Friday, March 22, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue,
State of Law's image as a gutter gossip means they continue to spread
rumors, a government official resigns, we look at Bradley Manning's
importance, we note a group of people who were right about the Iraq War
but haven't been recognized for being right this week, and more.
Thursday, National Iraqi News Agency notes
, a village near Tikrit was the site of a mass arrest -- 11 people for 'terrorism.' And Baghdad today saw a mass arrest -- 21 'terrorists
.' (Alsumaria notes
the Ministry of Interior insists it was a mass arrest of just
19.) This is among the things that has resulted in protesters in the
streets of Iraq since December. The mass arrests lead to many innocent
people being pulled from their lives, pulled from their families, pulled
from their friends -- and where are they? They disappear into the
Iraqi 'justice' system where they wait to be charged -- and may be in
jails for months or years without being charged despite the
Constitutional requirements. These people rounded up as 'terrorists'?
This includes Larry al-Jones's mother, sister, brother, daughter,
grandfather because Nouri's forces couldn't locate Larry. They don't
think any of the family members had anything to do with it but they
suspect Larry, can't find Larry, and citing Article IV, they arrest
family members suspected of nothing.
This helps fuel the protests in Iraq, these mass arrests. Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers observed
earlier this week:
In recent months, the government has announced broad reforms in
response to weekly mass demonstrations in majority Sunni provinces.
These demonstrations began in December, after the arrest of Sunni
Finance Minister Rafi al-Essawi’s bodyguards.
Early on protesters demanded the release of prisoners — especially
female prisoners, who have been held illegally for long periods of time —
and reform of Article 4 of the Anti-Terror Law.
Over the last several weeks in Baghdad, I’ve spoken with more than 30
women who are in detention or were recently released, along with
lawyers and families of detainees, researching allegations of torture in
Iraqi detention facilities.
People told me over and over about random arrests, torture during
interrogation and prolonged detention in unofficial facilities. They
said corruption was rife among Interior Ministry officials, that there
was collusion between officials and judges, and that trials lacked the
most basic due process protections.
Detainees repeatedly told me the government uses the broad provisions
of Article 4 to detain people without arrest warrants in detention
centers overseen by security forces that answer to the Interior and
Defense Ministries, or directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.
I asked officials I met about promises to release detainees and about
the broader problems with the criminal justice system. By the
government’s own admission, some detainees have been held illegally for
months — even years.
There is little evidence, though, that the government is carrying out
the pledged reforms, or that the reforms target illegal arrests,
coerced interrogations and arbitrary detentions.
It's Friday and the protests continue in Iraq. Above is a screen snap of Iraqi Spring MC's video of Falluja today
. Alsumaria reports
tens of thousands turned out in Falluja and they may have that wrong --
looking at the photo with the article, it's hard to believe that's not
even more people than "tens of thousands." It is a huge crowd. And
they honored the victims of Tuesday's violence (over 50 dead from
Baghdad bombings alone, many more left wounded) by planting olive
seelings on the sides of the highway and reading verses from the Koran.
All Iraq News reported this morning
that protesters in Anbar Province (Falluja and Ramadi are in Anbar) have been fired upon. In another report (still not identifying the locale other than Anbar), they quote
Shaikh Hamid al-Hayes declaring, "Many demonstrators were injured" and
we'll end his quote there. All Iraq News is not the source for the
reports, it's the Iraqiya Satellite Channel which is not connected to
Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya slate but is connected to Nouri, it's his
megaphone, it's state TV. They may be reporting of the infiltrators
in Ramadi. Social media's noted them earlier this morning. Alsumaria has a report here
Ramadi protesters found infiltrators attempting to start violence (like
the ones who set fire to cars last week) and (as they did last week)
captured them and turned them over to authorities. There have been no
reports, however, of any shots fired in this episode. So either the TV
station is inflating the event or else another incident has taken place
in Anbar. Alsumaria posted
a report where Ramadi spokesperson Sayad Lafi states that there has
been no shots fired at the protest and that the number handed over to
authorities (of infiltrators) was four. Rumors continued throughout the day. All Iraq News reports
the false rumor that Ali Hatim al-Suleiman, Saeed al-Lafi and Iraqiya
MP Ahmed al-Alwani were kicked out of the Ramadi protest. This left Sheikh Ali Hatim al-Sulayman to explain -- from the Ramadi protest -- to NINA
that neither he nor Sa'eed al-Lafee (also spelled Sayad Lafi) were kicked out of Ramadia's protest. All Iraq News also reported
on the false rumor that al-Lafi was injured at the protests. And al-Lafi tells Alusmaria
that there were no gun shots in the Ramadi protest.
What were all these false rumors about?Sheikh Rafi al-Rifa'e explains to NINA
"The government and its influential militias in Anbar spread rumors and
carry out acts of subversion to infringe the protestors, but due to the
braveness and awareness of the protest's coordination committees
contained such plans and uncovered the conspiracy."
The crowd turning out in Adamiyah Baghdad today
National Iraqi News Agency speaks
with Anbar activist Ahmed al-Alwani who explains "two delegations
arrived this morning [in Baghdad] in support of their fellow who
continue demonstrations and sit-ins since about three months in Anbar
province, demanding the central government to meet their legitimate
demands through resitituion of their usurped human rights."
Protesters also turned out in Mosul
, in Kirkuk
, in Baquba
, in Baiji
and in Ramadi
. Samarra protesters saw one of their own targeted. Iraqi Spring MC reports
that Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki's forces have raided the home of Sheikh Mohammed Taha Hamdoun. In addition, Nouri's forces have arrested activist Mohammed Sabawi in Mosul
today on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for Nouri to show
restraint when dealing with the protesters and for an investigation to
be launched into the killing of protesters. National Iraqi News Agency quotes
Ramadi activist Mohammad Fayyad stating, "Thousands of protesters and
citizens went to sit-in square in Albfarraj area north of the city of
Ramadi, juxtaposed to the International Highway and to sit-in Square
east of the city of Fallujah for Friday prayers." Morning prayers came before the protests. NINA notes
"Preacher of Friday prayers in Samarra Sheikh Mohammed Taha Hamdoun
held in his sermon, the commander in chief of the armed forces, Nouri
al-Maliki responsible for the recent security breaches in Baghdad and
other provinces, accusing the government of being 'insulting people and
shed blood of protesters and raping women,' he said." Alsumaria notes
that Friday prayers in Kufa included a call for Nouri to step down and
for the National Alliance (Shi'ite political slate) to put forward
someone to be prime minister in Nouri's place. To that, NINA adds
that Kufa's Sheikh Zia Shawki continued his sermon by explaining the
past "7 years under the rule of al-Maliki, the security in Iraq was
fragile and economy was shaking, adding that al-Maliki did not achieve
anything for Iraq." NINA also reports
"The Imam of Najaf's Friday Prayer, Sadruldeen al-Qubanchi, said that
recent explosions in Baghdad intend to send a message to the world that
Iraq is unstable and its experience has failed" and he said that all
provinces must be able to vote in the elections. (Nouri has most
recently banned Nineveh and Anbar from voting.) In addition, Al Mada reports
that clergy in Karbala and Nineveh also criticized Nouri today. Al Mada notes
the big news there may be have come in Karbala where the representative
authorized to speak for the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called out
the security system and called for change.
At the protests, Al Mada reports
many speakers in various provinces spoke out against the bombings and
noting Nouri's failures in providing security and they called for
Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya to work together to save the country. In
Ramadi, Sheikh Muhannad al-Hiti called for the government to stop
procrastinating and start meeting the demands of the protesters.
Samarra's Sheikh Mohammed Taha Hamadoun decried the beating, humiliation
and rape that take place in Iraqi prisons.
At the March 1st
protest in Ramadi, Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi announced his resignation. At the March 8th
protests, Minister of Agriculture Ezz al-Din al-Dawla announced his resignation. All Iraq News reports
that Deputy Governor of Nineveh, Faisal Ajill al-Yawar, announced his
resignation today "in solidarity with the demonstrators in the
province." NINA adds
he also said he was resigning because the government was "not
fulfilling their [the protesters] legitimate demands that they have been
demanding for the last three months." The editorial board of the Washington Post offers
this take today on Iraq:
Iraq remains plagued by the sectarianism that now pervades the Middle
East. Following a democratic election in 2010, Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki, a Shiite, formed a coalition government with parties
representing Kurds and secular Sunnis. But he has since driven the Sunni
vice president into exile, while the Sunni finance minister and Kurdish
foreign minister no longer visit Baghdad, much less carry out their
duties. Sunnis in western Iraq are growing increasingly restless, while
the remnants of al-Qaeda continue attacks against Shiite targets in
Baghdad. Tensions are also growing between Mr. Maliki and the autonomous
region of Kurdistan, with both sides deploying military forces near
territories claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds.
Syria, Moahmmed Saeed Bouti was assassinated by a bombing which left
over 40 people dead and over 80 people injured. He was the President of
the Federation of Scientists. The assassination led various Iraqi
leaders to make statements noting the death: movement leader and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr
, the Iraqi Scholars Association
, and Ahmed Chalabi
a roadside bombing outside Mosul has left two Iraqi soldiers injured. AP reports
that Sahwa leader Hussein Muslah and two of his sons were shot dead outside Dujail this morning. NINA notes 2 truck drivers were shot dead in Baghdad
, a Tikrit sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police office
r, and an armed attack on a police officer's Tikrit house left him, his wife and their two children dead plus ten more people injured
, Bradley Manning told a military court:
felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to
cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I
began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves
mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we
became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists. I
wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets
to be neutralized.
For years now, Bradley has
been assumed to be behind the biggest government leak of this century
and possibly of the last century. Monday April 5,
, WikiLeaks released US
of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were
killed in the assault including two Reuters
journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and
Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7,
, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley
Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel
(Washington Post) reported
in August 2010 that Manning had
been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The
first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring
classified information to his personal computer between November and May and
adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second
comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of
classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud
(Los Angeles Times) reported
that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one
that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty
if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of
this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced
that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has
yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was
postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a
record of his actual actions. Independent.ie adds
, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland,
with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a
February 28, Bradley stood up and publicly declared he had released the documents.
documents had an immediate impact and they've had an ongoing impact.
At the start of this month, the BBC Arabic and the Guardian's James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq
began airing -- you can stream online. (If you can't stream or if you
need closed captioning so the stream will not help you, Ava
and I covered the documentary March 10th with "TV: The War Crimes Documentary
.") This week's Law and Disorder Radio
an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI
and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian
, Michael S. Smith
and Michael Ratner
(Center for Constitutional Rights
the topic of counter-insurgency was addressed with journalist Patrick
Farrelly who was part of the BBC Arabic and the Guardian
newspaper investigative team behind the recent documentary entitled, here comes that link again, James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq
Farrelly: He's retired not part of the administration. But Col James
Coffman is, he is a US army colonel and he reports directly to General
[David] Petraeus in the army chain of command. Steele is a consultant
or an advisor but Coffman actually is in the chain of command. So
therefore when this paramilitary force, when they need money or they
need equipment or whatever, Coffman is the guy who takes it upstairs to
Petraeus and Petraeus is the one who provides the money, provides the
weapons, provides whatever. So these guys are in these detention
centers, you have this torture going on and the torture is widespread.
And this is where Bradley Manning comes in. 'Cause I know you guys have
been talking about him. Part of the WikiLeaks discovery in terms of
the War Logs which was released by Bradly Manning to WikiLeaks shows
this entire pattern of US soldiers coming across these detention centers
or working with these detention centers because they're involved with
these special police commandos, they're providing them with guys to
interrogate, they're taking guys from them for further interrogation.
And what they're seeing is -- consistently, they're giving reports of
seeing torture, of seeing abuse. The Guardian went through these War
Logs and started looking at this stuff and started seeing patterns of
hundreds and hundreds of reports by US soldiers on the ground of this
going on and that's really what actually launched the inquiry and that's
what brought us to Col James Steele and Col James Coffman and actually
General David Petraeus.
Michael Ratner: It's interesting,
Patrick, because these are what they call the Iraq War Logs which
Bradley Manning talks about when he made his guilty plea the other day
as to why he wanted to reveal them because they were revealing all of
this criminality really and the counter-insurgency and which he didn't
like. Now can you give us a sense of two things. One is, why didn't
any of this come out before? I mean these War Logs have been out for a
couple of years now and, secondly, what kind of torture is described?
Farrelly: I mean the interesting thing for me about the War Logs is
that an enormous amount was made of WikiLeaks and an enormous amount was
made of these to stuff that the Times and the Guardian, El Pais and the
other newspapers actually brought to light. But I have to say that
from that point onwards, the ball was dropped in many ways in the sense
of like journalists really getting into the detail of what these things
reveal and actually following them up. And I think this documentary the
Guardian and BBC Arabic produced is an example of the kind of material
which actually lies within these and which journalists actually should
be taking up. But going back to the issue of these special police
commandos, their existence was well known. General David Petreaus was
interviewed by this very find Frontline documentary called The Gangs of Iraq that Martin Smith made for PBS Frontline
in which he interviews General Petraeus. Petraeus is very proud of
these, he's very proud of the commandos but the way that it was being
posed in terms of our understanding of the situation was that after
Petraeus left Iraq in September of 2005 -- he'd been there since June
2004 dealing with setting up this new police force. It's only really
after that, according to them that these abuses happened -- when these
Shia political parties really took over and when these Shia militias
started getting into great. In other words it's another one of these
situation swhere the US army and the US government sets up these police
commandos which the locals invariably corrupt at a certain point and
then because they don't have the same standards as we do start abusing
people and start torturing people. What this investigation has found is
that from the very, very beginning, Col James Steele and Col James
Coffman who answer to Petraeus and who answer to Rumsfeld had, you know,
worked with these guys in these detention centers and were witnesses to
and knew this stuff was going on because you've got to -- It's a
production line because these young men come in, they were tortured --
Michael Ratner: How were they tortured?
Farrelly: They were tortured by the worst kind of methods. I mean
these people were being hung up, off ceilings. These people were having
like, you know, their nails pulled out with pliers, it was
waterboarding. It was every concievable kind of torture that you can
Michael Smith: And how do we know that? That's in the documents?
Heidi Boghosian: Is it documented?
Farrelly: Because we had a very important invidiual spoke to the
Guardian about the US involvement for the first time. He's a man by the
name of General Muntadher al-Samari and he had been a general in --
he's a Sunni -- and he had been a general in Saddam's regime. And when
the United States came in, he -- actually along with a number of other
Sunnis took the United States at their word that they were going to
frame and bring about a pretty regular democratic society so they
actually became involved with helping the United States actually put
together this police force. So Muntadher was there. He worked for the
Ministery of the Interior, he worked for the police, he worked directly
with Steele and he worked with Coffman. He'd meet Coffman, he had
meetings with Petraeus.
Michael Ratner: How many people were tortured? Ten? A hundred? A thousand?
Farrelly: We don't have exact numbers but I think we're talking tens
of thousands of people were actually brought in. You're dealing with,
for example, if you take the ancient city of Samarra -- a very, very
important city in terms of the religion and the culture and the history
of that area -- which was also a place where there was enormous
opposition to the occupation. They went in there. They turned the city
library into a torture center. They turfed everything out that was
there and there was all these books, all these manuscripts and they
turned it into a torture center. They would then go out at night --
they were there for months on end in the fall and winter of 2004. They
would go out with trucks at night. They would pull in hundreds of
people who were then being processed. This went on for months. So I
mean the numbers in that place alone run into the thousands. And there
was a network of approximately 14 of these centers that we were aware of
throughout Iraq. So this was a fairly -- this was a large scale
operation which produced a lot of results. I mean that's one thing that
we have to be sure of, this was a thing which terrorized Sunni
community. There was no two ways, it was incredibly effective in terms
of scaring the living daylights out of people because this force that
they put on the ground and which started to work was a feared force. If
they're right in your neighborhood in their Dodge trucks because this
was one thing these guys were very, very happy with because Petraeus
gave them 150 Dodge trucks. They were then provided with other American
pick up trucks. I know in this country, it's a great thing to see if
you're out there in the farmlands but if you are living in a Sunni
neighborhood and you saw one of these trucks arriving, this was not a
Heidi Boghosian: Well the result was a mass intimidation.
Farrelly: It was a mass intimidation but it was also the case that
they tortured people into giving up -- You know, one of the American
soldiers that we interviewed for this said, "You know, people just gave
up everybody. They just gave up their relatives, their friends." It
just became this interrogation and torture mill which no doubt produced a
lot of information --
Michael Ratner: You know individuals
do -- It's not so clear, people'll do anything to stop torture. They'll
give false names. They'll do all kinds of things. But like in Algeria
in 1954, the French did mass torturing in Aljeers and as a result, they
could cross the people enough so that they knew which information was
correct or not, they had thousands of people tortured and that's what
this sounds like.
Michael Smith: And they did it also in
Vietnam around the same time. The Green Berets were involved in Vietnam
and in fact, it was the Green Berets, Michael and I did a book [Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder],
who were brought into Bolivia to train the Bolivian troops, they
eventually captured Che Guevara so this streak in American history of
Green Berets, Special Forces, torture, goes all the way back over a half
Patrick Farrelly: lI mean, for lack of better term, for empire, people like James Steele are very important.
Michael Ratner: Explain that a little.
Farrelly: In the sense that if you go -- You know empires tend to roam
into other people's countries. It's like living next door to a war
lord. It's never -- they're never good neighbors. But when they go in
and they run into local opposition and quite often it's-it's-it's what
they call assymetrical warfare, it's guerrilla warfare, it's a so-called
irregular uprising, guys like James Steele are need in order to-to deal
with people like that and that was his speciality. There is another
longterm consequence I just want to deal with for a moment in terms of
Iraq which is that as this force became more and more part of the Shia
militias, a certain point, this force with 90% members of the Badr
brigades 90% Mehdi army who went into Sunni neighborhoods and caused
great, great slaughter.
That's the third excerpt of that
segment we've done this week. If we'd had more space and more time
this week, it would have all been excerpted. It's the only serious
interview we're apparently going to get in the US. Don't bring up the
nonsense from the Goody Whore today who couldn't even say
and I plan to tackle the Goody Whore Sunday). The Michaels and Heidi
spoke to their guests about actual issues. I don't think there was a
finer moment for radio last week than Law and Disorder Radio
Bradley's facing some serious charges. If we want people to understand
how serious he took what he discovered, we're going to have to be able
to talk about what he discovered. Heidi and the Michaels were up to the
The training of the death squads, the counter-insurgency, it still goes on. Human Rights Watch pointed out earlier this week
New information emerged as recently as early March 2013 indicating that
the US government is pursuing a policy of engagement with Iraqi security
forces accused of responsibility for torture and other abuses, with
little if any consideration of accountability for those abuses. A Wall
Street Journal report said that the CIA is “ramping up support” to the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (CTS) to “better fight Al-Qaeda affiliates.”
“If correct, the report that the US intends to support the Iraqi
Counterterrorism Service underscores the poor US record on addressing
allegations of abuses by Iraqi security forces,” Whitson said. “The CTS,
though accused of committing serious abuses against detainees, worked
closely with US Special Forces before the US troop withdrawal in 2011.”
Kenneth Roth (Human Rights Wach) notes
Worse, the CIA is reportedly
building up its assistance to an elite anti-terrorism unit that reports
directly to al-Maliki’s office and has been synonymous with the
torture, abuse and “disappearance” of detainees. Nothing the United
States could say to encourage greater respect for human rights is likely
to counter such a direct manifestation of indifference. After 10 years,
Washington should have learned that it cannot improve a government’s
human rights conduct when it joins that government in demonstrating
indifference to basic rights. At minimum, continuing security assistance
should be conditioned on respect for these rights that are so lacking
in today’s Iraq.
That's not five years ago, that's
Iraq today. Bradley's work matters because it has historical
implications but because it also explains what is taking place in Iraq
Bradley's an Iraq War veteran. All week long, as
Iraq's has gotten bits of attention from the Big Media and even the
small, some veterans were ignored.
Lot of talk about being right. Lot of bragging and back patting.
what most of us did wasn't all that. The Dixie Chicks? Yeah, a
sacrifice followed that. But most of us could speak out without any
Iraq War veteran Joshua Key?
Joshua Key served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Rivera served in Iraq. She returned to the United States and she
couldn't go back. She couldn't return to the illegal war.
Burmeister served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he
couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Kyle Snyder served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Anderson served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he
couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
are only a few of the names. All of the above went to Canada and
sought asylum. Darrell and James came back to the US. Kim -- like
Robin Long -- was forced out of Canada. Joshua and Kyle remain in
Canada -- along with others including the first Iraq War resister to
publicly attempt to be granted asylum in Canada: Jeremy Hinzman.
Where is the outlet that will say that they were right?
were right. And their actions helped awaken the country. Others who
resisted and remained in the US like Kevin Benderman, Camilo Mejia and
Stephen Funk were right too. Where's their pat on the back.
All of these people who showed the courage to say no to an illegal war helped awaken the country.
Ehren Watada is the only officer who publicly resisted going to the
illegal war. So let's applaud his courage and drop back to the October 2, 2009 snapshot
to remember his story:
This afternoon Fort Lewis's Media Relations department announced
that Ehren Watada had completed his out processing and was discharged
from the US military. We're going to stay with this topic for a bit
because (a) it is important and (b) it is historical. 1st Lt Watada was
the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As Ann noted last night,
"there are people who have no idea what a brave thing he did." Ehren
Watada was informed he would be deploying to Iraq in June 2005. He had
not given much thought to Iraq. To prepare for the deployment, his
superior advised him to study up on the war so that he could answer any
questions that might come up from those serving under him. He started
researching the basics about the country itself, topography and
geography and continuing through the history up to the current war. He
came across the Downing Street Memos which exposed that the
'intelligence' for the Iraq War was fixed. He was now firmly convinced
that the Iraq War was illegal and immoral. From eager to serve in Iraq
to realizing he'd be violating his oath to the Constitution, Ehren was
now confronted with a decision. He could keep his mouth shut and just
do as he was told. Or he could take a stand which would risk the wrath
of the military as well as a portion of the public.
Ehren's mother, Carolyn Ho, has explained what happened next many times as she's spoken to raise awareness of her son's case. WBAI's Law and Disorder
shared one of her talks on their January 22, 2007 broadcast. Carolyn Ho
explained it was the new year, January 2006, and her son called her.
He explained that he had something to tell her, he'd decided decided he
wouldn't deploy to Iraq when the time came. She was very upset and
asked him if he understood what might result from his decision? Ehren
told her that he had no choide, he'd taken an oath to the Constitution,
this was what he had to do and he was going to inform his superiors.
didn't hesitate to inform his superiors. This was in January 2006.
They at first attempted to change his mind. He could not be budged. So
they stated they wanted to work something out. They brainstormed
together. Ehren came up with ideas including, he could deploy to the
Afghanistan War instead, he could resign (his service contract expired
in December 2006). His superiors appeared to be eager to consider every
possibility; however, they were just attempting to stall. They appear
to have thought that if they put him off and put him off, when the day
to deploy came, he'd just shrug his shoulders and deploy.
did not know Ehren. June 7, 2006 ("the day before his 28th birthday,"
Carolyn Ho likes to remind), Ehren went public with his refusal to
deploy. Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) notes Ehren stated to
participate in the Iraq War would be participating in war crimes.
In August 2006, an Article 32 hearing was held. Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright.
These three witnesses addressed the issue of the war, it's legality,
and the responsibilities of a service member to disobey any order that
they believed was unlawful. The testimony was necessary because Watada's
refusing to participate in the illegal war due to the fact that he
feels it is (a) illegal and (b) immoral. Many weeks and weeks later, the
finding was released: the military would proceed with a court-martial.
On Monday, February 5, 2007, Watada's court-martial began. It continued on Tuesday when the prosecution argued their case. Wednesday,
Watada was to take the stand in his semi-defense. Judge Toilet (John
Head) presided and when the prosecution was losing, Toilet decided to
flush the lost by declaring a mistrial over defense objection in his
attempt to give the prosecution a do-over. Head was insisting then that a court-martial would begin against Watada in a few weeks when no court-martial could begin.
January 4, 2007,
Head oversaw a pre-trial hearing. Head also oversaw a stipulation that
the prosecution prepared and Watada signed. Head waived the stipulation
through. Then the court-martial begins and Ehren's clearly winning. The
prosecution's own military witnesses are becoming a problem for the
prosecution. It's Wednesday and Watada's finally going to take the
stand. Head suddenly starts insisting there's a problem with the
stipulation. Watada states he has no problem with it. Well the
prosecution has a problem with it and may move to a mistrial, Judge Toilet declares.
prosecution prepared the stipulation and they're confused by Head's
actions but state they're not calling for a mistrial or lodging an
objection. That's on the record. Head then keeps pushing for a mistrial
and the prosecution finally gets that Head is attempting to give them a
do-over, at which point, they call for a mistrial.
The case has
already started. Witnesses have been heard from. Double-jeopardy has
attached. The defense isn't calling for a mistrial and Head rules a
mistrial over defense objection and attempts to immediately schedule a
new trial. Bob Chapman (Global Research) observes,
"With little fanfare the Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., accepted the
resignation of the 1966 Kalari High School graduate, and he will be
discharged the first week in October."
applause. Ehren became a part of a movement of resistance within the
military and let's note the names of others we have covered: Dean
Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert
Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder
, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo
Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl
Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon
Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris
Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Brad McCall, Rodney Watson, Chuck Wiley
and Kevin Benderman.
War resisters were public and they were
underground. Those who went public shared important details of how they
came to see the Iraq War as illegal.
Mark Larabee's "Soldiers still go over the hill even in an all-volunteer Army
" (The Oregonian
was the first to tell James Burmeister's story and, in doing so, broke
the news of the kill teams (broke the news domestically) July 16,
2007. Dee Knight's "Army court-martials resister for blowing whistle on 'bait-and-kill'
" (Workers World
) detailed what Burmeister experienced as well:
First Class James Burmeister faces a Special Court Martial at Fort Knox
on July 16. The charges are AWOL and desertion. He returned to Fort
Knox voluntarily in March, after living 10 months in Canada with his
spouse and infant child. He refused redeployment to Iraq while on leave
in May 2007.In most such cases at Fort Knox, the
Army has in recent years quietly dismissed the resister with a less than
honorable discharge "for the good of the military." This time it's
different. The brass "offered" Burmeister a year in military prison and a
dishonorable discharge if he agreed to plead guilty.
refused the offer. His father, Erich, says the Army is making an example
of James for denouncing a secret "bait-and-switch" program he was
forced to participate in while in Iraq. In media interviews last year in
Canada, James described the program as a war crime he was forced to
commit. Shortly afterward, the program's details came out in the
"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know
they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," the Post
quoted Capt. Matthew Didier, leader of an elite sniper scout platoon.
"We would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item,
picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the
The Post reported that "Eugene Fidell, president of the
National Institute of Military Justice, said such a baiting program ...
raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick
up the items. ... 'You might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around
with a target on his back,' Fidell said." (Sept. 24, 2007)
asked to be classified as a conscientious objector following his
training in Germany, but his request was ignored by his commander.
Instead, he became a machine gunner. "Our unit’s job seemed to be more
about targeting a largely innocent civilian population or deliberately
attracting confrontation," he wrote in his deposition seeking asylum in
Canada. "These citizens were almost always unarmed. In some cases the
Iraqi victims looked to me like they were children." (Eugene Weekly, May
In Iraq, Burmeister had been knocked unconscious and his face
filled with shrapnel when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. The
shrapnel wounds left him with a traumatic brain injury, and he suffers
from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His parents insist that he
urgently needs medical and psychological help, not jail time.
parents have waged an unceasing struggle for the Army to release him.
They called on their representative, Peter DeFazio, to launch a
congressional inquiry into James’s case, but have so far heard nothing.
James' mother, Helen Burmeister, flew to Fort Knox in June, with help
from anti-war ex-Colonel Ann Wright. Helen spoke directly to the base
commander there, demanding that her son be discharged in lieu of a court
martial. She then joined supporters from Veterans for Peace and Vietnam
Vets Against the War demonstrating outside.
who stood up -- publicly like the above or privately -- in the military
deserve a round of applause, deserve some praise. The Iraq War wasn't a
"dumb" war, the term is "illegal."iraq iraqi spring mc
human rights watch
all iraq news
national iraqi news agency
law and disorder radio
michael s. smith