apparently far too busy prepping for yet another, we're sure, meaningful discussion on child porn that he will deliver Monday morning in Dallas, Tx. Having already confessed to viewing photos of "older men forcing young girls to have anal sex" one can be sure that, though they won't rival St. Augustine, Gonzales' confessions will be just as spicey.

Paul von Zielbauer's "Baghdad Shut To Cars on Eve Of Pilgrimage So Dire in 'O5" continues the press trend of reporting on crackdown 6.0's traffic ban, curfews and closing of bridges to prevent a repeat of last year's Who-concert-like stampede. Since all press accounts agree that word-of-mouth was the instigating cause of the stampede, how any of the additions to the crackdown address that is left . . . unaddressed. von Zielbauer writes of last year's stampeded: "The disaster remains the greatest one-day loss of life since the war began, by a large measure." Apparently he missed both Falluja in November of 2004 and the falling bombs when the invasion began?

From Vijay Joshi's "7 Shiite Pilgrims Gunned Down in Baghdad" (Associated Press):

At least 13 other people were killed Saturday around Iraq, including four Iraqi soldiers in a roadside bomb explosion.
No cars and very few people were seen on the Iraqi capital's streets except police and army vehicle patrols. Although residents were allowed to walk to work -- Saturday is a workday in Iraq -- most appeared to be staying at home. Two cars that ventured out of a lane into the main road were seen being stopped by police and turned back. The vehicle ban was to last until Monday morning.

Reuters off this on the ever spreading 'crackdown:'

A roadside bomb targeting the convoy of Brigadier General Jamil al-Haji, chief of staff of the 8th Iraqi Infantry Division, killed two of his bodyguards in Diwaniya, 40 km south of Baghdad, police in the town said.
Haji escaped unhurt and soldiers arrested three suspects and seized a quantity of weapons in a nearby orchard, they added.
The Ministry of Defence said on Friday security checkpoints had been set up around Khadimiya to enforce a ban on pilgrims carrying weapons, bags and mobile phones, which can be used to detonate bombs.
"Do not accept food or drink from unknown people. Do not believe or start rumours that cause panic," the ministry said in an advisory.

AFP offers this:

One year on from last year's deadly stampede, Baghdad is even more tense than before. Daily insurgent bomb attacks target crowds of Shiite civilians, while death squads hunt members of the rival Sunni community.
Health officials put the average daily death toll at 50.
Iraqi and US forces have deployed more than 30,000 troops under an ambitious security plan designed to return order to the war-torn capital.

and this on how among the dead today were "lecturers from the University of Diyala, Karim Slman and Mohammed Abdulredha . . . shot dead in their car" as well as the discovered corpse of Ibrahim Jawad Rubaie (of the Iraqi National Committee for Human Rights).

Since yesterday morning, the following community sites have posted new content (most far later than usual in case you missed it):

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude (and she's working on another entry right now);
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Kat's Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils);
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, August 18, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 18, 2006, the so-called 'crackdown' continues (and early childhood experts may note the engaged-in-a-power-struggle nature of it all as well as the increasing futility), Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing started and concluded Thursday, Ricky Clousing returned to North Carolina and DNA on Jake Kovco's pistol is thought to have been indentified.
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy in Bully Boy's illegal war.  Yesterday, the military held an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there was reason/cause to take the matter to a court martial.  Ehren Watada's attorneys were Eric Seitz and Cap. Mark Kim (of the US Army). While the prosecution called only one witness (to confirm that, as Watada had stated would be the case, Watada did not deploy) and spent the rest of its time showing excerpts o a speech Watada gave this weekend at the  Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech).
Watada's side called three witnesses Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and retired Amry Colonel Ann Wight.  Boyle testified as the nature of the war noting that the lie that Bully Boy pressed (for Congressional and public approval) of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11 "constitutes . . . a conspiracy to defraud the United States government."  Ann Wright testified: "I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council . . . falls into the category of a war of agrression, which is by international law a war crime.  So by a persaon saying 'Yes, I'm gong to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime.'"
As Eric Seitz had expected/predicted, the hearing lasted one day.  Watada could find that the hearing determined there were no grounds for proceeding to a court-martial or a court-martial could be the next step.  That call will be made by Lt. Colonel Mark Keith who presided over the hearing.  A court-martial could mean as many as seven years imprisonment.
Ehren's father Bob Watada will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on a speaking tour that starts tomorrow and ends August 27th.   A full list of scheduled appearances can be found here.  A sample of upcoming events includes:
Saturday 8/19
Vigil for Abeer Hamza
(14-year old girl who was raped & killed with her family by 5 US troops)
Willard Park (Telegraph & Derby), Berkeley
Contact: Not in Our Name 510-601-8000

Sunday 8/20
American Muslim Voice Foundation
12:45-1 pm Bob Watada speaks
5748 Mowry School Rd., Newark
Contact: Samina F. Sundas 650-387-1994

Monday 8/21
Press Conference
SF Japantown (Peace Plaza or NJAHS
Gallery) Contact: Grace Morizawa
gmorizawa [at]

Monday 8/21
Reception & Event in SF Japantown
Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC
(JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco
Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007
Tuesday 8/22
1-3 pm brown bag lunch & educational event
Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County
467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa
Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902
Wednesday  8/23
UC Berkeley gathering with
students and campus organizers
Heller Lounge, Student
Union Building, UC Berkeley
Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026
noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza
Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711
Thursday 8/24
World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference
San Francisco (site TBA)
Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
Friday 8/25
7-10pm "Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers
Santa Cruz Veterans Building
Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070
Again, a full list can be found by clicking here (Indybay IMC).
Once again, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In addition Howie Hawkins (Green Party candidate for US Senate from NY) is urging "the peace movement to provide financial support to soldiers who are punished for refusing to participate in the war."  And, as many community members have noted, while there's been a "How Can They!" attitude regarding Hillary Clinton's Democratic opponent not being invited to a TV debate, the Green Party candidate is shut out as well -- despite the lack of op-eds, news segments, et al. (The Green Party candidate would be Howie Hawkins.) 
Another war resister, Ricky Clousing, is back at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.  The AP reports that he arrived back this morning. Clousing self-checked out of the army in June of last year.  Last week, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) had the scoop that the 24-year-old Clousing would be holding a news conference to announce he was turning himself in.  Estes Thompson reports that after turning himself in at Fort Lewis in Washington, he was ordered "to report to a unit at Fort Bragg that handles absent soldiers." 
Turning to diplomacy issues, as trade talks went on in Jordan this week, talks which Petra noted were "co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the [Jordan] Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Masshadani," Jordan's Ahmed al-Lozi became "the first fully accredited Arab ambassador in Iraq." 
Meanwhile in the United States, Free Speech Radio News reported Thursday that "twenty-one former generals and high ranking national security officials called on President Bush to reverse course . . . and embrace a new area of negotiation with Iraqn, Iraq and North Korea."  Speaking with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Medea Benjamin noted that while the US administration makes no efforts to reach out to the Iraqi parliament, "we at the grass roots [level] have."  Benjamin was referring to the CODEPINK & Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan where she and others met with Iraqis including the "members of the largest Shia coalition, the largest Sunni block in their parliament, the largest secular coalition, torture victims from Abu Ghraib."
Benjamin observed, "It was quite an amazing coming together of people who, from all different perspectives, wanted to see an end to the US occupation, an end to the violence in Iraq, the reconstruction of their country  and we came awy from there, Andrea, with a lot of ideas about how to get the voices of the Iraqi people out in the US so that when we hear that same old excuse here 'We can't leave the Iraqi people now!'  we can hear the voice of Iraqis telling us precisely how they want to see an end to the occupation and a broader reconciliation plan."
This comes as Robert Reid (AP) reports that: "Key U.S. senators complain it's time to tell Iraqis that American troops won't stay indefinitely and to make political compromises to avoid all-out civil war."  This as a Dick Cheney stump speech/plea for cash turned into an event.  Jesse Harlan Alderman (AP) reports that a Boise, Idaho fund raiser included protestors in "orange [hunting] vests handing out leaflets on hunter safety"; "[p]eace activists silently lining a major downtown arterial with tombstones to mark the mounting death toll in Iraq"; and a "Dick Cheney look-alike contest" with an award of "$22 in free gas and a box of shotgun shells" (and hopefully a list of qualified plastic surgeons).
In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue.  Despite 'crackdown' 6.0 which now means that all vehicles are banned for two-days in the capital.  Reuters reports that this ban has been imposed due to the one-year anniversary of the stampeded that killed almost "1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims . . . in a stampede . . . when a crowd . . . was panicked by rumours of a suicide bomber."  Al Jazeera notes that the ban is in place until Monday morning. The BBC reports that, in addition to the vehicle ban, there are "[c]heckpoints, [and] body searches". Exactly how vehicle bans, checkpoints or body searches will stop rumors (the stated cause of last year's stampeded) remains unclear.
CBS and the Associated Press report that in Balad Ruz, a roadside bomb claimed killed at least one person. KUNA reports that today it was announced that a "multi-national force (MNF) soldier" died in southern Baghdad on Thursday from a roadside bomb. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the "British military base near Amarah" was under mortar attack "Friday morning."  [In the United States, Amy Bartner (Indianapolis Star) reports on a "new 11-bed unit . . . at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center where the most seriously wounded soldiers in the Iraq war will be able to recover" and notes that while body armor is credited with saving the lives of American troops, "that protection can't prevent potentially debilitating injuries to arms and legs".]  Australia's notes that a mortar attack on a city council member in Baquba wounded "[f]our bodyguards."

In Taji, a convoy ("civilian trucks") was attacked leaving one person wounded and a 'guard' dead the AP reports. Australia's reports that the truck went up in flames and had been carrying "kerosene" while also noting that a grocer was shot dead in Yarmuk.  (Other press outlets do not identify what the truck was carrying.)  Australia's The Advertiser reports that seven Shi'ite pilgrmins were shot dead by "gunmen" in Baghdad.  KUNA reports that "two civilians" were shot dead in Mosul.

AP reports five were discovered in Mahmoudiya ("gunshot wounds"). The Canadian Press notes the five and adds that six more were discovered "in the Tigris River" ("bullet-riddled and tortured").
CBS and AP report that journalist Saif Abdul-Jabbar al-Tamimi was kidnapped Wednesday and that "[t]here has been no claim of responibility". Reporters Without Borders notes that he was kidnapped in Baghdad as were journalists Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal who "have been hostages for more than six months" now while journalist Salah Jali al-Gharrawi has not been seen since his April 4th kidnapping.  Reporters Without Borders notes: "A total of 49 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.  Instead of being afforded a degree of security by the fact that they work for the media, journalists have been singled out as targets."
Meanwhile, AFP reports that Father Saad Syrop was kidnapped, also from Baghdad, Tuesday evening after he had finished Mass (at St. James Church) and was heading home.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco resumed.  Following Wednesday's hypnosis shocker, an unscheduled day-off was taken due to reported delays with DNA test that might reveal the 'owner' of the DNA found on Kovco's gun.  As Michael Edwards reports on PM (Australia's ABC) Michelle Franco ("DNA expert") testified that the DNA belongs to Soldier 14. Reporting on The World Today (ABC), Edwards noted that "Soldier's 14's DNA was found on the gun's slide, trigger, base plate, and magazine." 
Soldier 14 previously testified to the hearing on August 9th and dropped a bombshell when he testified that the (written) statements provided to the military investigation were not reflective of his (verbal) statements -- specifically, as Peter Charlton (Courier-Mail) noted this included the claim that there was a standard procedure (the so-called 'buddy system') in operation "where a pair of soldiers check each other's weapons to ensure they were unloaded."
The Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches.")  Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 14 testified, after the DNA results, that he had no memory of handling Jake Kovco's gun and that his attorney ("Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Green") cross-examined Franco who noted that skin celles "could be transferred through a handshake or carried in sweat."
The AAP calls the DNA "[s]ensational new evidence," notes that "Soldier 14 has refused to be interviewed by police about the tests" and reports that "Monday . . . Soldier 14 will be cross-examined by lawyers representing Private Kovco's widow, Shelley, and his parents" Judy and Martin Kovco.
The Daily Telegraph notes that Soldier 14 believes "that both he and Pte Kovco had probably used the same megaphone at the embassy on the day of the shooting" and that's where any DNA swap would have most likely taken place.
Finally, in peace news, Camp Casey III is ongoing in Crawford, Texas until September 2nd -- on September 5th it switches locations and becomes Camp DC.  AFP reports that it "will be located near the National Mall, the blocks-long expanse of lawn between the US Congress building and the White House".  While it's still located in Crawford, upcoming events include the following: August 18th forum on peaceful solutions moderated by Carroll Boone and an August 21st War Crimes Tribunal. Actress and activist Mimi Kennedy, of  Progressive Democrats of America, will be there on August 20th along with Carolyn Wonderland who will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. 

Stay in the know. Pulse on the new Check it out.

Walking Through Watada (Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing)

Thursday the Army launched its campaign against the soldier in his Article 32 hearing. That will decide whether Watada will face court martial. The Army called a single witness, Captain J.C. Kaplan. He testified that Watada missed his June 22nd deployment to Kuwait City on purpose. The prosecution furthered it's argument by showing video clips of Watada condemning the war in Iraq.
Watada's legal team called three expert witnesses to the stand. All challenged the war in Iraq and Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, argued that if it's illegal, soldiers have the right to refuse to serve in it.
"I hope that we demonstrated that we have the capability of mounting a very significant defense here and that this is not going to be a simple process," Seitz told KGMB9 by phone from Washington. "And from the Army's standpoint, they should think very clearly on whether this is something that they want to embark upon."
The Honolulu-born soldier says his decision to leave his fellow soldiers was difficult but clear.
"I felt it was necessary. It was something that I had to do according to my oath to protect this country, to protect this country and to protect those soldiers under my charge," said Watada.
The officer at Thursday's hearing will review the evidence and should issue a report by next week. The commander of the base will evaluate it and recommend whether or not Watada faces court martial.

The above is from Jeff Booth's "Both Sides Fire in Watada Hearing" (KGMB9). We'll stay on this topic for a few more excerpts as we walk through the case via excerpts. We'll start with the prosecution (and note it briefly, we're all aware of it in this community -- read KeShawn's rebuttal to it in this morning's round-robin). They offered one witness giving testimony (Captain J.C. Kaplan) and he spoke of how Ehren Watada did not deploy with his brigade to Iraq. After that the prosecution played MTV offering three video clips of the speech Watada gave to last weekend's Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech). Picking up with the military's Top 3 Video Countdown, via Mike Barber's "Hearing for soldier who won't serve in Iraq puts war on trial" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) :

One video Kuecker showed came from Watada's appearance only last Saturday at the Veterans for Peace national convention in Seattle.
There, Watada voiced what he called "a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier. It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War -- but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."
Watada spoke of the "wholesale slaughter" of Iraqis and said he did not want to be a party to war crimes by serving there.
Over objections by Kuecker, Keith allowed Seitz and Capt. Mark Kim, Watada's military lawyer, to call three expert witnesses to testify about the war's illegality as justification for Watada's actions:

University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert; former United Nations Undersecretary-General Denis Halliday; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright. All three said the war is illegal.

Those were the three witnesses called by Watada's attornies (Eric Seitz and Army Captain Mark Kim). Now noting the defense witnesses. From The Honolulu Advertister's "Army lays case with Watada's own words:"

The first witness for the defense was University of Illinois professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert.
The war in Iraq, Boyle said, is a war against peace because it was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Secondly, he said, Congress approved going to war only after being lied to by the Bush administration about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein having ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"This constitutes ... a conspiracy to defraud the United States government," he said.
Also testifying were Denis Halliday, the former under-secretary of the United Nations, who also served over a number of programs dealing with Iraq, and Ann Wright of Honolulu, a retired colonel who resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2003 over the Iraq war.

Halliday's testimony was apparently delivered via mime which would explain why there's nothing from his testimony in any of the reports. For the third witness, we'll go to
Michael Gilbert's "Witnesses say Watada would have committed war crime by deploying to Iraq" (The News Tribune):

Defense witnesses Thursday said Lt. Ehren Watada had no choice but to refuse orders to go to Iraq if he wanted to avoid complicity in what they called war crimes.
"I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council ... falls into the category of a war of aggression, which is by international law a war crime," said Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest of the war in 2003.
"So by a person saying 'Yes, I’m going to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime."
On that basis, Watada's lawyers argued Thursday he was justified in refusing to board a jet June 22 and join his fellow Fort Lewis soldiers for a year-long deployment in Iraq.

The Article 32 hearing began and ended yesterday. Where does it stand now? From
Hal Bernton's "Iraq war bashed at hearing for soldier who wouldn't go" (Seattle Times):

Lt. Col. Mark Keith, the investigating officer who presided over Thursday's Article 32 hearing, will make a recommendation about whether to proceed with a court-martial.
In response to defense questions, Keith affirmed he was open to considering arguments about the war's legality and allowed Boyle, former United Nations Undersecretary Denis Halliday and retired Col. Ann Wright to speak about the legality and conduct of the war.

Eric Seitz has publicly stated he expects that the decision will be to proceed with a court martial. What that would mean (and Watada's thoughts) are in the next excerpt,
Gregg K. Kakesako's "Watada expresses no regrets as hearing begins" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):

If convicted, Watada could face more than seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. The 1996 Kalani High School graduate faces charges of missing a movement. He also is charged with contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.
In a phone interview after the hearing, Watada continued to assert that the war in Iraq is both illegal and immoral.
"I would not have done it differently," the 28-year-old artillery soldier said about his decision not to go to Iraq. "I am at peace with my decision."

Now turning to the illegal war itself, in this morning's New York Times, Damien Cave's "7 Killed as Full-Scale Sectarian Fighting Rages in Baghdad" offers a rundown of some of the reported events

South of Baghdad, an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol, the United States military said in a statement.
West of Baghdad, in an area rife with Sunni Arab insurgents, the police said a man had been killed and two of his sons wounded when gunmen fired at him as he waited in line at a gas station. In a similar incident, gunmen killed one man and wounded two others near a gas station in Yarmuk.
A suicide bomber in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur blew up his vehicle as a police patrol passed, wounding five people, including three policemen, an Interior Ministry official said. At a supermarket nearby, an unidentified body was found handcuffed and showing signs of torture.
[. . .]
The United States military announced that a soldier had died from "enemy action" on Wednesday in Anbar Province, where American troops regularly fight fierce battles with Sunni insurgents.
In a rural area of Babil Province, south of Baghdad, Iraqi Army soldiers discovered three kidnapped police officers in the trunk of a car after clashing with gunmen at a checkpoint, according to an American military statement. The freed officers said two other officers had been abducted and taken away in vehicles.
Even as the violence continued, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, speaking at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Slovakia just a few hours after the Sadr City bombing, insisted that Iraqi forces were ready to take over security for most of the country.

There is more in the report worth noting but I've tried to note the events he's covering that we didn't catch in the snapshot yesterday. And al-Maliki was included for transition to Martha's highlight, Amit R. Paley's "Premier Calls Iraqi Forces Ready to Extend Control" (Washington Post):

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday that Iraqi forces were prepared to take over security in most provinces if the U.S. military withdraws, as at least 23 Iraqis and an American soldier were killed in violence across the country.
The bloodshed, which included a car bomb in Baghdad that killed at least eight people, came as U.S. and Iraqi forces attempt to thwart the growing sectarian violence engulfing the country.
The U.S.-led military coalition has set no timetable for removing troops from Iraq, but Maliki said in a statement that Iraqis "have become capable of taking over security tasks in the majority of the provinces and that they will be able to fill the vacuum in case the Multi-National Forces withdraw."
Iraqi forces have taken full military control of only one province so far -- Muthanna, in a relatively calm area of southern Iraq -- but Maliki said they would soon take security responsibility of the area around Diwaniyah, in Qadisiyah province.

And, as British community members noted yesterday morning, the sunny view given of how capable the Iraqi troops are is at odds with reality. At odds with reality? Yes, quickly, the Bully Boy. West notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Contemplates Rebirth of Dictatorship for Iraq" (This Just In, The Progressive):

There was a big clue planted at the bottom of the very long lead article in The New York Times of August 17.
That story noted the alarming rise in insurgent attacks against American and Iraqi forces.
The number of IEDs in July was 2,625, just about twice what it was back in January, when Zarqawi was still prowling around.
Clearly, his death did nothing to slow the pace down or snuff out the insurgency.
The shelf life of Bush propaganda is only about one week these days.
But back to the clue.
The last three paragraphs of this story revealed that "senior administration officials . . . are considering alternatives other than democracy," according to a military expert who was just briefed at the White House.
Hmmm, "alternatives other than democracy."
My, what can those be?
Monarchy? Dictatorship?

The illegal, warrantless spying by the Bully Boy was slapped down yesterday. Oliver says skip the press reports and go to Wally and Cedric's joint entry. Also Betty's "A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does" went up Wednesday and is one of the many things needing noting (thanks to Doug and Susan who both e-mailed this morning to remind me).

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: "Inquiry Suggests Marines Excised Files on Killings" (David S. Cloud)

In addition to faulting officers in the Second Marine Division for not aggressively investigating the Haditha killings, the Bargewell report said the commanders had created a climate that minimized the importance of Iraqi lives, particularly in Haditha, where insurgent attacks were rampant, the officials said.
"In their eyes, they didn’t believe anyone was innocent," said one of the officials, describing the attitude of the marines in the unit toward Iraqis. "Either you were an active participant, or you were complicit."

The above is from David S. Cloud's "Inquiry Suggests Marines Excised Files on Killings" in this morning's New York Times which details some of the apparent efforts to conceal the November 19th events in Haditha. Cloud's addressing the report from the investigation -- the report that has still not been released. Among the findings, reportedly, are that an earlier investigation into the events was constrained by what appears to have been intentional efforts to withhold video footage captured by drones (in the aftermath, no drone was reportedly flying over when a bomb went off), the logbook had been creatively edited (pages for November 19th have vanished), that despite claims of killing someone brandishing an assault weapon, no rifle had been seized . . .

For anyone who's confused (there are a number of incidents that have come to light with many all gaining attention in the months of May and June), from the article:

The Marine Corps issued a press release the next day saying that 15 of the civilian deaths had been caused by the bomb explosion. But several officers in the unit have said they knew even then that marines had killed all 24 of the dead Iraqis, 9 of whom were suspected insurgents.
Since then, the idea that any of the victims were insurgents has been challenged, both by Iraqi survivors and by some American military officials familiar with the case, noting that the victims included 10 women and children and an elderly man in a wheelchair. They have said that evidence suggests that the marines overreacted after the death of their fellow marine and shot the civilians in cold blood.

From destruction and questions to efforts at healing and answers, we'll turn to Camp Casey III with Tom's highlight, Geoffrey Millard's "Veterans Welcomed Home to Camp Casey" (Truthout):

Today at Camp Casey, CODEPINK built a garden that was, as co-founder Jodie Evans put it, "for all of the women and children killed or otherwise affected by the war." In a land where the dirt is often the most flattering color around, a garden of pink flowers lights like a beacon of hope and relief for those ships looking for any port in this storm. The Iraq war has seen its share of civilian deaths, though one could not find this out by attention to any mainstream media - nor could one gain this information by seeing the daily actions of the average American, who continues life as though the war were over. This garden is a sign of the war's everlasting effects on civilians, but the veterans were the true focus of the evening's innaugural celebrations.
[. . .]
The night, though, seemed to come to a head as IVAW members told of firsthand experience in the war. As I laid the boots I wore while in Iraq at the memorial to all veterans being dedicated this evening, only the sound of tears could be heard. The ominous silence of tears falling to this now sacred soil streamed steadily as Cloy Richards of IVAW read a letter he wrote in support of Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the lieutenant who has refused orders to Iraq and will begin his trial this week at Fort Lewis, Washington. After Cloy and I laid a wreath at the country's newest veterans' memorial, taps played and the crowd dispersed with a clear remembrance of why we all come to Camp Casey in the first place: an answer ... For what noble cause, George? For what noble cause?

Ehren Watada? As we noted last night (and will go over in the snapshot today), Watada's Article 32 hearing began testimony and arguments yesterday and ended as well. (We'll also try to touch on Watada in the next entry.) On Camp Casey, as noted before, it moves to DC September 5th and becomes Camp DC. For more on that, Melissa passed on this e-mail from Progressive Democrats of America:

Progressive Democrats of America is excited to be joining the growing sponsors of Camp Democracy
Camp Democracy will take place on the National Mall, September 5-21.
PDA will host a day devoted to organizing the progressive agenda on September 6. This day will include several progressive leaders including members of Congress, PDA Board members and activists. Please become a grassroots sponsor of this historic event by supporting PDA.
We Need Your Help!
Camp Democracy is a grassroots effort and will only succeed with the help of many, many people contributing the small amounts they can afford. This is our opportunity to do what the citizens of the Ukraine, of Mexico, and of other countries do when their democracies are taken from them. This is our chance to say "Enough is enough!" Please give a contribution on line today for $15, $25, $100.
Donate on line today for PDA to be part of Camp Democracy, or call us toll free (877) 368-9221
Camp Democracy Details
Camp Democracy is a camp for peace, democracy, and the restoration of the rule of law. Camp Casey will move from Crawford, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to create a larger camp focused not only on ending the war but also on righting injustices here at home and on holding accountable the Bush Administration and Congress. Tents will provide activist activities, trainings, workshops, and entertainment on these themes:
End War: Peace, nonviolence, accountability, and impeachment
Human Rights: Civil Rights, Immigrants Rights, Workers Rights, Women's
Rights, Voting Rights, Katrina
End Corporate Welfare,
Meet Human Needs: Healthcare/ Energy/ Education/ Environment
Communications and Creativity: Hands-on Media and Arts Training.
September 6th
PDA is part of a coalition of organizations supporting this event. On September 6, PDA will host several Progressive Congressional Caucus members as well as other progressive leaders who will address grassroots participants as well as further the discussion about progressive legislation.

September will contain a number of events and demonstrations to protest the ongoing (ongoing in reality, if not in most coverage), illegal war. If there's an event or organization a member wants highlighted, please e-mail (the private addresses for members). For all others, the e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, August 17, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

First, picking up from the snapshot today where it was noted that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was in Jordan, five (count 'em five) reporters wrote in and Ava and Jess say they were their usual 'charming selves' as they argued that (basically) "you can't just make something up!" Oh, can't you? Seems the mainstream does that quite often. Their problem is that there is no "proof."
The Jordan item was passed on verbally over the phone by a friend who is a foreign correspondent (mainstream media). I take the friend's word, I've known him for many years. He's wanted that noted for two days now and pestered me to do so. (Which is sometimes the only way something gets included, there's a lot to cover and I don't have a lot of time.) Though I'm not surprised that the five e-mailers weren't quick to take my word, I am surprised (maybe I shouldn't be?) that the five can't do their own research instead of screaming "liar! liar!"

From Petra:

Jordanian and Iraqi parliamentarians held talks on Tuesday in Amman on bilateral ties and means of strengthening them, especially in the economic and parliamentary fields.
Talks, which were co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Mashhadani, also covered regional developments, especially in Iraq.
[. . .]
For his part, Mashhadani stressed the Iraqi keenness on enhancing relations with Jordan in all fields, noting to Jordan's supportive stances towards Iraq.
'' Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, exerts great efforts to restore security and stability to Iraq,'' said Mashhadani, calling on Jordan to play a greater role and build ties with all segment of Iraqi people.
He also underlined the importance of promoting parliamentary ties between the two sides, calling for benefiting from the Jordanian parliamentary expertise in this regard.
Mashhadani highlighted the necessity of establishing the Jordanian- Iraqi parliamentary brotherhood committee, which is expected to have a vital role in developing bilateral ties.

From KUNA:

Speaking during talks with Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani, Al-Zoo'bi said "Iraq is considered Jordan's number one trading partner since both countries have strong commercial and economic links." He added the free trade agreement with Iraq was waiting for Iraq's endorsement to become official.

Use the links, learn something. It might improve your reporting abilities. As for what you're 'entitled to,' you are entitled to listen in on a private conversation taking place in a public sphere.
That's about all you're entitled to from this site. You're not entitled to a personal reply. You're not entitled to me dropping everything to soothe your egos and walk you through reality (even if it hasn't been reported in the domestic mainstream media -- or maybe especially if it hasn't been reported in the domestic mainstream media). You're not entitled to the last word.

That was first, now second -- if you are a member, please, please use the private e-mail accounts. Ava, Jess, Shirley and Martha are working the public e-mail account because there are 10, 743 e-mails in it right now. After Friday, no one's (probably) checking it again until Monday. So use the private e-mail accounts for members if you have something to highlight or sound off on/about. When Ava told me how many e-mails there were today, my first thought was, "They'll just all have to wait." But this (and Sunday) are days when entries are built around members's highlights, so we're trying to get through the e-mails quickly.

For those e-mailing the public account (non-members), there's not time (even with all the help and thank you to everyone for their help) to reply to e-mails in an individual e-mail and also pull some entry (or what passes for one) together and post it. An automated e-mail reply goes out to everyone who writes in to the public account (if your e-mail needs a reply and there is time, one of the four reading right now will either reply now or flag it for a later reply). If you're writing about something that isn't Iraq related, you're really wasting your own time because that is the focus. We may return to other topics (that would be dependent upon coverage of Iraq returning to the forefront elsewhere). If you're a non-member writing to Ruth, Kat, Jess, Ava or me about something we've written, use the public address. If you're writing to whine about something someone wrote about you at another site, use their e-mail address. (And quit expecting that I'm going to side with you.)

If you're writing about Ehren Watada, and most of the e-mails that have been read thus far (in the public account) are ones writing about Ehren Watada, it's amazing how many people do actually care about his case. The general consensus in the e-mails read thus far (from the public account) is that he's not gotten the coverage his case/stance deserves. We hear you. We agree 100%. I would love it if we had time to note every e-mail that has come in on Ehren Watada but we don't. You're e-mails are being read and we all say, "Thank you." You are doing your part to get the word out on Ehren Watada. You are making a difference and your efforts matter. Please continue to get the word out. In silence, Ehren Watada stands alone. You believe in what he's standing for and you are doing your part so thank you and congratulations to you (seriously). You are making a difference.

Jess just read one e-mail aloud which was from a woman wondering where she could go for some serious coverage of Iraq? To which Ava and I replied (aloud), from the book of Cher, "Where do you go? I don't know, ooh." (Seriously, we've highlighted a number of sites in the past few days. If you're wanting Ehren Watada coverage specifically, your best bets remain Courage to Resist and

On the subject of Watada's hearing, Rod notes Melanthia Mitchell's "Army mounts case against Ft. Lewis soldier refusing to go to Iraq" (Associated Press):

The first witness for the defense was University of Illinois professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert.
The war in Iraq, Boyle said, is a war against peace because it was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Secondly, he said, Congress approved going to war only after being lied to by the Bush administration about Iraq having weapons of mass destructon and Saddam Hussein's ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"This constitutes ... a conspiracy to defraud the United States government," he said.
After researching the United States' invasion of Iraq, Watada has said he determined it to be an illegal and unjust war.
Watada made a very extensive study of the facts surrounding the war, Boyle said.
"The more you know, the higher your rank, the more your responsibility," he said. "If he had deployed, he would be facilitating a Neuremberg crime against peace."
Kuecker objected to the relevance of Boyle's testimony, saying the legality of the war is not to be decided by a military court.
Under questioning by Lt. Col. Mark Keith, the investigating officer presiding over Thursday's hearing, Boyle acknowled that either a U.S. federal court or the U.S. Supreme Court could declare the war to be illegal.

Rod wonders if "Kuecker is the judge?" because in the AP article he found, Keucker just pops up in the one sentence (excerpted above). It must be an editing or print error, Keucker is "Capt. Dan Kuecker, the lead prosecutor" which is noted in Bonnie's highlight, Michael Gilbert's "Witnesses say Watada would have committed war crime by deploying to Iraq" (The News Tribune):

Defense witnesses Thursday said Lt. Ehren Watada had no choice but to refuse orders to go to Iraq if he wanted to avoid complicity in what they called war crimes.
"I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council ... falls into the category of a war of aggression, which is by international law a war crime," said Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest of the war in 2003.
"So by a person saying 'Yes, I’m going to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime."
On that basis, Watada's lawyers argued Thursday he was justified in refusing to board a jet June 22 and join his fellow Fort Lewis soldiers for a year-long deployment in Iraq.

As Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, had expected, the hearing lasted only one day. The one making the finding as to whether or not a court martial should be pursued is "Lt. Col. Mark Keith."

While Watada's fate was argued, Bully Boy was in the mood for shallow reflection (the deepest possible reflection for him, apparently). Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bush out to Luncheon in Iraq" (This Just In, The Progressive):

How out to lunch is Bush?
On Monday, he held a luncheon with a bunch of academics to discuss Iraq.
And, according to some of the participants quoted in the Aug. 16 New York Times, he couldn't figure out why the Iraqi people aren't more grateful for all that he and the U.S. troops have done for them.
Rather than take responsibility for the mess he's made, Bush is going into self-pity mode.
He's entering into deep, dark Nixon territory here.The timing of the story was not so great for Bush, though. Because on the very same page was a story that noted that "July appears to have been the deadliest month of the war for Iraqi civilians," with "an average of more than 110 Iraqis" dying every day there. The rate is nearly double what it was in January.
That's just one little clue for the clueless commander in chief.

If Bully Boy needs more clues, he might want to check out Liang's highlight, Pauline Jelinek's "Troops express worries about Iraq" (Associated Press):

The Pentagon's top general says troops suggested to him during a recent trip to Iraq that they are among those who are worried.
White House spokesman Tony Snow took pains to deny a report Wednesday that Bush had privately expressed frustration with the Iraqis for not appreciating American sacrifices made there and with the Iraqi people and their leaders for not supporting the U.S. mission.
"We don't expect ... an overnight success," Snow said when asked Bush's opinion on the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Just when success might come — and whether it is even possible — are key questions for war-weary Americans. And the latest setbacks in Iraq come as congressional elections approach.
Troops are also disgruntled over Iraqi efforts, according to questions put to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited the country over the weekend.
One asked how much more time the Iraqi government should be given to achieve the political unity needed to stabilize the country.
Another wanted to know whether U.S. forces will stay if Iraqis descend into all-out civil war.
And a third ended a question about continued U.S. troop deployments to Iraq by asking, "Is the war coming to an end?"

Is it coming to an end? Doesn't look like it. Not anytime soon. It's fallen off the radar despite the fact that the war continues.

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 Thursday, the American troop fatality stood at 2597. Tonight? 2604. On The KPFA Evening News, it was noted that 26 have died this month and that 17 of them had died in the Anbar province. We learned today (via the New York Times) that July was the most violent month thus far in terms of bombs. (Bombs not dropped or discharged from US aircraft.) We might be able to offer some sort of number (probably an undercount) on how many Iraqis have died since the illegal invasion but that would require people being aware of Nancy A. Youssef's
"U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" or Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" or Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?" -- pressure can't be brought on the administration to release figures that most Americans don't know exist. So the count, like the war, drags on and it's hidden from the American people.

Dropping back to August 10th, when we highlighted Josh White and Sonya Geis' "Assault Charge Likely For Marine in Iraq Case" (Washington Post) which noted: "A Marine Corps platoon leader is expected to be charged with assault this week for his alleged role in the slaying of an Iraqi citizen in the village of Hamdaniyah earlier this year, his defense attorney said. That would make him the ninth U.S. serviceman charged in relation to the case." Nathan Phan has been charged. Lynda notes Al Jazeera's "US officer charged in Iraq assaults:"

The military has charged a US Marine Corps officer with assaulting three Iraqi civilians in April, accusing him of beating and choking them and placing a pistol in one victim's mouth.
The Marines said on Wednesday that 2nd Lieutenant Nathan Phan, the officer, was charged with three counts of assault and one count of making a false official statement relating to the incident on April 10, near Hamdania, a town west of Baghdad.

Phan, 26, was the platoon leader of the troops charged with premeditated murder in the fatal shooting of an Iraqi man on April 26 in the same town, the Marines said; but he was not charged in relation to that incident.

On the same topic, Julie notes Mark Walker's "Officer charged in Hamdania assault case" (North County Times):

A Marine second lieutenant was charged Wednesday with assaulting three Iraqis in the village of Hamdania on April 10 and later lying about it.
He thus became the first officer accused in one of two criminal cases stemming from actions in Iraq by Camp Pendleton Marines, military authorities said.
Lt. Nathan Phan is accused, along with six lower ranking Marines, of assaulting the three men during a sweep of the town in an effort to obtain information about suspected insurgent activity.
The Marines are accused of using fists and knees against the three men, one of whom allegedly had two pistols placed in his mouth during the course of the assault.
Phan is accused of using his fists and knees to beat two men and placing an unloaded M-9 pistol in the mouth of another man and choking that man "with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm." He is also charged with making a false statement about the incident.
Also charged in the assault case are Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, Lance Cpls. Saul H. Lopezromo, Henry D. Lever and Jerry E. Shumate, and Pfc. Derek I. Lewis. Assault charges against those men were filed Aug. 3.

Turning from potential war crimes to War Hawks, is War Hawk Maria Cantwell the new Scoop Jackson? That would be quite an accomplishment/embarrassment considering she's only served one term in the Senate. As Chris Matthews contemplates borrowing Demi Moore's Ghost haircut and puts "Unchained Melody" on the stereo, Melody steers us to Alicia Mundy's "State's Vietnam schism revisted" (Seattle Times):

The parallels between Jackson and Cantwell aren't perfect. Jackson, unlike Cantwell, had a lengthy track record in the Senate delivering for state interests. Although his primary challenger was popular among party activists, his opponent in the general election was forgettable. And Nixon's White House did not attack Jackson during the race.
[Note: Not unlike Bully Boy & Co. didn't attack Joe Lieberman.]
Cantwell is a freshman in the minority party with fewer accomplishments. She faces a serious, well-financed contender for the general election in Mike McGavick, and the White House has targeted her.

The issue of the day in the e-mails (members or public account -- I have read the members' e-mails myself) is Ehren Watada. "What more can be done?" is a question members are asking. First, you can continue to get the word out. estimates that he spoke to fifty people today about Ehren Watada. If we all followed Kevin's lead, the word would be out. It's not out yet.
However many people you spoke to today, try to speak to that many plus one tomorrow. (Unless you spoke to none today, in which case speaking to one person about this on Friday, while a step in the right direction, really won't cut it.)

Goldie and her mother (Marlene) are doing another house party this weekend and Goldie's dividing up Ehren Watada's speech with her friends -- they'll take turns reading from it on Saturday. (You can find the speech here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout.) The hearing has ended, the verdict/recommendation hasn't been made yet. Be creative and think of ways you can get the word out. Marci is taking the MLK quote that Watada noted in his speech, putting it at the top of postcards and adding "What do you know about Ehren Watada?" She's then e-mailing the postcards "to everyone in my address book." Tomorrow morning, check your inboxes for the latest gina & krista round-robin which includes a roundtable on this topic and what can be done. (Also included are Tracey's photos she's taken in the last few days, so be sure to check those out as well. A lot of activism you may not be aware of.)

And, once again, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."

The e-mail address for this site is (One more time, members please use the private e-mail addresses for highlights, issues and concerns.)

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 17, 2006 -- the first day of Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing which will determine whether or not to start a court martial inquiry over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and fight in an illegal war, chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the seat of the 'crackdown' being rocked with bombs, in Australia, the Jake Kovco inquiry follows up yesterday's hypnosis shocker by grabbing an unscheduled day off, a new studay finds that Iraqis opinions of Americans have dropped further as the war has dragged on, and the political 'death' of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani still seems premature.

Today, the Article 32 hearing began and Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that the military is showing video from last weekend's Veterans for Peace conference as part of their 'evidence.' AP also reports that "The prosecution played a total of three video clips with comments Watada made over the weekend as well as on June 7, when he publicly announced his decision to refuse deployment." The speech Watada gave is here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which also includes the video option (QuickTime and Windows Media). In addition KPFA's Flashpoints played one part of the speech yesterday night and, presumably, will air the second part today or later this week (Flashpoints airs at 5:00 pm PST, 7:00 pm Central and 8:00 pm EST -- can be heard archived at the show's website, archived at KPFA or live while the show broadcasts).

What did Watada actually say as opposed to what did the military argue? If your indymedia choices have been following this, you know this already. If they've not made time or space for Watada this week, that may say something about the quality of your go-to indynews outlet.

Again, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." You can also check Courage to Resist and for the latest developments.

On his decision to say "no" to the illegal war, Watada told Melanthia Mitchell (AP): "You don't join the military just to blindly follow whatever orders you're given. An order to go to an unlawful and immoral war based on false pretenses is no different than to kill innocent civilians."

Writing at The Huffington Post, Peter Laufer notes the stands of Watada, Ricky Clousing and others. Peter Laufer observers: "With polls showing an increasing majority of Americans now opposed to the war, the question hangs in the air: When will our society honor and appreciate those soldiers who refuse to follow orders to fight in Iraq?"

Moving to an item a friend's wanted noted for the last two days: Where is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani? On Tuesday, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was 'the' news in many Iraq reports. Was he on his way out? One report noted that al-Mashhadani didn't return a phone call -- why was that? Marie Cocco (Truthdig) offers today that he's "openly toying with relinquishing his post". From where? From where is he openly toying with the idea? Juan Cole (Salon) offers that "when the Iraqi parliament reconvenes next month, the first item on the agenda will be firing Mashhadani." Cole feels that al-Mashhadani "has put his foot in his mouth too many times." al-Masshadani may very well be on the way out next month but right now he is in Jordan working on a trade agreement. It's an interesting part of the story left out of the mainstream media's he's-so-out-of-here narrative. Whether or not he remains speaker after the parliament reconvenes may be influenced by what's going on in Jordan.

While that may (or may not) influence how he is seen upon return, other observations were noted today. The World Values Surveys ("collaborative project between the Univeristy of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Eastern Michigan University) has relased their survey results which found (a) from 2004 to 2006, the percentage of Iraqis (surveyed) stating they did not want Americans as neighbors went from 87% to 90%; (b) 76% surveyed feel the US invaded "to control Iraqi oil"; (c) while 27% of respondents in 2004 felt that religion and politics should be separate, that figure is up to 41% for 2006; and (d) in 2004, 46% of Iraqis surveyed agreed that "In Iraq these days life is unpredictable and dangerous" -- the 2006 figures finds the percentage in agreement has climbed to 59%.

And on the ground in Iraq today? The usual drill.


Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported that 1,666 bombs exploded in Iraq during the month of July (presumably this only covers bombings not called in by US forces). Bombings have continued in August. The BBC reports that a car bomb in Baghdad ("Sadr City district") took the lives of at least seven people and wounded an additional 25. The two month old 'crackdown' has not had any noticeable impact on safety in the region. AFP reports on two car bombs ("went off in rapid succession"), also in Baghdad, that left at least 65 wounded and at least 14 dead. Alister Bull (Scotsman) observes that the violence in the capital underscores "the precarious security situation as US and Iraqi forces try to stem sectarian violence." Reuters notes that a car bomb wounded three police officers in "west-central Baghdad". AFP characterizes it as "a sucide bomber" and notes that two civilians were also injured.

Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Daquq leaving two dead and a third wounded; mortar rounds wounded 21 in Muqdadiya in Sinjar, nine were wounded by "a suicide car bomber". Al Jazeera notes that the mortar attack in Muqdadiya took place in a market and that three police officers were among the wounded.


Reuters notes that a police officer (Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-llah Abdul-Kareem) was shot dead in Mosul while an unidentified police officer was shot in Falluja. AFP reports that "[a]nother six people were killed in a string of shootings in and around Baquba" and notes three brothers who owned a store together, "a salesman," a man whose car was stolen by assailants who then killed him, and a "civilian . . . shot dead in a coffee shop."


BBC reports that five corpses were discovered "near . . . Suwayra". Al Jazeera reports it was six and notes they were "mutilated." Reuters goes with six and notes that
the corpses were discovered "blindfolded . . . hands bound . . . multiple gunshot wounds" while the AFP notes five being discovered and adds that two more corpses were discovered "near Muqdadiyah". Reuters also notes that an Iraqi soldier was discovered shot to death (thirteen shots to the head) in Balad "a day after he was kidnapped."

In peace news, Matthew D. LaPlante and Rebecca Walsh (Salt Lake Tribune) report that Cindy Sheehan will visit Salt Lake City to protest Bully Boy who will be speaking to the American Legion August 31st. Kelly Patterson of Brigham Young University states that the protest may be larger than when Bully Boy spoke in Salt Lake City the year prior: "What's changed over the last year is public opinion about the war itself. Those kinds of shifts provide energy to people who feel very strongly about the war and its conduct. That makes this a more divisive environment -- even in Utah." KSL radio reports that "Sheehan indicated that Mayor [Rocky] Anderson had extended an invitation for her [to] come to Salt Lake and participate in the planned protest. Sheehan will give a speech during the protest at the city-county building downtown".

Camp Casey III continues through September 2nd and Camp DC opens September 5th and runs through the 21st to coincide with a week's worth of events lasting from September 21st to September 28th.

Writing on Sheehan's hospitalization last week, Missy Comley Beattie (CounterPunch) notes that a transfusion of five-pints of blood were required and compares that need to needs within this country. Comley Beattie concludes: "We are bleeding as a result of the president's insatiable lust for power." Noting Sheehan's return to Camp Casey III this summer, Cynthia Hall Clements ( observers: "The question should not be why Sheehan is the lone voice in the wilderness protesting for peace. The question should be why more of us aren't doing the same."

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of soldier Jake Kovco in Baghdad took an unscheduled day off. AAP reports that DNA tests were to be covered and whether or not "they had identified the source of DNA on the gun that killed Pte Kovco in his Iraq barracks." The inquiry is expected to resume on Friday.