robert parry, sarah olson, etc

read mike's 'Help Wanted: The Nation's in need of direction.' if you read nothing else, read that.
it's an amazing piece. i told him i was taking a nap (i didn't nap once today until late tonight) and to wake me up when it posted. (and told him, 'i'm serious. i will be mad if you don't.' flyboy said, 'she is serious, i know that look.')

outside the community sites, i recommend robert parry's 'Gonzales Questions Habeas Corpus' (consortium news):

In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American.
Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.
"There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away," Gonzales said.
Gonzales's remark left Specter, the committee's ranking Republican, stammering.
"Wait a minute," Specter interjected. "The Constitution says you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there’s a rebellion or invasion?"
Gonzales continued, "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended" except in cases of rebellion or invasion.
"You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense," Specter said.
While Gonzales's statement has a measure of quibbling precision to it, his logic is troubling because it would suggest that many other fundamental rights that Americans hold dear also don’t exist because the Constitution often spells out those rights in the negative.
For instance, the First Amendment declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Applying Gonzales's reasoning, one could argue that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly say Americans have the right to worship as they choose, speak as they wish or assemble peacefully. The amendment simply bars the government, i.e. Congress, from passing laws that would impinge on these rights.
Similarly, Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution states that "the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
The clear meaning of the clause, as interpreted for more than two centuries, is that the Founders recognized the long-established English law principle of habeas corpus, which guarantees people the right of due process, such as formal charges and a fair trial.
That Attorney General Gonzales would express such an extraordinary opinion, doubting the constitutional protection of habeas corpus, suggests either a sophomoric mind or an unwillingness to respect this well-established right, one that the Founders considered so important that they embedded it in the original text of the Constitution.

2 things to note. goldie says she was very nervous for about 1/2 her speech to her class on Ehren Watada and then felt more comfortable and, when she finished it, she was amazed by the reaction. (it was a great speech, i heard it on the phone thursday night while she was working on it.) she's writing about it for polly's brew in her column there and i called polly to say 'you might want to ask her if she'll also let you include the speech itself.' she did and goldie said yes so, sunday, check your inboxes and marvel over goldie's speech. i'm really proud of you goldie.

second, i was asked in an e-mail if i didn't care about charles stimson's idiotic and undemocratic comments? i do. but we all cover different areas at our sites. mike covered that very well in
'Fire Charles Stimson' and 'Stimson, Guantanamo.' we could be an echo chamber all covering the exact same topics, we don't. the visitor's new the community websites but every 1 has their own 'beats'. kat covers music as well as politics (especially music if members are e-mailing her asking for it). elaine insults her own work but she covers a number of topics. i usually end up grabbing the occupied territories because that is a strong interest of mine. (when i was on vacation, c.i. and elaine helped out by grabbing that topic and hitting on it strong.) wally and cedric do humor posts where they comment on current events. betty's taken on the uber non-free trader thomas friedman. at the third estate sunday review, it's iraq and a grab bag of other issues (plus the tv reviews which draw a huge number of readers - ava and c.i.'s fan base from those tv reviews is huge and they are approaching tv from a feminist viewpoint). at the common ills, c.i. emphasizes iraq because that's what the community wanted. long before all media took the summer off from iraq, it was already falling off the radar and members asked that it be the focus.

we all repost the snapshot when we post because keesha pointed that out - that iraq needs to be the front burner and you can write about whatever you want but if you've just reposted the snapshot, iraq's covered. it's also true that because of our different 'beats' and approaches, we have the ability to expose others to the snapshot that might not see it otherwise.

take trina's site where she posts on saturday and offers up a recipe and some commentary (often on iraq). she gets mail from a lot of people (mainly women) who are beginning to feel that they can speak out on the war. she's reaching an audience that i don't. it's an important audience and just by including the snapshot her readers are aware of what's going on in iraq. there was an important snapshot (i think they all are, but that day's struck me as especially important) and i had planned to write about something else but was also planning at some point to write about the tv show dynasty. when i saw that day's snapshot, i knew i needed to write about dynasty. i knew that it would get attention (dynasty) and that could create spill over to what was going on in iraq.

c.i. does the heavy lifting on iraq. and keesha was correct that we should all be noting it (which we now do). but, for instance, tonight mike's writing about the nation and kat's written about diana ross. now you are going to have the community checking out both posts. you will also have visitors interested in either topic checking them out. all will have the option of reading the iraq snapshot at the end of those posts. if kat was writing about iraq tonight, she might not get spillover from those interested in diana ross only. it's about raising awareness.

i've known c.i. since right before college and i knew, in college, no point in competing. so no 1 in the community should try. you find your strength, write in your voice, and you will have an audience. if you don't, you won't. the e-mail noted non-member seth's site. (the community has an actual member named seth.) that is a community visitor who decided to start up a site after checking out the community sites for a few weeks. for some reason he used 'seth' as his name. that made it awkward for our own seth. but, more importantly, that seth (of the site) was worried about readers. he wanted readers. he wasn't interested in sharing, so it was probably more about 'hits' (web traffic).

i don't dislike the guy (i don't know him) but he was all over the map in topic and in terms of his writing style. sometimes it was as though it was a conversation, sometimes it wasn't. sometimes it was more academic, sometimes it wasn't. via c.i., i suggested that he focus on daytime dramas because that seemed to be the consistent interest. as a gay man and with daytime tv offering some gay portrayals and the obvious interest in them by seth, it seemed like that would provide him with his voice.

i don't think it did. my opinion is that he expected to have the common ills type readership (c.i. would say 'members! we have members!') and he didn't get that. he did get an increase in readers and some links. and he could have pursued it and built up a following. he didn't. he didn't get the instant hit status and he gave up (or went on a long break - he hasn't posted since august). i know promotion (i made my money in p.r.) and after i realized that seth was interested in soaps, my 1st thought was 'wow, that could really bring in a new audience, some 1 who regularly covers the soaps.' just as trina's recipes (and commentary) have brought in a new audience. but that didn't happen and the lesson there is you can't force it. you have to be you.

at 1 point or another, i believe we've all made that comment at our sites. keesha was exactly right, posting the snapshot would raise awareness. and it's easy, in 2007, to think 'oh well the left was always against the war.' no they weren't. if you're talking about left sites, the reality is a number washed their hands of it in the myth that followed the 2004 election. you had sites that supposedly cared about iraq (before the election myths) promoting a war hawk (simon rosenberg) for dnc chair. if slimey had been the chair, don't kid that we'd be in a different environment now.

you saw sam seder have to deal with an angry audience when he tanked an interview to give simon rosenberg a chance to campaign for dnc chair. sam seder was on air trying to justify that shit but there was no excuse for it. the problems with dlc slimey (who denies being dlc but that's who produced him and whose thoughts and beliefs he still echoes) were well known.

sam seder, who wants to steal a dead african-american woman's catchphrase ('unbought and unbossed'), proved that not only was he a lousy comic but he was also a coward. he couldn't ask hard questions. it was a barabara walters soft-gloss interview at its worst. and he had to take calls (and the message board for the show was full of negative comments) after it was over where he tried to explain himself. (in another sign of difference among the community, c.i. gives seder the benefit of the doubt on that interview, i don't.)

that was the reality. and you can search various sites to see what their position was on simon rosenberg. if they truly were anti-war at that moment (let's assume they were before the 2004 election and returned to being that in the summer of 2005 when it became safer), they wouldn't have promoted a war hawk.

if they truly were independent and left they wouldn't have promoted a telecommunications lobbyist, a man who attacked assistance programs (and their supporters), a man who did nothing for latinos but (when nbc misreported results) rushed in with a column slamming john kerry for something that did not happen, a man who had nothing to say to any 1 but republicans.

but he was 'cool' and 'fun' and the webbies were just full of love for their boy who was going to put bloggers front and center at the dnc. so what he actually stood for didn't matter and that included the war. because, in case you've forgotten, after 2004's election, we were all supposed to 'move on' from the war. moveon.org did.

so the point is, the common ills took off from the start because c.i. was 1 of the few voices saying the war was wrong. c.i. was the only 1 to call dexy filkins out in real time - the 'award winning' garbage where filkins turned the slaughter of falluja into a video game. there are many who still can't call out dexy. but the community, while having other interests, were always focused on iraq. and that's what the site reflects today.

c.i.'s talked of ending it after the 2008 elections and i understand that. it takes a lot of work. there are too many e-mails to read and answer. there is too much work that goes into the posts. c.i.'s been speaking out against the war around the country at least 2 weeks a month since february 2003. while i take vacations and take weekends off from posting, c.i.'s yet to miss a day. and we're talking multiple posts while i just do this. (and of course, c.i. does a column for the community's 3 newsletters. i don't count the u.k. computer guru's publication as a newsletter because it's technical. and there's the tv reviews which are a huge burden for ava and c.i. because they know that is the third estate sunday review's drawing card. those don't just 'happen.' they have to make time to watch tv, read scripts, phone friends at the network and with the shows, etc.) so to have done all of that and done it day after day, without missing a day, for so long, i can understand c.i.'s desire to get a life back.

but i quoted the godfather to c.i. today and i believe c.i. quoted from the godfather 3 back to me 'every time i think i'm out, they pull me back in.' that was when i raised the issue that the 2004 elections resulted in myths being spun to sell the war and you saw many people justify the war. you saw a woman who gets published in 2 supposedly anti-war, left publications, have a snit-fit with tom hayden when he (rightly) noted that in a column she was promoting the illegal war - promoting it be continued.

why? i'd argue of her and others that some anti-war voices weren't really anti-war. they were pro democratic and when the democratic party signaled that they were going to focus on other issues (while mouthpieces took to the press to promote that as well), those voices decided they were more pro-democratic party than they were appalled by the illegal war. so they dumped the topic.

and it could happen in 2008. c.i. said, 'i hadn't even considered that.' so, for those like courtney who write me at least once a month saying, 'you've got to talk c.i. into continuing the site,' it may yet happen.

c.i.'s been 1 of the strongest voices. c.i.'s been the leading voice on calling out dexter filkins (it wasn't once or twice) and 1 of the few who didn't dump the issue of the way the new york times sells the war when judith miller left the paper.

c.i.'s a strong voice and doesn't do cat blogging or threads. (members objected to comments early on. they were an option at the site in the earliest days. some members, such as keesha, did post comments, but there were also a lot of 'blue dog' and 'yellow dog' assholes posting comments.) the content that goes up (daily - with no vacation, no day off) would be amazing just for the sheer volume. but the powerful voice makes it all the more so.

(and c.i. would note that the voice comes from the community.)

who has led on iraq? you think the nation's led on it? you must not read that laughable magazine. c.i.'s led and has provided some of the strongest coverage. i think it's coverage that will be noted years from now when people look back at this time period. i don't think any 1's going to say 'hey, that cat blogging ended the war! hey that lonely thread blogging ended the war!' i don't think they're going to say 'hey, the nation's silence on war resisters really ended the war!'

c.i. leads on iraq and that's the community's desire. if something stands out, we'll comment on our own sites. but we know who does the heavy lifting.

even now, you've got sarah olson trying to be the new jill carroll. who's noting that?

i will because i wrote about how carroll was destroying her career with those 1st person accounts in the christian science monitor. have you read anything by her lately? no. and you probably never will again. why?

that's not journalism. that's cliff hanger, penelope pitstop melodrama. she could have written about her experiences in another way. (i'm sure the paper dictated the way it was written.) instead it was damsel in distress. now giuliana sgrena was also kidnapped in iraq. in friendly fire, she writes about that but writes about it as a journalist. i feel sorry for jill carroll for what she went through while kidnapped but i think she damaged herself by taking part in the sensationalistic, episodic installments that the christian science monitor ran. it was all 'oh that poor girl!' and it turned her from a journalist people were sympathetic towards to a bit of a joke.
brenda starr belongs on the funny pages.

which brings us to sarah olson who is aggressively pursuing the press.

here's the long and short of it. she interviewed ehren watada. she's now being asked by the military to testify at his court-martial about that interview.

the military isn't asking that she provide any info. just that she verify that what she printed was correct (she also did radio reports).

the request is fairly simple. whether you agree with or not, the request is very simple. (i don't agree with the request.)

some how she has managed to interest the national press in the non-stop issue of what will sarah olson do?

it's more damsel in distress.

if she'd say 'i won't testify' (she doesn't believe she should be forced to testify), she could talk about that.

but she won't say that.

or, actually she will say that.


sometimes she won't.

she offers an ever changing story from day to day. speaking with laura flanders, she's not going to testify!

speaking with every 1 else, she's not sure what she's going to do or she begs off with she can't discuss her legal strategy or some other bullshit.

she also changes her story on whether or not she supports ehren watada. she wrote a lengthy piece about how pathetic and weak spined she was and, in that piece, she went on about how, as a journalist, she couldn't support or not support a source. that would be watada.

then she talks to aaron glantz, after that, and is shocked, shocked, that any 1 would think she hasn't supported watada, why she has always supported him, she has always backed him.


now as laughable as her dance has been, the result is that somehow the story has become 'what will sarah olson do?' (a better title would be 'what's she going to say next?')

somewhere along the line, she appears to have forgotten that she is a journalist. the story is ehren watada (who faces 6 years if convicted) not sarah olson who faces nothing.

faces nothing?

if she refuses to testify, she could end up in jail for contempt. that's not 6 years. but, most importantly, for that to happen, she would have to refuse to testify and, except when speaking to laura flanders, she hasn't said she won't testify. she told amy goodman, various print reporters, and aaron glants (before the flanders interview) that she couldn't talk about her legal strategy. that 'strategy' does not have to include not testifying.

since she was on with flanders, she's spoken to matthew rothschild of the progressive and suddenly she's not saying 'i won't testify.' she's again falling back on 'i won't discuss my legal strategy.'

you know what? i hope she testifies. i hope she does because i don't think it will make a damn for ehren's case (he's going to be railroaded) and it will demonstrate the obvious (that too many can't see now) which is sarah olson's 'plight' is nothing but junk news. it's wasted all of our time as we've listened to a supposed journalist play for our sympathies without ever taking a stand.

say what you will about judith miller (and i hate miller) who did her own bit of campaigning when she didn't want to testify, but she took a position. and went to jail for it.

sarah olson doesn't want to take a position. at least not a clear or consistent 1.

she wants to bore us all with 'this is so hard.'

life is hard.

life is especially hard if you've taken a position that could cost you - what ehren's done.

she's taken no position and wants to play the weak little girl hoping editorial boards across the nation will come to her defense (as far as i know, only the right-wing leaning l.a. times has).

'defend me!' she all but gasps. 'because i won't defend myself.'

in the words of michelle pfeiffer, 'you make me sick. always waiting for some batman to save you.' (batman returns.)

she's pathetic.

and she has made ehren's court-martial all about her.

ehren's being court-martialed for taking a stand and sarah olson wants to center stage for not taking 1. but please, please, please, every 1 else take a stand for her.

she really needs to take a stand or stop talking.

her whimpering drives as many away from her as does her ever shifting position.

reporters have been asked to verify their stories in court before. apparently it's a new thing for a military 'court' to ask that. they are not asking for her work product, they are not seeking her notes. they are asking her to say 'yes, he said to me what i printed.'

if you're opposed to doing that (i would be), then you say 'i'm not doing it.' you take a stand.

if you're not opposed to it, you do it. (and many journalists do.)

what you don't do is make yourself the story, day after day. what you don't do is present yourself as a pathetic, trembling victim when the 1 really facing punishment is ehren watada.

sarah olson has become the person you avoid, the 1 who can't shut up about herself.

she has no 1 to blame for that but herself (and possibly bad legal advice).

olson is not being asked to name an unnamed source. she's being asked to say 'yes, what i wrote was what happened.' it's not complicated. whether you think she should testify or not, what she's being asked to do is not complicated. but she's managed to turn the whole thing into a long running soap opera with herself cast as erica kane in the melodrama.

that's not how a reporter makes a career.

some 1 should pull her aside and explain that to her.

i felt sympathetic for jill carroll but i noted the reality when that series was either about to start running or had just started running. so when i write about sarah olson, i'm not just writing because she's pulling the focus from ehren, i'm also writing because she's committing career suicide as she continues to play victim.

there's a chance that dahr jamail may be asked to testify. a reporter for the honolulu star-bulletin has been asked to testify. you have not seen either running from reporter to reporter, broadcast studio to broadcast studio, whining about themselves. they're conducting themselves like journalists. when dahr jamail speaks about it, he speaks about watada's case. he does not make himself the centerpiece. he does not whine or speak of the 'legal strategy' he can't talk of. he does not offer 1 thing 1 minute and something else the next.

he's never had to proclaim 'i support ehren watada' because there's never been any doubt that he does.

sarah olson was asked to make a decision. she doesn't want to make that decision. she wants some 1 to ride in on a horse and make it for her.

that's bullshit.

and if she really supported ehren watada, she should have grasped that since he can't present his defense (the judge won't let him) she might be the only one who could explain what he believes in. under cross examination by the defense, they could do this: 'you say that you reported the events accurately. let's go through them to be sure we are clear. ehren watada said he was opposed to the war because?'

if the judge tried to step in and say, 'it's in her article which she has admitted is true!' the defense can reply, 'that article appeared in june and the interview took place prior to that. we want to go through it line by line to make sure, for the record, that she's standing by it.'

i'm tired of reporters who face a slap on the wrist (at worst) taking up everyone's time with their own personal dramas.

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt)University of Illinois-ChicagoContact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,
adamcturl@yahoo.com*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty)Busboys and Poetshttp://www.busboysandpoets.com/blog_events.htm


alberto's big day, etc.

tonight on nora barrows-friedman Flashpoints reported from the occupied territories. on the topic of Flashpoints, yesterday I typed '700-800' and intended to type '700-800,000' children had died during sanctions on iraq. i've corrected it but to be sure every 1 sees it, i'm noting it here as well.

so alberto gonzales went to the senate and did a song & dance. i was listening with ruth and we both felt like that was it all it was. patrick leahy seemed alive but i wasn't impressed over all (on torture especially - which is how alberto should have been questioned throughout). it was like the dems were more awake than at the hearings on alito and roberts when they were in the minority but that's about all. illegal, warrantless spying is wrong. bully boy knows it and that's 1 reason he has discontinued the process. (another reason is to avoid hearings that could lead to an indictment.) so this should have been explosive but instead it was like they bumped it up a little, the dems, but except for leahy, i didn't hear much that impressed me considering the fact that the dems now control the senate and the house.

there was a dopey exchange about anthrax and alberto went on about how maybe there was a mix up but his office never received a request for any follow up. it got lost in the mail? what was that nonsense? did leahy send in request? if his office did, he should know. and that nonsense from alberto about how 'maybe it got lost' nonsense - it called for that to be rebuked and i didn't hear it.

if you did, great. but ruth and i were both rolling our eyes.

it just was a farce. alberto tried to say that americans didn't have the right to habeas corpus and i thought that required more than jokes from alren specter.

i just kept listening and thinking 'these are the 1s that the "independent" magazines couldn't tell us were going to change things?'

now on bully boy's planned escalation, this is from jason leopold's 'Democrats Move to Counter Bush Surge' (truthout):

Some highly regarded constitutional scholars have said if President Bush sends additional US troops into Iraq, he can only do so for a maximum of 90 days, under the War Powers Act of 1973, which states the president must notify Congress within 48 after he sends troops into combat.
"This is a situation the War Powers Act was intended to deal with," said Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois law professor, and a vocal critic of the administration's policies. After Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Act to close loopholes that were exploited by President Johnson to escalate US involvement in Vietnam without Congressional approval.
Ohio State law professor John Quigley agreed.
"If President Bush wants to send more troops, he is subject to the War Powers Resolution, which allows him to commit troops for only 60 days without an authorizing resolution from Congress," Quigley said.
Dennis Johnson, writing in the Ohio State University Journal of Politics in the Fall of 2001 describes the eerily similar parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars, specifically, the pubic debate about escalating the conflict, which gave birth to the War Powers Act.
"During the Vietnam War, the ignorance by the executive of the constitutional right of Congress to declare war became a hotly debated issue in both the House and Senate," Johnson wrote. "After reaching a compromise between themselves, and overriding a presidential veto, the Congress successfully gave birth to the War Powers Resolution. This new law would allow the president a 60-day executive war, and gave Congress the privileges of consultation and reporting, and reinstated their right to declare war.
Boyle and Quigley have called on Congress to force the president to abide by the act after he sends additional troops into combat. But the War Powers Act itself does not specify what Congress can do if the president refuses to comply with it.

the war powers resolution may be the only thing to stop bully boy. i don't have a lot of hope in the dems, especially not in the senate.

here's what i'm seeing, dems in the senate won't stop the war and they're not even willing to stop the escalation. they rode into d.c. on people's hopes that they would end the war and they seem intent on taking 2 years to sit on their asses.

meanwhile, another u.s. soldier confesses to the crimes against abeer and her family. she was gang raped and then killed and her parents were killed and her sister killed. boo-hiss screamed some 'left' bloggers when this news emerged. 'don't you dare call any u.s. soldier a baby killer' threatened the overly macho and overly stupid. 2 u.s. soldiers have confessed. maybe some of that faux rage can be relinquished?

macho boys soft in the head from their days playing with their g.i. joes felt a 14 year-old and her 5 year-old sister weren't important. it was more important to scream and hiss and puff out their chests, to bully and bellow.

the soldier who signed a plea agreement today, paul cortez, wasn't the only soldier confessing today. so maybe those who tried to bully the net into silence can take a moment or 2 to note the reality.

blogger/blogspot has been going in and out all during this. i know mike's not been able to log in because he called me. hopefully, every 1 in the community who usually blogs on thursdays will be able to but if you don't see something at a site the way you would usually, that's why.

also goldie is speaking to her class tomorrow about Ehren Watada. i was on the phone with her and marlene (her mother) tonight. goldie's nervous, but she's got a great presentation. her mom's helped her with a big poster of ehren that she's using for a visual aid. goldie usually reads me during a morning class and the presentation is in the afternoon so let me say 'good luck, goldie! but you don't need it, you're going to be great!'

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, Janurary 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, accuses Bully Boy and Condi Rice of helping "terrorists"; new developments in the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza and the murder of three members of her family by members of the US military emege; and support for Ehren Watada continues -- even as the 'judge' in the military 'justice' system does his part to railroad Watada.

Starting with war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 'judge' of the pre-trial has issued a ruling on what is and isn't acceptable in the February 5th court-martial. As Courage to Resist notes "ALL POLITICAL SPEECH CHARGES GO TO TRIAL."
Teresa Watanabe (LA Times) reports that Watada has called for everyon to "stop the war so the death and sacrifices of American soldiers will not be in vain" and "I firmly stand by my belief that this war is illegal and immoral."

"Judge" Head issued his rulings on Tuesday and since Watada will not be allowed to present a defense, why even waste time and money on a court-martial? "Judge" Head has refused Watada's right to present a defense and, in his ruling, "Judge" Head is quite clear about "
a preponderance of evidence" and is disallowing any evidence that could counter it so the kangaroo court-martial will go foward but the ruling is already pre-determined and contained in "Judge" Head's ruling. That's the only 'value' in the ruling (well, that and the revelation that, by his signature, John Head apparently thinks he's a young starlet).

AP reports that "Army officials said in a statement that they had full confidence in the military justice system". Of course they're gloating -- JUDGE TOOL handed them a win before the first argument is made in the court-martial. Now if they had any self-respect, they'd realize that this isn't justice and that obviously there's no faith in their abilities to fairly prosecute Watada.

Earlier this month,
Watada spoke with Lance Holter and Ave Diaz (Haleakala Times) and shared his expectations of the trial: "I certainly expect the army to make an example out of my stand and what I'm speaking against." He was correct. Holter and Diaz also note US war resister Pablo Parades who was allowed, in his court-martial, to argue his case. From Parades' statement at his court-martial (via Democracy Now!): "I am convinced that the current war in Iraq is illegal. I am also convinced that the true causality for it lacked any high ground in the topography of morality. I believe as a member of the Armed Forces, beyond having duty to my Chain of Command and my President, I have a higher duty to my conscience and to the surpreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect, in the current aggression that has been unleased on Iraq. In the past few months I have been continually asked if I regret my decision to refuse to board my ship and to do so publicly. I have spent hour upon hour reflecting on my decision, and I can tell you with every fiber of certitude that I possess that I feel in my heart I did the right thing."

Ehren Watada will not be allowed to present a similar defense. What is the military afraid and what sort of 'judge' acts in such a cowardly craven manner?

Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that what Watada will not be able to present in 'court' of 'judge' Head, he will be able to present "this weekend, a 'Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq' will convene in Tacoma to address that issue in support of Watada." The hearing will take place at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus on January 20th and 21st from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day. Among the participants will be Antonia Juhasz, Ann Wright, Daniel Ellsberg, Enis Halliday (who was on yesterday's Flashpoints speaking with Dennis Bernstein about the deaths caused by sanctions against Iraq), Bejmain G. Davis, Richard Falk, Francis Boyle, Dennis Kyne, and US war resister Darrell Anderson. In addition, Karen Hucks (The News Tribune) reports that Daniel Ellsberg ("who started a national uproar in 1971 when he released the Penatagon Papers") will speak in Tacoma Friday "from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Washington State History Museeum, 1911 Pacific Ave. The University of Washington Tacoma is sponsoring the free event." In addition
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance on the edge of Fort Lewis to show their support for Watada.

Ehren Watada spoke in Seattle on Monday (MLK day) and Kay Suzat (PSL) reports: "A tremendous standing ovation greeted Watada and concluded his remarks. The crowd demonstrated its solidarity and support for his refusal to deploy to Iraq and be part of the imperilist occupation."

Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

And, good news!, you can find information about a war resister at The Nation . . . provided he's a resister of the Vietnam war, a professional athlete and a household name.
Dave Zirin
covers sports and he's always managed to cover the war (unlike The Nation). To read his column "
Muhammad Ali: The Brand and the Man" use the link freely, it takes you to Yahoo and not to The Nation which still can't manage to show interest in war resisters.

Turning to the topic of 14-year-old
Abeer Qasim Hamza who was gang raped and murdered on March 12, 2006 by what was spun as 'insurgents.' The reality is that it was by American soldiers who also murdered her five-year-old sisters and both of her parents. The soldiers watched the 14-year-old, making her uncomfortable with their inappropriate attention to the point that she complained to her parents who immediately began making arrangements to get their daughter the hell away from perverts supposedly stationed in their area to protect the Iraq people. Abeer was due to move but, before she could, Paul Cortez, James P. Barker, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and Steven D. Green wanted to have a little 'fun' and, boozed up to the gills in a war zone, they decided the most 'fun' they could have would be in murdering a family after gang raping the 14-year-old daughter. So they changed into civies, approached the home via a hole in a fence they'd already created, and the 'fun' began -- adult males holding down a 14-year-old girl to take turns gang raping her while her parents and sister were shot dead and then, after the gang rape, murdering Abeer.

At the Article 32 hearing in August, Captain Alex Pickands declared: "
They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

In November, James P. Barker confessed to his role in the planning of the war crimes and to his raping Abeer. He also named Steven D. Green as the one who shot and killed Abeer, her parents and her sister. He identified Green as taking part in the gang rape and also identified Paul Cortez as taking part in the gang rape. Green has denied any involvement and will be tried in a civilian court because the US military had discharged him before the crimes were uncovered. Last week, Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Green had been diagnosed by the Army Combat Stress Team with "homicidal ideations" on December 21, 2005, three months prior to the rape and murders. Today, Ryan Lenz reports that William Cassara, attorney for Paul Cortez, has stated, "Sgt. Cortez is going to go in and accept the responsibilities for his part in what occurred" which would be WAR CRIMES and that "Our version of events is that he knew what was going to take place and participated as an observer." According to Barker's confession, Paul Cortez took part in the gang rape -- that's a bit more than 'observing.'

AFP is now reporting that Cortez "has pleaded guilty in the rape and murder" of Abeer

Silence has largely greeted the story of Abeer in many media outlets (big and small). The same sort of silence that leads many to wrongly hail the 'symbolic' bi-partisan nonsense in the Senate.
Cedric and Wally addressed that yesterday. The Senate resolution championed by US senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Chuck Hagel and others is a joke. Reporting on what proposals are in the US Congress currently, Leigh Ann Caldwell (aired on Free Speech Radio News, The KPFA Evening News) termed the Jo-Jo proposal "the tamest of them all" noting US Senator Christopher Dodd's proposal calls for Congressional approval before any more troops are sent to Iraq and caps the total number of US troops at the number in Iraq on Tuesday, noting US Senator Ted Kennedy's proposed legislation "would not fund any troops increase" and noting that US Senator Hillary Clinton ("I do support cutting funds for Iraqi forces if the Iraqi government does not meet set conditions") has spoken of a cap on the level of US troops and cutting off funds for the Iraqi military. Caldwell's report quoted US Rep. Lynn Woolsey on the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act which she, US Rep. Barbara Lee and US Rep. Maxine Waters have proposed: "It will save lives, bodies and minds and it will give Iraq back to the Iraqis. It is an important step in regaining our credibility in the region and our credibility throughout the world."

Caldwell noted that the proposed legislation would lead to withdrawal of US troops in six months, fully funded health care for veterans and two years of funding for the training of Iraqi forces.
Woolsey's speech can be read, heard or watched at Democracy Now!

While Waters, Lee and Woolsey propose legislation that, get this, actually does something, Levin, Biden and Hagal propose legislation that does nothing. It provides politicians with cover to hide behind in the 2008 elections (a point I believe Robert Knight made on yesterday's ) but it has no teeth and is non-binding. Consider it a poll of the pulse in the Senate and nothing more.

What may be most offensive is the way Joe Biden speaks when he attempts to sell it (listen to Caldwell's report): "The president ignored the advice of every major voice, every major voice! In the government, outside the government, military personell in the government, military personell outside the government, former secretaries of state, former secretaries of defense, and leading foreign policy scholars! He has to listen!"

Every major voice, Jo-Jo? Who did you leave you out? The most obvious major voice: THE PEOPLE. Considering that Jo-Jo's job depends upon public support (votes) and that he intends to run for 2008 president, someone might want to tell him that the advice from the people is "major" and possibly the most important anyone occupying the Oval Office should heed. Reporting on what the people are saying,
Ronald Brownstein (LA Times) covers the results of the latest LA Times & Bloomberg poll which found three-fifths of respondents stating that they opposed Bully Boy's planned escalation (21,500 more troops in Iraq), "more than three-fifhts of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting" and "half said they believed he deliberately misled the U.S. in making his case for invading Iraq."


In Iraq today.


Salam Faraj (AFP) reports five car bombs went off in Baghdad with three going off "almost simultaneously in the southern district of Dora, leaving 10 people dead and 30 wounded" in an attack on "the Rasheed vegetable market, the main market in southern Baghdad that is often crammed with residents shopping for food." Reuters notes, in Baghdad, a car bomb attack on police that killed 4, a car bomb in the eastern area of the capital that took 3 lives and left seven more wounded, and, in the New Baghdad district, a car bomb killed 2 and left four wounded; while in Mosul a car bomber killed 1 civilian wounded six people and a bomb tossed "at a police checkpoint" took the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded. That's a total of 21 killed by bombs in Iraq that were reported.


Reuters notes an attack on "a wedding convoy in Mosul" that left 2 people shot dead and four more wounded.


Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Iskandariya.

And the
US military announced: "A Sailor assigned to 16th Military Police Brigade, Camp Bucca, Iraq, died Jan. 17 in a non-combat related incident."

Lara Logan (CBS) reports on the corpse of a young Iraqi: "He was young, possibly in his early twenties, and he'd been shot three times. It was hard to tell at first, because of his clothes, but I could see the small bullet hole next to his nose. Funny how the entry wound often doesn't look like much, it's the exit wound that tells the real story of how much damage that bullet has done. That's where it gets really messy. [. . .] Here was somebody's son, probably someone's brother, possibly someone's husband or lover. I didn't know anything about him or why he'd been killed or who may have done it. That's part of the strategy here with these murders — remove all identification, obscure the facts and make it that much harder to find the truth. If you're lucky — and most of the killers usually are — then that will be enough to make sure no one even looks for you, let alone finds you and holds you accountable."

CNN reports that the US military has explained their violations of the Sudanese Embassy in Baghdad with this pithy statement: "The compound was searched as part of an operation aimed at denying insurgents safe haven to carry out attacks against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens." Having already shown no respect for diplomatic areas with their raid on the Iranian consulate, the US military does not, this time, attempt to wiggle out of whether or not the facility was a recognized diplomatic site -- instead, they simply say, "We don't give a damn." An attitude that will have historic consequences in the future.

Meanwhile, as US Senator Hillary Clinton states she approves of cutting off funding the Iraqi army (if they can't meet set goals), suddenly the puppet of the occupation springs to life. No, not the laughable claims that Nouri al-Maliki is finally addressing the issue of Shi'ite militias. The puppet of the occupation is whining,
reports Stephen Farrell (Times of London), that the US won't give Iraq "sufficient guns" -- since US guns abound in Iraq, possibly al-Maliki could just buy them off the black market the way other Iraqis do? (Or is he still attempting to play Big Spender -- on the US dime -- by continuing to dole out millions to neighboring countries?) Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that al-Maliki says the comments by the Bully Boy and Condi Rice "probably helped the 'terrorists'" because they "give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort" and yada, yada, yada.

Remember how Bully Boy trots out the lie that anyone who questions him undermines his illegal war and the so-called war on terrorism, apple pie and who knows what else? Well al-Maliki also takes time to criticize the Bully Boy's administration -- naming US Secretary of State Condi Rice specifically and claiming that Iraq's government is
undermined by the US administration's talk of "borrowed time." Realities must be ignored, argue both the Bully Boy and al-Maliki, or 'freedom' is undermined. Today, that laughable argument gets tossed back in Bully Boy's face.


winter blahs

if you've read the snapshot, you know mad maddie gets a shout out (c.i. calls her the 'sanctions queen'). her actions were also a topic on tonight's Flashpoints when 1 guest was denis haliday who addressed the effects the sanctions had: 700-800,000 children in iraq died under sanctions and many were under the age of 12 months.

mad maddie went to congress to offer her 2 million (how much do you think she's raked in playing both sides of the war?) and that congress shouldn't cut off funds for the illegal war. yeah, she wasn't for cutting the sanctions either.

i loathe her. her and her bald head. she is a neoliberal and she's just disgusting. when i agree with colin powell, there's a problem. but when mad maddie wants war, she wants it, and, in the 90s, it was left to powell to explain to her that u.s. soldiers weren't 'toy soliders' for her to play with.

on iraq, remember that she was for the war before she was against it.

so if the bald eagle thinks her opinions matter to any 1, i fear she's kidding herself.

another guest tonight on Flashpoints was robert parry and he was discussing the outing of valerie plame by scooter libby and others.

he made the point that patrick fitzgerald (special prosecutor) was more interested in the technical charges (perjury) and less in a conspiracy. i think that pretty much sums up the entire legal 1/2 of the story. i wonder if there's some hope on fitzgerald's part that he can use libby to make a larger case? i could imagine libby being willing to turn evidence if he thought it would halt the trial.

but i also think he may be well aware of how republicans have treated independent councils (he's not 1; the statute expired) and felt technical was all he could hope for.

that's just what i think. for all i know, he may not give a damn about the outing of plame at all (she was a c.i.a. agent before the administration blew her cover in their efforts to destroy her husband joe wilson) and just trying to get everything tied up so he can move on to whatever his plans include now.

so, if you missed it, Flashpoints archives their shows.

i'm pretty tired tonight. it seemed especially cold outside and me, who loves the winter, found myself wondering where the sun was? not for heat but just where was it? i usually love this time of year but i'm usually much more mobile this time of year.

my mother-in-law called and asked me to note that she's making c.i.'s 'Other Items' the talk of conn. i said, 'you know you're going to get be in trouble!' and we both laughed. it's a great entry but if i say more than that ... read it. enjoy it.

i'm about to crawl into bed. i'm looking online for something to wake me up and give me something more to write about. i'm not finding it.

Flashpoints was strong and robert knight gave the knight report as usual but he also got to ask questions and be interviewed himself. he noted he says 'nominal' with nouri al-maliki because al-maliki is a in-name-only prime minister.

he noted that hillary clinton's complaining about the iraq military. (she says she can't vote to cut funding for u.s. troops but she be happy to stop funding the iraq military if they can't meet set goals.) robert knight bascially wondered whom she thinks trained the iraq military? (answer: the u.s. did.)

okay, that's going to be it. like i said, i'm tired today. and have a bit of the cabin fever. i'm probably going on a short stroll outside tomorrow. (which my doctor already said was fine.) so nobody worry.

oh, maria called today and asked me to please say 'thank you'. she, francisco and miguel have been overwhelmed with e-mails and contributions (including several photo essays). they are really excited about sunday's newsletter. see what you made happen? good for you.

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Wednesday, January 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; two more US troops are announced dead; Mad Maddie sticks up for her daddy's favorite pupil; Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters stand strong in the US Congress; the US military is accused of again breaking diplomatic policies and flouting the law in Iraq; and US war resister Ehren Watada learns just how hollow 'justice' can be.

Starting with the latest news of
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. A strong stand that took tremendous courage (even his parents, Bob Watada and Carolyn Ho, have spoken of how they attempted to talk him out of it because of the scorn, silence and hostility he'd be greeted with). He faces a court-martial on February 5th and Lt. Col. John Head -- the so-called judge -- has issued a decision based on arguments presented in the pre-trial hearing earlier this month. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized it today: "The judge in the case has ruled Watada's defense won't be able to present evidence challenging the legality of the war nor explain Watada's motive to resist deploying to Iraq." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes it is "a major blow to the court-martial defense," which is putting it mildly, and quotes Watada's attorney Eric Seitz who declares, "We have been stripped of every defense. This is a disciplinary system, not a justice system. Otherwise, we would have been entitled to defend ourselves."

Which they are not. Ehren Watada was just stripped of any defense. As
noted on January 4th when the prosecution presented their pre-trial arguments: "What the military would like to do in today's pre-trial hearing is reduce everything to whether or not Watada deployed with his unit? The answer, of course, is that he did not. The military does not want the issue of the legality of the war addressed. By closing off this discussion, they not only would destroy Watada's right to defend himself, they would be able, as the Bully Boy long has been able to, set the terms of the discussion and control what is and is not discussed."

Political Affairs offers a survey of the travesty and notes that Head's ruling reads: "The defense motion for a hearin gon the 'Nuremberg defense' is DENIED. The government motion to prevent the defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war is GRANTED." Of the political prosecution (let's be honest, Watada's being politically prosecuted), Political Affairs notes that, in the pre-trial hearing, "Kueker replied that there are two separate prosecutions going on. The first is for Lt. Watada missing movement to Iraq -- a prosecution where his MOTIVE is so irrelevant that it needs to be barred from the military jury. The second prosecution will be for Lt. Watada publicly explaining his MOTIVE! Apparently this Orwellian formulation passes for military justice."

Apparently and sadly it does. It's complete nonsense. It's doesn't remotely resemble justice. It's a political prosecution of
Ehren Watada where he is silenced to the point of being gagged. (Shades of the Chicago Eight.) He can be charged with crimes that, if convicted, carry six years of prison time, the prosecution can do whatever they want in the court-martial, but Ehren Watada cannot make the best defense he is entitled to. Not only can his attorney not put forth the best defense, the reasons for the actions he is now being persecuted for, those reasons cannot be discussed by the defense.

The prosectution can discuss it. They'll be discussing what
Ehren Watada said here or there and why it is supposedly so objectionable but Ehren Watada will not be allowed to explain why he acted as he did, why he said what he did.

That's not justice. It's railroading him. It's denying him the right to offer any response to a government case against him. But the
Coward's Silence will continue to cause many in independent media to ignore Ehren Watada. Follow that closley and note who stays silent. Those that stay silent are useless. They'd stay silent if you needed them as well.

Ehren Watada has been prevented from arguing any kind of defense. His court-martial now consists of nothing more than "yes" and "no" answers from him. That's not a defense. He took a stand. He's shown bravery. There is no hemming or hawwing, there is only standing up on his part. And for doing that, for saying no to an illegal war, he faces six years in prison -- all the more likely when he's not allowed to make his case.

To repeat, during
the Article 32 hearing, Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. These three witnesses addressed the issue of the war, it's legality, and the responsibilities of a service member to disobey any order that they believed was unlawful. The testimony was necessary because Watada's refusing to participate in the illegal war due to the fact that he feels it is (a) illegal and (b) immoral. That will not happen now, 'judge' Head has denied that, has denied Watada the right to argue any sort of defense.

While the military attempts to throw the book at him (and asks that he stand still and repeat, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?") and independent media plays dumb (with few exceptions) the people react differently. On Saturday,
Ehren Watada spoke at the Coupeville Recreation Center in Washington. Paul Boring (Whidbey News-Times) reports that over a 100 people showed up to hear him and burst into applause at various intervals. Watada asked: "Do we wanta a military that without hesistation, will turn on people simply because they ordered to do so? . . . What I have embarked upon and what I sacrifice today is for those who have lost their lives and for those still struggling to stay alive. . . . I do have the power to make you aware of why soldiers are dying and why this war is unjust. I do have the power to compel you to care. It is the American people who have the power to end this war. . . . They can try me, convict me or acquit me. My life does not matter. The lives of thousands of soldiers do . . . it is one thing to end a war. It is another to ensure it never happens again. We have the power to change history."

We do have that power. But only if we use it. Mark Taylor-Canfield reported for
Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News yesterday on a speech Ehren Watada
gave as part of Seattle's MLK celebration where, no surprise, he received a standing ovation. The people are hearing him (which no doubts scares the military to death). Taylor-Canfield also noted Camp Resistance had set up "just outside the gates of Fort Lewis where Watada's hearing is being held." So that's two independent media outlets that have noted Camp Resistance -- will anyone be next? In a show of support for Ehren Watada, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance and intend to maintain it through the court-martial. They need money, volunteers and press attention.

Yesterday, we noted that Agustin Aguayo has received not the expected charge of being AWOL but the charge of "desertion." With Aguayo the US military is attempting to send a message both due to Aguayo's standing up and saying "no" and due to the fact that (as Mike pointed out last night) Aguayo didn't just sue the US military, he's made it up all the way up to the DC Court of Appeals. With Ehren Watada the US military is also attempting to send a message, to initmidate and frighten others from following in Watada or Aguayo's footsteps. Guess what? It's too late. It's already happening. (About the only one scared at this point is a healthy chunk of independent media.) Watada and Aguayo are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, US Congress member Barbara Lee discussed the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act. Which is? Legislation proposed by Lee and fellow Congress members Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters calling for the start of troop withdrawal and the start of "work with the regional countries in the Middle East to come up with a multilateral solution," Lee explained. Repeatedly, Representative Barbara Lee noted that the presence of US troops was fueling the violence. In addition, she noted that the violence "is only going to escalate as long as US troops are there," that "there is no 'win'" and that Bully Boy mentions mistakes but "whether than talk about to rectify it, he's talking about escalating the war." Andrea Lewis asked what everyone could do to support Lee, Waters and Woolsey's proposal and Lee responded that "the bill needs co-sponsors, the more co-sponsors you build, the more chance the bill will get a fair hearing" so start contacting your Congressional reps (especially the House because this is a House proposal) -- get on the phone, on the fax, on your feet, into your e-mail account . . . and tell them you want to see some support for Waters, Woolsey and Lee's bill -- Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.

Also appearing on
The Morning Show was Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) stated, "I hope she gets a whole lot more signers on that" and that "This is what we need. This is what we must from our leadership, we must have courageous leadership." He then discussed how when the talk of escalation was first being floated, US Senator Harry Reid (Majority Leader) was all ready to go along publicly but public outrage changed that. "The Democratic Leadership, if left to their own devices will go along with Bush on that". Rothschild stated he is for all avenues ("Bascially, I'm for everything") including phone calls and e-mails (which he believes are counted -- they are, a tally is kept by your rep) but it's time to get "past the passive protests." He shared how he was speaking with an activist about the events to note the 3,000 mark for number of US troops killed in Bully Boy's illegal war. The activist stated, "We got to do more than candle light vigils 'cause they're fine with candle light vigils" and that until the actions turn to massive civil disobedience ("until we start interrupting Wall St.," his friend told him) "this war's going to go on" -- instead "the volume needs to go up, needs to increase and just passive resistance to this war" will not change anything.

Philip Maldari raised the issue of the way Bully Boy continues to attempt to sell the escalation on every and any outlet that will have him. Maldari noted that Bully Boy was on the NewsHour as part of the push and "he says he has faith in generals -- well, he just changed the generals." Rothschild responded that "The reason they can't defend the policy is its indefenseable" but Bully Boy "views himself as The Great Liberator -- he thinks he's got God talking to him in one ear and Cheney in the other" which is why he can drop the number of Iraqis killed into a speech (Rothschild was referring to last year when Bully Boy decided to use the Iraqi Body Count figure) and "it didn't have an impact on him . . . he just dropped it off . . . At what point will these catostrophic casualty figures coming out of Iraq really make an impact on Bush?"

In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue following what
Leila Fadel and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) term the "worst day of carnage in more than a month".


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that 17 people have died from a car bombing "in the Shiite district of Sadr City". Mariam Karouny and Claudia Parsons (Reuters) report that the bombing left a "mangled wreckage of a white and orange taxi and blood on the street". The BBC notes that this took place "near the outdoor Mereidi market, one of the neighbourhood's most popular commerical centres" and that "[t]he force of the blast shattered windows of nearby stores and restaurants."

Al Jazeera notes a truck bomb which claimed 10 lives in Kirkuk with at least 42 wounded and "[r]escuers are still searching for bodies." CNN notes that the truck bomb was "detonated remotely, police said. The blast heavily damaged the station, leaving a number of people trapped under the rubble and causing structural damage to other buildings."

Reuters notes a roadsidebomb in Basra has left "two coalition force soldiers" wounded in Basra and it is presumed those are British soldiers, while, in Baghdad, one roadside bomb killed a police officer and left three more wounded, another roadside bomb ("near a minibus") left six people wounded and mortar rounds are being used in the continued assault on Haifa Street.


Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports in an attack on two brothers who were construction workers, one was killed and the other wounded in Mahaweel,


Reuters reports a corpse was discovered (police officer) in Iskandariya. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes five corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

In addition,
Reuters reports that a "local government official in Mansour district of Baghdad was kidnapped" along with four his body guards.

Today, the
US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday and one Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The two deaths bring the ICCC count to 3028 (3028 is the AP count today as well).

Returning to the bill Barbara Lee spoke of, The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act,
AFP reports that it is "calling for a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq within six months" and that it "would repeal congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq . . . [,] would also force the withdrawl from Iraq of US military contractors, and would prohibit permanent US military bases there, while continuing economic and political aid to the country."

From legal news to diplomatic news, the US military stands accused of raiding another diplomatic mission in Iraq.
Al Jazeera reports that: "Sudan has summoned the senior US diplomat in Khartoum after it said American troops raided the Sudanese embassy in Baghdad, violating diplomatic conventions, a foreign ministry spokesmen has said." Last week, an Iranian consulate was stormed by US forces and diplomatic staff rounded up. Five still remain in US custody.

Staying with the topic of bully diplomacy, Mad Maddie Albright, the Sanctions Queen whose policies under Bill Clinton led to the unnecessary deaths of many Iraqis, marches her bald spot into the US House's Foreign Relations Committee today and, as
KUNA's report demonstrates, proceeds to prop up Condi Rice (who studied with Mad Maddie's Daddy) and to boo and hiss the idea of cutting off funding for the illegal war. Cut off funds? Never says Mad Maddie who cut off medicine and a great deal more while once famously bragging, in an interview with Lesley Stahl (60 Minutes) that a half-million dead Iraqi children was "a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

asked about that by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Mad Maddie showed her churlish side as she snapped and attempted to avoid making eye contact with Goodman. The neo-liberal is here to sell the war and while she may present herself as a disinterested party, Naomi Klein's groundbreaking reporting as 2004 wound down was not just on James Baker's efforts to make a quick buck in Iraq, Mad Maddie was a part of the effort as well. It should also be noted that Mad Maddie argued, immediately prior to the war, for Iraq to be broken up into three regions. She's hardly the disinterested diplomat she attempts to present herself as. But she's never been a honest broker.

While Mad Maddie laughably attempts to portray Condi Rice's Middle East trip as proof the Condi understands the importance of "a meaningful peace process," the reality of the trip?
Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) observes that "Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and five other neighboring states" have issued a statement "warning against foreign interference in Iraq" (excluding the US, of course) and that Rice was "traveling the region this week to build support for President Bush's new Iraq policy." That's why Rice has been traveling to the areas, to drum up support for Bully Boy's desired escalation, it's not about peace in the region. Mad Maddie also burped and growled about NATO.

Turning to true diplomacy,
yesterday we noted the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's report and this statement was included: "Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere" -- first eight months of 2006 -- it was the first eight months. We'll pick back up on the topic of Iraqi women in a moment. But, if you missed it, the reports states that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 and 36,685 were wounded and that the US led forces "restrict the enjoyment of human rights and . . . cause severe suffering to the local population." As Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes: "The report paints a harrowing picture of life in Iraq. At least 470,000 Iraqis have become refugees in their own country" and that "Baghdad accounted for about 75% of all deaths in the last two months of 2006".

The report is harrowing and
Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) interviewed Um Qasim (who lives on Haifa Street in Baghdad) whose life demonstrates the realities -- since the illegal war began, Qasim has seen three brothers die, a sister-in-law die, a nephew, a step-son a son . . . while two of her own sons are imprisoned and her 16-year-old son was just shot dead.

So we've noted that. When will the press get serious about the report and note its findings on honor killings and sucides among Iraqi women? The rapes, the kidnappings, the attacks on women and the destruction of women's rights?

December 9th, on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders and MADRE's Yanar Mohammed spoke about these killings. Mohammed described an 'honor' killing in November where a woman was taken from her home by fundamentalists and then beaten and flogged "in the middle of the street. Then they brought a cable and wrapped it around her neck" and used that cable to pull her to the "nearest football field and they hanged her". That's not isolated. Yanar Mohammed could speak of two other 'honor' killings in November as well.
While grateful that Flanders and Mohammed can discuss it, when will the mainstream media? These crimes are in the UN report.

Ehren Watada is on trial, not Sarah Olson. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) writes about Olson today (that's not a slap at Rothschild) and let's note this, while remembering Rothschild is not a 'creative' journalist (meaning he doesn't invent facts): "Olson says she is not in a position to discuss what she is ultimately going to do or 'what kind of legal strategy I will employ,' she says. But she appears to give a hint when she adds: 'My duty as a journalist is to the public and to their right to know, and not to the government."

Okay, are we all confused again?

She can't support her sources one moment, then the next
she's telling Aaron Glantz she has always supported Ehren Watada and doesn't know why anyone would suggest otherwise. Rothchild writes today and Olson's doing what? Saying she can't declare what she intends to do. And yet . . . Olson goes on RadioNation with Laura Flanders and declares she will not testify. (This page takes you to archives where you can listen or just note "Journalist Sarah Olson on why she won't testify against Lieut. Ehren Watada.")

After we're all over the what-mixed-message-is-she-sending-now moment, it bears repeating that Olson is NOT the story. She is a reporter. Her public drama is boring, tiring and embarrassing. She needs to take herself off the public stage because Ehren Watada is facing six years in prison, not Sarah Olson. Or as Dolly Parton says in Straight Talk, "Climb down off the cross, honey. Somebody needs the wood."

Olson tells Rothschild, she's 'holding up' "just fine." Good. Good to know she's maintaining. Now how about remembering that reporters are not the story? Gregg Kakesako, also subpoenaed, told Rothschild "no comment" -- two words Olson would do well to learn unless "Naval Gazer" is the new occupation she intends to list on her passport. All journalists, say it together, "We are not the story. We are not the story. We are not . . ."

Programming note, tomorrow
KPFA presents LIVE, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the US Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting entitled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice." Larry Bensky will host the KPFA coverage which will begin at 6:00 am PST. Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the committee.