Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


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Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out
A new book by MFSO - Washington State Chapter member Stacy Bannerman:

Where to buy the book and Stacy's Home Page

Stacy's Testimony 3/1/06 to the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 11:14 AM PDT
Friday, 14 July 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Watada: Who taught him moral courage, integrity & values?

Expectations: The warrior immunized against the infection of moral blindness.

What do our adult children say when asked about who Americans are and what core values represent America's best message to the world?

Are our children opportunists with little regard for whatever America's core values truly represent because they are more motivated by some slick sales presentation that says excitement awaits when you're on the path of being all that you can be?

Are they, as has been pointed out in several venues, children out of poverty who joined up out of economic and intellectual desperation?

Are they genuine civic-minded patriots who combine their personal sense of self-development with career objectives blended with legitimate appreciation for what it means to live in the American democracy?

Or somewhere in between?

 

Voluntary military recruits - both those who've enlisted and those with commissions - bring to the military initiation process that set of ethics and morality cultivated in childhood. Although family circumstances in some cases were inadequate in helping create a solid foundation of ethics and morals, most who join come out of families where at least some degree of a value system was encouraged and demonstrated.

Ideally then, entry into military life would include a strengthening of moral and ethical traits into a blend with a warrior's code of conduct.

Soldiers are neither devoid of nor excused from ethical and moral responsibility. If - in destroying those preconceived notions considered by the military to be contrary to the values and skills necessary in a soldier - new notions, values and skills do not include a strong sense of moral responsibility then our basic training and combat training programs are harming both recruits and the nation.

Our sons and daughters are not to become amoral killing machines totally lacking in moral responsibility. This sense of moral responsibility absolutely must graduate from basic training intact in a soldier's mind and heart.

In the absence of real moral responsibility in our soldiers, not only will we see more and more tragic incidents of the shaming of one's self, one's unit, one's branch of service, one's community, and one's country, but the absence of moral responsibility will stand more fully revealed as a flaw in the civilian society as well.

The antics of civilian leadership when it deliberately ignores or downplays the horrific consequences of war, bombing campaigns and torture justified by something other than literal defense of the homeland reflects a legitimate moral blindness.

We do not send our children out to fight irresponsibly with no sense of ethics simply because the ethical and moral sense has been assigned to higher authorities.

We don't excuse our soldiers for ethical and moral lapses because authorities placed in positions of appointed power have - with self-preserving hypocrisy - labeled offenders as some few "bad apples," who deserve no further close scrutiny and need to be locked up, the key thrown away.

We should not tolerate civilian administrators pleading innocence because of the vast gap between the highest echelons of authority and the lowest front line chain of command; that front line where sergeants can be punished because a corporal suffered the same moral blindness as those self-serving civilians on Mount Olympus.

Moral blindness at an even more starkly elevated level insists that:

An invasion that became a military occupation must be continued in the name of staying on an immoral and unethical course of deliberate destruction of innocents because we were lied to by the liars who now declare that to cease the immoral aggression would be "cutting and running."

This is the lack of moral responsibility we've seen in the civilians now seated at the steering wheel who are passing judgment on the moral fiber of anyone who disagrees, thereby labeling dissent as treason.

Our soldiers absolutely must emerge from basic and combat training with moral competence intact.

I hope that stories of institutionalized programming of racial hatred, bigotry, stereotyping and name-calling are not predominantly a part of teaching warriors a moral and ethical code. If the stories are true, I declare here and now :  

They are not doing it in my name nor on behalf of my family. I repudiate these tactics of moral recklessness.

That is of course why we raise our children to become independent and self-reliant adults.

When my son or daughter join the military and enter into its initiation, I am not being unreasonable in expecting the military to blend its own sense of ethical and moral responsibility with that which we as parents have endeavored to plant in our children's hearts.

I clicked on a link in the article referred to at the end of this post and immediately found a book by Shannon French entitled The Code of the Warrior.

This from the Amazon site quoting Publisher's Weekly:

"French, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the U. S. Naval Academy, believes that the warrior needs an ethical framework not only to be an effective fighter but to remain a human being-and even to save his or her soul."


To which I want to add that as an American citizen who willingly endorses - if it happens - the decision of my own flesh and blood to join and serve in the military, I request that the military act in ways that reflect professionalism, integrity and personal class, teaching the real moral and ethical code of the warrior.

If my child has an officer's  commission and is to become a leader of soldiers, I do not expect a professional military leadership to attempt to destroy the inner sense of integrity of that fledgling officer. Nor to try to replace integrity with moral blindness.

Moral blindness can be infectious and if left untreated will pass from soldier to soldier, even from officer to officer.

Discernment is the key here and it is absolutely vital to this nation that we do not place morally blind officers in positions of command that lead to blind amoral obedience.

We do not want morally blind soldiers who cannot act competently when confrontations with ethical dilemmas arise. We want to see in our soldiers' behavior a strong support for legal authority, moral authority and ethical authority. To the degree that such authority is lacking or not modeled by the political leadership, America suffers.

This is no more amply demonstrated than by behavior at the highest levels that denigrates genuine dissent and genuine efforts to ascertain legalities, moralities and ethics involved in launching an invasion that has become an occupation of Iraq.

Hiding behind shallow "cut-and-run" slogans demonstrates aptly and without question the moral and ethical shallowness of placing politics at the forefront of national security priorities.

... of placing soldiers in confrontations demanding high ethical and moral values where none were taught or encouraged in a military too focused on fear of its civilian leadership.

Our 2004 election has been publicized as a victory for voters supporting moral values. The most prominent and whining conservative Religious leaders in this country have contributed to this fog of confusion regarding ethics and moral competency.

We have prominent voices declaring ethical nonsense like the U.S. should "blow them away in the name of the Lord,"  (J. Falwell)  

... or the disingenuous non-Christian immorality of looking the other way while a Republican administration invaded and occupied Iraq, requiring our children in the military to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis in the process.

These are ethical and moral lapses of the highest gravity - especially when it's revealed that Christian celebrities and policy lobbyists consider a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage or teaching creationism in schools to be higher godly priorities than murder wearing an American  Military uniform.

... As if God were focused on gays and evolution, looking the other way with no almighty interest in focusing a divine gaze on Iraq.


So what do we do when a soldier refuses an order based on his own developed sense of ethics, morality, loyalty and patriotism?

Again from the author of  The Code of the Warrior

"The best way to ensure that military personnel will not commit a war crime even if given (illegal) orders to do so by a superior officer, is, not to drill them on codes of conduct and provisions of international law but rather to help them internalize the significance of the history and tradition of the military and of concepts such as honor and courage in order to develop a coherent sense of what it means to be a member of the military."


What does the initiation into the military teach our children?

Discipline ... which of course takes many forms.

What does moral and ethical discipline look like in the life of an American soldier?

Whose moral and ethical values are the primary instinctive and emotional guides in a human being?

Certainly none taught by those infected with moral blindness.

I recommend the following article:

Teaching Military Ethics: Personal Development versus Moral Drill

By Mrs. E.M. Wortel
Faculty of Military Sciences
Netherlands Defense College
and
Major J.P.M. Schoenmakers
Netherlands Royal Military School

Which can be found at
The International Military Ethics Symposium.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 10 July 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Simplistic says David Goldstein... Simplistic!! What does he know about it?

When Goldy is ready to stake 'real cost' beyond words like local/region efforts have been simplistic.....that's when I will begin to take him more seriously.  

Goldy interviews Senator Cantwell and candidate, Mark Wilson on his radio show yesterday.  I didn't hear it live, as I was deeply involved in tele-conference call with the Friends and Family of Lt. Watada national council at the time.  When I finished, I checked my email to find an invitation from Goldy for Arthur and I (as from the anti-war movement) to call into his show/interview with both Senator Cantwell and Mark Wilson.  Unfortunately, Goldy cited 9 PM and there was a shift in the line-up of his guests, so we missed the opportunity of Goldy's invitation.  Too bad and a shame, cause Goldy Does Not speak for me and I'm extremely disappointed in his dismissiveness of local/region efforts to call attention to Sen. Cantwell's position on Iraq war/invasion.

Courtesy of Daniel K, who provided a podcast, I did just listen to the podcast interview Goldy did with Sen. Cantwell and Mark Wilson.  And having dedicated every waking and sleeping hour this past 3 + years to the campaign to bring our troops home now and take care of them when they get home, I can't help but react to Goldy's dismissiveness of my personal efforts as 'simplistic'.  

Goldy made that statement that drives me into outrage in stating that Dems need to win the election if we're going to turn things around, and we need Sen. Cantwell for that.......

Really!  We need Sen. Cantwell to continue to give neutralized politically safe statements on how she believes we might transition the Iraq war/occupation?  We need more of the same next year, the year after and the year after and that is a mark of courageous politics?  We need to buy into the false choice belief that once Dems take back Congress they will act to change the course in Iraq?  

Who.....who among the Dems have actually said they would act to change the course in Iraq?  What is the basis of this political argument that with Dems no longer the minority party, they would act cohesively to change anything about the course of Iraq war/occupation?

As to our region/local efforts to call attention to Sen. Cantwell's position on Iraq war which Goldy has called simplistic...a slow burn causes me to react strongly to Goldy's characterization.  Without the 'simplistic' efforts of local/region activists Goldy would not have had the opportunity to have this interview with Sen. Cantwell.  

With support like that from our friend Goldy, maybe we should just give it up and bury our heads and silently continue to count the daily deaths of our own loved ones who are military and being sent into repeat deployments (count them x 2,3,4 and more)  Yeah, right Goldy, that's real simplistic ...you bet, they live or die .. it's that simple.  And the Iraqi civilians, women, children, families..you bet, they live or die daily .. it's that simple.

So I invite Goldy to 'advise' us in our local/region activist efforts how we might act to be more than 'simplistic' as clearly he has some ideas about what it is that we should and can do to articulate our message in sophisticated terms beyond simplistic.  And Goldy, I invite you to engage directly with military families and troops and get a close-up view of reality that will help you in your language perhaps transcend perpetuating the current political shell game.

 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Army brings official charges today; Lt Ehren Watada refusal illegal orders

 Three charges are being leveled at Lt. Ehren Watada today.  Most all our local to Washington newspapers and tv media have published a brief account per the news release from Fort Lewis spokesperson; Tammy Reed who indicated he would be charged today but she did not know what the charges Lt Watada would face.  All the first published stories have now been updated again to give more full account. Lt Watada will be charged with three counts; missing movement, contempt toward officials, and conduct unbecoming an officer.  His attorney, Eric Seitz, reports that by  calculations of military lawyers indicate Lt Watada could face up to eight years in prison.

 Kudos to Washington media for their extensive coverage of Lt. Watada since he first announced on June 7, 2006 his intention to refuse what he has discerned to be an illegal order to deploy to Iraq. What seems to be missing is the lack of reporting by those more big gun media, ie, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times - you know - the national/international level 'it's an important and worthy story' kind of reporting.
 

Rather than cite specific links (there are far too many), you can easily google news entering Lt. Ehren Watada to read the accounts and see the huge number of local media across cities and towns in our nation, as well as some international localized media reporting on charges being brought today.

What is not absent is a groundswell of support for Lt. Watada who is exercising a different kind of courage and is, in fact, in my opinion, exercising conduct most becoming to an Officer with regard to this war/occupation in Iraq.  This is not a military only story, friends, and while Lt. Watada is both aware of the severity of punishment and willing to accept the consequences of his decision, that courage is inherint in each and every one who questions the validity of the Iraq war/occupation.  

Now what to do with your own courage....

Act on it.

Support for Lt. Watada is not isolated to the act of supporting one Army Lieutenant, rather the symbology it represents.  What makes Lt. Watada, as an Officer, refusing an order to deploy to Iraq is that while he is not the first Officer to refuse combat deployment orders since 911 attack, he is the first Officer to make a public staement on his reasons for refusing the order.  Army officials at the Pentagon reports 10 officers have refused combat deployment orders since 911 attack.  My understanding is that the situation for other officers refusing combat deployment have been individualized situational refusals citing extreme family concerns.  Lt. Watada has cited his reasons as the illegality of the war/occupation in Iraq, therefore the need as an Officer to determine a legal from an illegal order.  

How you can best help Lt. Watada is to help ensure his act of courage and speaking out becomes part of the public dialogue.  Obviously, the Army has to do what it has to do, according to military discipline, and I am not writing a plea to rescue Lt. Watada.  I am writing a plea to not let his act of courage become irrelevant.  Thank you for listening.


see Friends of Lt Watada website

links to previous Lt. Watada accounts at Washblog:

2nd Lt Watada Press Conference in Seattle w/ Col Ann Wight

Military Families Support Lt Watada at Tacoma Press Conference

Fort Lewis Army Lt. Set To Refuse Deployment To Iraq


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 1 July 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

I'd Like Your Blessing, Dad.

My generation is one in which there are still many living veterans. Furthermore, from our generation primarily come the children who make up the current blood and guts of America's military with its duty of defending the American Constitution, Country and Citizens.

If our children - or their children - come to us when considering enlistment or a commission, asking our reaction or even our blessing for their willingness to sign the bottom line, are we ready to speak honestly with them?  

Have the things we've taught them about citizenship and patriotism come back to gratify us?

... or haunt us?

Just what have we tried to instill in them  in terms of a civic and patriotic sense? What did we teach and model for them when they were young?

... we who were part of a generation of soldiers betrayed by a government we all wanted desperately to trust?

 

The letter from college arrives.

 

"Dear Dad .......

Dad, I'm signing on and I'd like your blessing and advice.

I'm not having too many doubts about signing on Dad. Not too many questions - but I want your support and endorsement. You've never talked much about your service and I need to know what's in your mind before I leave."

Very well then ....

Dear daughter,

As you know, you do not come from a family of warriors.

Your Grandfather was drafted.  

Your uncle and I joined up in the 1960's because it was that or the draft. Our national leadership had failed us badly because of their misguided and exaggerated fear of communist enemies;

Of foes who had never proven themselves capable of toppling continents nation-by-nation,  domino-like, let alone conquering the world based on military or economic power.

As a result of those years, the extremely poor choices made by politicians we trusted and elected left us with a powerful legacy not previously seen so powerfully in this country ... acceptance of dissent as a patriotic act.

To this day, that concept has not been refuted. More so, this current government has tragically demonstrated again just why it is vital that citizens hold government accountable.

Viet Nam legitimized a permanent change in civic thinking. That's why a large segment of today's society sustained by legitimate baby-boomer wisdom remains willing to question the motives and speak out against the administration ... and with greater empowerment to resist being isolated and marginalized by pseudo-patriotic politics. Our perspective is much more legitimate than it was in the 60's and 70's. We as citizens are duty bound to take and hold the ethical and moral high ground in this country rather than trust broadcast blowhards and pretend political genuises.

The party officials, cheerleading TV networks and pundit blowhards don't have a monopoly on patriotism, daughter. Those are - every one of them - the least qualified to tell you or me what it means to be patriotic. They are the cut-and-run actors from my generation who have never served and have never justifiably spoken for the troops and veterans in today's world.

You are going to join an all-volunteer military force that has the same commission given the military services during World War II. The big difference today is that the bulk of the troops back then were drafted. Your choice is voluntary - signing a contract offered by the Pentagon.

When you sign, remember that we who are not military members make up - along with you - the citizenship that expects you to honor that contract you endorse.

Citizens of this country expect total fealty from you which means loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution, and to the Flag.  Citizens of this country expect the same from our elected leadership. They all owe us that same fealty, loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution and to the Flag.

Citizens also expect of our soldiers the highest honesty, integrity and honorable behavior of which they are capable. Military behavior that is dishonest, lacks integrity and dishonors troops, citizens and country is a betrayal of all that America has traditionally stood for.

The same is absolutely true and equally vital of our elected and appointed leaders.

Citizens do not expect that our fully trained and capable military members are so brainwashed to fight and kill that they have transitioned to a place of shame. While desiring that our military children develop instinctive and effective military and combat skills, we do not expect our children to be turned into mindless killing machines devoid of conscience or the ability to make a moral choice.

Arguments insisting that combat training must teach instinctive hate, bigotry, racial profiling and cultural inferiority in order to create armies and soldiers capable of efficient killing and destruction of enemies are not legitimate reasons for why we fight.

Nor do they hold out a possibly for what we hope the end result of a national military objective will look like.

Citizens want and expect that our troops are warriors of honor who instinctively act and react with exceptional valor;

...Warriors who reflect national ethics, a positive national morality, compassion and respect.

If those things are lacking in the leadership, a way to intervene before a corrupt leadership can poison the military is vital.

The nation cannot abide armies of failed or corrupted warriors.

If those values are lacking in the country, it is the citizens who have failed the military.

Military service is and should always be thought of as an honorable profession where men and women serve with honor;  

... are treated with honor by a grateful nation.

If you are joining the military, I expect you to have a career of honor.

I fear for you but will keep those fears managed in my own heart.

It is your life, not mine, and I do not pretend to dictate your choices.

Nor is it a life that belongs specifically to a General, a Secretary of Defense, a President or a Political Party.

You are not to be a tool of helping a party focus national priorities in such a way as to win elections.

There is no military  code of silence or submissive loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief that requires that you do not seriously consider the legality and morality of orders given you regardless of their source.

I of course hope that your own sense of civic and moral integrity is honed sufficiently strong as to allow you to perceive almost instantaneously whether or not an order is illegal.

But if you need time and have time, then I expect you to take that time and make up your own mind. Whatever decision you make - if informed by your own study, searching and wisdom - is all anyone can ask of you.

Blind obedience in a combat moment is not the same as blind obedience when you are not in a combat moment. Rather in a moment of moral or ethical questioning when a different kind of instinct takes over, if you have a strong sense of ethics and honor, you will not be helplessly tempted to shame yourself, your unit, or your country.

You have a right to expect and function under the integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military.

You have a right to expect and demand the Commander In Chief's honesty, honor, skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

I in turn have a right to expect that you pay attention - for me, for your family and for your country - to whether or not your Commander in Chief is being honest, honorable and legal.

The Commander-in-chief is hardly going to order me to do something illegal or immoral. If he gives an illegal or immoral order there's a greater risk he will give it to you whom he might see as bound to obey blindly and without question.

So your father, your family and your country are at the mercy of your ability to discern and act on that discernment.

You are then left at the mercy of your father's, your family's and your country's ability to discern the acts of our President, to hold him accountable and take action - if necessary - to make sure he is accountable.

You must trust me to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies.

In closing, my adult child, I express my pride in you and your willingness to act on your desires only after you've given them serious thought and consideration.

I accept and endorse your decision as I trust it is your own.

You do your part and serve.

I'll do my part and cover your back.

Anyone inside or outside this government who wants to criticize, harm or otherwise betray you will have to deal directly with me.

I promise.

Love,

Dad

Cross posted to D Kos


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 26 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

'Operation House Call' and Meeting w Sen. Murray - topic - what else - Iraq occupation

 In Seattle, WA, you might say we're making a 'house call' on Senator Murray.  You may remember we have already made three separate 'house call's' on Sen. Cantwell. A meeting has been scheduled to meet with Senator Murray, Wed., June 28, 2006. Actually the meeting will be with her Dir. of Special Projects, Ardis Dumett. Veterans, military families, faith community,student activists and concerned citizens have scheduled meeting to discuss strategy for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.  

I'm invited to the meeting in Seattle representing Military Families Speak Out, and cannot make that time and date. As you may know, I'm fairly busy, along with thousands of others, in support actions for Lt. Ehren Watada right now.  But I sent an advance statement (below the fold) for consideration at the meeting.  

Meanwhile, over in the other Washington - DC, while our Senators and Representatives are in DC on Tues/Wed/Thurs --





Stacy Bannerman, from Kent, WA, is in Washington DC  for summer-long 'Operation House Call'. Stacy at right, wearing cap

Military Families Speak Out  has mobilized 'Operation House Call' a visual display summer- long campaign to highlight the damage caused by the Iraq War. See press conference on C-Span . While we make 'house calls' on our Senators at home in WA state, Stacy Bannerman , of our MFSO - Washington state chapter will be making 'House Calls' on our U.S. Senators and Representatives in DC. She plans to remain in DC through the summer, and I'm sure she'll be making a House Call on both Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell, along with the other Senators and Representatives hard at work in DC. Daily Blog from Operation House Call - read it here .

 (You're welcome to borrow the postcard image and send your own postcards daily to both Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell's offices ... make your own 'House Call'.)

My statement for consideration this Wednesday meeting with Sen. Murray's Director of Special Projects, Ardis Dummett.


Dear All,

  I'm unable to attend, wishing you all well with Wednesday meeting with Senator Murray's Director of Special Projects, Ardis Durnett.  If I were to have a  presence as a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans in our family; both from Washington state; it would be in advocacy to remove our troops who have decidedly become the targets in the insurgency in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.   Further I would point to Lt. Ehren Watada, a U.S. Army officer, at Fort Lewis who has refused what he has, as an Officer, discerned to be an ' illegal' order to deploy to Iraq.  He is currently confined at Fort Lewis, aware of the potential consequences of his decision and action.  I and many military families view it as a courageous act on the part of Lt. Watada.

   I would point out the recent situation described in the Washington Post of a 'fragging' in Iraq with a U.S. Sgt killing two of his officers, June 7, 2006.  I would point to the recent reports of the horrific manner in which two of our U.S. soldiers were killed with their bodies desecrated in a most public message.  I would point to the recent reports of seven marines and one sailor who will be charged by the military with 'murder' for the killing of Iraqi citizen.  I would point to Sgt Kevin Benderman, a returning Iraq veteran, who is now serving a prison term at Fort Lewis as a result of his actions to file as Conscientious Objector After serving in Iraq, and  charged with missing movement. I would suggest there are additional anecdotal instances of our troops and  now Officers who are registering opposition to participation in Iraq occupation in the few venues available to them.

  For that reason, I would point to the continuing need for Military Families Speak Out with a national membership of 3,000 military families across the nation to speak out in advocacy of the need for our elected officials to serve the public with the same kind of honor, dignity and ideals we absolutely and unequivocably expect from our military - from our young 19 and 20 something year old service men and women.  I would urge Senator Murray to stand in support to bring our troops home now and to take care of them when they get home.  It is fully understood that use of the word now in bring them home now does not mean tomorrow, rather the time it takes to mobilize a redeployment of our troops.  I would further suggest that the amount of time it took to mobilize our troops to invade Iraq would be about the same amount of time it might take to redeploy our troops out of Iraq.

  I would point out that since March, 2003, on average, over two service men and women have died each day as a result of the war in Iraq; that fatality rate continues in June, 2006. Discussions in Congress about the war in Iraq and exit strategies include many proposals for bringing troops home after the mid-term election in November, 2006. If Congress waits until November to act, it is likely that 350 or more U.S. servicemen and women will die along with countless Iraqi children, women and men.

    Additionally, now with the new Iraq democracy in place, with newly elected Iraq officials as result of  military actions in Iraq, it would appear that the continually changing identified missions  assigned our troops has been accomplished.  As the newly elected Iraqi Prime Minister has indicated a preference for withdrawal of U.S. troops, I would urge our country and our elected officials to heed such request.   Therefore, I respectfully request that Senator Patty Murray, who in courage did not vote for war in Iraq, go yet a step further in courage and stand in support of bringing our troops home - now.

Respectfully,

Lietta Ruger

Lietta Ruger,  chapter coordinator
Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter
military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans,
PO Box 335
Bay Center, WA  98527

visit website of national Military Families Speak Out


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 24 June 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

and the Republicans want us to stay that course?

The party of CEO McGavick and RNC marionettes Reichert, McMorris, Hastings and their fellow robots truly consider us citizens the dumbest segment of society.

Led nationally this week by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), who trails his Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania by 18 points, the desparate national party of CEO McGavick and Rubber Stamp Reichert is all gaga over the discovery that there WERE weapons of mass destruction after all.

Republicans distorting this pretended newly discovered fact intend that we then conclude that  Bush's big  lie wasn't a lie after all ...

that 2500+ troop deaths and the murder of innocent Iraqi citizens is not the fault of Republican arm-chair warriors.

You can read Santorum's self-serving grandstand posture as a modern Paul Revere at his Senate Site and lose your breath in the heroic vindicating quality of his announcement.

Donald Rumsfeld, another armchair warrior under fire joins in with his own boy-am-I-relieved-now declaration: link to WAPO, Early Warning by William Arkin

The report says in part:

-- "Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

-- Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld evidently agrees.  

Yesterday, he told reporters that he was concerned "if they got into the wrong hands" because "they are weapons of mass destruction."

Well, yes they ARE weapons of mass destruction the same way a kiwi and a watermelon are both considered fruit.

 

More importantly, these anxious-for-exoneration Republicans have again re-established that the original Republican lie about Weapons of Mass Destruction was the first reason for invading and occupying Iraq.

... even if among these newly-revealed 500 whatevers that were in existence prior to the first Gulf War there isn't anything that could have come close to that dreaded "mushroom cloud" - the anxiety image that prompted dumbed down Americans to not oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Arkin continues:

But the current dust-up over an intelligence memo indicating that U.S. forces have recovered about 500 old chemical munitions does prove one thing: When it comes to weapons of mass destruction, we are unable to differentiate and unable to have a rational debate.  The term WMD has also become so expansive as to become meaningless.

...The problem is that Santorum, Rumsfeld, President Bush, Cheney, and most Washington wonks love to say "weapons of mass destruction" They don't differentiate between, say, Russian intercontinental missiles with multiple nuclear warheads and 20-year-old Iraqi chemical shells.

The threshold for labeling something WMD in this world is low, if it exists at all. Many of the "chemical munitions" found in Iraq were even "unfilled" shells. That is, they had never been filled with chemical agent, according to the summary.  But, as Rumsfeld says, "they are weapons of mass destruction."

Such antics of course are part of the national and state Republican pretended wisdom of why we are occupying Iraq,

why our sons and daughters are fighting the Bush-labeled "noble cause" around which Bush and Republicans cannot or are too afraid to wrap a clearly stated definition ...

why no Republican is willing nor has the courage to say what the course we must stay on looks like so as to help American citizens understand why we must ...

Strictly limited RNC-dictated talking points in both the House and Senate last week where Reichert, Hastings and McMorris all joined in the blind-obedience chorus - and where CEO McGavick wants to sing in the same choir - included the coward's way of avoiding responsibility.

Karl Rove attempted to put on a soldier's uniform when he made his cowardly declaration about courageous soldiers who fight as opposed to cowardly non-soldiers who "cut and run" (see footnote at end of article).

This from someone who avoided service; who himself cut and ran during Viet Nam. These antics from prominent Republicans hang around the party's candidates necks like gaudy ties and we fail if we don't ask them if they agree with and support these chicken hawk declarations from the likes of Rove and Cheney.

All Republicans should be challenged to clarify publicly whether or not they agree with and support the self-serving cowardice of Rove, Cheney and Bush who have no credibility as warriors and embarrass every American solider and veteran when they put on the tough-talk uniform.

In our own state, the Republican Party has no firm Iraq strategy nor agenda that reflects the common good of our country and its citizens.

Particularly damaging for Republicans is the party's total lack of sensitivity regarding the actual soldiers and their families who reside here.

Led now by CEO McGavick and the Congressional Republican marionettes, Washington Republicans  have repeatedly - with a blind insistence and insensitivity - offered soldiers and their families the empty slogan, "Stay the Course"

... a phrase totally devoid of substance, meaning and relevance in a meaningful way

... a phrase the use of which fails to address positively the day-to-day struggle of coping with life that includes loved ones in harms way.

Why have Republicans done this and failed us?

Because the directive comes from the Republican National Committee and its dominant strategists who also hold the  Presidential hands attempting to hang on to the government steering wheel.

What the lock-step robot-like and narrowly restricted speeches in the recent House and Senate "debates" on the occupation of Iraq reflect is an assumption that American voters are limited in their attention spans ...

that cheap and shabby sound-bite phrases like "cut and run" are all we need to hear .... worse, all we need to know.

So in Washington we find ourselves having to deal with a party and candidates that dissemintate half-truths, falsehoods and disingenuous cherry-picked facts to Washingtonians.

Why?

Because we are presumed to be stupid, ignorant, naive and gullible.

Don't believe me?

What state party distorted information about sex offenders and then sent pictoral flyers to a limited number of specifically selected legislative districts rather than statewide - which one would think a party concerned about the whole state would do as part of civic responsibility?

Which party went out of its way to disenfranchise voters and belittle voting rights in the interest of limiting the size of the vote as a tactic for election victory?

What party created the moniker "Death Tax" as a framing phrase for the Estate Tax and then pretended that the Estate Tax harms and victimizes a majority of citizens when only the richest are impacted?

What party demeans and ridicules the idea of working toward peace - including an advocacy for a Department of Peace?

What party refers to peace as an alternative having no credibility in the real world where wars are started by lies and liars and sustained by willful refusal to accept responsibility and make no effort to define missions, courses, jobs and exit strategies?

Go to the state Republican website and read the public announcements that reek with the arrogance of assumed electoral stupidity.

The issue here is that even as I write this, the  overwhelming majority opinion in this country is that America is off-track;

America is tragically moving in wrong directions.

Polls continually reflect this concern and a national pessimism even more powerful than the considerable unpopularity of the occupation of Iraq.

Most Americans believe we are off track and tragically moving in the wrong direction to our own national and local detriment

... and the Republicans want us to stay that course?

-----------------------------

*Based on Republican usage and definition, the following are logical conclusions of what it means to cut and run:

Failure to support the troops and the willful act of cutting funds to the VA is a case of cut and run.

Hiding caskets returning home from the occupation of Iraq and sneaking them into the country in the middle of the night is a case of cut and run.

Refusal to meet with a grieving mother last summer was case of cut and run.

Refusal to find and fire leakers is a case of cut and run.

Refusal to take responsibility for failure in the wake of Katrina is a case of cut and run.

Refusal to effect a thorough rebuilding of Louisiana and Mississippi is a case of cut and run.

The Medicare D program with it's betrayal of citizens to cater to corporations is a case of cut and run.

Millions of children who have been left behind is a case of cut and run.

Cowering before Right Wing Christian blowhards and making public declarations in support of legislation against gay marriage and gay rights is a case of cut and run.

Cowering before Right Wing Christian blowhards in appointing judges too far of the course they ought to stay on is a case of cut and run.

Shall I continue?

Better yet, how many more examples can we find? Comments are welcome.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 22 June 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

OPINION - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday, June 22, 2006

No surprise in Bush's 'emergencies'

Stacy Bannerman, Guest Columnist

President Bush has yet another supposed "emergency" on his hands. This time it's illegal immigration. His response is to deploy thousands of National Guard troops along the Mexican border. The tactic is eerily familiar: send soldiers on a murky mission under the pretense of promoting homeland security and the war on terror.

In the "initial guidance" Pentagon memo that The Associated Press recently acquired, Bush provided no clear estimates of operational strategies, costs or timelines. That's just how he made the Iraq war a military, monetary and moral failure.

More than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have died. In the first three months of this year, more than 3,800 innocent civilians were killed in Baghdad alone. That's the real emergency. But Bush is deaf to the screaming sirens.

Sad to say, neither of the two major disasters that the Bush administration (eventually) categorized as emergencies was unforeseen.

Pre-9/11 intelligence reports specifically warned about the possibility of a major, imminent, terrorist attack in the United States. Various FBI personnel and flight school instructors repeatedly raised concerns about potential or suspected terrorists getting aviation training but skipping sessions about how to land a plane. Mossad officials traveled to Washington from Israel to warn government agencies that a cell of terrorists was setting up a major operation.

Two weeks before the attacks, a CIA cable received over a classified government computer network warned that two "bin Laden-related individuals" had come into the United States and that two other suspected terrorists should be banned from entering, according to the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring those warnings contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans.

The administration's failure to heed the National Weather Service's predictions about the severity of Hurricane Katrina, coupled with a yearslong pattern of sabotaging FEMA and gutting the Guard for the Iraq war, contributed to the deaths of at least 2,140 people along the Gulf Coast. Far fewer would have died had the Bush administration not delayed declaring a state of emergency.

The Bushies, however, are rushing to frame the immigration issue as Code Red and militarize the border with Mexico (but not with Canada). People have fled their homelands to come to this country in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children for centuries. Suddenly, it's a "national emergency"? Please. With Bush's low approval rating and the Republicans deeply divided, perhaps he's just worried about an electoral emergency.

The real crisis is the result of more than three years of a war based on false information that Bush persists in repeating. While discussing immigration reform at an Orange County Business Council event at the Hyatt Regency Irvine on April 24, Bush stated, "Iraq has -- had weapons of mass destruction." He went on to say, "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on ... things I think are true." This suggests some of his decisions are based on lies.

The real emergency is that this administration and Congress have cut funds for education and social services while pouring $320 billion into the Iraq war.

The true menace before us is that a nation that once was a beacon welcoming millions would douse the light and bar the door.

Stacy Bannerman of Kent contributes to Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) and is on the advisory board of Military Families Speak Out; www.mfso.org She wrote "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind." Her husband served in Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Resist and Advance vs Surrender and Retreat

[ed note - posted also to DK] It's become beyond wearisome to observe the political soap opera drama play out day after day in an illusion of reality with consequences to politicians meaning only their own political careers.  While a harsher reality extracts the lives of human beings each and every day in a misbegotten 'wartime' reality, politicians fancy themselves playing cleverly at a game of win/lose.  What would be a win/win strategy, I wonder daily, that would 'turn the corner' to the ongoing aggression of win/lose?

A debate in Senate goes on today and I see an AP report this morning in which the blatant use of emotionally charged words are being tossed about to fuel the fires of perpetuating the win/lose political strategies.  Words like surrendering and retreat and that fear-inspiring cut and run.  If politicians are going to use the emotionally charged words of the military, then I have a few military-based words of my own to contribute.

 

Iraq war resolution on Senate's plate today

 

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist declared Tuesday that "surrendering is not a solution" in Iraq as Democrats embraced a proposal to start troop withdrawals this year, setting up an election-year showdown in the GOP-controlled Senate.

"We cannot retreat. We cannot surrender. We cannot go wobbly. The price is far too high," said Frist, R-Tenn., suggesting that Democrats want to do just that.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, disputed the GOP characterization of the Democrats' position and said: "We have to serve notice on the Iraqis that their future has to be in their own hands."

Surrendering?  I read this and say aloud 'surrendering to whom?' - what is he talking about.  Retreat?  Retreat to where, I wonder and the disgust billows up from some deep place inside me.  A damn word game, our politicians are engaged in a damn word game while real time paints a much different reality.  Politicians using the emotional buzz words designed to elicit a knee-jerk and gut reaction from people who value themselves as the American ideal of what it is to be an American.

More disgusting is politicians who use military terminology buzz words while having no reality whatsoever in military life or combat.  Surrender!  Pulling our troops out of a civil conflict equates to our troops surrendering!  To whom, to whom are they surrendering?   Retreat!  Pulling our troops out of an established country termed a new democracy equates to our troops in retreat?  Cut and run equates to an act of cowardice to pull our troops out of a country that has it's own government in place and has asked for the removal of our troops?  

These are just words, artfully and carefully designed to resonate with the lowest common denominator among those Americans who are either overly busy trying to live with the demands of our sagging economy or overly-lazy in that 'war time' is not  immediately impacting their daily life.  It seems anyone and everyone has an 'opinion' and are eager to weigh in with their opinion adopting the false choice arguments as promulgated by our representative politicians.  It is not as easy as stay or leave as the only choices one can have and it is no longer as easy as a majority party in Congress be it one or the other party trying to hold onto their power base.

So how about some other words, equally emotionally charged with military meanings like Resist and Advance.  Resist the notion of surrender as applicable in this debate.  Advance the truth that our troops have accomplished their ill defined mission in that a new birth of a new, democratic Iraq is in place and exists as a result of military action.  Offer a debate issue that puts the responsibility and accountability back on the politicians and this administration to resolve Iraq authentically and politically.  Resist buying into the propaganda of political word-speak that has the maturity of juvenile playground bullying tactics.  Lock and load and aim squarely at the target - truth - amonst the illusive smokebombs of deception.  

It's time for politics and politicians to grow up and serve the public with the same kind of honor, dignity and ideals we absolutely and unequivocably expect from our military - from our young 19 and 20 something year old service men and women.  On the one side the opinionators are outraged at the atrocities being committed by our men and women in military service as news stories come to light.  Emotionally charged words like murderers, dishonor,  is tossed about freely.  And on the other side, opinionators are equally outraged when our men and women in military service resist as those news stories come to light.  Emotionally charged words like cowards, dishonor is tossed about freely.  

It appears that while IEDs and roadside bombs can break their bones, words can hurt them too.   Isn't it past time to end using our military's ideals, not fully understood or appreciated in the civilian population, as political footballs in word games at the cost of the lives of our troops; at the cost of lives of a people who seemed to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time when the U.S. decided to invade and occupy 'their' country.   Isn't it past time to expect adult, mature, responsible behavior from our politicians if we expect it from our younsters who do the on-ground fighting for the sake of political 'words'?

Well, locally speaking then, I'll be watching our U.S. Senators Cantwell and Murray performance and votes in this important 'debate' and resolution.  After watching all 10 hours of the House 'debate' and votes on the resolution last week, I'm sure I'll be treated to more of the same with the Senate debate this week. Wouldn't it be refreshing if, in fact, it was not more of the same ...

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

In a second Lt Watada press conference; supporter Col Ann Wright says illegal war and war crimes

 

{Update - Tomorrow = Natl Day of Action to Stand Up with Lt. Ehren Watada - Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Ft. Lewis, WA - 7am - Morning bannering on the Exit 119 (DuPont Rd.) bridge over Interstate 5.
Ft. Lewis, WA - 4pm - Bannering and support rally on the Exit 119 (DuPont) bridge over Interstate 5.
Tacoma, WA - 7am - Bannering: (1) McKinley Way overpass above I-5; and (2) Pedestrian Bridge over Route 16 near Narrows Bridge.
Tacoma, WA - 4pm - Bannering: (1) McKinley Way overpass above I-5; and (2) Pedestrian Bridge over Route 16 near Narrows Bridge.
Seattle, WA - 5pm - Vigil and sign holding: (1) Westlake Park, 4th and Pine Streets; and (2) Greenlake, East Green Lake Way N and N 64th St.

[Update - June 22, 2006. Lt. Watada refused Iraq deployment this morning; Under restriction and gag-order. More at website Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada ]

In a second press conference Lt Ehren Watada held in Seattle, June 19, 2006, (ret) Army Colonel and Diplomat, Ann Wright, speaks in support of Lt. Watada's decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq as his right to disobey illegal orders.  His parents, Robert Watada and Carolyn Ho, came from Hawaii to be with their son in Seattle and spoke at his press conference.  I had the opportunity to have a personal phone call exchange with his mother, Carolyn Ho, as she was on her way from Seatac airport to the University Lutheran Church in Seattle, for the 6:15 PM press conference.

  Mother to mother, military family to military family we talked, me with two returning Iraq veterans in our family who will be redeployed; she with a son who is an Officer in U.S. Army making the monumental decision as an Officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.  I valued our exchange and she said she valued what I had to share with her. She seemed very moved when I said to her that her son, as an Officer, was doing what I would expect an Officer to do and if he were an Officer for the two Sgts in our family, I would want him to deliberate on the orders being given for our two to carry out.

  While I wasn't able to make the 3 hour trip up to Seattle on Monday evening, I was able to listen to the video of the press conference that KING 5 has posted to their online website (you have to listen first to a 20 second commercial then the video coverage begins).  It helped me feel very much  like I was there.  Gratitude to KING 5 for posting the entirety of the press conference making it available for all to hear firsthand. There is strength in the words of Col Ann Wright, and rather than report on her words, I have transcribed her speech and am placing it here.

NOTE: June 27 will be a national day of action in support of Lt. Watada and his refusal to deploy.  Supporters have planned events across the country, including events at Ft Lewis, WA; Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, OH; Harrisburg, PA; San Francisco, CA; and Oklahoma City, OK.

Colonel Ann Wright (Ret.) served 29 years in the Army/Army Reserve and 16 years in the U.S. Foreign Service.  She resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service  
on March 19, 2003 in protest over the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq without UN Security Council authorization, and over the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States.

text of her speech June 19, 2006, Seattle at press conference in support of Lt. Ehren Watada.

Good Afternoon.  It is with heavy heart that I am here.  Heavy heart that the U.S. Military may be taking action against a noble and principled Officer of the U.S. Military who is saying to U.S. Military and U.S. goverment that the war in Iraq is an illegal war and he refuses to take orders to go to an illegal war.

This is a right that a military officer has to disobey illegal orders and to be ordered to an illegal war is something people can stand up against.  And as you can see, not many people do.  We have one officer that's done it; we have 24 in Canda who have done it; 10 in jail or imprisoned who have said no to these illegal orders.  Ehren will be the first Officer that will say no.

By the Nuremburg Principle codified after World War ll, when United States of America executed Japanese and German military officers and civilians for going along with what the International Communities termed 'illegal wars'.  That's when it came to the front, that we as civilains and military have the obligation and responsibility to say no to a government that takes us into an illegal war - a war of aggression.  And by the Nuremburg Principles, a war of agrression is called a war crime.  The Bush administration is committing war crimes.  The country of Iraq did nothing to the United States of America.  The Bush administration invaded and occupied a country that did nothing to the United States of America.

By the three principles of legal wars;

 - If the United Nations Security Counscil will vote that the International community has to take military action against a threat to the International community.  The Bush administration was unable to get U.N. Security Council to vote for military operations on Iraq.  

 - If imminent danger to your country ... the weapons of mass destruction were not imminent danger.  In fact, there was an ongong U.N. inspection to determine if there were WMD. But the Bush administration threw away that and said we're going in anyway.

 - The third is to prevent humanitarian disaster such as genocide; a genocide taking place.  While the Saddam Hussein regime had committed atrocities on it's people, it was not doing so at that time.   In fact, the atrocities that were being committed on the people of Iraq were being committed by the International community by the International sanctions that had been placed on the country.

  So, in my opinion, and, in fact, and I resigned my career as a diplomat, because I firmly believe the U.S; the Bush administration has taken the country into a war crime and an illegal war of agrression.  I firmly support Lt. Watada's decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.  I think he is on firm, solid, legal ground that he is disobeying an illegal order.

  We support him - others support him too - not just myself.  A colleague in the Diplomatic Corps of the United Kingdom back in March 2003, same month I resigned, she resigned.  She was the Deputy Legal Counsel of the equivalent of the British State Department or the Foreign And Commonwealth Office.  Her name is Elizabeth Wilmshurst.  In her letter of resignation she specifically states the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom would be a war crime as a war of aggression.  The British government also threw away the legal opinions of it's lawyers and went ahead, just as the Bush administration went ahead to this illegal war.  

  I think we all have a responsibility as citizens to support those in our government, particularly our military who stand up.  It is not easy to stand up.  Having been in the military 29 years, I know the pressures that Lt. Watada is under.  It is very difficult thing to go against the organiztion.  When I resigned from the State Department, that was very difficult.  I had spent 16 years there.  It is hard to leave your colleagues and I know Lt. Watada is having a difficult time leaving his colleagues, the people he trained with..

  But there are higher principles at stake.  There are principles that will save one's conscience; I mean it is an act of conscience that he is doing but it will save his soul ... for going to war, to an illegal war where you will be committing illegal acts, where you will, in the name of the United States of America, be committing murder. These are things that people have to evaluate, what they want to live with the rest of their lives.   And Lt. Watada has said I will not have on my conscience the murder of innocent men, women and children.  I will not participate in an illegal war of agrression, a war crime.

  I hope all people of the United States will join us on June 27 when we do call for a National Day of Action to stand up for Lt. Watada.  (Here she names the organizations that endorse a National Day of Action, both national organizations and Washington state organizations and identified cities that are participating.)   We hope that hundreds and hundreds of cities all throughout America, cities and towns will join with us in a day of protest against this illegal war and a day of conscience where people, citizens and military stand up to say no more to these wars.

      Thank you.

 On a personal note, I have met and spent time with Col. Ann Wright, at Crawford, Texas, last August, and in Washington DC last September.  I vividly recall a press meeting in DC we were invited to attend, which included General Wesley Clark.  I was moved that General Clark asked for the U.S. flag to be brought into the room and the veterans from Veterans for Peace ceremoniously bringing the flag into the room and placing it in front.  I remarked to Ann that I was moved by the ritual, and it still stirs in me what feels like a strong sense of patriotic ownership in honoring what our flag means to me.  I have heard Ann speak before, and her speech in conjunction with Lt. Ehren Watada's action and decision brings more power to her own action and words and to his.

Coverage of this second press conference is carried in Seattle PI, the Seattle Times, and video coverage at KING 5 website .


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech