Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Law and Disorder, Dahr Jamail & Amy Goodman on Falluja, the death of two Iraqi women, Ramadi and more, and Jason Leopold

"Scheduled outage" is the first thing I see when I log in. It's tomorrow morning (and will probably effect C.I.'s Iraq snapshot) but hopefully that doesn't mean trouble tonight. Rebecca was really upset last night (read her "jason" and you'll know why). She called and said she knew I was probably about to post and with the time difference between us, she knew it wouldn't be too late. She tried to get off the phone after a few minutes to let me post and I told her I'd already put up the announcement while we were talking. Friends are more important.

On the subject of Jason Leopold, too bad that no one else ever got anything wrong, right? I don't know a show I've watched or listened to or paper or magazine I've read that hasn't gotten something wrong before. I don't think he said, "Let me figure out how to be called a liar . . ." I think he either got tricked or Patrick Fitzgerald lost his nerve. Considering how long he's been working on the Valerie Plame case and how little he has to show for it (plus some news on his other cases), no big surprise if he lost his nerve. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Robert Parry wrote something about that right after the Scooter Libby indictment.

It must be wonderful to never be wrong. I imagine. I wouldn't know because I've been wrong before. Everyone can be. The whole we'll now shun him is nonsense. I guess it made for good fund raising (that's my comment, not Rebecca's, all comments here are mine unless I say otherwise)? It must be nice being a "brave" voice whose only bravery is in acting like someone misled you. If Jason Leopold was wrong, a lot of people are guilty.

We highlighted his story when we saw it at The Third Estate Sunday Review. When it was tossed out, C.I. said, "Uh-uh." C.I. got on the phone and called around. There was no one else willing to say it was true (journalist) that C.I. spoke to. Which is why the title of that editorial is
"Editorial: Could it be true? Rove indicted?" and why the title reflects the tone. It's why C.I. wrote "The web today, just nuts (borrowing from Isaiah)" which was in response to all the attacks that were starting on Jason Leopold:

If you missed the editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Jason Leopold has reported on an indictment of Karl Rove in the Plamegate case. (Click here to go to his Saturday report.) Rebecca phoned earlier and you can read her take here. I've heard from my friends (the ones who are in journalism) that: a) it's completely true and coming soon; b) they have accepted the official word (no indictment) as truth; c) "What do you know?"On the latter, nothing. I have no friends in the Special Counsel (Patrick Fitgerald) office.
Those who think it's true think it will break soon. My own guess (mine, not anyone I spoke to) would be that if it broke (this week) it would break either during the hearings tomorrow (to take heat off of Michael Hayden -- remember, they will be broadcast live, I'll note the details at the bottom of the post) or on Friday. That's when Scooter Libby's indictment was announced.
What if it doesn't break? What if it's not true? Again, I know no one in Fitzgerald's office and Karl Rove's still mad at me for selling him on the salsa diet -- telling him he could continue to eat everything he wanted and, as long as he topped it with salsa, he wouldn't gain a pound. (I'm joking on the Rove comment. I don't know Karl Rove.)
If it's not true, then it's not true.
But there is some sort of a drive/push to turn on Jason Leopold. Not from the right, but from some on the left and the supposed left. If it's not true then his sources burned him. That does happen. It happens at networks and at papers. It happens in the mainstream media and in independent media. Good reporters get burned, bad reporters get burned.

C.I. never thought it was likely because too many journalists were in the dark about it (that was the Saturday night/Sunday morning that we did the editorial). But when Ty said, "Well then it's not true." And C.I. said, "No one can say that at this point except Patrick Fitzgerald." We wrote it the way we did for that reason (the editorial).

If Jason Leopold was wrong, then he was wrong and we all are at some point. I'll still read him. I won't bash him.

UN Committee Against Torture studied the torture of African-Americans in Chicago and found that there were no prosecutions for the torture of 200 African-Americans in the 70s and 80s.
Did you know about that? No?

Well you don't listen to WBAI's Law and Disorder or you missed this week's episode. (It airs on other stations later in the week and my cousin heard it on a pirate radio station last week.) Heidi Boghasian pointed out that this was the first investigation that used a grand jury and was able to order witnesses to appear. Instead of dealing with the report, some are trying to derail its release. Flint Taylor (People's Law Office of Chicago) was the guest. Boghosian is one of the four hosts (Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith and Michael Ratner are the other three).

There's a move to suppress the report. The city government was against the release and only changed their position because of media pressure. If you think about when this happened, 70s and 80s, and the fact that we're over twenty years later, you can get how hard people have tried to cover up the torture. It involves a lot more than the ones doing the torture and their immediate superiors. This has been a long effort to cover this up.

And I know someone might take the attitude of, "They're prisoners, who cares?" (I actually heard that when I was talking about this week's show with some friends.) (That was a guy at another table who was listening to our conversation.) When someone is convicted, they are basically a ward of the state. (That may even be the legal term, I'm not a lawyer.) That means the state is responsible for their care. That torture could happen is awful enough. That it would happen and the state would be more interested in covering it up then living up to their obligations is hideous.

My friend Birdie had a good point she made to the guy at the other table. (He actually did get into the conversation. Which is good, maybe he'll think about what we were talking about or maybe he'll check out the show. He asked twice where I heard about this.) She said, "If we say that about prisoners, what's next? Orphans? 'Who cares? They're orphans, they don't have any parents.'"

I was hearing Birdie say that and thinking it was the wrong point to make but it ended up stopping him. He just sort of sat there for a few seconds before he had a reply. (His reply was that we'd never allow that to happen to children, which led a long discussion on Guantanamo Bay.) (By the way, Three Cool Old Guys may write about this as well. Birdie has a mini-van and I've been telling her how I wish we could get them out of the nursing home for more than church. Sometimes, after church, I'll run around with them so they can skip the van ride back and have a little fun but I'm sure they wish they were doing stuff all the time. They can leave, they're not prisoners. But it's a lot easier to go somewhere when you've got people to go with.)

This is an important story. It's important to the men that were tortured and to their families. It's important to our sense of justice. It's also important because if you don't say that this is wrong loudly, someone else will come along and try to push the barrier a little more. It's important for prisons in this country (and probably elsewhere). If you missed it, our prison population is growing. (Because we've turned it into a business and privatized it. That's what all the three-strikes nonsense is about, if you ask me.)

So what happened back then matters today. The report needs to come out. Not a year from now, or ten years. It needs to come out now and it needs to be addressed with charges against those who participated and charges against those who helped cover it up (which Flint Taylor agrees needs to happen but doesn't think it's likely, he thinks the high ups will get off without a mention or even embarrassment).

By the way, at the end of this segment they played a song. I thought it was pretty cool and assumed it was about Bully Boy until it went on some more. I asked Ruth what it was and she said it was Phil Ochs. He was a protest singer and he's most famous for "I Ain't Marching Anymore" (which I do know, I know some of his other songs mainly from all sitting around and listening when we were all in California for the week).

Meet the king of cowboys, he rides a pale pony
He fights the bad boys brings them to their knees
He patrols the highways from the air
He keeps the country safe from long hair
I am the masculine American man
I kill therefore I am.
I don't like the black man, for he doesn't know his place
Take the back of my hand or I'll spray you with my mace
I'm as brave as any man can be
I find my courage through chemistry
I am the masculine American man
I kill therefore I am.

It's called "I Kill Therefore I Am." (Thank you to Ruth who e-mailed me that part of the lyrics.) If you want to hear the song or if you want to hear the whole segment or (better) the whole show, you and go to WBAI or Law and Disorder and listen online. There are three segments to the episode. I grabbed the second one, Mike wrote about the first one ("Law and Disorder discussed Tasers plus some other stuff") and Ruth's planning on grabbing the first one this weekend.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! A BULLY BABY IS BORN!" for the truth about how government officials grab a free ride (for them, for us - we get stuck with the bill). C.I.'s "NYT: Dexy and Burnsie enjoy a reach around, Tavernise and Mizher go blank" may be the funniest thing this week. Check it out. And Elaine discusses the Hippocratic Oath in ""A difference of opinion."

Here's C.I.'s Iraq snapshot for today:

In the United States, following the actions of the so-called Take Back America leadership to silence the activist organization CODEPINK from registering their objections to war monger Hillary Clinton, Clinton's opponent in the primary, Jonathan Tasini, has issued his own comments at The Huffington Post where he wonders: "So, the question to real progressives through the country -- and funders who enable the organizations that want to stifle debate -- is simple: how are the progressives different than Republicans and pro-war Democrats if they suppress debate about the centeral electoral issue, the Iraq war?"
Hillary Clinton, though protected, was still booed. As was George Bush Snr. in Harrogate Friday. The protests are not going away which is why the Granny Peace Brigade was back in Times Square last Saturday and why they have "announced [that] they are taking their anti-war tour to Washington."
Something that won't be taking place in Baghdad anytime soon is the Arab League conference which has been postponed again. The conference has been postponed, again, due to the instability in Iraq (that would be the continued chaos and violence). As Amy Goodman noted today, a recent Pew Research Center poll has found a decline in support for US Policies. As Al Jazeera has noted, the poll finds that the US involvement in Iraq "is the biggest threat to Middle East stability."A feeling that was shared by the protestors that rallied against the Bully Boy when he visited Tuesday. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, "some 2,000 protested" chanting slogans such as "Iraq is for Iraqis!" and calling for an end to the occupation. Today, as RTE News noted, protestors also made their presence felt at the Iranian consulate in Basra. Gulf News reports that they attacked the embassy and "set fire to a reception area of the building" as a result of a broadcast on "Iranian satellite station which they said had insulted a Shiite cleric in Iraq."
Meanwhile the photo-op sucked up a great deal of news space but few found the time to note that Bully Boy managed to grab time to lean on Nouri al-Maliki, occupation puppet, about Iran. Whether 'rebels' were discussed or not, the Turkish Press reports that al-Maliki desires "a dialogue with rebel groups." Roula Khalaf (Finanical Times of London) reports that "a national reconcilliation initiative that could include a conditional amnesty offer and negotiations with some some armed insurgent groups" is being prepared.
While al-Maliki's "crackdown" takes place in Baghdad, the usual violence occurs. Ceerwan Aziz offers an eyewitness account of one bombing for Reuters:
The blast sent shrapnel flying in all directions as huge balls of flames moved skyward. People fled the scene screaming and crying. The charred body of a dead man sat upright, engulfed by huge flames. A teenage boy was also on fire. He managed to grab a rod extended to him, and was pulled out of the inferno. I counted four bodies, but couldn't tell if they were dead or seriously wounded.
The Associated Press also reports four dead from the car bomb in Baghdad. Reuters notes two other car bombs in Baghdad today (this during the "crackdown"), one that claimed the lives of at least two (wounded at least seven) and another that wounded at least one person. The AP notes that a man driving his car in Baghdad was shot and killed while a roadside bomb (not covered by Reuters) took the life of one "police commando." This during the "crackdown," when, as the AFP points out, over "50,000 Iraqi and US troops patrolled the streets of Baghdad".
Outside Baghdad, CNN reports that four were killed, in Baquba, during a gunfire attack on "electronic stores" and that a skirmish of some form occurred in Diyala with officials reporting five dead and three wounded. In Mosul, the AP notes a roadside bomb that wounded four police officers. In Najaf, Reuters notes that "a construction contractor . . . working for the Iraqi government" was killed by "gunmen."
Meanwhile the WRA (Women's Rights Association) is reporting "a massive increase in reported cases of sexual abuse in Iraq." The report has found, among other things, that "nearly 60 women have been raped in Baghdad since February, while another 80 were abused in other ways." Note, that is in Baghdad only. That is reported rapes only. And that is only since February.

I was really glad C.I. emphasized the point about the rapes. It draws your attention to it so you're not just reading along and thinking, "60" and then moving on. That's from February to now. The issue of women in Iraq is probably one of the most underreported issue. Where do we think the Iraqi women went? They just said one day, "I'm used to my career and like it but I guess today I'll step several decades back and hide out, I mean, 'stay,' stay at home."?

Another underreported issue is Falluja and I was so glad that Dahr Jamail was a guest on Democracy Now! today (always am glad when he's one) and was glad that Amy Goodman brought up Falluja. Here's one section from "Another Cover-Up? U.S. Troops Kill Two Iraqi Women, One of Them Pregnant, in Samarra" where she brought it up and made a great point:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you repeat, Dahr Jamail -- because the last time we had you on, when we were asking you about Haditha, when we were talking about the killings there, you talked about Fallujah. And you said, if we're going to talk about Haditha, which is very important, we also have to talk about Fallujah. But can you repeat what happened? Because I think most people in this country don't understand what the siege of Fallujah is about. Especially as you're talking about Ramadi right now.
DAHR JAMAIL: It's a very important thing that people understand: Fallujah, during the November 2004 U.S. assault on the city, was essentially turned into an uninhabitable city, where -- most of it remains that way today. It's a city of 350,000 people, where it's estimated by Iraqi -- an Iraqi NGO within Fallujah that has tried to figure out the number of people who were killed there the best they could, that between 4,000 and 6,000 people were killed. 4 and 6,000 people were killed in one U.S. military operation. The Pentagon admitted they did use white phosphorus, which is an illegal incendiary weapon. They tried to deny this at first, but enough proof was provided, including soldier’s statements, who were in Fallujah, that they did use that weapon. It was called Whiskey Pete on the radio when they used it.
And soldiers testified of stepping over charred bodies that were hit by this themselves. And the Pentagon finally even admitted that they used it and it could have even hit civilians. They also used cluster bombs, they used uranium munitions, they used fleshettes, all of these are violations of various international laws. And the city, to this day, entire neighborhoods remain without electricity, without water. And basically, the water situation there is a disaster, where to this day, also, there remain many waterborne diseases spread rampantly. The medical system was absolutely crushed during the siege and has yet to recover to this day. People need to be very clear, that this is the equivalent of a Guernica. It was an absolute massacre of an entire city.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, we read the first paragraph of a Newsweek piece in Fallujah, for our TV viewers, we're going to show some photographs and we're going to put this on our website for our radio listeners. This is from Newsweek, and I'd like you to respond, Dahr. 'The Marines know how to get psyched up for a big fight. In November 2004, before the Battle of Fallujah, the Third Battalion, First Marines, better known as the "3/1" or "Thundering Third," held a chariot race. Horses had been confiscated from suspected insurgents, and charioteers were urged to go all-out. The men of Kilo Compan -- honored to be first into the city on the day of the battle -- wore togas and cardboard helmets, and hoisted a shield emblazoned with a large K. As speakers blasted a heavy-metal song, "Cum On Feel the Noize," the warriors of Kilo Company carried a homemade mace, and a ball-and-chain studded with M-16 bullets. A company captain intoned a line from a scene in the movie "Gladiator," in which the Romans prepare to slaughter the barbarians: "What you do here echoes in eternity."’ And this is the kilo company that ended up in Haditha at the time of those killings. Your response, Dahr?
DAHR JAMAIL: Well, if that's correct, that what they do in Fallujah would echo in eternity, hopefully those echoes will be the voices being heard in the international criminal courts, where the people who committed the war crimes in Fallujah and, more importantly, those who gave the orders for this siege to happen, as well as declaring the entire city a "free-fire zone," will be those echoes that we all hear when justice is served. Because the entire city was declared a free-fire zone, and this type of psyching up, as described, is absolutely sick. I think that's lunacy.
And I think that's a big part of the reason why women, children and elderly suffered the most, and were on the receiving end of the bullets and bombs fired by the U.S. Military in Fallujah. That type of psyching up, as well as other statements made by a member of the U.S. military, that Satan lived in Fallujah, that Satan has a face and he is in Fallujah, saying this sort of thing, is clearly why the entire city was demonized, the people were made subhuman by this type of propaganda by the U.S. military, and psyching up. And this is one of the big reasons why it's an absolute atrocity and countless war crimes were committed there.

You should listen or watch or read that segment. I'm serious and I'll do the link one more time,
"Another Cover-Up? U.S. Troops Kill Two Iraqi Women, One of Them Pregnant, in Samarra."

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