WW4 Report

Iraq war conscientious objector released

Conscientious Objector Sgt. Camilo Mejia has been released from military prison after serving a nine-month sentence for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. The 28-year sergeant applied for objector status after witnessing the killing of civilians and the abuse of detainees in Iraq. Upon his release, Meija said "I certainly want to continue to lend my voice to the movement for Peace and Justice, of which I feel privileged to be a part." (Democracy Now, Feb. 22)

Nepal: screw tightens

The crisis in Nepal has disappeared from the headlines since King Gyanendra suspended civil government in an "auto-coup" Feb. 1, but he continues to tighten dictatorial rule in the Himalayan kingdom. For the first weeks after the coup, newspapers ran blank space in their pages to let readers know that stories had been cesnored. But after the editors of four major newsweeklies were detained for several days and threatened with prosecution for implicitly criticizing the king, they pledged to halt the practice. (AFP, Feb. 26)

NYC medical examiner closes forensic ID of 9-11 victims

The remains of 1,161 people who died at the World Trade Center will go unidentified, marking an end to a painful waiting period for families who had hoped for a different outcome.

Conscientious objector to face court martial?

An Army hearing officer has recommended a court-martial for a soldier charged with desertion after he refused to deploy to Iraq.

In a Feb. 16 report, Lt. Col. Linda Taylor recommended that Sgt. Kevin Benderman face a general court-martial, the most serious type. The procedure requires approval from Fort Stewart's General Court Martial Convening Authority.

Benderman, an Army mechanic, refused to accompany his unit Jan. 7 for a second tour in Iraq, 10 days after he gave notice that he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector. He said he became opposed to war after serving in the 2003 invasion.

Germans protest Bush

About 12,000 protesters, many carrying banners reading "Bush go home," "No. 1 Terrorist" and "Warmonger," marched through the German city of Mainz Feb. 23, during President Bush's official visit. The rally, which was twice as big as expected, never got within earshot of Bush, but a small group of protestors rushed toward his car as he left to visit a US military base in nearby Wiesbaden. Police wrestled several demonstrators to the ground and led them away in handcuffs.

DoJ blinks in Sibel Edmonds case

The Justice Department has dropped its claim that allegations by FBI contract translator Sibel Edmonds of grave security breaches at the translation unit are classified. Edmonds' claims had already been made public in letters to the DoJ inspector general by senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), but were retroactively classified by the Department. The declassification will allow Edmonds' suit against the FBI to go ahead. Edmonds claims she was improperly fired for bringing the problems to light—some of which she says compromised anti-terrorism operations. (UPI, Feb. 22) The Project on Government Accuntability (POGO) had sued the DoJ and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to get the materials declassified. The declassification will also allow Edmonds' testimony in a civil suit related to the 9-11 attacks. (WP, Feb. 23)

Bush: Talk of Iran attack "ridiculous," but...

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," Bush told a news conference after talks with European Union leaders in Brussels. "Having said that, all options are on the table," he added, drawing laughter at a clear reference to military action. Bush did not respond to a call by French President Jacques Chirac to stop blocking Tehran's candidacy for the World Trade Organization. (Reuters, Feb. 22)

Two Brits convicted of Iraq abuse

After a five-week court martial, British solider Lance-Cpl. Mark Cooley, 25, was convicted of feigning punches to a bound prisoner and of tying up another man and hoisting him on a forklift. Cpl. Daniel Kenyon was convicted of aiding and abetting the abuse and failing to report it. Lance-Cpl. Darren Larkin, 30, pleaded guilty earlier to one count of battery after he was shown in a photo standing with both feet on an Iraqi who was tied up on the ground. Cooley and Kenyon face up to two years in prison and Larkin faces up to six months in jail when they are sentenced.

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