This is from The Winston-Salem Journal:
The body of 1st Lt. Leevi Barnard, the N.C. National Guard soldier killed in Baghdad, Iraq, last Thursday, arrived this morning in Mount Airy in preparation for his funeral.
Shortly before noon, a brigade of Patriot Guard Riders and several police cars arrived in front of Moody Funeral Services, along with a hearse carrying Barnard's body.
About 50 people gathered to await the processional.
Evelyn Bowman-Donhehan, a family friend, described Barnard as "a good-hearted country boy.""You don't have to be old to die," she said.
Caroline Blair (News 14) offers:
"He was very friendly," friend Jennifer Rodgers, who met Barnard in school, said. "He didn't even know me and let me sit with him on the bus, and I thought that was real sweet, being a new student and all."
Blair's report also has a video option as does WGHP's report which notes that there will be a memorial service tomorrow "from 5 to 8 p.m. at Blue Ridge Elementary School in Ararat, VA. Barnard's funeral is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m."
In the Iraq study group tonight, we were talking about how Memorial Day really didn't register for most people. I think in part due to the economy. Also due to a press that has tremendous apathathy.
So I said that I'd note one of the fallen tonight and just leave it at that. My effort to underscore that the Iraq War continues. That people are still dying.
Maybe, like me, you are opposed to it and are working to end it. Maybe you support the war. Regardless of which position we hold, I would hope we could all agree that the press is ignoring Iraq.
So tonight I did my part not to ignore it.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:
Friday, May 29, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, oil-rich Kirkuk unresolved but money to begin pouring in, al-Sadr surfaces and he's a Prop 8 backer, Steven D. Green and his War Crimes and more.
Iraq Veterans Against the War held their Winter Soldier Investigation in the DC area in March of 2008. That was broadcast at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday with Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz anchoring Pacifica's live coverage. (It was also broadcast at the IVAW site.) That was their first Winter Soldier. Since then, they've held others, including one in Texas. They recently had another in Pasadena. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:
Winter Soldier Southwest was a great success. There were more than half a dozen camera crews shooting it for purposes ranging from independent media to anti-war documentaries. The panelists were quite moving and the audience was extremely supportive and full of positive energy. We want to thank everyone that helped put the event together, including all the panelists from VVAW, VFP, MFSO and Gold Star Families. Most profoundly moving was the testimony of the Gold Star Families panel. Quite a number of panelists testimonies have found their way onto the internet already, below is a short list of a few links to what's out there
Wednesday we noted Ryan Endicott, Thursday we noted Christopher Gallagher's and today we'll note Devon Read's. In addition, IVAW notes the testimony of this compilation video and this compilation video. Apologies to Sgt Devon Read because there is so much noise during his testimony you'll see numerous "[. . .]". Noise includes people talking, thumping on tables, and other things. The video also has jump cuts. I have inserted a credit into his speech. For too many years, someone's been consistently robbed of her credit. The issue isn't with Devon Read. But it is a big issue with me and we will go into after the bad transcription (by me) of his testimony:
Devon Read: We're going to start off with something written by Maj Gen Smedly Butler, a US marine. He was one of the only a handful of marines awarded the Medal of Honor twice for separate acts of heroism. Most marines learn about his war record during boot camp. One thing we don't learn about is the book he wrote about war [War Is A Racket]. In this book, he wrote, "War is a racket. It always has been. It is probably the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. It is conducted at the expense of the very few for the benefit of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat infested dug out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle? Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the self-same few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill. And what is this bill? This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations."
9-11 was four weeks after I graduated from the School of Infantry. We were quickly called up to be an anti-terrorism quick reaction force in southern California -- basically perform civilian crowd control in the case of another attack. We also did a lot of ground infantry training. At the end of our one-year activation, we started hearing about a war with Iraq in the news and couldn't believe it. We were completely in denial right up until the day we got extended and deployed for the invasion. We were in denial because we all knew Iraq had no connection to 9-11. But it was 30 years after Vietnam. There were no combat vets left in the military to tell us how horrific war really was. All we had were the glorified version of war in movies. [. . .]
My unit's first contact was as we were providing security as the rest of our regiment was moving northward through a very small town. I was in a mortar platoon and we were getting ready to fire on a building that was firing on our combo. [. . .] mortars fire almost three miles, so most of our targets are called in by others and we never see them. So when we started hearing small arms fire very close by it surprised us. I thought it was one of our own guys firing. And then I heard a ricochet in the vehicle I was standing in. Turned out I was being shot at because I was wearing a radio, like an idiot, standing in the bed of a Humvee, a good five feet higher than anyone else. So we all scrambled [. . . -- possibly 'to a burn'] to identify where we were pretty sure the fire was coming from. And tasked a machine gun with taking out a shooter. The machine gun is a thirty pound beast that no one ever wants to carry so of course it gets assigned to the youngest, newest marine in the platoon. So now this 18-year-old kid is told to fire an M "240 Golf" machine gun at a rate of 650 rounds per minute into the window of an adobe building that we're pretty sure is firing at us. No one ever went to check if we were right. Congratulations and machismo abound of course because he "got some."
We're traveling down a stretch of road dubbed "The Highway of Death." We'd gotten the word that there would be absolutely no civilians in the area. They'd been evacuated or told to stay [. . inside]. And we believed them. Our convoy would rotate battalions on point so some days we'd be out in front, some days we'd be buried in the middle, and this was one of those days we were in the middle. So someone else was up front seeing targets as they were identified. As the very front was a group of Humvees with Tow Missile on the roof -- a very powerful weapon.
We're cruising along when we see a white bus, blown up, smoking on the side of the road. We all assumed it must have been jihadists or something until we pass it and see it's full of families who are trying to escape the town. There's a little girl and her father and she's dragging a suitcase that's blown apart and the clothes are scattered all about. And she's smoldering with her father dead.
I'm sure it was a very simple mistake someone made along the way. But the end result was a bus of civilians was blown up.
The first day we got into Baghdad, April 8th [jump cut in video] over the course of several hours we blanketed a city block, a few apartment buildings, with our mortar shells. Each with blast radius of thirty meters. We heard later there were dozens of Iraqi casualties. We all knew the civilian body count was high but couldn't spend any time thinking about it. [Jump cut in video.]
The point of these three stories is this: War hurts everyone involved. Some people die, some are changed forever. There's really no such thing as a "clean war." Our weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible in as efficient manner as possible [someone whispering over speaker Devon Read "Would you like . . ."] unless they aren't in which case they're designed to maim them so that it will slow down his comrades and his country will be burdened with healing. The disgusting nature of war is very much by design. 18-year-olds run off to some distant land, excited to do their part, excited because of all the heroic stories they've been told, because their leaders told them that a good war story would woo the girls back home.
They weren't told about PSTD or IEDs or what it would be like to lose an arm or a leg or both. Since these things are all inherent in war, war is bad, right? I'm still to believe that sometimes it may be necessary. Essentially, it's a collective action problem.
If we all collectively agree that war is not necessary and that nations should resolve their problems like adults instead of kindergartners then war wouldn't be necessary but it's like John Lennon [C.I. note: and Yoko Ono] said, "War is over if you want it." But of course we can't all collectively agree on anything right now. It's still collectively kindergartners. And unfortunately, very often, the type of personality it takes to get into a position to rule one nation is the same type of personality that makes one want war and sometimes that leads to dictators invading other nations.
This of course is true for Saddam Hussein, a vicious dictator that gassed his own people and invaded sovereign neighbors. And it used to be how I defended the war. I justified the invasion by saying we deposed an evil man. All my friends are very liberal. But they knew not to challenge me about the invasion because I could always win that argument. This happened to me when I finally got out of my unit. I stopped drilling with them every month. Until that point it was necessary for my own well being to be able to believe at least somewhat in the mission because if I got deployed again, what was I going to do? If I was going to have to deploy again and didn't believe in what we were doing, I could get one of my fellow marines killed because I wasn't focused. But once I was out, I was able to re-evaluate the same stories and facts I'd heard a dozen times before, the same memories I had, my own experiences and come to a very different conclusion.
For me the jury is still out on whether there is such a thing as just war -- I still don't know. I still believe that doing service for your country is an honorable thing to do. The problem I have now is that I feel our service has been misused for the last 8 years. On average, two percent of the population has the warrior mentality. The kind of individual willing to place his body between his family and war's desolation. Those few are trained to do their duty and what's necessary to protect their loved ones. These are dedicated individuals who can accomplish a great deal, who have a great deal of influence in the world. So wielding them is an important responsibility. And for the system to work properly, one has to assume that those who have the ability to wield that power will do so responsibly. In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, I do not believe that they did so.
In every war there will be civilian casualties. In every war, 18-year-olds will have to shoot blindly to protect his brothers. But when all of the reasons we were given for invading have turned out to either be mistakes or some case flat out lies, it's just wrong. We were told to expect gas attacks at each major city. [. . .] Heavy resistance from the Republican Guard but none of that ever happened. Once foreign passports started to be found, we were told that Syrians and Iranians were training and fighting with Saddam's Ba'athists and it was further evidence they were obviously fostering terrorism that was responsible for 9-11. But we know that's not the case. The truth is that al Qaeda didn't go to Iraq until we started a war there.
I used to justify the continuing occupation by claiming that leaving now would only destabilize Iraq further and that it would collapse into civil war. The problem is, as I said earlier, war hurts everyone involved. It decimates infrastructure, shatters families, steals the future of each person that is killed and forever damages the participants and witnesses alike. War should be truly the last resort. We began this war because of misinformation and false pretenses. There are no reasons the war should continue when the reasons given pale in comparison to the wave of causalities that are inherent in war. Knowing what we know now, the only responsible course of action is to withdraw from Iraq.
I have candidate Obama's Iraq platform here, from 2008. I'd like to read two things. I'd like to read two things. One is a quote from 2002, "What I am opposed to is a dumb war. A war based not on reason but on passion. Not on principle but on politics." He even provided some of his plans to end the war. The first step was, "Immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one to two brigades every month to be completed by the end of next year." Referring to this year of course. We know immediate withdrawal is the answer. What happened to him?
We elected candidate Obama because of his plan to end the war. President Obama, however, seems to have other plans. We collectively need to stop justifying the continuing occupations. Excuses and catch phrases like "It's better to fight them over there than to fight them over here" are ridiculous and inflammatory. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. As of today, 4285 Americans and over 100,000 Americans are estimated to have been injured. We know that these wars are unjust, that they must be stopped. And the time is now.
I added the Yoko Ono songwriting credit. The denial of her credit has been going on for years and years. (I'm not referring to Devon Read. Devon Read's a young man. He's not a professional journalist. I'm talking about the journalists who have deliberately denied Yoko her credit. And, yes, I know Yoko but it's not about that.) Want to piss me off? Deny a writer their credit. Want to piss me off even more? Deny a woman her writing credit.
Click here for credit on the song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono (and recorded by both of them together).
It's not a minor point. When Matthew Rothschild was still flirting with revealing his piggish nature to the country (he'd expose himself fully in 2008), he denied Yoko her earned credit. The Nation did the same. (And both were called out for it here.) I'm not in the mood. I wasn't in the mood when drugged out loser John Phillips tried to commandeer sole credit for "California Dreamin'" -- the same drugged out loser who STOLE credit on Hedy West's classic "500 Miles" and had to be called on that repeatedly before he would finally cop to the fact that he didn't write or co-write the song. I'm not in the mood. I don't play with that topic. We always try to credit writers here and not just say "The New York Times." Even the writers I ridicule here get their names mentioned. I take credit very seriously and I take efforts to deny credit and to specifically deny women their credit very seriously. I'm not talking about Devon Read who made an honest mistake as a result of years and years of efforts to deny Yoko co-songwriting credit (on a song she also sings on). I'm talking about 'journalists' like Matthew Rothschild who repeatedly deny Yoko her credit, I'm talking about the journalists launching their revisionary "John Phillips wrote 'California Dreamin' all by himself" -- (yeah, cause he lived it, right? He was the California Girl, right? Spare me the damn bulls**t). The original credit was John Phillips and Michelle Gilliam then updated to John and Michelle Phillips. The only thing more astounding than his ego was how willing the press was to join in rewriting history. And I'm talking about Danny Goldberg writing -- in a BOOK -- that Lindsey Buckingham wrote the Fleetwood Mac hit "Don't Stop." Christine McVie wrote that song. All by herself. I'm getting damn tired of women being stripped of their credit and when Danny can do that, and when a book publisher can put it into print, it shows how little respect there is for women's accomplishments. It's not -- and has never been -- a minor point with me.
The need to erase women's accomplishments, their lives, their roles in battle? That's the same need that drives the silences on crimes against women. And that's how we transition to Abeer.
May 7th, former US soldier Steven D. Green was found guilty on all counts for his role in the Iraq War Crimes from March 12, 2006, when Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was gang-raped and murdered, her five-year-old sister was murdered and both of her parents were murdered. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. September 4th, Green is scheduled to stand before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. Yesterday, Green appeared in court as the family of Abeer gave their statements before leaving to return to Iraq. WHAS11 (text and video) reported on yesterday's court proceedings:Gary Roedemeier: Crimes were horrific. A band of soldiers convicted of planning an attack against an Iraqi girl and her family.Melissa Swan: The only soldier tried in civilian court is Steven Green. The Fort Campbell soldier was in federal court in Loussivell this morning, facing the victims' family and WHAS's Renee Murphy was in that courtroom this morning. She joins us live with the information and also more on that heart wrenching scene of when these family members faced the man who killed their family.Renee Murphy: I mean, they came face to face with the killer. Once again, the only thing different about this time was that they were able to speak with him and they had an exchange of dialogue and the family is here from Iraq and they got to ask Steven Green all the questions they wanted answered. They looked each other in the eye. Green appeared calm and casual in court. The victims' family, though, outraged, emotional and distraught. Now cameras were not allowed in the courtroom so we can't show video of today's hearing but here's an account of what happened. [Video begins] This is a cousin of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl raped and killed by Steven Green. He and other family members in this SUV were able to confront Green in federal court this morning. Their words were stinging and came from sheer grief. Former Fort Campbell soldier Steven Green was convicted of killing an Iraqi mother, father and their young daughter. He then raped their 14-year-old daughter, shot her in the head and set her body on fire. Today the victim's family was able to give an impact statement at the federal court house the young sons of the victims asked Green why he killed their father. an aunt told the court that "wounds are still eating at our heart" and probably the most compelling statements were from the girls' grandmother who sobbed from the stand and demanded an explanation from Green. Green apologized to the family saying that he did evil things but he is not an evil person. He says that he was drunk the night of the crimes in 2006 and he was following the orders of his commanding officers. In his statement, Green said if it would bring these people back to life I would do everything I could to make them execute me. His statement goes on to say, "Before I went to Iraq, I never thought I would intentionally kill a civilian. When I was in Iraq, something happened to me that I can only explain by saying I lost my mind. I stopped seeing Iraqis as good and bad, as men, women and children. I started seeing them all as one, and evil, and less than human." Green didn't act alone. His codefendants were court-martialed and received lesser sentences. Green will be formally sentenced to life in prison in September. [End of videotape.] The answers that Green gave were not good enough for some of the family members. at one point today, the grandmother of the young girls who were killed left the podium and started walking towards Green as he sat at the defendant's table shouting "Why!" She was forcibly then escorted to the back of the court room by US Marshalls. She then fell to the ground and buried her face in her hands and began to cry again. The family pleaded with the court for the death sentence for Green. but you can see Green's entire statement to the court on our website whas11.com and coming up tonight at six o'clock, we're going to hear from Green's attorneys. Like WKLY's reports by Hailee Lampert (here and here -- both are text and video), Murphy makes no mention of the grandmother lunging. Nor do any of the reports filed by the AP on yesterday's court room proceedings (click here for one example). Andrew Wolfson is still maintaining that the grandmother "lunged" at Green in his latest piece at the Courier-Journal. Now let's review one more time. A photo of Abeer's sister is shown to the court. After the jury fails to sentence Green to death (meaning he instead gets life in prison), that photo pops up in the Courier-Journal (last Friday) in Wolfson's story and is identified as a photo of Abeer (bottom right hand corner, note there is still no correction). The AP then grabs the photo, stamps "copyright AP" on it and distributes it around the world as a photo of Abeer. It was not a photo of Abeer. I have two people now telling me that Andrew Wolfson was informed of that, including when he requested a copy of the photo. This follows Wolfson's creative reporting (after not being present in the court room) during the trial where he maintained the defense was arguing that the jury hadn't been to Iraq so they couldn't judge Green. As noted here in real time, that would have been something because the judge had issued an order before even opening statements were made stating that would not take place. Marisa Ford had introduced the motion and the judge was responding (in agreement) to her motion. Here's what Wolfson 'reported' May 8th: "The human-rights minister for Iraq attended the first day of trial April 27 but didn't sit through the rest of the trial and wasn't present for verdicts. Green's attorneys had argued that it was unfair to try him in a civilian court, before civilian jurous who could never understand what he went through in an area of Iraq that was so dangerous that soldiers called it the Triangle of Death. Scott Wendelsdorf, another of Green's attorneys, told the jury . . ." Green's attorneys did not make that argument to the jury and were forbidden from doing so by the judge. From the April 21st snapshot, before the trial started, here is the judge ruling on prosecutor Marisa Ford's motion:
THIS CAUSE is before the Court on the United States' Motion in Limine.
The Court having considered the Motion, and the Court being otherwise sufficiently advised, IT IS ORDERED that:
The defendant is prohibited from eleciting, offering, or commenting on the following evidence during the guilt phase of trial:
1. Evidence or argument that the United States could have, or should have, prosecuted the defendant under the Uniform Code of Military Justice;
2. Evidence or argument concerning the resonableness, wisdom, fairness, or consequences of prosecuting the defendant under Federal criminal law instead of under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
3. Evidence concerning the defendant's desire and willingness to be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and his efforts to reenlist in the Army for that purpose;
4. Evidence concering differences or similarities between Federal criminal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including with respect to available charges, criminal penalities, sentencing, and eligibility of parole; and
5. Evidence or argument that only individuals who are in the military or who have military experience, and not civilians, can or should evaluate the defendant's conduct.
Is there some confusion over the above because it's fairly straight forward. Andrew Wolfson who has had serious problems with his reporting on this case and he is the only reporter claiming that the grandmother "lunged" at Green. Translation, she probably didn't lunge at him. At Gulf News, Dr. Mohammad Akef Jamal observes:
The US occupation has its ways of protecting its soldiers. It also has its philosophers and godfathers, and it is only natural that they will try to protect the force's image. However, it is unnatural for Iraqis who returned to Iraq with the invasion forces and who benefited from the change there to join the occupiers in misleading public opinion and hiding facts and truths. Some of these people have, however, set out to justify some of the more egregious American behaviour. This group of Iraqis has called the highly professional torture carried out in Abu Ghraib 'mistreatment', while referring to other crimes, such as murder, as 'mistakes'. Although these people are extremely eloquent in their defence of the US troops' conduct in Iraq, they have chosen to remain silent on the rapes committed by Americans, which have been exposed by humanitarian groups and committees in Iraq.In its 2005 report, Human Rights Watch commented on the issue, while Britain's The Guardian newspaper ran an interview with an Iraqi on the subject.The silence was broken when the news of the horrific Mahmoudiya incident came out. A poor Iraqi family had fallen prey to four US soldiers. The crime was clear, and was premeditated and unprovoked. The soldiers spent a week preparing for it. The family's relatives testified later that Abeer was constantly complaining that the American soldiers at the checkpoint near her father's field, where she worked, were always hitting on her. The incident shook Iraqis and the government was forced to act. Left with no other option, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki asked the Americans to withdraw protection from the four soldiers and allow the Iraqi courts to handle the case against them. The request was rejected by US Deputy Foreign Secretary William Burns.
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baquba motorcycle bombing which claimed the life of Sahwa leader Khazaal al Samarrai and wounded six more people (four were Sahwa -- "Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq"), a Baquba bus stop bombing which claimed 1 life and left three people wounded, a Baquba sticky bombing which claimed 6 lives, a Baquba home bombing (the home was of internal refugees who had been repairing it with the hopes of moving back) and a Kirkuk roadside bombing targeting Maj Gen Abdul Ameer al-Zaidi's convoy which wounded "several guards".
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report an armed clash at a Sinjar checkpoint yesterday which led to attempted arrests today and another armed clash in which "six civilians were injured, three of them are critical including a 13 year old boy"
Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Telkeif yesterday.
Today the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Coalition forces Soldier died after a grenade detonated near a patrol in Ninewa province, May 29. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/. The announcements are made on the website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin." The announcement brings to 4304 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War and the number killed in this month so far to 22.
Meanwhile Timothy Williams and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times) report on the oil-rich Kirkuk and how the refusal to resolve the issue creates more problems. Kirkuk was supposed to have been put to a referendum. That has not taken place. Despite the referendum being written into the country's Constitution. Now the central government in Baghdad is on the verge of selling off drilling and exploration rights to a region that they may not, in fact, have a right to sell off. The oil-rich Kirkuk is disputed territory. The Kurdish region says Kirkuk belongs to them, the central government says it doesn't. This is not a new issue. It is an issue that has not been resolved. And resolving after monies have been made and contracts signed isn't democracy, isn't freedom, but it may well turn out to be colonialism. Kirkuk was not only an issue in the Constitution, resolving the issue was a White House benchmark in 2007 and 2008 and, presumably, remains one today. UPI notes the conflict between the Kurd's contracts and Bagdhad's contracts and that "the flood of contractors to northern Iraq may inflame political disputes over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk." Daniel Graeber (UPI) reports that KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has stated Baghdad's centeral goernment "lacks the politcal will to move on resolving the outstanding issues with the Kurdish government".
In other focal points, Naomi Klein's BFF Moqtada al-Sadr is back in the news today. AFP reports al-Sadr has issued orders that the LGBT community in Iraq be "eradicated" for "depravity" according to his spokesmodel Sheikh Wadea al-Atabi. He wants to 'teach' the end of gay. Big words for a man wearing the equivalent of a mumu in public. A forever increasingly larger mumu. You know, al-Sadr, they say food obsession in some males is due to latent homosexuality. Maybe al-Sadr should be eradicated? Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) covers the story. In the US, Jessie L. Bonner (AP) reports on Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach's hope that Barack will follow through on his promise to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell and do so before Bonner's military career is ended: "The winner of nine air medals for distinguished service in flight, including one for heroism the night U.S. forces captured Baghdad International Airport in 2003, Fehrenbach is in the process of getting kicked out of the military a year after an acquaintance told his bosses he was gay." As racist Robert Gibbs has made clear in White House press briefings, ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a pressing issue for Barack Obama. Earlier this month, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued the following:FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 19, 2009 CONTACT: Kevin Nix, Communications Director (202) 621-5402 - office; (202) 251-5553 - cell Active-Duty Combat Aviator Booted from Military Soon to Lose Career and Millions in Retirement under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" WASHINGTON, DC - The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has learned that Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was recently notified he will be separated from the US Air Force under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Fehrenbach served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He flew the longest combat sorties in his squadron's history, destroying Taliban and Al Qaeda targets in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. And after the Sept. 11 attacks, Fehrenbach was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C. "What an utter waste of talent," said Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN Executive Director. "The Colonel has a sterling combat record, does a fantastic job for his country every day and has all the medals and job performance evaluations to prove it. He did not disrupt unit cohesion or good order. But the bottom line is he's gay, so he's out." Some are urging President Obama to issue an executive order under his national security umbrella to put a moratorium on DADT. "If SLDN thought that would work on all fronts, for all service members, we would be all for it. We need a real, lasting fix for our service members. Congress owns DADT and only they can repeal it," Sarvis said. "What we need is Congress and this new President to engage each other immediately and with a sense of urgency to stop this madness." SLDN has developed a discharge ticker that tracks how many service members have been fired under DADT since President Obama and Congress were sworn in earlier this year. Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, nine Air Medals (including one for Heroism), the Aerial Achievement Medal, five Air Force Commendation Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
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TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings):What will jobs of the future look like? Many studying that question are seeing green - green jobs. And with President Obama promising to create 5 million "green-collar" jobs over the next 10 years, some are predicting that new career paths in energy efficiency and clean power will transform the American economy.This week, NOW on PBS talks with environmental activist Van Jones, founder of "Green for All," an environmental group dedicated to bringing green jobs to the disadvantaged. In March, Jones was appointed as special advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Now that he has the President's ear, will Jones be creating a new career frontier for America? This week on Washington Week, there are not three male guests and only one female guest . . . due to the fact that Gwen's reduced the number of guests from four to three. So there are two men and one woman: Peter Baker (NYT), Joan Biskupic (USA Today) and James Kitfield (National Journal). Bonnie Erbe sits down with stress eating Kim Gandy, Elenor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Leah Durant. This is Gandy and Holmes Norton's first joint-appearance since the two declared war on all pregnant women who are not married -- including same-sex couples not allowed to marry. It should be interesting to see what the 'film critics' have to offer this week. Expect Kim Gandy to be as big as a truck. It's been a very stressful week for her, nibble, nibble. The four discuss the week's news with Bonnie on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. Bill Moyers Journal begins airing tonight on most PBS stations and Moyers and Michael Winship note:
If we want to know what torture is, and what it does to human beings, we have to look at it squarely, without flinching. That's just what a powerful and important film, seen by far too few Americans, does. Torturing Democracy was written and produced by one of America's outstanding documentary reporters, Sherry Jones. (Excerpts from the film are being shown on the current edition of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS - check local listings, or go to the program's website at PBS.org/Moyers, where you can be linked to the entire, 90-minute documentary.) A longtime colleague, Sherry Jones and the film were honored this week with the prestigious RFK Journalism Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Torturing Democracy was cited for its "meticulous reporting," and described as "the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history." Unfortunately, as events demonstrate, the story is not yet history; the early chapters aren't even closed. Torture still is being defended as a matter of national security, although by law it is a war crime, with those who authorized and executed it liable for prosecution as war criminals. The war on terror sparked impatience with the rule of law - and fostered the belief within our government that the commander-in-chief had the right to ignore it. Torturing Democracy begins at 9/11 and recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy on the war on terror. In sometimes graphic detail, the documentary describes the experiences of several of the men who held in custody, including Shafiq Rasul, Moazzam Begg and Bisher al-Rawi, all of whom eventually were released. Charges never were filed against them and no reason was ever given for their years in custody.
Tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings). And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers: Your Bank Has FailedScott Pelley has an exclusive look as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation takes control of a failed bank. Watch Video
War In PakistanSteve Kroft reports from Pakistan, where Islamic insurgents are trying to take over the country and he interviews its new president, Asif Ali Zardari. Watch Video
Michael PhelpsHe swam into history at the Beijing Olympics and now the 23-year-old phenom tells CNN's Anderson Cooper what his life is like as hundreds of endorsement opportunities roll in to make this U.S. Olympic superstar a marketing millionaire. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Also Sunday on CBS, but in the morning, Dave Matthews Band on CBS' Sunday Morning.
Monday on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, the one and only Valerie Harper -- the multiple Emmy award winning actress, Rhoda to many, and who is delivering an AMAZING performance as Tallulah Bankhead in Matthew Lombardo's play Looped which plays in DC at the Lincoln Theatre tonight through June 28, 2009. She's amazing in the play and will be on Diane's show Monday. At CounterPunch, Phyllis Pollack interviews the one only Grace Slick who is a rock legend and now a painting one as well:
Phyllis Pollack: "Volunteers Of America," can you talk about that, the song "Volunteers?"
Grace Slick: "Volunteers Of America" actually doesn't mean anything. It was something Marty Balin, lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane, and Paul Kantner put together. Now Paul is very political, Marty isn't. Marty writes love songs. That's one of the things I liked about the group. We had several different forums. Mine was kind of sarcastic social humor. Paul is spaceman political, Marty wrote love songs, and Jack and Jorma were blues. So it's like a smorgasbord. You get one of our records, and it's all different s**t. "Volunteers Of Americas" was a print on the side of a truck that Marty saw. He was looking out the window, and a truck went by. It said "Volunteers Of America" on it. I believe it's something like Salvation Army. I don't know what it is, but it's a Salvation Army type deal. But he liked that. He ran it around his head, "Volunteers Of America. That's interesting." So he had the repeated line, "Volunteers Of America," and Paul put more political s**t into the lyric. So it isn't as deep as everybody thinks it is (laughs). It's something Marty saw on a truck (laughs).
Wednesday Drew Barrymore spoke to Aura Bogado (Free Speech Radio News) about marriage equality. At wowOwow, Liz Peek examines the economy. And we'll close with radio. WBAI Sunday, The Next Hour airs eleven to noon EST and features Paul Krassner, Michael Elias, David Dozer with host Janet Coleman and Coleman and Dozer co-host Cat Radio Cafe on WBAI Monday from two to three p.m. EST with guests Mark Kurlansky (The Food of a Younger Land), Zakiyyah Alexander (10 Things to Do Before I Die) and Marina Kovalyov. Live over the airwaves and live streaming at WBAI which also archives the broadcasts (for 90 days only).
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