DOES HE PAY ATTENTION TO ANYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH OR IS HE OFF HIS MEDS?
WHEN THESE REPORTERS CONFRONTED BAM-BAM IN IOWA YESTERDAY, HE SNAPPED, "I AM A ROCK STAR! YOU WOULDN'T TREAT MICHAEL BOLTON OR ANNE MURRAY THIS WAY!"
Starting with war resisters. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today
, "There has been a development in the case of Ehren Watada -- the first Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. A federal judge has ruled the Army cannot hold a second court-martial for the Iraq war resister until the court resolves Watada's claim that it would violate his right against double jeopardy. Watada's first court martial ended in a mistrial." Ehren Watada
is the first officer to publicy refuse to deploy to Iraq. When he was informed he would be deploying to Iraq, he did as his superiors had advised him, learn as much as he could so he could better serve those under his command. As he began researching, he realized that the Iraq War was illegal. In January 2006, he phoned his mother, Carolyn Ho, to advise her that he was going to be doing something very difficult, refusing to deploy. Shortly after that, he informed the US military which made the pretense of wanting to work out some sort of alternative. As his unit's deployment grew closer and nothing was being accomplished, Watada went public via an interview in June 2006. The initial interview was followed by others. He would tell his story on Democracy Now!
, on MTV, on CNN, at Truthout
, in LeftTurn
, New American Media, Nichi Bei Times
, and many other outlets. His mother Carolyn Ho, his father Bob Watada, his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi would appear in multiple outlets including, again, Democracy Now!, Laura Flanders
' radio program, Law and Disorder
's Sojourner Truth
's The Morning Show
and Aaron Glantz
's reporting on all aspects would spread the issue over all of KPFA's programming, etc. Rolling Stone
magazine would put Watada on their "Honor Roll" for the 2006 year-end issue
. Watada, as the first officer to resist, would garner more attention than any other Iraq War resister thus far and, in doing so, underscore several realities. Of chief interest to war resisters and those who support war resisters, the silence from The Nation
magazine. Readers of the print magazine would make it through the end of the 2006 issues of the weekly 'political' and 'left' magazine without ever seeing the words "Ehren Watada" though there was plenty of time to provide glossy fluff on bad candidates (the DLC's Harold Ford being only one example) and to do 'theme' issues (such as their food issue). There just wasn't time to cover war resisters. Watada would finally make it into print in the January 8th issue (actually a double-issue but we're not going into that nonsense) where he would be called a "coward." The magazine that sat out Watada (and Abeer) throughout 2006 finally prints his name and it's in a statement calling him a coward. (No e-mails on the 'online exclusives,' they were covered long ago
.) The article's a cover story (done by The Pooper) and it also contains a tiny sidebar that kind-of, sort-of tells Watada's story . . . after The Nation
has already introduced him to print readers as a "coward." It was a telling event that would finally call to everyone's attention the magazine silence on war resisters under the 'leadership' of The Peace Resister
. In their laughable article over the summer of 2007, they would manage to insult everyone participating (left, center and right) but the telling moment (after the fact that they wanted praise for an article which bragged of "dozens" of photos of abuse to Iraqis but printed NONE -- the photos did and do exist) would be in the way they reduced war resisters -- Camilo Mejia was a "deserter" (that call is in question since the military legally could not extend -- as they did -- Mejia's enlistment through stop-loss since Mejia was not a US citizen) but he wasn't billed as a "war resister." The coverage and non-coverage of Watada was a water-shed moment in many ways which did include instructing news consumers on who stood with and who stood far, far away. It's also worth noting that many other resisters went public in the wake of Watada: Darrell Anderson, Agustin Augyo, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilcox, Ricky Clousing and . . . stop there. Stop there and don't continue because that's how All Things Media Big and Small
, with every few exceptions, have treated 2007's crop of war resisters. Despite the fact that 2007 is set to be a record year -- according to the military's own official numbers -- for war resistance, emerging war resisters fell off the media map. James Burmeister was the strongest example. Either you followed Canadian media or you caught NOW with David Brancaccio
or you didn't have a clue. Too bad for everyone because the last week of September "kill teams" (US service members setting out equpiment as traps to shoot Iraqis) would become a huge story but Burmeister was telling the story when he went public in June of 2007. Eli Israel would remain "Eli Who?" to All Things Media Big and Small
despite the fact that he became the first war resister resisting publicly while stationed in Iraq. The Kamunen brothers? In These Times
could find them when no one else in independent media could or would. The mainstream media showed some interest because three brothers -- Leo, Leif and Luke -- all electing to self-checkout over the same Christmas 2006 holiday was news . . . to some.
Watada is big Iraq news today and yet, at The Nation
, the main page features nothing. No articles (even 'online exclusives'), nothing (except a screen cap that underscores why some people shouldn't part their hair in the middle). Forget the magazine's campaign blog, look at The Notion
where conventional 'wisdoms' are dispensed in the best Kooky Cokie Roberts fashion. Today's posts? Karl Rove and a right-wing event, a week long event . . . that started October 21st. Three weeks old and served up as 'fresh' 'news' today on the rag's 'real time' blog: "Rapid reaction to breaking news and unfiltered takes on politics, ethics and culture from Nation
editors and contributors." Rapid reaction to breaking news? Not a word on Watada but a three week old right wing action is worth posting on today? That Karl Rove doesn't care for left blogs is 'news,' but Watada isn't? Never forget that since assuming control, Our Lady of Peace Resistance
has ensured that The Nation
ignores Iraq, employs her friend and exists as a promotion tool for herself (hence all those bad e-mails sent out whenever she's booked anywhere and hence the 'notion' that a screen cap of her, with bad middle part, has more 'credibility' than one of Jeremy Scahill
being interviewed by Bill Moyers for his PBS show -- give her time, she'll turn it into the 'political' equivalent of Martha Stewart's Living
yet.). Why does the war drag on? Look no further than the non-leadership at The Nation
Those waking up this morning might have been caught by surprise with the news but as the day wore on, the only excuse for refusal to cover it was not caring. (We did note it early this morning
.) Aaron Glantz wasn't wasting his time covering three week old news or GOP poster boy endowed by the left with super-human powers. Reporting at IPS
, Glantz notes Watada supporters are calling today's news "a huge victory." What's that? It's what should be one of the biggest stories of the day: US District Judge Benjamin Settle has provided a road block to the military's attempt to court-martial Watada for a second time. The issue that concerned Judge Settle was the same one Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild
, immediately noted
when the first court-martial was ruled a mistrial over defense objection: double-jeopardy.
Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports
, "Settle ruled that the civilian court's review of Watada's double-jeopardy claim is appropriate, rejecting claims by the Army that the court can only step in after the conclusion of the second court-martial and likely appeals within the military court system. He also found that the granting of a preliminary injunction is necessary in part because Watada will 'probably prevail on the merits' of his case, his ruling said. Settle reached that conclusion largely because of what he said was the abuse of discretion by Lt. Col. John Head, the military judge who presided in Watada's first court-martial, in rejecting a so-called stipulation of fact agreed upon by the government and defense that led to the mistrial, the ruling shows." John Head, better known as Judge Toilet, nuff said. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) quotes
Judge Settle's ruling: "The same Fifth Amendment protections are in place for military service members as are afforded to civilians. There is a strong public interest in maintaining these rights inviolate." Bernton also notes Kenneth Kagan's caution that the case is still not over. Kagan and Jim Lobsenz are Watada's civilian attorneys. Glantz observes
that the military is already stating they will file additional briefs to argue for a second court-martial and that, "Judge Settle's ruling does not provide a complete victory for Watada, however. The injunction only temporarily blocks Army prosecutors from proceeding." It is the news of the day and it is a deserved victory for Watada. If, as Judge Settle feels, the Constitutional provision on double-jeopardy prevail throughout the process, this is a major victory not just for war resistance but for the Constitution -- especially a heartfelt moment at a time when the current administration has launched one attack on the Constitution after another -- usually without little more than a peep from Democrats in Congress. Double-jeopardy, in the simplest of terms, means that the government does not get a 'do-over.' They have to argue their case and if turns out they did so badly or if it turns out that they have wasted the government's time (and tax payer monies), that's the end of it. They do not get to audition in front of a judge and/or jury to find out which parts of their argument resonate and which parts do not. The provision against double-jeopardy exists to protect citizens from witch hunts by governmental prosecutors. It is a right embedded in the nation from it's founding. In terms of Watada, the prosecution was losing the court-martial -- possibly they should have vetted their list of witnesses better -- and Judge Toilet thought he could call a mistrial to allow them a second attempt at court-martialing Watada. They don't get to reset the clock and start over. That's not how it is supposed to work in the United States. Judge Settle's ruling is a victory for Watada and it is also a victory for the Constitution. It is one of the big stories of the day.
Hawaii's KMGB (video and text report) quotes
Watada's father, Bob Watada, "For Ehren, hopefully the army will do the right thing and discharge him immediately. That would allow him to get his life going. Because it's been on hold now for over a year." Get on with his life? Aaron Glantz notes
that Watada has reported for duty for the last nine months as the appeals process has continued. Equally worth noting is the fact that Watada's service contract expired in December and the military has extended it while the court proceedings continue.
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
, Jared Hood, James Burmeister
, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada
, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen
, Leif Kamunen
, Leo Kamunen
Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott
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
Khalil, Vincent La Volpa
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.
Turning to Iraq, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) pierces
through the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk to report on reality, "Despite claims by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Bush administration officials that violence in Iraq is decreasing, residents in the captial tell a different story." Fadhily notes the increased air war, the increased arrests of Iraqis, and an increase in attacks in al-Anbar Province and Baghdad while quoting teacher Salman Hameed explaining, "Sectarian killings are less because all the Sunnis have been evicted from mixed areas in Baghdad. All my relatives and Sunni neighbours who survived the killing campaign led by the militias under the eyes of American and Iraqi forces have fled to either Syria or to other Sunni cities." Muhammad Younis explains to al-Fadhily that the violence continues "but media coverage has almost disappeared." That is the reality. In a really bad puff piece in this morning's New York Times
, even Cara Buckley notes
that the US military held 16,000 Iraqi prisoners in February of this year and now holds 25,800. While Buckley works overtime to attribute powers to puppet of the occupation al-Maliki (he had no say in the decision by the US military to release 500 prisoners today) but the reality is that the releases happen because there's a lack of space. Innocence or guilt? The US criminal justice system and the US imposed Iraqi criminal justice system is built around the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Iraqi prisoners rarely get trials. They're imprisoned willy nilly, held for months at a time and then released never having received justice but they are supposed to be grateful that the same extra-judicial process that kept them imprisoned went on to release them when they needed to add a new influx of prisoners.
It's among the many reasons Iraqis want all foreign forces -- including the US -- out of their country. But Raed Jarrar
and Joshua Holland (writing at CounterPunch) report
that efforts are underweigh to strip Iraqis say in the matter, "The United Nations Security Council, with support from the British and American delegations, is poised to cut the Iraqi parliament out of one of the most significant decisions the young government will make: when foreign troops will depart. It's an ugly and unconstitutional move, designed solely to avoid asking an Iraqi legislature for a blank check for an endless military occupation that it's in no mood to give, and it will make a mockery of Iraq's nascent democracy (which needs all the legitmacy it can get." The Iraqi parliament is the only central government that can be considered to have been, in any form, elected by the people. The parliament has repeatedly favored the expulsion of foreign forces -- a position favored by the majority of Iraqis. However, past renewals of the United Nations mandate have taken place without their input. Most recently, al-Maliki (who was not elected by the Iraqi people to the post of prime minister) ignored the country's constitution and decided by himself (with pressure from the US) that the mandate would be extended. When that took place, the Iraqi parliament vowed that was the last time they would be double-crossed or caught unaware. Jarrar and Holland note
, "The Iraqi executive branch -- the cabinet and the presidency -- are completely controlled by separatists (including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and sexuclar politicans.) But the parliament is controlled by nationalist -- nationalists from every major ethnic and sectarian group in the country -- who enjoy a small but crucially important majority in the only elected body in the Iraqi government." The reporters inform that after al-Maliki extra-constitutionally renewed the mandate (that power rests with the Iraqi parliament), they "passed a binding reolution that would force Maliki to go to the parliament and give Iraqi lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the mandate." The Iraqi parliament notified the United Nations of that June 2007 binding law. However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called the law a "non-binding resolution" in an October 15th report that's only now surfaced. The law wasn't needed, the Iraqi constitution gives the parliament and not the prime minister the power to renew or cancel the mandate. But the law was passed in addition to the Constitution and now the UN Secretary General wants to waive it off as some symbolic action when it is now the law of Iraq.
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