Thursday, November 08, 2007


Starting with war resisters.  September 21st, Nick Watt (ABC's Nighline) examined war resisters and noted the number of people being processed for desertion at Fort Knox "jumped 60% last year" (to 1,414 for Fort Knox -- US military figures) while concluding his report with, "If the total for the first six months of 2007 doubles by year end, it will become the highest annual total in twenty-six years."  Michael Sharp of the Military Counseling Network explained to Watt that last year he met with eight to ten people a month seeking a way out of the US military while, in 2007, it is fifteen to twenty a month: "One thing that is clear to me however is that the number is increasing, and the ranks of these people are increasingly higher.  I would say take the biggest number you ever get from the military and double it.  There is no reason for the military to give out that information."
Watt also spoke with war resister Chris Capps who served in Iraq and then checked out in March of this year, turned himself in after sixty days, and was discharged from the US military. 
Capps: How the reporting here outside of America is completely different . . . Yeah, it definitely made me think about what I was doing, what I was a part of.
. . . What was going on outside and what was going on inside Camp Victory were two completely different things.  It was like we put a little tiny America inside Baghdad and there was hell breaking loose outside our walls.  At first I was thinking about what I was doing.  My job was very compartmentalized, you know.  . . .  That [Abu Ghraib] was kind of a cut clear concise picture of what I was doing in Iraq.  I helped repair communications that were being used for things that were just wrong.  . . .  They've got mixed reactions, they don't know how to react to it.  I had a couple of people say, "Wow, that's impressive, that's awesome." . . .  I took a Greyhound down to Ok and I turned myself in at Fort Sill.
In Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq., Iraq War veteran Kelly Dougherty spoke about how, "My friends and I would discuss refusing.  We would dicuss the point at which we were going to refuse to follow orders because we felt that they were putting our lives in complete danger.  But as much as we talked, we never did anything.  When it came right down to it, you're either going to have to take a stand and suffer maybe the ultimate consequences or you're going to have to suffer maybe the ultimate consequence, which is death.  It was like, death is uncertain.  I know that if I refuse I'm going to get court-martialed.  So I guess I'll just choose possible death."  She also states, "I would say it takes a lot more courage to refuse to go and to stand up against the status quo and all your fellow soldiers than it takes to just go along with it."  Dougherty is one of the founders of  Iraq Veterans Against the War.  The organization's chair is war resister Camilo Mejia, the first veteran of the war to resist. 
From November 10 through December 16th, Mejia's words will be featured in a new play at Culture Project as it presents Rebel Voices -- based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States.  Along with Mejia, the voices of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured.  Zinn will take part in the November 18th presentation (opening night) and poet Staceyann Chinn and musician Allison Mooerer will hed the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold),  Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who appeared on Democracy Now! today addressing the US militarization of Africa)  The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play.  Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night).  The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here.  More information can be found at Culture Project
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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.
"Once the election brought the Democrats into more power than they had been in before, [some of our members] thought, 'Now something's going to happen, things are going to get better and the war's going to start coming to an end.'  But at the same time, a lot of people in the military [and] veterans didn't necessarily have a huge amount of faith that just by electing a few more people, it was going to drastically change the course of the war," IVAW's Kelly Cougherty speaking to Will Dean (Philadelphia City Paper).  Which didn't happen and who knew Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would adopt a Beasti Boys refrain ("Yes, yes, y'all -- you don't stop).  But she and her Posse In Effect or, more accurately, her Posse Ineffectual have done nothing to end the illegal war.  Robert Parry (Consortium News) terms it "Democrats' Year of Living Fecklessly" opening with, "One year ago, the Democrats ended Republican control of Congress, stirring millions of Americans to hope that George W. Bush's Iraq War and his assault on the U.S. Constitution finally would be stopped.  Twelve months later, many of those once-hopeful voters feel bitter disillusionment toward the national Democratic Party, which has surrendered in showdown after showdown with the weakened President, from continuing to write blank checks for the Iraq War to ceding more power to him for his surveillance operations."  Parry provides a Democratic Worst Flops collection, citing the Michael Mukasey Attorney General nomination moving from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor, the confirmation of the questionable (that's being kind) Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, the illegal wiretapping, the promise by Pelosi that it would be fixed after Congress' month-long summer break (still not fixed -- though immunity for the criminal actions of communications providers is getting a big push), Senator Carl Levin's historical ignorance, and more.  Sidebar, Robert Parry and sons Nat and Sam will be speaking at Busboys and Poests in Arlingtion, Virginia Saturday Nov. 17th from four p.m. to six p.m. discussing their new book Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.  Sam and Nat Parry have established their own journalist skills at Consortium News and they and Robert Parry can discuss any of the topics pertaining to the current administration but remember that Robert Parry has been doing investigative journalism for years and, if you're in that area or are visting it on the 19th, you'll have access to one of the most straighforward and determined journalists in this country.  More events may be scheduled later but mark your datebooks if you're in the area and note that this is the only event scheduled thus far for 2007.  Returning to the dismal Democratically-led Congress, Cindy Sheehan (writing at The Progressive) addresses the Democrats in the House shameful response to  Dennis Kucinich's motion to impeach president of vice (nod to Wally and Cedric) Dick Cheney: "Nancy Pelosi's selection as Speaker was groundbreaking, and way past time, as the first female Speaker, but she has been, not only a failure but a disaster to democracy.  She admitted it herself last week when she said she would give Congress low ratings, too.  She acts like she is a helpless player in this national order of things.  If only the world wasn't filled with 'Senators and Republicans,' then she would be able to do her job!  If the world wasn't filled with Senators, House Reps, Dems and Repugs, my son would still be alive and I would still be a working Mom in Vacaville, Ca."  Let's stay with Fancy Nancy and note her marker: January 4, 2007.  In November 2006, voters returned power of both houses of Congress to the Democrats and did so because they wanted the illegal war to end.  On January 4th, the 110th Congress was sworn in.  On that day, 3006 deaths had been announced.  Since the Democratically-controlled Congress was sworn in, 852 deaths have been announced.  The November 2006 election was about the war. The polls showed the voters saw it as about Iraq and the politicians certainly knew what it was about.  And Fancy Nancy did as well, telling Marc Sandalow (San Francisco Chronicle) in a story published two days before the November election, "This election is about Iraq. . . . If indeed it turns out the way that people expect it to turn out, the American people will have spoken, and they will have rejected the course of action the president is on. . . . A Democratic victory would be in the furtherance of reaching that goal.  Absent a Democratic vitory, we'll be there for the next 10 years."  She also told Sandalow that preventing the illegal Iraq War "is her greatest disappointment in public life."  She needs to add "prolonging the illegal war" to that list.  Corporate Crime Reporter's Russell Mokhiber (at CounterPunch) transcribes his questioning of Pelosi from Tuesday that begins with, "Isn't it true Madame Speaker that you single handledly could end the war in Iraq by not allowing the Iraq funding bill to go to the floor of the House?" Pelosi either lies in response or she doesn't even know how Congress works.  Mokhiber then points out other thing she could be doing (both the other things and the original action he asked of are things Democratic presidential contender Mike Gravel has repeateldy noted are powers the Congress has) but Fancy Nancy doesn't think it would "be effetive."  The Ineffectual evaluating effective?  Take a moment to laugh at Pelosi.  Pelosi then goes on to declare, "If there is anything that I'm disappointed in is that we haven't been able to end the war."  If there's anything she's disappointed in?  If?  She then lies again about the Senate.  The reality is the a filibuster stops a bill dead in the tracks.  The reality is day after day roll call votes on Iraq -- as Gravel has pointed out -- sends the message to Americans of who is prolonging the illegal war and who is trying to end it.  Pelosi's been useless before, now she's just making herself a public liar.  It's why she's sunk to an all time low in local polling (Bay Area).  Her negatives are now higher than her positives and that is a first for Pelosi.  That's what happens when you no longer represent the people who elected you and, in fact, when you don't even make a pretense of representing them. In the November issue of The Progressive, Lloyd Dangle's Troubletown ("Getting Tough, Dem Style") makes the point about the filubster option -- even a cartoon can convey the reality Pelosi runs from.  Pathetic Pelosi, Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports, is now announcing more faux-end-the-war-bills (it's not "legislation" until it passes both houses, is signed or vetoed and, if the latter, the veto is overridden) which takes the weak, non-binding measure that was vetoed last time and pushes it through again with $50 billion more for the illegal war.  "We'll end the war by funding it!"  Troops would remain in Iraq, the 'classification' systems would be left up to the Bully Boy who could classify 'combat' troops 'police' or 'counterterrorism' troops and not bring a single one home.  For those emerging from comas, the Pelosi-led House tried this shell game on the American people once already.  It did not go over well.

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