Archive for October, 2006

Dancers in Iraq

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Mona, who helped organize and also danced in the wonderful concert of international dance we performed in just before I went to Camp Casey, passed along this article about the valiant dancers of the Iraqi National Folklore Group.

I admire their courage and find this yet another reason to stop this terrible war.

Click here to read the article.

Lt. Ehren Watada Update

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Hi Nancy-
Ehren Watada became very real for us at Camp Casey the night our evening vigil honored our solidarity with him. [See entry on this blog, August 17, 2006 ]  Now, his family is on a nationwide tour to tell his story, and Sunday they made two appearances in Austin. I wish you could have been there to hear them, and to be with many of our Camp Casey friends. I wrote the story below to tell people about this extraordinary man and his totally supportive family. I hope you get to meet them and hear their presentation.

It is sobering to realize that Lieutenant Watada is facing court martial because he did what he thought was the right thing to do: He educated himself about the situation in Iraq, and he refused deployment!

Participants at the events were as diverse as the people of the peace movement. On a shirt I read: “When Jesus said love your enemies, I’m pretty sure he meant don’t kill them.”  Another shirt was emblazoned with bright letters that spelled out “Haight Ashbury.” Attendees conversed about their lives: One was the wife of a soldier soon to be deployed to Iraq; another was a Fort Hood sergeant on his way back to the Middle East. A speaker quoted President Jimmy Carter: “The complacency of the American people is the problem . . .  not the administration.”

Peace, Patrice


Photo of Lt. Watada speaking at the Veterans for Peace Conference, August 12, 2006.

Ehren Watada: A Matter of Conscience

AUSTIN — Lieutenant Ehren Watada may spend eight years in jail because he opposes the war in Iraq. It is a story that is being told now on a nationwide tour being undertaken by his father and step mother.

Lieutenant Watada was raised to be a leader. His parents are well-known public servants in Hawaii, and Ehren as a teenager was an exemplary Eagle Scout at age 15. His family and friends in Honolulu were not surprised when Ehren, a college graduate in the post 9/11 era, decided to pursue a military career. His father said: “He joined the army because he is a patriot.”

The lieutenant took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies – foreign and domestic.

Lt. Watada served a year in Korea, and his next deployment was to be to Iraq. Back at Fort Lewis in Washington, in preparation for his next deployment, he was told to educate himself about the war in Iraq, so he could explain to soldiers why they were being asked to go to war, and possibly give their lives for their country.

Characteristically, he took seriously the order to learn, and read all he could about events that led to the war, among other things, and about the “weapons of mass destruction” that were supposed to be in Iraq. He learned a lot, and twice made formal attempts to leave his commission. He was refused, and then became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation.

Lt. Watada stated: “I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. Help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home.”

In response, Lt. Watada, who is still serving at Fort Lewis, Washington, has been charged by the Army with:
1 count of “Missing Movement”;
2 counts of “Contempt toward Officials”;
3 counts of “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman”;
and an additional count of “Conduct Unbecoming” because of a statement he made at the annual Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle in August, 2006.

His father Bob and step mother Rosa were in Austin October 29 to tell his story. They were greeted at two venues by some 200 supporters who opened their hearts to listen, and their wallets to support the speaking tour of 25 cities in 25 days. The Watadas are being accompanied on the speaking tour by veteran Doug Zachary, and the Austin visit was sponsored by the Austin chapter of Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans against the War, and CodePink Austin.

Lt. Watada’s web site has pictures of himself with his father, his stepmother, and his mother.  It also includes a message from his mother Carolyn, who writes: “Dear Sisters in Spirit, Metaphorically and literally, women are vessels within which transformation gestates and expresses in the world.” She goes on to write about the convictions of her son Ehren, and closes with: “As women, you are in a unique position to effect change. Let your voices resonate.”

See these two sites for more information about Lt. Watada, his convictions, and the charges against him:

Embracing the Subtle Upside of Terror

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

By Garrison Keillor
The Chicago Tribune

Wednesday 25 October 2006

now the federal government is extending the frontiers of terror with the Military Commissions Act of 2006, legalizing torture and suspending habeas corpus and constructing a loose web of law by which you and I could be hung by our ankles in a meat locker for as long as somebody deems necessary. “Any person is punishable …” the law states, “who knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States” and when it comes to deciding what “knowingly and intentionally” might mean or who is the enemy, that’s for a military commission to decide in secret, with or without you present. No 5th Amendment, hearsay evidence admissible, no judicial review.

People came to America to escape this sort of justice. The midnight knock on the door, incarceration at the whim of men in shiny boots, confessions obtained with a section of hose, secret trial by star chamber. One is reminded of Germany, 1933, when the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act to give the chancellor the power of summary arrest and imprisonment, a necessary tool for the defense of the homeland against traitors, Jew-lovers, terrorists.

Not that this is a bad thing. Who am I to say? Maybe we’ve been too lenient with enemies of the state. A period of stark repression might be a rich and rewarding experience for all of us. But when the Current Occupant signed the act last week, the difference between freedom and terror did suddenly shrink somewhat. It makes you wonder: What if Vice President Dick Cheney does not wish to give up power two years from now? Maybe he has other priorities. If an enemy of the United States – a Democrat, for example – appeared to be on the verge of election, perhaps Mr. Cheney, for the good of the country, would be forced to take the threat seriously and head for an undisclosed location and invoke his war powers and shovel a few thousand traitors into camps and call up his friends at Diebold and program the election results that are best for the country, or call the whole thing off….more

The Constitution

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Rep. John Conyers:
George W. Bush v.
The US Constitution

Please click on the link above to read a statement by Congressman John Conyers who has been working valiantly and with little support to save our country.  His statement begins as follows:

Scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra are widely considered to be constitutional crises, in the sense that the executive branch was acting in violation of the law and in tension with the majority party in the Congress. But the system of checks and balances put in place by the Founding Fathers worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken-even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.

The situation we find ourselves in today under the administration of George W. Bush is systemically different. The alleged acts of wrongdoing my staff has documented-which include making misleading statements about the decision to go to war; manipulating intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using classified information to out a CIA agent; and violating federal surveillance and privacy laws-are quite serious. However, the current majority party has shown little inclination to engage in basic oversight, let alone question the administration directly. The media, though showing some signs of aggressiveness, is increasingly concentrated and all too often unwilling to risk the enmity or legal challenge from the party in charge. At the same time, unlike previous threats to civil liberties posed by the Civil War (suspension of habeas corpus and eviction of Jews from portions of the Southern States); World War I (anti-immigrant “Palmer Raids”); World War II (internment of Japanese-Americans); and the Vietnam War (COINTELPRO); the risks to our citizens’ rights today are potentially more grave, as the war on terror has no specific end point.

Click on the link above for the full text.

Advertising Terrorism

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Keith Olbermann:
Advertising Terrorism

What is happening here?

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Carla Binion:
Bush’s Absolute Power Grab


National Yawn as Our Rights Evaporate

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Keith Olbermann | National Yawn as Our Rights Evaporate

Military Commissions Act

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Keith Olbermann:
Olbermann Addresses the
Military Commissions Act in a
Special Comment


“Why Does Habeas Corpus Hate America”

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

“Why Does Habeas Corpus Hate America”


Imprisonment in Guantanamo

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Abandon Hope,
All Who Enter Here