Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Starting with war resistance.  The Berkeley Daily Planet notes He Stood Up: The Mistrial of Lt. Ehren Watada shows at the Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists (1924 Cedar at Bonita) Friday at seven p.m.  He Stood Up, The Judge Bailed Out, The Mistrial of Lt. Ehren Watada is a documentary from PepperSpray Productions.  The film opens with Ehren Watada explaining why he began researching the Iraq War upon learning he would be deploying, "I remember my former commander told me when I was stationed in Iraq it's your responsibility to know everything you can about what you're going to undertake and if you don't that's a disservice to your soldiers."  So began Watada's odyssey which would lead him to become (June 2006) the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  The documentary focuses on the February court-martial that ended in a mistrial when Judge Toilet (aka John Head) saw that the prosecution was losing and called a mistrial just as the defense was about to present their argument.  The mistrial was called over defense objection.  As National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has observed, double- jeopardy had already attached to the case.
Watada's future?  Friday when the documentary is shown in Berkeley, the current stay, issued by US District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle, expires Friday, November 9th.  Settle issued the stay to review the double-jeopardy issue and other motions.  The documentary takes you back to the February court-martial when Judge Toilet wanted Watada to stand trial for his actions but refused to allow the actions to be explained -- in other words, Toilet refused to allow the defense to make a case -- even before he called a mistrial over defense objection.
In addition, he refused to allow the defense's witnesses to testify including Denis Halliday, Marjorie Cohn, Stacy Bannerman, Antonia Juhasz, Richard Falk,  Daniel Ellsberg, Francis Boyle, Ann Wright, IVAW's Geoffrey Millard, war resister Darrell Anderson and others.
Early in the documentary, Ann Wright, retired Col. and State Department, explains, "I think we have a military judge who knows full well that his career is on the line.  There's lots of pressure that's been brought by the Bush administration on the military, military justice, military lawyers.  You have the Judge Advocate Generals of the four military services who, back in 2001, 2002, were slapped down by the Bush administration for daring to suggest that the Geneva Conventions should apply to the people taken from Afghanistan and other parts of the world.  You have the military that was standing up saying habeas corpus ought to apply to the people that we've had imprisoned for five years and it's the Bush administration that's saying, 'No, we won't have it.'  So I have no doubts that there's a lot of pressure on this military court.  The Bush administration doesn't want a First Lieutenant to be able to argue the legality of  the war in Iraq.  They don't want that at all."
Which explains why the attempted kangaroo-court-martial in the first place.  Watada's research demonstrated that the Iraq War was illegal.  That's why he refused to deploy.  Originally, he attempted to find an alternative -- the US military indicated they were willing to explore that as well.  Instead, it became obvious the military was hoping to stall and that, faced with impending deployment, Watada was just head off to Iraq.  In June of 2006, months later, he went public with his refusal and why he had reached the decision.  The Watada National Steering Committee is calling for vigils on the first and third Saturdays of every month to show support for Watada.
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.
Have you heard the spin?  Iraqi families are returning!  Turning and returning!  To some secret place inside!  Why it's like Cherie Karo Schwartz' Circle Spinning -- except those were Jewish Folk Tales.  These? Consider them US Government-Iraqi folk tales.  CBS and AP, without even serving you some cookies, want to tuck you in with a tale of a vast returning to Iraq -- saying that those who had fled "abroad" are returning "with more than 46,000 people coming home last month, an Iraqi government spokesman said Wednesday."  It, they tell you, is due to the 'improving security situation'.  No, the nonsense is repeated because two new outlets lack basic sense.    Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) notes, "The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which tracks the movement of displaced Iraqis, said Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration had registered the return of some 3,350 families, or 20,000 people, to Baghdad since January. Most had come from other areas within Iraq. Dana Graber, an Iraqi displacement expert at IOM in Jordan, said she had not seen the figures referred to by Moussawi and could not comment on the apparent discrepancies."  Do you get it?  IOM -- which actually tracks -- says 20,000 returned since January and the US' puppet government in Iraq declares 46,000 returning in the last month.  Realizing that the lie was laughable (even though the press picked it up), the US military has attached a new qualifier to today's spin which is "border crossings."  That's how the Iraqis are tracking this!  Border crossings!  For those who've forgotten, the earlier attempted lie presented returns to Baghdad, returning to their homes.  Today's lie is still a lie.  Some of those fleeing the country do return -- when the money runs out and there is no employment in the host country.  This is well documented by relief agencies.  But the new lie is that it's border crossings!  So laughable, so insane, so pathetic.  But some -- CBS and AP? -- enjoy having their intelligence insulted.  Iraq's not counting at the borders -- all the borders are not secure and many borders that are depend upon the US military.  But let's all play stupid and repeat the lie?  Apparently that's how it's supposed to work.  CBS and AP note, in passing, that the same flack for the US-Iraq military demands that the Iraqi Red Crescent "give reasons behind this hugh number" referring to the 2.3 million Iraqis who have left the country due to the violence.  Instead of helping Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi smear an international relief agency, the two outlets should try to doing their own jobs.  Reuters managed to do its job. 2.3 million is not a large number.  The United Nations has been (PDF format warning) using the figure 2.2 million for about a month now.  And, the lies pushed earlier in the week (CBS fell for those as well) came out of the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration and Sattar Nawroz spoke then providing laughter for anyone listening.  Again, border crossing weren't brought up then, you just had Nawroz insisting only his ministry had the official figures!  His official figures were laughable then as well.  Especially amusing in the lies is that earlier in the week, November 4th, the puppet government -- via Nawroz -- was insisting approximately 15,500 individuals had returned to Baghdad and surrounding areas from outside of the country.  Three days later, Qassim Moussawi (also a flack -- don't let the Brig. Gen. title fool you) announces 46,600 peoples have returned to Baghdad -- 46,000 people!  Even those bad at math (CBS News?) should be able to see that's an increase of over 30,000 families in three days -- the borders must have been trampled!  As we noted Monday, "You really have had to been sleeping throughout the Iraqi refugee crisis to pen something like the above. The return numbers are questionable just because Iraq is not officially tracking the numbers. It's equally true that report after report (whether mainstream press or relief agency) has noted returning to Iraq is based upon one thing and one thing only -- running out of money."  What's really going on is that the refugee crisis is an embarrassment for the White House and the puppet government so they're attempting to Lancet the United Nations and the Red Crescent, attempting to muddy the waters by attacking the figures (which are accurate) and some outlets happily go along.
In fact, reality on the state of Iraq these days comes not from the professional media but from journalism students such as Matthew Chavez (University of New Mexico's The Daily Lobo):
The Associated Press figures show a decline in American and Iraqi fatalities, especially in Baghdad and Anbar province. But these and other figures should be viewed skeptically -- some sources, such as a recent Agence France-Presse tally, show civilian fatalities slightly increased between September and October, and official agencies are known to underestimate casualty statistics. U.S. military reporting rules, for example, designate corpses with wounds in the back of the head sectarian killings; the front, criminal. Further, an October 30 Government Accountability Office study notes that military reporting of civilian fatalities "may underreport incidents of Shia militias fighting each other and attacks against Iraqi security forces in southern Iraq and other areas with few or no coalition forces." Despite the decreased violence, 2007 is scheduled to be the deadliest year on record for U.S. occupation forces.

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