Monday, August 06, 2007


Starting with war resistance. "Justice is justified by what the elite want to justify." So said Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, yesterday. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and whose court-martial (February 2007) ended in a mistrial, over defense objection, when the defense was clearly leading. The next court-martial is scheduled for October. It may or may not take place. Issues involving the first court-martial are working their way through the appeals court. Bob Watada was speaking in Eugene, Oregon yesterday at Alton Baker Park. Andrea Damewood (The Register-Guard) reports approximately 150 gathered to "remember the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Jagasaki, Japan, . . . to remind that the weapons that unleashed such horror 62 years ago are more plentiful today. . . . With dusk approaching, peace activists moved to the duck pond where they lit tea candles and placed them in paper bags. The bags glowed orange as they caught the wind and set out as small beacons of hope, before slowly extinguish-ing. Koto zither music tinkled softly, and traditional Butoh dancers, painted entirely white, were silhouetted against the darkening sky."

On a similar horror scale, in the illegal Iraq War, torture has taken place repeatedly, most infamously at Abu Ghraibl In Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, he recounts his own journey which does include a stint at Abu Ghraib (beginning in November of 2003) when a prison uprising took place. From pages 150 to 152 of Delgado's book:

"Did y'all hear about the riot?"
This is how I learn what happened on the other side of the camp during the prisoner demonstration. Sergeant McCullough tells the story with quiet enthusiasm, nodding and gesturing for emphasis. Just after one o'clock, the prisoners in the Ganci compounds -- the eight razor-wire enclosures outside the prison wall, where most of the detainees are held -- began to riot, or at least that's what the Army called it, though I learn later they were mostly just marching and chanting. In essence, the prisoners were upset about their living conditions: cold weather and the lack of blankets, jackets, and warm clothing. They were also complaining about the food, which they claimed was often served spoiled or infested with vermin, and was generally inadequate. On top of this, the representative protested the confiscation of the prisoners' tobacco and not being able to smoke. They had been marching and demonstrating for several days in a row. The demonstration got out of control and turned violent. The prisoners started throwing stones and pieces of wood from the tent floor. The MPs on duty responded with nonlethal rounds: rubber bullets, beanbags, and tear gas. In Sergeant McCullough's telling, one of the prisoners threw a rock and hit a soldier in our company, Specialist Pitts, in his face.
Sergeant McCullough expresses his anger at seeing one of his soldiers' faces bloodied. At some point during the demonstration, he can't say exactly when, they get the order to use lethal force. He tells us that he knelt down behind a barrier, loaded his weapon, said a prayer, then stood up and fired. He says he thinks he hit three prisoners and he knows he killed one. In total, twelve prisoners are shot and three of those die of their wounds. He says one of the prisoners was shot in the head and his face split open like in the movie Terminator 2. Another prisoner had been hit in the groin, and according to this account, the guards left him on the ground and he bled to death. He says they took pictures of the bodies after the shooting. They got copies in the TOC.
[. . .]
At first I don't know what to think or say. I only know that I am bothered. It takes a few minutes to process. Then I think, This is a little f**ked-up. He shot an unarmed prisoner on the other side of a barbed-wire fence for throwing a stone. Four people are dead for throwing stones in protest of their living conditions. Don't judge, I remind myself, you weren't there, you didn't see it. Maybe the action was necessary. They were probably afraid for their lives. Then I look to my left and right and see the young guys in my unit: laughing, smiling, talking about how much they wished they had "gotten one" too. I reconsider. This is f**ked up.

Speaking on Democracy Now! today, Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, answered Amy Goodman's question as to what "a body of lawyers" can do in terms of dealing with the illegal war: "We [National Lawyers Guild] have a new joint anti-war task force which is cooridinating our work, the Military Law Task Force which counsels thousands of GIs every month who are disenchanted, who don't want to go back to Iraq, who want to file for consientious objection status, some of them go to Canada. We have Mass, a huge Mass Defense Project where we do legal observing at anti-war demonstrations and we have an international committee that deals with these issues as well. We are putting out literature to try to convince members of Congress who don't think that high crimes and misdemeanors have been committed by the Bush administration that in the fact the war is illegal, it's not a mistake. And so we've been cooridinating all of our work and really focusing the major part of our work on ending the occupation." Among the literature NLG has released is (hot off the presses last week) Punishing Protest written by Heidi Boghosian (available online in PDF format for free and avaible in book format for $3 at the National Lawyers Guild website). The accounts from legal observers at demonstrations (on Iraq, on WTC and more) provide a strong *spine* to Boghosian's report.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

Bob Watada wasn't the only one taking part in Sunday's Peace day. David Collins (The New Mexican) reports that IVAW's Adam Kokesh took part in the Sante Fe action and spoke of how he'd be willing to return to Iraq: "I'd like to organize some nonviolent resistance to the occupation. If the Iraqi people can get as many millions of protesters as they can when Sadr (Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) says get in the streets, imagine what they could do if they just sat in around the bases there, prevented convoys from leaving the bases." Staying with IVAW, A.N.S.W.E.R. notes "Iraq War Veterans to Lead Mass 'Die-In' During September 15 Antiwar Demonstration to Coincide with Congressional War Debate" which will take place in DC; however, those with DC burnout, don't tune out yet, the mass "die-in" does demonstrate this will not be reheated left-overs. A.N.S.W.E.R. notes: "Those organizing for the September 15th demonstration include the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Ramsey Clark, United States Labor Against the War, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans; Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney; Veterans for Peace (National); Iraq Veterans Against the War; Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America; Rev. Lenox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus; Code Pink; Father Roy Bourgeois and Eric LeCompte, School of Americas Watch; Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising; Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder Appeal for Redress; Liam Madden, Pres. Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and co-founder of Appeal for Redress; Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Collective, New Orleans; Howard Zinn, Author and Historian; Carolos & Melida Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace. . . . To make arrangements for interviews with antiwar leaders, organizers, activists and military families, call Sarah Sloan at 202-904-7949." A.N.S.W.E.R. also notes CODEPINK will stage a September 17th "Peoples March Inside Congress." Saturday is the 15th, Monday is the 17th. There will be other actions in DC but the two may bring a new excitement to 2007 (and September 17th isn't that far away so CODEPINK will hopefully put some information up specifically about the "People March Inside Congress"). While we're noting actions (and being fully aware of what a downer DC is seen as on most campus currently -- hopefully the above actions will build some excitement) let's not that Congress is out of session until September 4th and United for Peace and Justice encourages you to think globaly by acting locally -- meet with your representatives and senators who should be in their home districts (reps) and in their home states (senators). Since they are home, today also is the re-launch for the Occupation Project -- where nonviolent menas are used to occupy congressional offices. SDS -- Students for a Democratic Society -- is one week away from their action camps to be held in Lancaster, Penn (August 13-16th). SDS just finished their National Convention in Detroit. James Neshewat (CounterPunch) reports the convention addressed the theory of oppression.

World Can't Wait has their Orange Summer where each Friday, they're asking people to wear the color orange to show that the time is past due to "Drive Out the Bush Regime!" Orange because "the color that has been assigned to those detained and tortured with no due process". [Scott Horton (Harper's magazine) addresses new realities with "The Boot is Descending" as does Robert Parry (Consortium News) in "Bush Gets a Spying Blank Check."]

And of course Iraq Veterans Against the War and Tina Richards and Military Families Speak Out continue to get the word out: "Funding the war is Killing Our Troops." It's a message boiled down to the basics. One that will help destroy the nonsense pushed by the administration and some members of Congress that funding the illegal war is offering 'protection' to anyone.

At Military Families Against the War (UK), Tracy Hughes writes of having a son is in the Royal Engineers and how the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) "are using our brave children as political pawns. The people who are responsible for them being there, (Tony Blair and George Bush) have the blood of hundreds of troops on their hands, we can only pray that our new prime minister will see what a fiasco Iraq and Afghanistan are and get our troops out of there asap."

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