Saturday, October 06, 2007

THIS JUST IN! CONDI LOOKS FORWARD TO THE SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN!

 
HENRY WAXMAN, CHAIR OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT, BELIEVES THE PEN IS MIGHTER THAN THE SWORD.  HE ALSO BELIEVES THE PEN IS THE ONLY TOOL AVAILABLE.
 
 
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, SECRETARY RICE RESPONDED, "HE'S THREATENING A SHOWDOWN?  WELL BRING IT ON!  I ALWAYS LOVED THE PRICE IS RIGHT AND MY FAVORITE PART WAS THE SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN!"
 
REPRESENTATIVE WAXMAN'S OFFICE ADVISED THESE REPORTERS THAT WAXMAN WAS "COMPOSING HIS RESPONSE."
 

 
Starting with war resistance.  In June 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War.  As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday.  And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio.  Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday."  Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case.
Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial."  AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis."  Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."
 
In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week.  Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attempted
to enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was.  He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say.  They just started stuttering and mumbling."  Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver.  As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet".  McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions.  Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television.  McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters.  Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt.  Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system.  Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.
 
Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman.  Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations.  His command violated many.  The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience.  Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection.  What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice.  This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching.  It is not dramatic.  There is no epiphany.  There is reality.  Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another.  No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations."  Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman.  The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual.  (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial.  In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.)  Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up.  Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story.  Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience  is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year.  The other three are Aidan Delgado's  The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale.  Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything.  The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
compelling  Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006.  In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that."  Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen.  Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.
 
 
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, 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, 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 [(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.
 
Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal.  In a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . .  Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008."  Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports.  Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies.  The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US."  In addition, this week Canada refused entry to  CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright.  Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:
 
AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list.  And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.
 
 
 
 


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THIS JUST IN! CONDI LOOKS FORWARD TO THE SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN!

 
HENRY WAXMAN, CHAIR OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT, BELIEVES THE PEN IS MIGHTER THAN THE SWORD.  HE ALSO BELIEVES THE PEN IS THE ONLY TOOL AVAILABLE.
 
 
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, SECRETARY RICE RESPONDED, "HE'S THREATENING A SHOWDOWN?  WELL BRING IT ON!  I ALWAYS LOVED THE PRICE IS RIGHT AND MY FAVORITE PART WAS THE SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN!"
 
REPRESENTATIVE WAXMAN'S OFFICE ADVISED THESE REPORTERS THAT WAXMAN WAS "COMPOSING HIS RESPONSE."
 

 
Starting with war resistance.  In June 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War.  As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday.  And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio.  Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday."  Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case.
Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial."  AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis."  Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."
 
In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week.  Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attempted
to enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was.  He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say.  They just started stuttering and mumbling."  Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver.  As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet".  McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions.  Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television.  McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters.  Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt.  Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system.  Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.
 
Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman.  Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations.  His command violated many.  The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience.  Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection.  What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice.  This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching.  It is not dramatic.  There is no epiphany.  There is reality.  Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another.  No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations."  Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman.  The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual.  (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial.  In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.)  Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up.  Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story.  Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience  is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year.  The other three are Aidan Delgado's  The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale.  Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything.  The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
compelling  Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006.  In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that."  Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen.  Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.
 
 
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, 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, 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 [(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.
 
Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal.  In a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . .  Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008."  Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports.  Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies.  The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US."  In addition, this week Canada refused entry to  CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright.  Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:
 
AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list.  And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.
 
 
 
 


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

THIS JUST IN! COWARD DEAN SPITS ON FLORIDA!

 
THE STATE OF FLORIDA HAD THE GUTS TO SAY "ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE" DOES NOT MEAN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE GET TO GO FIRST EVERY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.  THE STATE OF FLORIDA MOVED UP THEIR PRIMARY AND HOWARD DEAN WHO LOST HIS VOICE, HIS SPINE AND HIS COMMON SENSE DECIDED THAT SINCE HE SOLD OUT EVERY DAMN SUPPORTER HE HAD IN 2004 WHEN HE CAMPAIGNED FOR PRESIDENT, SINCE HE WAS TOO MUCH OF A DAMN COWARD TO CALL FOR AN END TO THE ILLEGAL WAR TODAY, THE BEST THING TO DO WAS TO TRY TO PENALIZE FLORIDA BY STRIPPING THEM OF THEIR RIGHTS BY BARRING THE 210 FLORIDA DELEGATES FROM THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION NEXT YEAR.
 
EACH PRESIDENTIAL CYCLE, NEW HAMSPHIRE AND IOWA GET TO KICK THINGS OFF DESPITE THE WIDE SPREAD FRAUD IN IOWA AND DESPITE THAT THE UNION CONTAINS 50 STATES AND NOT 2.  THE PREDOMINATELY WHITE STATES OF NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IOWA DO NOT REFLECT THE FABRIC OF THE NATION AND POSSIBLY THAT'S WHY DEMOCRATS REPEATEDLY LOSE ELECTIONS -- 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 AND 2004?
 
EACH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE GET TO MEET ALL THE CANDIDATES FACE TO FACE.  THEY GET TO TALK TO THEM IN SMALL SETTINGS.  BY THE TIME THE PRIMARIES ROLL AROUND FOR THE REST OF THE STATES, MOST RESIDENTS ARE "LUCKY" IF THEY SEE A TELEVISION COMMERCIAL.
 
LIAR DEAN, COWARD DEAN, HOWARD ONCE AGAINST THE ILLEGAL WAR DEAN BECAME THE CHAIR OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY WITH THE MOTTO TO CAMPAIGN IN EVERY STATE.  BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FIRST PRIMARIES ALWAYS GO TO IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE.
 
LONG AGO, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SHOULD HAVE BEGUN ADDRESSING THIS BY OFFERING A ROTATION OF THE PRIMARIES EACH ELECTION CYCLE.  INSTEAD, IT HAS BEEN AS IF EACH SUMMER OLYMPICS GOES TO CHINA AND EACH WINTER OLYMPICS GOES TO SWITZERLAND.  IF THE OLYMPIC PLANNING COMMITTEE GRASPS THAT FAIRNESS MEANS ROTATION, IT'S A SIGN OF HOW IGNORANT OUR POLITICAL CLASS IS THAT THEY THINK ALWAYS SHOVING NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IOWA'S CHOICES DOWN THE THROATS OF THE OTHER 48 STATES FAIR, THAT ALWAYS ALLOWING EVERY OTHER STATE TO SIT IT OUT.  POOR HAWAII CAN'T EVEN COUNT ON A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE VISITNG THEIR STATE AFTER THE PRIMARY.
 
IT'S NOT FAIR.  IT'S NOT RIGHT.  THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PARTY IS EMBRACING CORRUPTION AND CRONYISM BY REFUSING TO RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE 50 STATES AND NOT JUST TWO.
 
 
DNC CHAIR COWARD DEAN LOST HIS VOICE ON THE ILLEGAL WAR AND MAKES A MOCKERY OUT OF HIS CLAIM TO PUT CAMPAIGNS INTO EACH STATE. 
 
 
Starting with war resisters.  On Tuesday came the news that US war resister Robin Long, who self-checked out and went to Canada, had been arrested in Canada the day prior.  Today Dharm Makwana (24 Hours Vancouver) reports, "Robin Long, an American army deserter, was released from Canada Border Services' custody yesterday after an anti-war activist posted a $5,000 cash bond" -- posted by Bob Ages of the War Resisters Support CampaignThe Canadian Press gives the detail of Robin Long's public statement, "A handcuffed Long told reporters at a detention review hearing that he left the U.S. Army two years ago and came to Canada because he felt it was a safe refuge.  Immigration officials will conduct a pre-removal risk assessment of Long before deciding whether he will be deported to the U.S." Robin Long has been released from jail, he is not 'free.'  Courage to Resist makes it clear: "He still faces a pre-removal risk assessment which could lead to deportation at a later time so the fight is not over yet."  Canada's CBC notes that during that "risk" assessment, Long "will live at a home in Delta while reporting to the department [Citizenship and Immigration Canada] once a month."  In a TV interview with CBC, Long noted, "It feels good to be out.  The fresh air feels really good. . . . When I got arrested and was sitting in the detention cell in Nelson, I was pretty sure I was going home right away.  I was pretty sure I would be deported.  The way that the immigration officer made it sound, I would be deported Friday.  That's not quite what happened and I'm very thankful for that."  What happened was Canadians got active and mobilized.   Organizations such as the War Resisters Support Campaign and the Canadian Peace Alliance, the New Democratic Party of Canada political party (click here for release in English, here for release in French) and individuals worked very hard and worked very quickly, raising awareness, getting the word out and ensuring that whatever happened would not happen in silence or shielded from the public.  The Prince George Citizen reports that Long has to report to the Canada Border Service Agency monthly and quote his attorney Warren Puddicombe stating the monitoring is due to the belief "that if he were removed to the U.S. he might not report voluntarily."  John Colebourn (The Province) covers the arrest and adds perspective, "In November, the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether to hear the cases of U.S. war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.  The decision is expected to have an impact on all war resisters now seeking sanctuary in Canada."  Referring to that decision, Long told CBC television, "Hopefully something will happen within the next couple of months with the [Canadian] government and maybe some kind of legal action will let us stay here other than the refugee protection." 
 
Other perspective was offered by Rod Mickleburgh (Canada's Globe and Mail) who points out, "His detention on Monday follows the bizarre apprehension earlier this year of Kyle Snyder, another war resister staying in Nelson, who was taken off to jail in the middle of a winter's night, wearing just a toque, a robe and his boxers.  Nelson police have refused to say on whose request they detained Mr. Snyder, or why they knocked on his door at 4 a.m. They released him three hours later, after learning that he was legally in Canada as a visitor."  The arrest of  Kyle Snyder came on the orders of the US and -- though Nelson police seem to have trouble grasping this -- the US cannot order around the police of Canada.  After Snyder was arrested, the department and its head, Dan Maluta, repeatedly altered their story on what happened and happened.  It was very similar to the way the visit to Winnie Ng's home repeatedly changed.  Following the publication of Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale, the US military decided to enter Canada.  Accompanied by a Canadian police officer, two members of the US military began searching for Key.  The trio went to Winnie Ng's home (she had housed Joshua and Brandi Key along with their children early on when they moved to Canada) and presented themselves -- all three -- as Canadian police as they began questioning her.  Ng told her story and was dismissed.  She was ridiculed by the police and the US military denied it.  But the story didn't go away and finally -- bit by bit -- it was learned that a Canadian police officer did escort two members of the US military around in their search for Key.  Everything Winnie Ng said happened, happened.  She stuck to her story and her story -- subsquently -- was proven accurate.  Which is why the latest sop tossed out by Dan Maluta is greeted with skepticsm and Manluta is under investigation for his actions in Snyder's arrest.  In the US media, only Gregory Levey (Salon) covered these earlier instances.
 
Long explains his reasons for resisting to CBC TV, "Because I feel the war in Iraq is an illegal war of aggression and its an indiscriminate killing of the Arab people and I believe it's all for lies and the wrong reasons so I couldn't with good conscience take part in that conflict. . . .  When I joined the army, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing.  I was lied to by my president.  I -- The reasons that were given, I thought were valid but just because I joined the army didn't mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally and what I saw in the independent media and even in mainstream media changed my view of what was going on over there.  And based on what I learned, I made a decision to desert." 
 

We need to keep up the pressure on Canadian politicians for a political solution to the plight of US war resisters. Canada should make a provision for them all to be allowed to stay.
It is urgent that everyone who supports the right of US war resisters to stay in Canada immediately contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley and Leader of the Liberal Party St├ęphane Dion and request that they make a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.         
Prime Minister Stephen Harper          
Fax: 613-941-6900 | Email:
pm@pm.gc.ca   This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley    
Phone: 613-954-1064 (between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.)   
Email:
Minister@cic.gc.ca This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  
St├ęphane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party    
Phone: 613-996-5789 | Email:
dion.s@parl.gc.ca      
 
Long's reasons aren't unique and as the realities of the lies the war was sold and the realities of the lies still being used to sell the illegal war are unmasked, more decide to resist.  Jonah House and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker have issued a petition  calling (link goes to Courage to Resist cross-posting) for those serving to "Refuse to fight!  Refuse to kill!  You are being ordered to war in the footsteps of veterans, who, more than 10 years ago, were sent to fight the first Gulf War.  Many of those vets returned with severe and unacknowledge illnesses.  Many gave birth to severely deformed children.  All were abandoned by the Veterans Administration.  You are being ordered to war by a nation whose self-acknowledged posture is that of world domination, mastery, control.  This nation can have no moral justification for war."
 
Ehren Watada is another war resister.  In June of 2006, he became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War.  He cited the illegal nature of the war and his concern that, as an officer, serving would also mean putting those serving under him at risk of war crimes.  Prior to going public, Watada spent months working with the military brass on a solution.  They gave the impression that is what they wanted but that obviously wasn't the case because not only did they shoot down alternatives (such as Watada serving in Afghanistan), they appeared to be attempting to run the clock out.  As Watada's deployment date loomed ever closer, he went public.  In August 2006, he faced the Article 32 hearing. In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided over the court-martial of Watada; however, it didn't go the way the military would have liked with the prosecution's case falling apart on the second day.  On the third day, Judge Toilet suddenly declared a problem with a stipulation (which he had seen before the court-martial began, which he had signed off on).  He attempted to convince Watada that he (Ehren) now disagreed with the stipulation.  Watada stated he didn't disagree.  Judge Toilet then tossed out mistrial to the prosecution who didn't immediately grasp the lifeline they were being handed.  Once they did, it was all, "Yes, Judge Toilet!  We move for a mistrail!"  Over defense objection, Judge Toilet declared a mistrial in his attempt to hand the prosecution a "do over."  However, that's not how the legal system works in the United States and military courts are as bound by the Constitution as every other court.  As Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) has noted, double-jeopardy had already attached.  Double-jeopardy forbids a defendant being tried more than once for the same offense.  Since double-jeopardy had attached, Judge Toilet calling a mistrial (over defense objection) means that the military blew their chances at court-martialing Watada. That's the brief summary thus far.  On Tuesday, Watada is scheduled -- Constitution be damnend and shredded apparently -- to face a second court-martial.
 
Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reports, "In an unusual appeal to civilian courts, attorneys for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada have asked a federal judge in Seattle to block a military court-martial scheduled to start Tuesday at Fort Lewis.  Watada faces up to six years in prison on charges of failure to deploy to Iraq and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer." 
Bernton notes that in August (one year after the Article 32 hearing) the Army Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the defense claims and that the matter now lies with the Court of Appeal for the Armed Forces. Watada's attorneys have maintained that the best chance is with that court due to its makeup.  Currently defense is waiting to hear on the latest round of appeals.  Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, "Their request is pending before the nation's top military court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Worried a decision won't arrive before the court-martial begins, they filed a request Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking a judge's order to stop the trial."  Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that the attorneys Kenneth Kagan and Jim Lobsenz (Carney Badley Spellman)  are requestin "an emergency stay in a Seattle federal court because the Appeals Court for the Armed Forces has not ruled and the trial date is quickly approaching" and "Among other remedies, Watada's lawyers have asked the federal court in Seattle 'to issue a writ of habeas corpus releasing (Watada) from all restraint imposed by the pending court-martial charges, and declaring any trial on such charges to be barred and prohibited by the double-jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment'."  Barber notes that Watada's service contract long ago expired and the military is extending it solely for the court-martial.
 
 
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, 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, 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 [(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.
 
Turning to peace news, Andy Sullivan (Reuters) kind of reported on the peace movement yesterday.  As Elaine and I noted last night, from the small (United for Peace and Justice has a national cooridnator named Leslie Cagan not "Kagan") to the large (the number of people attending rallies), Sullivan was short on facts.  Often the case when you have a 'trend story' to sell.  Sullivan's trend was that divisions in the peace movement (which do exist) are resulting in lower turnout (which is not fact).  To 'prove' his 'trend,' he had to fudge the facts.  Noting that UPFJ held a rally last January with at least 100,000 attending, Sullivan then moved to last month's ANSWER rally which he insisted was attended by only "10,000" people.  Those of us present know that is not accurate (we also know A.N.S.W.E.R. was one coalition sponsor for the rally but Sullivan can't be bothered with that because his sub-trend -- his trend within a trend -- is exploring ANSWER's history) and press accounts also reported 100,000 present.  To make his trend work, Sullivan has to eliminate 90,000 people. Divisions do exist and that's certainly worth exploring but no honest exploration can take place when a reporter doesn't know the estimated attendance (in this case, heavily reported estimates).   In other peace news, on a recent trip to Canada, Ann Wright was stopped at the border and only allowed to enter after much hassle.  Wright is retired US State Dept and a retired Col. in the US military.  Yesterday, Wright and CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin attempted to enter Canada "crossing near Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition in Toronto."  As CODEPINK notes, "At the Buaffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry. . . .  The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience."  Benjamin explains, "In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world.  For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country."  Wright declares, "The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies.  The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country."  The delivery of the petition Benjamin is speaking of also saw Missy Comley Beattie, Patti Ackerman and Cindy Sheehan arrested for the 'crime' of intent to use freed speech.  At Common Dreams, Sheehan writes of the Imagine Peace project Yoko Ono has started to honor her late husband John Lennon,  "Peace will only happen when every member of humanity is guaranteed prosperity, health and security which will not happen when we here in the US can't even get off our asses to protest a war that is four and a half years and hundreds of thousands of bodies old, now.  We can imagine peace all we want but until each and everyone of us is willing to sacrifice some of our prosperity (because we have already had our security robbed from us by the rotten Republicans and complicit corporate Democrats) true peace -- not just the absence of war -- will be as elusive as a morsel of truth or modicum of courage coming out of Washington, DC.  Voluntary sacrifice is truly a revolutionary concept here in the United States of America.  So you say you want a revolution?  Imagine that."  Carolyn Jones (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that a marine recruiting station in Berkeley (sandwiched between UC Berkeley and Berkeley High) is now the site for weekly protests each Wednesday by CODEPINK and Grandmothers Against the War that began last week when the low profile recruiting station was discovered.
 
[. . .]
 
Heads up on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal (this Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of?  Should the US strike Iran.  A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well.  Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station).  Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War.  On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes."  They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card).
 
 


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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

THIS JUST IN! THEY JUST SHOT BAMBI'S DREAM!

 
THE UNSINKABLE HILLARY CLINTON TAP DANCED ACROSS THE TITANIC THAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY YET AGAIN TODAY.  FOREVER LEADING IN ALL THE POLLS, SHE BEAT BAMBI OBAMA IN FUNDRAISING FOR THE QUARTER EVEN WITH BAMBI'S CAMPAIGN USING 'CREATIVE ACCOUNTING' TO COUNT T-SHIRT AND KEY CHAIN SALES AS "DONATIONS."
 
WHEN REACHED FOR A COMMENT BARACK "BAMBI" OBAMA TOLD THESE REPORTERS HE WASN'T OVERLY CONCERNED, "SAMMY POWER IS PLANNING A  TRUMPED UP 'HUMAN RIGHTS' SCANDAL THAT WE WILL USE AS A COVER TO ADVOCATE AN AIR STRIKE ON SENATOR CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS."
 
WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE LEGAL AND MORAL ASPECTS OF STRIKING A CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS -- PRESUMABLY STAFFED WITH INNOCENTS -- BAMBI REFUSED TO COMMENT AND INSISTED HE HAD TO GO BECAUSE IT WAS NAP TIME AND HENRY KISSINGER HAD JUST ARRIVED TO READ HIM THE LITTLE WAR HAWK WHO COULD.
 
BAMBI HUNG UP BEFORE WE COULD ASK HIM ABOUT HIS LOYAL DONOR WHO IS UNDER FEDERAL INDICTMENT.  A STORY MUCH OF THE PRESS APPEARS TO HAVE FORGOTTEN.
 
 
Starting with war resistance.  Yesterday, NDP (New Democratic Party of Canada) announced their support for war resister Robin Long arrested in Nelson British Columbia citing Olivia Chow (iimigration critic) and parliament member Alex Atamanenko (click here for release in English, here for release in French).  The War Resisters Support Campaign also issued a statement of support.  Today a support rally was held in Toronto.  Timothy Schafer (Vancouver Sun) reported yesterday on Long's arrest "on Baker Street by police on a nation-wide warrant" according to Klaus Offermann who visited the jail to protest and tells Schafer that, "The city of Nelson is arrest-central for war resistors in Canada" -- referencing the February 23rd arrest of Kyle Snyder (hauled off in his boxers at the request of the US military).  Today, Schafer (at Canada's Globe and Mail) cotinues covering the story and notes the cover story just issued by police chief Dan Maluta: Robin Long was smoking pot in public with four other people and that's why he was arrested! Of course the reality from eye witnesses is different and of course three others weren't arrested with Long. But it's more of the lies the Nelson city police have become famous for.  Did that announced investigation in Maluta and the department ever get completed?  Yes, it was signed to one of Maluta's personal friends, which should only mean the white wash moved even faster than usual.   The cover story comes out after last night's strong show of support for Robin Long at the police station.  Now LIAR Maluta said what about the arrest of Kyle Snyder?  Oh, that's right, he repeated lies non-stop and that's why an investigation was required because it got so bad there was no doubt he was lying. 
 
While Long is under attack in Canada, in the US Ehren Watada is scheduled to face court-martial number two next week -- despite the very clear Constitutional provision against double-jeopardy.  Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the court-martial is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, that Watada will be represented by Ken Kagan and James Lobsenz, that Watada service contract ended in December 2006 but the US military elected to extend it and that, "The Army has refiled four charges against Watada, including one count of missing a deployment and two counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer.  Those counts cover statements Watada made criticizing the Iraq war and President Bush.  Conviction on all counts could mean nearly eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge."  AP's brief story is only six sentences long.  It will pop up everywhere which is why the factual mistakes in it are all the more glaring. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War.  He will also be the first officer in which double-jeopardy is tossed out, in which the Constitution is completely shredded, if the second court-martial goes through.  The more war resisters there are, the more nervous the military brass gets.
 
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, 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, 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 [(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.
 
Turning to the topic of Blackwater, John M. Broder (New York Times) and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) got into a nasty slap fight today as both used their papers to argue, "No!  I love Erik Prince more!"  Broder apparently sat through yesterday's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform fantasizing about Erik Prince (Blackwater CEO) instead of paying attention (maybe he's turned on by the crook of a neck?).  Spiegel saw him as really, really cool and not suffering from the big head at all, but, like, a guy you can really, really talk to! which is why he referred to Prince answering "questions politely" -- in what world is repeatedly rolling your eyes, smirking and turning your head in disgust "polite"?  Desperate to proclaim (in his very best Melrose Place manner), "Paws off, Petey, I saw Prince first," Broder raves over Prince's attire ("trim") and "blond hair" with "a fresh cut." 
 
 
JEREMY SCAHILL: When Erik Prince stepped into the room, he was mobbed by photographers, and he came in, not with an army of armed mercenaries, but with an army of lawyers and advisers. And one of the people with him was Barbara Comstock, who's a well-known Republican operative and a crisis management consultant. Blackwater had the first and second rows basically empty behind Mr. Prince, with the exception of his team of advisers and his consiglieri, and an unidentified man on several occasions during the course of the hearing himself interrupted the hearings and asked Henry Waxman to be able to consult with Prince. And then, what would result from that is that Erik Prince would turn around, and his advisers and lawyers would pile around him like a sports team plotting out their next play. It was very dramatic.  
And I think that the issue here is that the Democrats really, I feel, dropped the ball on many of the most important issues surrounding Blackwater. Yes, there were some important questions raised. But for the most part, they steered away from some of the most devastating and violent incidents involving the company. The ambush at Fallujah in March of 2004, for instance, wasn't addressed at all, except in passing. And there were a number of family members of the four Blackwater operatives who were killed in that incident. That's a crucial one for the Congress to investigate, not only because of the allegations that Blackwater sent those four men into Fallujah in unarmored vehicles, short two men, and without heavy weapons, but because of the enormous price that Iraqi civilians paid for the deaths of those four corporate employees, the Bush administration ordering the leveling of Fallujah and, of course, the inflammation of the Iraqi resistance. There are a number of other incidents that never came up in the hearing.   
I think that what needs to happen is that Erik Prince needs to become a more frequent visitor to Capitol Hill than his industry lobbyists have been over the past several years, and his visits should always begin with his right hand raised and cameras in front of him.
 
In other news of violence, Robert Parry (Consortium News) explores the death squads Bully Boy has created for Iraq and Afghanistan.  These are the "kill teams," the "bait and kill teams," the teams war resister James Burmeister went public on last June and the mainstream media 'discovered' last week.  Parry writes, "The ugly image of Americans killing unarmed Iraqis also helps explain the growing hostility of Iraqis toward the presence of U.S. troops.  While the Bush administration has touted the supposed improved security created by the 'surge' of additional U.S. troops into Iraq, a major poll found Iraqis increasingly object to the American occupation."  On a related note, Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports:  "US military officials in Baghdad on Wednesday defended their support of local anti-insurgent volunteer organisations, the day after the country's largest political bloc attacked the programme as an 'adventure' and accused participants of kidnap and murder. The controversy over the scheme, which is a centrepiece of the US military's new strategy in Iraq, has flared as these local alliances against al-Qaeda spread from their point of origin in the western province of al-Anbar to other Sunni and even some Shia parts of Iraq."
 
 
 


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