Iraq Theater

Conscientious objector gets hard labor—but no jail time

U.S. Navy conscientious objecotr Pablo Paredes was sentenced to three months hard labor May 13 for refusing deployment to the Persian Gulf. He was also demoted from petty officer third class to seaman recruit, the lowest rank in the Navy. His lawyers call it a victory for war resisters around the country. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Paredes to nine months of confinement and a bad conduct discharge. (Democracy Now, May 13)

Conscientious objectors face court martial

Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, a Bronx native who refused to board the USS Bonhomme Richard as it was preparing to sail from San Diego in December, was convicted by a Navy judge on a charge of missing his deployment to Iraq. He faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a bad conduct discharge, loss of two thirds of his pay and a demotion. Paredes reported to the Navy pier the morning of Dec. 6, but refused to board and was told to go away. After 45 minutes on the pier, he did. He surrendered to military authorities on Dec. 18 after applying for conscientious objector status. The Navy denied his request. That ruling is being appealed. Thomas Jefferson School of Law Professor Marjorie Cohn, an international law specialist, said Paredes had acted from principle. "He said, 'I don't want to be a war criminal,'" she recalled. "He was very concerned about the deaths of more than a thousand American servicemen and women, and of thousands of Iraqis." (Reuters, May 11)

CAN IRAQ AVOID CIVIL WAR?

(And Can the U.S. Anti-War Movement Help?)

by Bill Weinberg

The anti-war movement in the U.S. is at its lowest ebb since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Two broad, mutually hostile tendencies have emerged: one increasingly supportive of the armed resistance, the other increasingly equivocal about supporting an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces. They hold separate marches (as they did in New York City on May 1) for which they marshal radically diminishing numbers. They seem equally oblivious to their manifest inability to meaningfully communicate with the general populace, and equally uninterested in meaningfully engaging the Iraqi people they claim to support.

True freedom fighter killed in Iraq

From the San Francisco Chronicle, April 18:

A car bomb attack near Baghdad has killed a well-known activist from Northern California who entered war zones to record civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and secure aid for those caught in the crossfire.

Marla Ruzicka, 28, of Lakeport (Lake County), founder of CIVIC -- Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict -- died with her driver on the Baghdad Airport road Saturday when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors that was passing next to her vehicle, according to her family and news reports quoting U.S. Embassy officials in Iraq.

SAVING BASRA'S BOOKS FROM THE WRECKAGE OF WAR

A children's story some adults could stand to read

by Padraic O'Neil

THE LIBRARIAN OF BASRA
A True Story from Iraq
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Harcourt Books, 2005

With bold, vibrant colors framing dramatic images, and in language direct and unadorned, Jeanette Winter tells the astonishing tale of Alia Muhammad Baker. As the chief librarian of Basra's central library, she salvaged 30,000 books from the wreckage of war.

According to New York Times journalist Shalia K. Dewan, whose work was the inspiration for this welcome children's book, "Alia Muhammad Baker's house is full of books. There are books in stacks, books in the cupboards, books bundled in the flour sacks like lumpy aid rations. Books fill an old refrigerator. Pull aside a window curtain, and there is no view, just more books." Books on the history of Iraq's civilizations, on Islam and literature, on "the finer points of Arabic grammar and the art of telling time."

WMD report: worse than a whitewash

Well, all the lefties and Bush-haters are gloating again—this time at the new report from a presidential commission finding that the intelligence the White House received aboout weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was "dead wrong." (AP, March 31) Will Pitt of TruthOut does an impressive job of documenting how the report is actually a whitewash that allows the Administration to scapegoat the intelligence community for its own lies (or, more charitably, distortions and misreadings of data).

Did U.S. target Italian journalist?

Italians are demanding answers in the case of US troops opening fire at a checkpoint on a car containing an Italian secret serviceman and an Italian journalist recently freed from Iraqi abductors.

Iraq torture video

A video made by Florida National Guardsmen in the Iraq city of Ramadi shows troops kicking a gravely wounded prisoner in the face, and making the arm of a nearby corpse appear to wave. The video, obtained by the Palm Beach Post, was entitled "Ramadi Madness." Military authorities are taking no action. An Army spokesman told Reuters that the video showed "poor judgement" but "didn't rise to the level of criminal abuse."

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