Monday, May 21, 2007


Starting with war resistance.  Ehren Watada has won what Melanthia Mitchell (AP) dubs "a small victory."  In June of last year, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  The first day of the court-martial (Monday, Feb. 5th) was your basic first day of court.  On Tuesday, the prosecution presented their case.  Wednesday, the defense was supposed to mount their limited defense.  Limited?  Judge Toilet (aka John Head) had already ruled that the defense could not address the legality of the war, had been happy to pay for prosecution witnesses but would not do the same for the defense (and wouldn't allow witnesses).  Wednesday the case would depend on Watada's testimony.  The judge called a mistrial (over defense objection) before Watada could testify -- most likely because the prosecution's witnesses on Tuesday had, in different ways, backed up Watada's stand.  Many legal commentators have pointed out (including Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild), Judge Toilet's decision to call a mistrial after the case began, over the objection of the defense, a second court-martial would violate the Constitution's ban on double-jeopardy. February 8th, on Flashpoints, Marjorie Cohn explained that, "When a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it.  The only thing that will defeat a finding of double-jeopardy . . . is if there was a manifest necessity to declare the mistrial . . . .  There wasn't a manifest destiny."  (Those who can't listen can click here to read Rebecca on Cohn's appearance.)  Manifest necessity. 
Cohn was addressing how double-jeopardy attached the moment the jury was sworn in (Watada elected to go with a jury of his peers -- there is a choice of whether to allow a military judge to decide the verdict or to go with a jury of military members).  This was not an opinion pulled out of thin air, it gets to heart of the US Constitution's Fifth Amendment.  Speaking on Flashpoints, she offered the example that a jury couldn't reach a verdict.  Had Watada's jury been unable to reach a verdict, the judge would have had reason to declare a mistrial.  Judge Toilet had no reason to declare one (his actual reason for declaring a mistrial was that the prosecution's witnesses ended up making statements helpful to the defense and the prosecution's easy victory had vanished). A judge cannot stop a trial in the middle of proceedings because he fears the probable verdict.
The July 23rd court-martial faces a new obstacle.  Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported Saturday that the Army Court of Appeals has "granted a partial stay of defense motion.  It has given Fort Lewis prosecutors 10 days to respond to the defense arguments, and also extended to the defense the option of filing a second round of briefs."  Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reported Sunday that the Court declared: "Assembly of the court-martial and all proceedings ordinarily following assembly of the court-martial are hereby stayed."  Mitchell also notes that Watada's attorneys, Kenneth Kagan and James Lobsenz, argued "there was no 'manifest necessity' for the mistrial."  Now the prosecution will decided their next move. Bernton reports: "According to Lobsenz, once the briefs are filed, the appeals court could: dissolve the stay and allow the case to proceed; hear oral arguments and then issue a ruling; or issue a ruling based on a review of the briefs."
In other war resister news, Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on Agustin Aguayo's return to the United States and Aguayo discusses his time in Iraq, his reasons for enlisting and his resistance.  On his imprisonment in Germany, Aguayo states, "Initially it was that shocking moment.  I had never gotten in trouble in any kind of way.  Just two speeding tickets back when I started driving in 1990.  But on the other hand it was also a moment of peace where I could reflect and I'm really at peace because I finally have what I wanted for so long.  I wanted to be separated from the military because this is wrong, because morally I couldn't continue down this path."  Glantz notes the speaking tour Aguayo took part in along with Camilo Mejia (author of the just released Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia), Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala and how all four are Latino:  
"It's hard to overlook," Paredes told IPS.  "The evidence is pretty clear that there's a lot of Latino resistance.  Part of it is that we're disproportionately targeted for jobs that are high risk -- combat roles, infantry roles.  We make up a very small percentage of elit jobs like officers and Blue Angels [a naval aviation show squadron].  We make up only four percent of the officer corps but when the invasion started we were 20 percent of the infantry."
Jeff Paterson (at Courage to Resist and Indybay IMC) also reports on Aguayo's return to the US and the report includes many photos (including of Helga Aguayo's wife, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Pablo Paredes, Sean O'Neill and many more).  Jeff Paterson, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes join Michael Wong tonight on for the program Questioning War-Organizing Resistance which airs from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST. More information can be found in Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC).
US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.
Turning to Iraq, today is the 10th day since Alex R. Jimenez (25 y.o.), Joseph J. Anzack Jr. (20 y.o.) and Byron W. Fouty (19 y.o.) went missing following an attack that left 4 other US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator dead.  The three are assumed to be captured and the US military continues to search for them.  CBS and AP note, via CBS' Mark Strassman, that David Petraues, "top U.S. commander in Iraq," made a claim to the Army Times that "couldn't be confirmed.  Petraeus gave no details or proof."  His claim, also reported by Damien Cave of the New York Times on Sunday, is that he knows 2 of the 3 missing soldiers are still alive.  Cave did not note that there was no confirmation, no details nor any proof.  Cave did note that Petraues claims to know who captured the soldiers ("We know who that guy is").  At this point, there is little indication that Petraues knows anything.
CNN reports that the search was focused "around the site where they were attacked May 12 south of Baghdad."  Aaron Sheldrick (Bloomberg News) reported yesterday, "Thousands of U.S. personnel are still searching for three soldiers missing in Iraq since a May 12 ambush that killed four others and Iraqi army interpreter near Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.  The search is diverting soldiers from a security clampdown in Baghdad".


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