SYMBOLISM, COME AND GET YOUR SYMBOLISM!
YOU CAN SHOW SUPPORT FOR WAR RESISTERS IF YOU'VE GOT A SPINE OR YOU CAN GUSH AND GIGGLE, COO AND SIGH OVER 1,000 SERVICE MEMBERS WHO THINK THE ILLEGAL WAR IS SO WRONG BY GUM AND GOLLY, THEY'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING! THEY'RE GOING TO PUT THEIR NAMES (PRIVATELY) TO A SYMBOLIC PETITION THAT CARRIES NO WEIGHT. THAT'LL STOP THE WAR! EHREN WATADA IS STANDING UP. NOTHING TO BE INFERRED THERE, HE'S STANDING, BRAVE AND TALL.
MAYBE YOU PREFER YOUR SYMBOLISM SERVED UP HISTORICALLY? BARACK OBAMA HAS NO PLATFORM TO RUN ON AND SINCE HE BRAGS THAT HE'S THE MOST SURPRISED OF ALL BY HIS DECISION TO RUN FOR U.S. PRESIDENT, HE'S OBVIOUSLY NOT BEEN GIVING IT MUCH THOUGHT. BUT HE'LL BE PUBLICLY ANNOUNCING ON FEBRUARY 10TH IN . . . SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS! WHO CARES WHAT HE SAYS, OLD ABE LINCOLN IS FROM THERE! SYMBOLISM -- IN PLACE OF PLANS, PASSION AND DRIVE!
AND IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, DEMOCRATS AND SOME REPUBLICANS CAN'T STOP STROKING THEMSELVES OVER THE RESOLUTION THEY'RE HOPING TO SEE PASSED -- A RESOLUTION OPPOSING BULLY BOY'S ESCALATION (ADDING 21,500 TROOPS IN IRAQ) -- A NON-BINDING RESOLUTION! IF YOU LIKE YOUR POLITICS TOOTHLESS AND SYMBOLIC, JO-JO BIDEN'S SERVING IT UP BY THE HANDFULS!
NO WONDER THE UNITED STATES CURRENTLY HAS MORE OF A SYMBOLIC DEMOCRACY THAN AN ACTUAL ONE. CALL THAT "A SYMBOLIC VICTORY," JUST DON'T CONFUSE IT WITH REALITY.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Starting with the latest news of Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. A strong stand that took tremendous courage (even his parents, Bob Watada and Carolyn Ho, have spoken of how they attempted to talk him out of it because of the scorn, silence and hostility he'd be greeted with). He faces a court-martial on February 5th and Lt. Col. John Head -- the so-called judge -- has issued a decision based on arguments presented in the pre-trial hearing earlier this month. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized it today: "The judge in the case has ruled Watada's defense won't be able to present evidence challenging the legality of the war nor explain Watada's motive to resist deploying to Iraq." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes it is "a major blow to the court-martial defense," which is putting it mildly, and quotes Watada's attorney Eric Seitz who declares, "We have been stripped of every defense. This is a disciplinary system, not a justice system. Otherwise, we would have been entitled to defend ourselves."
Which they are not. Ehren Watada was just stripped of any defense. As noted on January 4th when the prosecution presented their pre-trial arguments: "What the military would like to do in today's pre-trial hearing is reduce everything to whether or not Watada deployed with his unit? The answer, of course, is that he did not. The military does not want the issue of the legality of the war addressed. By closing off this discussion, they not only would destroy Watada's right to defend himself, they would be able, as the Bully Boy long has been able to, set the terms of the discussion and control what is and is not discussed."
Political Affairs offers a survey of the travesty and notes that Head's ruling reads: "The defense motion for a hearin gon the 'Nuremberg defense' is DENIED. The government motion to prevent the defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war is GRANTED." Of the political prosecution (let's be honest, Watada's being politically prosecuted), Political Affairs notes that, in the pre-trial hearing, "Kueker replied that there are two separate prosecutions going on. The first is for Lt. Watada missing movement to Iraq -- a prosecution where his MOTIVE is so irrelevant that it needs to be barred from the military jury. The second prosecution will be for Lt. Watada publicly explaining his MOTIVE! Apparently this Orwellian formulation passes for military justice."
Apparently and sadly it does. It's complete nonsense. It's doesn't remotely resemble justice. It's a political prosecution of Ehren Watada where he is silenced to the point of being gagged. (Shades of the Chicago Eight.) He can be charged with crimes that, if convicted, carry six years of prison time, the prosecution can do whatever they want in the court-martial, but Ehren Watada cannot make the best defense he is entitled to. Not only can his attorney not put forth the best defense, the reasons for the actions he is now being persecuted for, those reasons cannot be discussed by the defense.
The prosectution can discuss it. They'll be discussing what Ehren Watada said here or there and why it is supposedly so objectionable but Ehren Watada will not be allowed to explain why he acted as he did, why he said what he did.
That's not justice. It's railroading him. It's denying him the right to offer any response to a government case against him. But the Coward's Silence will continue to cause many in independent media to ignore Ehren Watada. Follow that closley and note who stays silent. Those that stay silent are useless. They'd stay silent if you needed them as well.
Ehren Watada has been prevented from arguing any kind of defense. His court-martial now consists of nothing more than "yes" and "no" answers from him. That's not a defense. He took a stand. He's shown bravery. There is no hemming or hawwing, there is only standing up on his part. And for doing that, for saying no to an illegal war, he faces six years in prison -- all the more likely when he's not allowed to make his case.
To repeat, during the Article 32 hearing, 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. That will not happen now, 'judge' Head has denied that, has denied Watada the right to argue any sort of defense.
While the military attempts to throw the book at him (and asks that he stand still and repeat, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?") and independent media plays dumb (with few exceptions) the people react differently. On Saturday, Ehren Watada spoke at the Coupeville Recreation Center in Washington. Paul Boring (Whidbey News-Times) reports that over a 100 people showed up to hear him and burst into applause at various intervals. Watada asked: "Do we wanta a military that without hesistation, will turn on people simply because they ordered to do so? . . . What I have embarked upon and what I sacrifice today is for those who have lost their lives and for those still struggling to stay alive. . . . I do have the power to make you aware of why soldiers are dying and why this war is unjust. I do have the power to compel you to care. It is the American people who have the power to end this war. . . . They can try me, convict me or acquit me. My life does not matter. The lives of thousands of soldiers do . . . it is one thing to end a war. It is another to ensure it never happens again. We have the power to change history."
We do have that power. But only if we use it. Mark Taylor-Canfield reported for Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News yesterday on a speech Ehren Watada
gave as part of Seattle's MLK celebration where, no surprise, he received a standing ovation. The people are hearing him (which no doubts scares the military to death). Taylor-Canfield also noted Camp Resistance had set up "just outside the gates of Fort Lewis where Watada's hearing is being held." So that's two independent media outlets that have noted Camp Resistance -- will anyone be next? In a show of support for Ehren Watada, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance and intend to maintain it through the court-martial. They need money, volunteers and press attention.
Yesterday, we noted that Agustin Aguayo has received not the expected charge of being AWOL but the charge of "desertion." With Aguayo the US military is attempting to send a message both due to Aguayo's standing up and saying "no" and due to the fact that (as Mike pointed out last night) Aguayo didn't just sue the US military, he's made it up all the way up to the DC Court of Appeals. With Ehren Watada the US military is also attempting to send a message, to initmidate and frighten others from following in Watada or Aguayo's footsteps. Guess what? It's too late. It's already happening. (About the only one scared at this point is a healthy chunk of independent media.) Watada and Aguayo are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, US Congress member Barbara Lee discussed the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act. Which is? Legislation proposed by Lee and fellow Congress members Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters calling for the start of troop withdrawal and the start of "work with the regional countries in the Middle East to come up with a multilateral solution," Lee explained. Repeatedly, Representative Barbara Lee noted that the presence of US troops was fueling the violence. In addition, she noted that the violence "is only going to escalate as long as US troops are there," that "there is no 'win'" and that Bully Boy mentions mistakes but "whether than talk about to rectify it, he's talking about escalating the war." Andrea Lewis asked what everyone could do to support Lee, Waters and Woolsey's proposal and Lee responded that "the bill needs co-sponsors, the more co-sponsors you build, the more chance the bill will get a fair hearing" so start contacting your Congressional reps (especially the House because this is a House proposal) -- get on the phone, on the fax, on your feet, into your e-mail account . . . and tell them you want to see some support for Waters, Woolsey and Lee's bill -- Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.
Also appearing on The Morning Show was Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) stated, "I hope she gets a whole lot more signers on that" and that "This is what we need. This is what we must from our leadership, we must have courageous leadership." He then discussed how when the talk of escalation was first being floated, US Senator Harry Reid (Majority Leader) was all ready to go along publicly but public outrage changed that. "The Democratic Leadership, if left to their own devices will go along with Bush on that". Rothschild stated he is for all avenues ("Bascially, I'm for everything") including phone calls and e-mails (which he believes are counted -- they are, a tally is kept by your rep) but it's time to get "past the passive protests." He shared how he was speaking with an activist about the events to note the 3,000 mark for number of US troops killed in Bully Boy's illegal war. The activist stated, "We got to do more than candle light vigils 'cause they're fine with candle light vigils" and that until the actions turn to massive civil disobedience ("until we start interrupting Wall St.," his friend told him) "this war's going to go on" -- instead "the volume needs to go up, needs to increase and just passive resistance to this war" will not change anything.
Recommended: "Iraq snapshot"
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"Agustin Aguayo, Ehren Watada, real heroes"
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