kat, ehren, iraq, tv, robert parry

kat just called to say betty's latest chapter 'Life -- or what passes for it -- with the Friedmans' is up. that was actually our 2nd time speaking tonight and i told her she sounded so tired i'm starting to worry. she really gave her all this week in tacoma to showing support for ehren and i think she's just empty right now. i told her she should go to bed but she said she was going to blog 1st. ehren matters and the stand he's taken matters. he's saying 'no' to an illegal and immoral war. if more would do that, the bully boy might have to fight his own war because there would be so few willing to. but kat gave her all and i even suggested she consider taking the weekend off from the third estate sunday review. she said she'll be fine as soon as she wakes up in her own bed.

and that reminded me when she went to ireland, when her relative was dying last year. she said that she felt the same sense of tension and worry. (i asked her if i could write about this and she gave her permission. she said she's not going to write about because she's just not up to it.) she was the only 1 from her immediate family who was able to go to ireland for that. she does art and photography and makes her own hours so taking time off was the easiest for her. that meant she was in ireland waiting for the end that she knew would not be pleasant.

so that is really similar to what she expected in tacoma. ehren's own attorney was talking about how they would file an appeal immediately. the whole thing was just reminding her of that sense of dread as she waited and waited in ireland. no wonder she's wiped out.

but, you know what? even with that, even with all it reminded her of, all the unpleasant and painful memories, she was there. she was there from sunday through today in tacoma, showing her support for ehren and making it clear that he did matter and that she was on his side.

kat's a really special person. she said at 1 point on tuesday (that's when the prosecution was making their case), she just thought she was going to lose it because there was no word outside fort lewis about what was going on inside (the court-martial) and dona started singing dolly parton (dolly's dona's new favorite discovery) and that made her laugh. to lighten the mood, they were singing 'touch your woman' together.

and speaking of friends, got a full house tonight! Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, and Wally of The Daily Jot are all here (yeah, i swiped the links from third - i'm lazy). i told them we could almost challenge our west coast co-horts! that's 5 of us counting me. (west coast: jim, dona, ty, jess, ava, kat and c.i.)

i'm really excited to see all of them - even the 2 who have been here for me every weekend (except d.c. when i was lucky enough to have betty visit). it's been a busy day and just thinking about it makes me yawn (from being tired, not from boredom) so i better get a move on with this post.

staying on iraq for a bit more, nouri al-maliki is the puppet of the occupation, installed by the u.s. and he hasn't quite lived up to the hopes and expectations of the bully boy. this is from leila fadel's 'Shadows of doubt hang over Iraqi prime minister' (mcclatchy newspapers):

As thousands more American and Iraqi troops mount what could be a last U.S. push to secure Iraq and its capital, no one will be more important in determining whether the Iraqi government - and the American effort - succeeds or fails than Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
If al-Maliki can rein in Shiite Muslim militias, defeat Sunni Muslim insurgents, persuade a recalcitrant parliament to settle divisive issues and muster enough loyal Iraqi troops to quell the violence, the Bush administration's new Iraq strategy might succeed.
If he can't, there may be little more the United States can do to salvage a policy that's taken some 3,100 American lives and tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi ones, cost Americans more than $360 billion so far and alienated much of the world.
There's little obvious evidence that al-Maliki is up to the task. Even his nom de guerre in the Iraqi opposition, Jawad, which he shed when he became prime minister last May 20, is less than intimidating. It means "generous."
Many of his countrymen already have written him off, and the conventional wisdom in the United States is that he's a weak-willed, unsteady politician who depends on the support of the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the country's Shiite militias.
Mahmoud al Mashadani, the Sunni speaker of parliament, called the new Baghdad security plan the government's "last hour," but said he was concerned because Shiite militias had infiltrated the country's police and security forces. "The tools of the plan are corrupted," he said.

'many of his countrymen' have already written him off. did you catch that? the u.s. is tiring of their puppet and the people have no faith in him.

'countrymen'? apparently iraq has only men. is that what the language means?

all iraqi women were rendered invisible in that word choice. which reminds me of the piece we worked on sunday, ' The Nation Stats.' that has to be the worst it will get all year for the nation, that issue. 14 bylines and how many were women? only 1. elizabeth holtzman.

representation matters and when the nation decides to run only 1 woman (alongside 13 men) you really need to start questioning how inclusive 'independent' media is - or isn't?

that's disgraceful. the 14 bylines included book reviews, etc. women, who are supposed to have strong reading skills, don't even qualify, in the mind of katrina vanden heuvel, as worth farming a review out to most issues. but, though they have an appalling track record on publishing women period, it was still a shock to find them going with only 1 woman for an entire issue.

how does that happen in the year 2007? how does that happen when a woman is the editor and publisher of the magazine? people need to be asking those questions and thinking seriously about it.

now i want to note this 'Independent Jewish Voices: New British Group Speaks Out on Israeli Policies in Occupied Territories' (democracy now) which you may have caught:

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us now from a studio in London are two founding members of Independent Jewish Voices: Sir Geoffrey Bindman is a human rights jurist and chair of the British Institute of Human Rights; Professor Susie Orbach is a writer and psychotherapist in London, well-known for her groundbreaking book, Fat is a Feminist Issue. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
Sir Geoffrey Bindman, let's begin with you. Explain this statement that you have put out.
SIR GEOFFREY BINDMAN: Well, what we are concerned about is that the so-called organs that represent the Jewish community are not expressing the views of many Jews in Britain, who support strongly the human rights of Palestinians, as well as Israelis. And there is even an attempt by these organizations to suppress and demonize those who do not wholeheartedly support the policies of the Israeli government.
AMY GOODMAN: Susie Orbach, tell us how you came to this issue and how you became one of the original signatories to the statement.
SUSIE ORBACH: Well, I came to this, because for a very, very long time I’ve always been struck by this sort of strange phenomenon that in Britain, as a Jew, you get criticized for publicly wanting to talk about Israeli government policy, but when you're in Israel, there's such a kind of vibrant conversation and so much support for various kinds of settlements with the Palestinians, and that actually it's quite crazy for both the Israeli government to claim that it speaks in the name of all Jews and for the British organizations of Jews to say that we speak with one voice, when patently we don't. And as part of Jewish writers who were trying to make contact with and have that voice heard, we came together with another group and formulated this proclamation, I suppose you might call it.
And what's been really, really interesting is the kind of support we've garnered this week. The front of the Jewish Chronicle, which is the mainstream Jewish newspaper, not something that Sir Geoffrey and I particularly read, because we're both secular Jews and active in human rights issues in other kinds of ways, has come out with, you know, seven pages, I think, of articles about this, and they are not hypocritical, which is what we usually expect. So I think the mood has really changed, where people feel less frightened and that the kind of monolith position, which is that all Jews everywhere have to keep their disputes within the family, rather than be able to say, no, there are other voices -- I think something is being broken by our statement, and I’m very, very pleased about that.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Sir Geoffrey Bindman, you're no doubt aware of the book by former President Jimmy Carter here, that compares the situation in Palestine to apartheid.
JUAN GONZALEZ: You've been a jurist on missions to both South Africa and to the Occupied Territories. What's your sense of that and also the sharp criticism that he's received and controversy that's arisen as a result of his book?
SIR GEOFFREY BINDMAN: Yes, well, I must admit, I haven't read the book, but I do believe that criticism of people who make some comparisons between the policies of the Israeli government and the apartheid state in South Africa are wrong, because there are comparisons. Of course, they're not identical situations by a very long way, but the subjugation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the demonization of Arabs, which takes place in Israel, and the attitude towards Palestinians does resemble, in some respects, the attitude of the former South African regime towards black people in South Africa.
I wouldn't overemphasize these parallels, but when you mention apartheid at all, you mention South Africa, there’s a storm of abuse, hits you, from the people who are totally uncritical about Israel and feel that any kind of analysis or comment, which is in any way picking any fault with Israeli policies, is somehow letting the side down, is even anti-Semitic. One commentator, extreme commentator, recently described it as genocidal, as if we, the critics of Israel, are in some way contributing towards the ultimate destruction of the Jewish people. It's just such nonsense.
AMY GOODMAN: Susie Orbach.
SUSIE ORBACH: Can I come in here? Because I think one of the motivations for me joining IJV -- and we are a network, so we don't all have the same point of view -- is that actually I am very concerned about the survival of Israel, and I think its actions now do not speak well for it, and that is one of the things that really concerns me. It kind of feels like a terrible stain that a Jewish state is acting in this way. And so, there are people in our network who are very, very strong supporters of either the two-state solution or of the continuation of the state of Israel, but who are disturbed by its practices vis-à-vis Palestinian people.

i wasn't familiar with the group i.j.v. before today's show. i know they have more discussion on the issues in england than we do here (try to discuss it but be prepared to be tarred and feathered 'anti-semite' - that's how it works in this country). but i didn't know the group. that was probably my favorite piece of news today.

okay, i have not noted robert parry all week. an oversight (and wanting to avoid the font issues). but this was written about the fourth annivesary of colin powell selling the illegal war to the american people via a united nations presentation. this is from parry's 'Fourth Anniversary of Powell's Lies' (consortium news):

Editor's Note: On Feb. 5, 2003, Colin Powell -- then considered one of the most trustworthy leaders in the United States -- went before the United Nations and made the case for a preemptive invasion of Iraq, a presentation that we now know was replete with false claims and exaggerated evidence.
But the impact of Powell’s speech on U.S. public opinion then cannot be overstated. Powell effectively de-legitimized the war’s opponents and turned the major U.S. news media into a virtual monolith of misguided consensus for the invasion.
Now, on the fourth anniversary of Powell’s speech, the consequences are painfully clear. More than 3,000 American soldiers are dead, along with possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; many more thousands have been grievously injured; Iraq has been thrust into a hellish civil war; and the U.S. image in the world is in tatters.
But there are important lessons to be drawn from the troubling case of Colin Powell's false credibility. For one, a more skeptical and less star-struck press corps would never have been swept up in Powell-mania. Diligent journalists would have more carefully scrutinized Powell’s real history and explained to the public the disturbing reality behind this hero’s legend.
After Powell's speech, Consortiumnews.com was one of the few news outlets voicing dissent about Powell's trustworthiness. Our headline the next day read: "Trust Colin Powell?" It then linked to an earlier series about Powell’s true biography by Robert Parry and Norman Solomon, entitled "
Behind Colin Powell’s Legend."
On this fourth anniversary of this momentous speech, we are publishing below an excerpt by Parry from the upcoming book, Neck Deep: George W. Bush & the Assault on the American Republic:
To make his case for war before the U.N., George W. Bush dispatched the most credible official in his administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Yet, when Powell was assigned to make the case for war, he already counted himself among the growing list of U.S. officials nervous about the quality of the WMD intelligence. Indeed, Powell may have been one of the best positioned officials to know that the threat from Iraq was being exaggerated.
In February 2001, Powell personally had cited the effectiveness of the U.N. sanctions in crippling Saddam Hussein's military capabilities.
"Frankly, they have worked," Powell said of the sanctions. "He [Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
But Bush called on Powell to put his loyalty to the President first, over his own personal doubts. Col. Larry Wilkerson, Powell's longtime friend and chief of staff, later told CNN that Powell was upset with the White House instructions about what to highlight in his speech.

so how guilty do you think colin powell feels? trick question! he doesn't feel guilty because he feels no guilt!

ava and c.i. established that in "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were." now each week, those 2 do amazing work. i'll get back to that in a moment but in that review, they were addressing colin powell's sit-down with mama confessor barbara walters:

Take Cindy Sheehan. She's a grieving parent and he feels sorry for her. Walters actually wakes up for this moment. And, in one of the few times prior to Powell's wife being brought on, she actually looks him in the eye while delivering her line.
Walters: But if you feel the war is just -- that's a different feeling than if you feel the war is is not.
Powell: Well, of course, for the person that is effected, it is. If they don't feel the war is just, they will always feel it as a deep personal loss.
Unlike Powell, we'd argue that regardless of beliefs on this war, the loss is a "deep, personal loss" for most, possibly all, who've lost family members. Maybe if he sent fat-boy Michael over there, he could find out for himself what it feels like? Till then, by his remarks, he's not anyone effected. How nice that must be.
But is the war just?
It's not a moral issue for Powell. He's already informed Walters of that. He lied. Well if he had to lie, forget the pre-emptive war debate for a moment, if he had to lie, what does that say about the war? Seems to us that a just war wouldn't be a war that required you pulling one over on the public to get support for.
It wasn't a moral issue, Powell states, going to war. Then what does it matter that he lied?
If it's not a moral issue, then what does it matter?
Powell's mea culpa is not only unconvincing, it's illogical. He's glad Saddam Hussein's gone. So why's he concerned with his "blot?" He's completely unconcerned that we're in a war that's based on lies. "I'm glad" he says. Sure he admits that he lied (by proxy -- it's others faults, you understand, nameless people in the intel community), but there's no moral concern. He's only worried about the slug line that now accompanies his name. The "blot." The tag 'liar, liar.'
Colin Powell lied to the United Nations. Not by proxy, he lied. His testimony. A testimony he made the decision to give. Despite objections from people in the department he headed. His accountability pose is hollow and unconvincing. Shrugs? "What are you going to do?" shrugs? That and the shiftiness during the exchange (he can't sit still during the exchange) back up his words. This isn't any big deal to him, that he lied and we went to war. He's just concerned that he's a known liar. For the rest of his life.

that's from 2005, by the way. i love the work ava and c.i. do. they really are reporters. (they would both choke on my use of that word applied to them, but it is true.) they usually are lucky to have 1/2 hour to actually write their commentaries. but they're taking notes while they watch the show, whatever they're reviewing that week, and then they're on the phone with friends getting information (friends with the show, friends at the network). and they pull it all together with that unique and feminist view they bring.

if you think i'm making too much of it, read their stuff. they always do a wonderful job. read 'TV: The Nights of Bankruptcy' from sunday and get that no 1 else could make that point. they're reviewing the dopey and allegedly funny show about a gang of losers ripping off mick jagger and they're tying it into a snit fit abc had 1st in 1994 and for some time after - see, it's okay for an entire series to revolve around ripping off mick jagger, but to have a subplot in 1 show where the insurance industry almost gets ripped off (the guy doesn't even pull it off), gives them the willies. that's a criticism, a strong 1, you might think you could read everywhere but no 1 else made it. none of the big 'reviewers' did it. it took 2 feminists who can work the phones better than the allegedly real reporters to make that important connection.

now here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot' and it's got a lot in it:

Friday, February 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's mistrial continues to be debated, "Who cooked the intel?" becomes a popular question, a leader of one group of resistance fighters in Iraq is quite clear in what is needed to end the war, and "Woops! We thought they were 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda!"

Starting with
Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first commissioned officer in the US to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq because the war was illegal and immoral. On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and
"[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney
Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

Yesterday, on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the mistrial. Cohn's belief (based on expertise) is that the government's case is over -- that, military or civilian, courts must respect the laws of the land and that includes avoiding double-jeopardy (trying a person for the same alleged crimes twice). As Rebecca notes, Cohn explained that the stipulation Judge Toilet made much ado over was a stipulation (agreement between the prosecution and the defense) that both sides had agreed to, that the jury was made aware of, that Judge Toilet had looked over and, up until it was time for the defense to present their case, Judge Toilet never voiced any concerns over the stipulation, More importantly, Cohen pointed out, "When a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it. The only thing that will defeat a finding of double-jeopardy . . . is if there was manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" which, in Cohn's opinion, there wasn't. At Counterpunch, Cohen also made the case "that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officers." Leila Fujimori (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with Earle Partington ("local attorney with decades in military justice") who also stated that "military judge Lt. Col. John Head lacked authority to set a new date, March 19, for the trial after declaring a mistrial Wednesday". Marjorie Cohn had explained to Nora Barrows-Friedman that Judge Toilet floated the idea of a mistrial and when the prosecution (taking the hint) asked for one, the defense did not consent to a mistrial. Also making this point is Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: "The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy. Because 1st Lt. Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison. 'I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted."

Yesterday, reporting for
Free Speech Radio News, Aaron Glantz noted Carolyn Ho's reaction to the mistrial ("tears started streaming down her cheek"). Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada: "He was quite prepared to vacate his apartment. It's been all packed up and, you know, and we were arranging to have his furniture moved on Monday. The expectation was that he would be sentenced and, um, that there would be incarceration." Reporting for IPS (text), Glantz noted Eric Seitz's contention: "Every time the government has tried to prevent political speech, which they are attempting to punish, from infusing the trial proceedings it has created a major mess and many of those cases result in mistrials."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, 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, Matt Lowell 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.

War resister Joshua Key self-checked out of the US army after serving in Iraq. He, Brandi Key (his wife) and their children moved to Canada. Key has written a book on his experience in Iraq and after entitled
The Deserter's Tale. Brian Lynch (The Georgia Straight) notes: "And when Key arrived in the bomb-cratered streets of Iraq, his commanding officers issued constant reports that heavily armed terrorist cells or mobs of Saddam Hussein's sympathizers were poised to attack. None of these threats materialized, he says. And as he recalls in his book, he began to sense that 'the repeated warnings of danger were meant to keep us off guard, and to keep us frightened enough to do exactly what we were told.'
This, he believes, is a tactic that the highest political and military leaders in his native country have used on the public itself. Field commanders, he says on the phone, 'try to keep you scared, keep you motivated. And that's exactly what's happened to the [American] people as well. Everybody is so afraid of terrorism... And of course, from my actions in Iraq, I think the terrorism hasn't begun yet--terrorism from all the little Iraqi children that I terrorized myself. There's going to be a flip side to that. There will be consequences'."

Cause and effect.

On today's Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman noted: "In Iraq, the US military is facing allegations of killing forty-five Iraqi civililans in an airstrike near Amiriyah. Police and hospital officials say the bombings flattened four homes in the village of Zaidan, just south Abu Ghraib, killing women, childre, and the elderly. A photograph released by the Associated Press shows the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck taken to the nearby Falluja hospital. Several other children were reportedly admitted with injuries. The US military denies the account and says thirteen insurgents were killed."

That incident was explored in yesterday's snapshot (and you can tie it with the Najaf incident which
Tom Hayden recently wrote about). Today, Al Jazeera reports: "The US military had said in a statement that US forces killed five armed men in the city of Mosul early on Friday during a raid targeting an al-Qaeda cell." Had? Before we get there, please note that in Najaf, in the strike near Amiriyah, in countless 'battles,' the motive is always said to be 'suspected' this or that. And when innocents die in the attacks, it doesn't change the fact that intended targets (present or not) are still only 'suspected'. So who were US forces ordered to kill in Mosul? The BBC says: "Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US helicopter strike". Lauren Frayer (AP) reports that "U.S. helicopters on Friday mistakenly killed at least five Kurdish troops, a group that Washington hopes to enlist as a partner to help secure Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said."

Now a few things to note. 1) When you have some level of power, you can have the record corrected. That's what happened here. The US military had already issued their press release claiming suspected al Qaeda had been killed. 2) Calling it a "mistake" doesn't mitigate the effects on the families and friends of the eight dead. 3) Even when 'apologizing' the flacks for the US military still want to quibble on how many were killed (
8 is the Kurdish figure and the media's figure, the US military has tried to stick 5). This is why 'suspected' or potential 'suspected' really should raise eyebrows. As evidenced by yesterday's denial, which has only continued, the US military refuses to acknowledge that children were killed in the attack. Instead the military spokespeople want to crow about how they got 'insurgents' or al-Qaeda -- 'suspected.'

Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on Abu Salih Al-Jeelani ("one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement") and his group ("20th Revolution Brigades") which has issued a statement on what it will take for there to be a ceasefire:

* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as "proof of goodwill"

* Recognition "of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people".

* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.

* The negotiations to take place in public.

* The resistance "must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades".

* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.

All starred items are direct quotes from
Fisk's article. The leader says they also want the constitution of Iraq and the deals arranged (especially with regards to the oil) cancelled -- to be replaced by things deriving from the Iraqi people and not foreign occupiers.

In the United States, one of the big stories is the cooking of intel.
Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) notes that "the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. . . . Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) report US Senator Carl Levin stated, "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. . . . The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war" and the reporters note: "The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work."

In some reports, Feith is noted as saying he was not wrong. Of course he wasn't wrong. He cooked the intel exactly as he wanted. Was it burned? Of course, that's how he wanted it, that's how he served it.

And on clever propaganda,
CBS and AP report that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared that there is "pretty good" evidence of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Pretty good? Gates' word is supposed to be all anyone needs. Gates paints a story of 'weapons' found that are from Iran. What is he suggesting? That the Iranian government gave the Iraqi resistance the weapons? No, he means markings show that they were made in Iran. (That's his word -- take it for what it's not worth.) How shocking! People could get weapons from a country that borders their own! Oh my!

It proves nothing -- and the US firearms are all over the Iraqi black market -- but it's the new talking point. Expect to see a lot more of it.

Addressing the issue of Iran,
Juan Cole told Steve Rendell (on this week's CounterSpin): "Of coures the entire discourse of Washington has been, for many years, to get Iran and all Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, some of which have been quite serious and wide ranging have been rebuffed. Iran has been kept as an enemy because Washington wants it as an enemy." Probably won't catch that in the mainstream.


Reuters notes 17 dead in Mosul from a roadside bomb while 2 were killed (eight wounded) in Hilla from a roadside bomb.

Reuters reports that three people were shot dead (and 10 wounded) in Baghdad today.Corpses?

AFP reports that eleven corpses were discovered today in Mahawil -- "floating in the Al-Malih river" -- after they and two others were kidnapped on Thursday (the other were released and are alive*) and, in Amara, Mohammed Qasim Kerkuki 's corpse was discovered ("riddled with bullets"). (*AFP reports that, other agencies don't address the two. Al Jazeera notes that the kidnappers were wearing "Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles".)

Yesterday's snapshot didn't note corpses. My apologies.
Reuters reported 16 corpses were discovered in Mosul and 20 in Baghdad on Thursday. Please note, it's Friday. The majority of the violence (that gets reported) will emerge slowly throughout the rest of Friday.

the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a British soldier in Iraq today, Friday 9 February 2007. MOD Announcement We can confirm that there was a roadside bomb attack on a Multi-National Forces patrol south east of Basra City that resulted in the death of the British soldier. Three other soldiers have also been injured, one of whom is described as critical." That brought the count for UK troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 132.

Also today the
US military announced: "Three Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." AP's count for the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war 3,117.

Finally, seven days ago, the Democratica National Committee held the Winter Meeting in DC and the mainstream's coverage was -- "Who didn't stick to the time limit! Nobody said anything!" Dennis Kucinich, US House Rep and
2008 candidate for president did speak and addressed a number of issues. Our focus is Iraq so we'll focus on the Iraq section. Kucinich: "Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war. Fellow Democrats, of all decisions a President must make, the one most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occured in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it because, fellow Democrats, right now the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress' constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq. Fellow Democrats, I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give the President the money to continue the war the Democratic Party will have bought the war."


ehren in the clear?

what's the deal with Ehren Watada's case now? i still don't know. but tonight on Flashpoints, nora barrows-friedman spoke with marjorie cohn (president of the national lawyers guild) about the events, the mistrial and more.

'ulitmately,' marjorie cohn thinks it is a victory for ehren and she explained why. nora pointed out that judge toilet (john head) refused to let cohen and other experts (michael ratner being 1) testify in ehren's defense. cohn walked through the issues involved including that ehren says the war is illegal and immoral and his participation in it would mean committing war crimes. she said that he knew what he was talking about 'and he cited the uniform code of military justice' whose article 92 'actually says that soldiers have a duty to disobey unlawful orders.'

cohn said that the war of choice 'violates the u.n. charter' and that it is law, the charter, because our constitution says: 'treaties shall be the supreme law of the land'.

she sketched out how the illegal war 'wasn't about self defense' and how 'the security council never authorized it so it was illegal'. she noted the war crimes being committed in iraq and pointed out that 'the judge ruled that that was irrelevant ... his intention was irrelevant' because the judge just wanted it to be about 'a case of missing movement' and about watada's public statements that the military was charging qualified for conduct unbecomine an officer & a gentleman.

an agreement or stipulation was agreed upon by both sides and that prevented the prosecution from calling any reporters to affirm their reports were accurate. ehren was set to testify yesterday, the jury had been selected and sworn in, the opening statements had been made, the prosecution had presented their case (and did a bad job of it) when all the sudden judge toilet decides to seize on the stipulation.

she said, 'the judge got very upset and started looking at a stipulation' and that had been agreed to the week before by both sides, the jury had seen it and so had judge toilet but now judge toilet 'started interrogating lt. watada about his stipulation'.

what happens then is that the judge started raising mistrial and the prosecution moved for 1 which the defense objected to but judge toilet went ahead and called it 'over the objection of the defense.'

"when a mistrial is declared, the defense has to agree to it," cohn explained. "the only thing that will defeat a finding of double jeopardy . . . is if there was a manifest necessity to declare the mistrial" like a juror dying. "there wasn't a manifest necessity".

she sounded honestly surprised by the judge's actions and his grasp of the law. she pointed out that 'any judge would know that whenver there is a motion for a mistrial by the prosecution, the first thing you do is to turn to the defense.'

judge toilet ignored the defense so her opinion is that ehren can't be retried.

'if ehren watada wins,' she said, 'and it looks to me like he is, i don't think they can refile this ... i hope and believe that this would empower other people to resist'.

she then talked about the resistance during vietnam and how the g.i. resistance was a huge force for the government to reckon with and how the 1s choosing to self-check out, the 1s declaring themselves c.o.s and how this (and those who refused to be drafted) ended up forcing 'the government to move towards an air war'.

marjorie cohn concluded with, 'the government has said that they're going to try him again ... but i suspect ... that there'll be appeals and writs and litigations and it may drag on for awhile'.

marjorie cohn has a book due out and it's entitled cowboy republic: 6 ways the bush gang has defied the law.

for more on what happened yesterday, read c.i.'s 'Walking Through Watada (The Court-Martial)'. that's it for me. i am not a note taker. i wrote the above on the back of an envelope i grabbed as the interview was starting. i'm not like ava & c.i. who can take notes (or remember - both have really strong, really amazing memories). so i've been trying to figure out the key phrases i wrote down and that's been most of my night.

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

Thursday, February 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the court-martial of Ehren Watada comes to a surprising end (Aaron Glantz: "It seemed at the beginning that it would to be a slam dunk for the prosecutors but here we are, three days into the trial, and it's ended in a mistrial."), more US troops die are announced dead and the AP total reaches 31114 since the start of the illegal war; Baghdad's health ministry gets stormed and the "gunmen" aren't whom you might expect,

Starting with
Ehren Watada. Yesterday, Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) decided to interject him into the proceedings -- going so far as to question Watada -- and then decided he would declare a mistrial. Aaron Glantz spoke with Sandra Lupien on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News and explained that the 'judge' was "essentially throwing out the agreement that the prosecution and the defense made together on the eve of the trial." The agreement was the stipulation that the defense and the prosecution came to an agreement on whereby Watada acknowledged making statements that were published and broadcast (thereby removing the need for reporters to come to court and affirm their reporting). Both sides agreed to the stipulation and the judge was aware of it and poured over it. Until Wednesday, it was not a problem. Daisuke Wakabayashi's (Reuters) explains the agreement, "In the stipulation, Watada said he did not board the plane with the rest of his unit to Iraq and admitted to making public statements criticizing the war and accusing U.S. President George W. Bush's administration of deceiving the American people to enter into a war of aggression. Watada does not dispute the facts, but said it was not an admission of guilt because it does not take into account the intent behind his actions." John Nichols (The Nation) picks up there noting the judge felt there was no "meeting of the minds" and without such a meeting "there's not a contract" -- despite the fact that both the prosecution and the defense agreed there was a contract -- and so, overruling efforts by the prosecution to again state "that they were not arguing that the agreement represented an admission of guilt by Watada." Eli Sanders (Time magazine) observes that Judge Toilet's declaration of a mistrial was "a surprising development that left military prosecutors clearly frustrated, observers stunned and defense attorneys claiming that the military had blown its only chance at a conviction." Frustrated? Stunned? As The Honolulu Advertiser notes this was "a weird bit of courtroom drama, both parties agreed with each other that Head was wrong." Sam Howe Verhovek (Los Angeles Times) reports that, regardless of what happens next, "the judge's ruling amounted to a temporary moral victory for the lieutenant in a case that many legal observers had considered a virtual slam-dunk for the Army."

So what does that mean? At this point, meaning is up in the air.
Corey Moss (MTV News) was among the ones noting that Judge Toilet had scheduled a court-martial for next month. No, he's not planning on court-martialing himself though that would qualify as justice. He thinks Watada can be retried. Others aren't so sure. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Watada's defense doubts that assertion and that John Junker ("University of Washington law professor") feels that another court-martial would be double-jeopardy for Watada, "The notion is that you can't just stop in the middle and say, 'I don't like the way it's going' and start over." Howe Verhovek quotes Ann Wright (retired State Department, retired col.) who declares, "The legal mess we saw here today reflects the major mess the Bush administration has made with the war in Iraq." If you can follow the above, consider yourself smarter than William Yardley (New York Times) who drops the issue of double jeopardy by merely noting that "the circumstances surrounding the mistrial, including the fact that the judge rejected a stipulation he had initially approved, could allow Lieutenant Watada to avoid prosecution altogether" -- all in the concluding sentence. Where it stands now for Ehren Watada? Aaron Glantz told Sandra Lupien (The KPFA Evening News) that if it another court-martial is held, "We're going to go back to the original charges. Some of the charges were dropped as a result of the agreement . . . Those charges are now back on the table."
Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, 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, Matt Lowell 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.

In Iraq today, the violence continues.


AP reports 20 dead and 45 wounded in Aziziyah as a result of a car bombing "at a meat market". CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad that killed seven on a minibus with at least more hurt.


BBC reports that 14 members of one family were shot down in Balad. Al Jazeera reports that an attack on police in Baquba left 4 police officers "and a civilian" dead.

Today the
US military announced: "Four Marines assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 7 from wounds sustained due to enemy action in two separate incidents, while operating in Al Anbar Province." The AP count of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now "at least 3,114."

Meanwhile the
US military is boasting of having 'captured a senior Military of Health official today' -- Hakim al-Zamili. How difficult is it to capture someone serving in the Iraqi ministries? Apparently quite difficult, Al Jazeera reports that "US and Iraqi forces have stormed the health ministry building in Baghdad" and quotes the ministry spokesperson (Qassem Allawi) saying: "American forces accompanied by Iraq forces broke into the ministry, forced the guards to lie on the floor and took Zamili." Damien Cave and Jon Elsen (New York Times) report an eye witness saying that the US troops were "like cowboys, firing their weapons into the air" and that "they broke dooors and window glass as they made their way through the building". AP reports: "A large white boot print was left on the bullet-pocked office door, which apparently had been kicked in by troops, and shattered glass and overturned computers and phones were scattered on the floor." Those details don't make it into the US military's official press release though "suspected of" "kickback schemes" is all over the place. In the US, that would be the equiavlent of storming the offices of Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health & Human Services, or one of his undersecretaries; in Iraq, it's all rah-rah, all the time. No surprise, Al Jazzera reports that there is a talk that the health ministry will "go on strike unless al-Zamili is released" and their correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid states: "Under the current situation in Baghdad, that could have a devastating effect on the citizens."
The same rah-rah that leads to attacks on governmental offices in Iraq, also leads to the deaths in Amiriyah. What are the commanders hopped up on that the US military sees anything worth boasting of in those events? Let's start off with reality.
AP reports: "Police and hospital officials in the area offered a conflicting account, saying the airstrike hit the village of Zaidan south of Abu Ghraib and flattened four houses, killing 45 people, including women, children and old people. An Associated Press photo showed the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck at the nearby Fallujah hospital and people there said he was a victim of the Zaydan airstrike. Other photos showed several wounded children being treated in the hospital." Now you just know all of that gets left out of the official US military press release. What is included? "Intelligence reports indicated an individual associated with foreign fighter facilitation was in the targeted area." Intelligence reports indicated? Civilians were targeted and killed. At some point Americans are going to have to start asking questions about actions like this. This was one person "associated" -- who may or may not have been present. Not only is his or her presence in doubt, so is any link -- "associated." If you can grasp that, start asking who sends troops in to attack civilians? Four houses were flattened, civilians were targeted and killed. These are the actions that breeds the resistance. There's no, "Oops, meant well!" Not when it's your family or your friends who are dead. This is the (still illegal) war Bully Boy is selling. More US troops on the ground mean more dead civilians. More dead civilians mean more Iraqis joining the resistance. This is the never ending cycle and those not addicted to revisionary tactics recognize the echoes from Vietnam.

In the United States, Senator John Warner and other Republicans are pushing for support of the non-binding resolution.
CBS and AP report that Warner and six other Republican senators are attempting to buck their party's shut down on the non-binding resolution. In their letter (PDF format), Warner, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith and George Voinovich write: "The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time. It urgently deserves the attention of the full Senate and a full debate on the Senate floor without delay" . . . before concluding: "We strongly believe the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concept brought forward by other Senators. Monday's procedural vote should not be interpreted as any lessening of our resolve to go forward advocating the concepts of S. Con. Res. 7. We will explore all of our options under the Senate procedures and practices to ensure a full and open debate on the Senate floor. The current stalemate is unnacceptable to us and to the people of this country." The non-binding, toothless resolution is purely symoblic and you can be sure the signers of the letter know that and also know that "The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time" will be picked up everywhere and give them the cover of appearing to have actually addressed ending the illegal war and bringing US troops home -- the message voters sent in the November elections.

They are also, no doubt aware, that next week the other half of Congress, the House of Representatives is set to address the war quite a bit more seriously than anything the Senate has done all month.
Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) reports that, next week, the House is expected to devote at least "three days of debate" to the Iraq war; that "[s]eventy-one Democratic representatives signed a statement urging Congress to take a strong stance against the war, including setting a six-month timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq" and he quotes Rep Dennis Kucinich (also 2008 presidential candidate) stating of the Senate's measure: "The nonbinding resolution is like putting your foot on the brake for a moment and a few weeks later, putting your foot on the accelator. . . . Congress has a chance to do something real on the war. A nonbinding resolution just doesn't cut it."
Anthony Arnove (ISR) observes: "All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and restrictions on civil liberties. The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.


ehren watada, norah jones, etc.

c.i.'s caption to the photo at the left: 'The Watada photo is available for public use at this page of the ThankYouLt. site -- it's of Carloyn Ho (Ehren's mother), Ehren Watada and his father Bob Watada and was taken by Jeff Paterson of Not In Our Name.' the 'judge' has a ruled a mistrial and rescheduled the court-martial for march. i'll get to that in a bit but i still don't know what to make of the news, to be honest.

so let's go chatty.

i'm listening to norah jones' new cd. it's called not too late. it was in my latest care package from c.i. - seriously, i am getting 2 to 3 deliveries a week. pregnancy has resulted in nonstop deliveries. that's not a complaint. i love it. and i love not too late. i didn't love her big cd. i really didn't love that. but this 1 really is good and has much more variety. the new rickie lee jones was also in the box (along with my favorite cookies - i swear, i'll blame all weight gain on c.i.'s care packages -- and several books and magazines). i was curious about rickie lee jones' cd because c.i. had talked it up.

so flyboy and i figured we'd listen to norah jones 1st because we weren't expecting to like it. we felt it would be 1 spin, we would have listened, then we could spend the night listening to rickie lee. i'm sure rickie's wonderful. even my least favorite album by her (pop! pop! pop!) is 1 i can listen to. but she's on hold tonight. we've been listening to norah.

if you liked her voice before but felt the music was just a little too sterile, give this cd a listen. flyboy's favorite is 'sinking soon.' in fact, we had to stop and go back to that 1 (second track) the 1st time we listened because he thinks it is just fantastic. i can't pick a favorite yet. i just love it all. give me a day or 2.

another cd i've been listening to is lizzie west. if you said who, you need to read kat's 'Kat's Korner: Lizzie West, faith in yourself' right away. the title is i pledge allegiance to myself and my favorite song is actually 2 songs - '19 miles to baghdad' and 'rope me in and smoke me' (i also love the song that the chorus is 'goddamn that man'). kat called late last night and i appreciated it. i was probably boring as can be. but she's been working so hard the last few days being out in tacoma to protest that i really hadn't spoken to her since sunday. (since sunday! - that's a big deal. i live on the phone. even when i'm mobile.) i was really worried about her because i know she was really taking the court-martial to heart.

don't get me wrong, it matters to every 1, but since it was very likely he would have been convicted (not fair, but likely), i was really getting worried about kat. i kept asking c.i., 'she know the defense is already working on the appeal, right?' and c.i. would say kat did know that but she really wanted to see it not come to that. she is extremely empathetic.

flyboy wants me to add something. 1 of the book's c.i. sent in today's delivery is howard zinn's original zinn with david barsamian (subtitle: conversations on history and politics) and flyboy's just read about 10 pages of it but says i have to plug it. so i am plugging, read original zinn.

we're going to be watching the documentary on howard zinn this weekend and i can't remember the name of it to save my life. but c.i. sent that earlier this week and elaine's never seen it. howard zinn is elaine's hero. so when she and mike come out this weekend, we're going to watch that.

i'm going to tell a secret here and she's going to be pissed at me but, in college, she had a crush on howard zinn. i was freaking over what ever rock star of the moment and elaine's drooling over howard zin. i'm not joking. we talked about that tonight when we were on the phone. i meant to not keep her so long but flyboy got behind the couch and started massaging my shoulders and i thought 'the second i get off the phone, he's going to stop!' oh, that felt so good.
i could've gone to sleep like that if elaine didn't have me laughing by recalling stories i'd forgotten (some for good reason).

but howard zinn, seriously, she thought he was an attractive looking man (tonight she said 'he still is!') but most of all it was that way of seeing things that he has. i think i've mentioned this before, but forget concerts, the best experience elaine ever had was a birthday thing c.i. and i did with her where we surprised by taking her to hear howard zinn speak 1 night. she remembers that and counts that among her all time best birthdays.

okay, let's get to ehren. let's start with the news, from corey moss' 'War Objector's Court-Martial Ends In Mistrial' (mtv news):

The court-martial of Ehren Watada, an Army lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq, ended in a mistrial Wednesday (February 7) after a judge ruled that the soldier misunderstood a document he signed admitting to some of the charges against him.
(See Watada talk about the charges against him and why he refuses to go to Iraq in this video interview conducted before the mistrial.)
Military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head, who set a March 12 date for a new trial, ruled that Watada intended to acknowledge that he did not go to Iraq with his unit in June but never meant to admit he had a duty to go there.
"I'm not seeing we have a meeting of the minds here," the judge said, according to The Seattle Times. "And if there is not a meeting of the minds, there's not a contract."

i still don't know what it means. the defense was ready to make their case today (and they were ahead of the game) so it's not like they need extra time to prepare. c.i. said there was a strong chance that the 2 charges that had been dropped would be brought back. that automatically ups his potential time, if found guilty & found guilty of all charges, from 4 years to 6 years.

c.i. also pointed out that carolyn ho has missed a lot of work. she's not retired (bob watada is retired.) it seems like postponing at this point is putting a lot of stress on the family.

on the plus side, as elaine pointed out, this week, ehren has finally gotten some attention from the press. not from the nation, of course. katrina needs a dead relative with a will she hasn't seen to get excited.

i don't know what the mistrial means in the big picture view. i wish i did. i do know that we need to work even harder.

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another US helicopter is shot down in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial is on day three, the Iranian government levels accusations at the US government, and Melanie McPherson receives a sentence of three years.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq in June of last year and now is the subject of a court-martial at Fort Lewis where, if convicted of all charges, faces up to four years in prison. L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports on the people going to Tacoma, Washington to show their support for Watada such as Rose Takamoto who states, "I think it's really important" and "It's something that needs to be discussed while noting her disappointment in "local coverage from media outlets like the Mercury News, until this week." Though some of the press accounts tell a different story, Tuesday's proceedings were a huge boost for Watada. So it may come as little surprise that Reuters is reporting that Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. John Head) declared today that the trial could end in a mistrial -- which would result in another court-martial or, as many see it, a "do over" for the prosecution.

So let's review Tuesday's proceedings. Yesterday on
The KPFA Evening News, co-anchor Sandra Lupien discussed the proceedings with Aaron Glantz. (A section of this was played today on KPFA's The Morning Show.) Lupein noted that after selecting the seven officers to serve on the jury/military panel on Monday, the prosecution argued their case Tuesday and "who were its witnesses and what were their arguments?"

Aaron Glantz: The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosection's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to [Iraq] and that it did not inspire others in his unit to also refuse to go or to speak out against the war. And, while that may not be comforting to supporters of Lt. Watada who want to see him make a big impact, it cuts against the prosecution's case that his conduct was unbecoming an officer and a gentleman because it inspired deviant behavior amongst other troops.
Another thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military before coming forward to speak to the public. For example he proffered his resignation which was not accepted , he offered to go to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. Now Lt. Col. James, who is one of the higher ranking officials at Fort Lewis, testified that, as service members, we don't have the opportunity to choose where we go and that's why his desire to go to Afghanistan was turned down but Lt. Col. James also said that when Lt. Watada came to him to discuss his opposition to the Iraq war he did not enage him a moral debate which it was discussed by many other people in the role of a commanding officer in the US military.

Lupien asked what was expected for the third day of the court-martial (today).

Aaron Glantz: Well one of the interesting things is that Lt. Watada is the star witness for both the defense and the prosecution. Before the human witnesses came to testify for the prosectution, they played tapes of Lt. Watada himself speaking where he said the war was illegal and immoral. In particular they played a speech that he gave at the Veterans for Peace annual convention last year where he said. [. . .] Now this speech was played by the prosectuion, tomorrow the defense will call Lt. Watada as their star witness in order to explain why it is that he said this. [. . .] The defense had hoped to call a number of witness who could speak to the morality and ethics of the war and the judge in the case, Col. Head, refused to allow that into the courtroom saying it was irrelevant so, as a result. the defense is only calling Watada himself and a captain who was one of Lt. Watada's superiors.

In response to Lupien's question of whether Glatnz was expecting the trial to conclude on Thursady, he responded, "Obviously it depends upon how long this jury of US army officers takes to reach their decision -- and then we'll see the sentencing phase -- and of course that's where the defense is really looking because they do believe that he will be found guilty, at the very least, of missing movement, refusing to go to Iraq. It's less clear whether he'll be found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. But, in any case, that's where they really hope to make their case. So his attorneys have already said that they will appeal whatever comes out of it."

In the report, Glantz quoted from the speech Ehren Watada gave at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last August, hitting some of the key points. We'll emphasize this section of the speech (
from Darh Jamail's transcription at Truthout):

The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.
As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt individuals as much as they can corrupt institutions. The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system. Neither could they believe a standing army would be used for profit and manifest destiny. Like any common dictatorship, soldiers would be ordered to commit acts of such heinous nature as to be deemed most ungentlemanly and unbecoming that of a free country.
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.
Aside from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and its protectorate, the people. If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they stood up and threw their weapons down -- no President could ever initiate a war of choice again.

Geoffrey Millard is reporting on the proceedings for
Truthout. Millard asked Bill Simpich, civil rights attorney, about Atonia's testimony on Tuesday and Simpich offered this evaluation, "The prosecution asked too many questions, by the time it was over the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was wide open, the defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury."

As Glantz and Simpich both point out, the prosecution didn't make the case they wanted on Tuesday before resting.
Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Judge Toilet had to order the prosecution "to rephrase a question that strayed close to that prohibited subject" -- the illegality of the war -- "ordering 'move on!'" Ha Bernton (Seattle Times) notes the pathetic nature of the prosecution's witnesses which seemed less bothered with Watada's actions and more upset that he went public. Watada began attempting to work the matter out privately in January. His unit deployed in June, the same month his stand became public. Apparently, they wanted Watada to stay silent while they (his commanders) did nothing.

Speaking with Glantz yesterday, Aura Bogado (anchor
Free Speech Radio News) asked about the restrictions being placed on the media?

Glantz: This court-martial is taking place on Fort Lewis which is a US army installation, where the Stryker Brigade is headquartered, and we've been told that we're free to watch the proceedings and they've been very generous they've set up a media overflow room to deal with the tremendous number of members of the press that are here. They have also allowed a number of the public and Ehren Watada supporters to come. But members of the media are actually forbidden from talking to Watada's supporters while we're on base. We're also forbidden from talking to the Lt. himself, his legal team, or his family, and actually we're even escorted to by military escort to lunch when they have their lunch break and we're escotred to a seperate restaurant on base from where the members of the public, many of Watada's supporters, are escorted.

Free Speech Radio News also noted this from Eric Seitz, Ehren Watada's civilian attorney:
"This is a young man who went through a process where he tried to avoid a confrontation with the army. He went to them in good faith on numerous ocassions and offered to resign his commission, offered to go to Afghanistan, offered to do a number of different things, so that we would not find ourselves in a situation where had had to disobey an order. That was not something he wanted to do. I'm going to tell them that he has always acted with sincerity and integritey. He has always impressed everybody with whom he's met or spoken as to the basis of his beliefs. He has not gone out of his way or at any time encouraged the counsel other people to do an act or to take any action other than to decide for themselves what they're conscienceses require and to follow the dictate of their own consciences."

In addition to a lousy day for the prosecution on Tuesday,
AFP notes that Ehren Watada has received support from Desmond Tutu ("I admire your courageous and moral stand. In Christian tradition, ethics insist on the absolute primacy of obeying one's conscience. It is categorical imperative."), Susan Sarandon ("If the definition of a patriot is one who loves and defends his country then Ehren Watada is truly a patriot for his refusal to serve in a war that is harming the people of Iraq and increasing the threat of harm to Americans.") and Amnesty International. Amnesty International's statement of support for Watada opens: "Pending the February 5 trial of Ehren Watada, who faces a possible four-year prison sentence for his refusal to participate in the Iraq war, Amnesty International stated that a guilty verdict would be a violation of internationally recognized human rights" Also David Strum (Baltimore Messenger) reports that Ralph Nader voiced his support: "'This is a criminal war. This is an unconstitutional war,' he said. Watada has every right to invoke the Nuremburg principles of World War II in refusing to go to Iraq, he added."

As Aaron Glantz (OneWorld) reminds, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) has refused to allow the Nuremberg defense to be argued: "The fourth of the Nuremberg Principles states that superior orders are not a defense to the commission of an illegal act, meaning soldiers who commit a war crime after 'just following orders' are as culpable as their superiors." While the prosecution fizzles out, it's no surprise that Judge Toilet is suddenly announcing the possibility of a mistrial. AP headlines their coverage "Fort Lewis judge threatens mistrial in Watada's court martial." Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that Judge Toilet's debating over the a stipulation agreed to by Watada prevented Watada from testifying and might mean the charges he faces increase. The stipulation was Watada's agreement to affirm the reports published and broadcast about him in order that reporters wouldn't be asked to testify in his case. There's confusion about what exactly is in question regarding the stipulation. Aaron Glantz may address that this evening on The KPFA Evening News (6:00 to 7:00 pm, PST).

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, 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, Matt Lowell 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.

We marched against a war, long ago,
wondering if it would make a difference.
Now we march again, in conscience, knowing,
We cannot allow this lie to go unchallenged.

-- Sebastian Eggert, "Compression,"
Poets Against The War, p. 63

Wednesday night a US helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
AFP notes: "Between January 20 and February 2, four US choppers including a private aircraft crashed in Iraq, killing 20 people." Yesterday made it four US military helicopters (the "private" refers to a Blackwater's helicopter that was shot down on January 22nd -- with the fighting being outsourced some may want to count that as a military helicopter). Rob Watson (BBC) reports, "This time it was a CH-46 Sea Knight which came down near Baghdad" and raises two issues: "First, are there any indications that the insurgents in Iraq have decided to step up attacks on US aircraft? Second, have they developed new techniques or acquired new equipment to make any attacks more successful?" While the US military flacks play dumb and fall back on the usual stall tactics ("We're investigating"), eye witnesses are already telling what they saw. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that an unnamed "Iraqi air force officer" states the helicopter was shot down and that eye witnesses back that up as well -- such as Mohammad al-Janabi: "The helicopter was flying and passed over us, then we heard the firing of a missile. The helicopter, then turned into a ball of fire. It flew in a circle twice, then it went down." Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes eye witness Ali Thmir: "The helicopter was heading to Habaniya base west of Fallujah but it was hit by a missile and we could see it when it was blown up and how its parts flew through the air." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) quotes eye witness Ahmed Said, "I stopped the car and I saw the chopper was on fire and pivioting in the air." CBS News' Lara Logan noted eye "witnesses said a helicopter had gone down in a field in the Sheik-Amir area northwest of Baghdad, sending smoke rising from the scene." Dean Yates (Reuters) reports, "All seven crew members and passengers aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter were killed when it came down near Baghdad on Wednesday".

Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West died Feb. 6 from wounds sustained due to enemy actions while operating in Al Anbar Province." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that the total number of US troops killed in the illegal war thus far is "at least 3,111". AP reports that a roadside bomb in Diwaniya killed one Polish soldier today and left three others wounded.

On Sunday, Iraqis in military uniforms kidnapped an Iranian diplomat.
Robert H. Reid (AP) reported that those involved were thought to be with "the Iraqi Special Operations Command, an elit unit under the direct superfivision of the U.S. military." The diplomat is Jalal Sharafi and Lara Logan (CBS) reported that the Iranian media "blamed the U.S." for the kidnapping. Stephen Farrell (Times of London) quotes the Foreign Ministry spokesperson for Iran, Muhammad Ali Hosseini, stating: "Iran holds American forces in Iraq responsible for the safety and life of the Iranian diplomat." The kidnapping comes one month after US stormed a consulate and arrested six Iranians and at a time when Bully Boy continues to offer his gut as proof that Iran is up to no good in Iraq -- a gut that even his own circle looks skeptically at. In a piece the Times of London identifies as "Comment," Stephen Farrell shares his reasons for doubting that the Iraqi government was involved: "Mr al-Maliki is caught in a very delicate position between the competing agends of Iran and America, the regional and world superpowers. His government has repeatedly stated that both allies of Baghdad and they must not play out their differences on Iraqi soil. It would be a huge mistake to inflame the already tense relations between Tehran and Washington."


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad wounded four police officers and left one dead, while, not far from Suwayra, a woman was killed by a roadside bomb (two other people were wounded), and, in Falluja, a mortar attack left four dead. The US military announced three children died and "12 other residents" were wounded in Mzerat from a mortar attack.


Kim Gamel (AP) reports that 3 security guards "at the government-funded Iraqi Media Network" were shot dead in Baghdad while "a female government official" was shot dead in Mosul. CBS and AP say the number of security guards shot to death reached four.


Reuters reports 33 corpses were discovered "around Baghdad," and the corpses of an Iraqi soldier was discovered in Shirqat (also noted is 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Tuesday, three in Mahmudiya and two in Yusufiya).

But good news! The cracked up 'crackdown' in Baghdad has a new tactic. Along with the barbed wire,
CBS and AP report that a new tactic is being utilized: Billboards! They site several and we'll note two, a crying man (who didn't run to authorities) with the message, "I should have done the right thing" and another that reads: "Be a hero and report suspicious behavior." No word on what might be done to grafitti artists should they 'improve' on the billboards. CBS and AP also report on the general consensus of Baghdad residents about the prospects of the latest version of the crackdown and Hashem al-Moussawi may speak for many when he says, "Nothing will work, it's too late." No word on whether the US military intends to make that a billboard slogan.

Finally, Melanie McPherson entered a plea of guilty in her AWOL case Monday.
AP reports that she "faces up to a year in prison after a military judge's ruling, which superseded McPherson's guilty plea to a lesser charge of going absent without leave." AP reports that Melanie McPherson "was sentenced to three months in military prison" and that she "was also reduced in rank to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge after her prison term." Melanie McPherson is not a war resister. She self-checked out last July (turned herself in September) not because she was being sent to Iraq -- when she was called up from the reserves, she reported to Fort Bliss -- but because she was being sent to Iraq to do something she hadn't been trained in and wouldn't be trained in before her impending departure. McPherson's story isn't an oddity, it happens far too often and, while the military may feel 'good' about pushing her around, it's past time the American people started asking why troops were being deployed without the proper training? McPherson, to repeat, was not opposed to deploying to Iraq -- her problem was being expected to do things she had no training for. As Melanie McPherson herself said:

The decisions I have made are not only for my benefit, but also for the fair and better treatment of soldiers coming up who will face similarly difficult situations. We are regarded as the best military in the world. I believe we should make it better and safer for those that serve our nation. They absolutely deserve it.