Monday, June 01, 2009

Barack and Bush, two of a kind






We're going to start with an exchange broadcast today on KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett between Garrett and LA City Council member Bill Rosendahl and the topic was marriage equality:

Bill Rosendahl: . . . we're not equal in America today. We're not equal anywhere on the earth. In fact, I put a motion in last week on the council about the outrage in going on Iraq right now. While we have 130,000 troops there, spending billions of dollars, killing a lot of local people, that gay people are being round up and murdered. Over 600 have been documented and we're there watching it happen. And it's just outrageous and our president should get up and show some real leadership and, frankly, say, "Look, we're in Iraq to create freedom there and democracy and gay people are not going to be any more murdered just because they're gay." And that's what's going on -- tortured and murdered. And so, we suffer as gay people all over the planet. We have a better life here in American and in the west than a lot of gay people have in other parts of the planet. They're literally killed for their realities but here in the States we still don't have our basic civil rights. I mean, when is our president going to get up and talk about Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Our people are in the military. They're thrown out of the military. He promised us that, I'm expecting real leadership out of him. And I must say I am disappointed. He has not taken the leadership seriously enough. I don't like what he's doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I don't like what he's continuing to do in Iraq. He better not get to boisterous about North Korea and Iran. You know, he should focus on our infrastructure, our education and bring peace to the planet, not more imperial war.

Lila Garrett: Wait a minute. 600 gay people were murdered? By whom?

Bill Rosendahl: 600 gay people in Iraq were murdered by --

Lila Garrett: By?

Bill Rosendahl: -- family and by folks within the militia who see gay people out in the street being more public. They round us up and then they kill us. And then there's an incredible torture mechanism that they do which I don't really want to say on the air but it's just disgusting how they end up putting us to death and to know about it from international gay and lesbian groups and to know our government knows it's going on and has said nothing about it, to me, is outrageous and I want our president to show some real leadership on this.

Lila Garrett: Yeah, but I really have to know, these 600 murdered people, you say by families and militia, are you talking about the American militia

Bill Rosendahl: No. No, no, no. No, I'm talking about several, what I consider, perversions of the Koran. There are people who believe in Mohammad that also believe to be gay is wrong and that 'honor' murders can take place. So some of it is literally families killing their own. And others are groups that are just part of the community who single out young gay men because they figure they are gay and kill them. They literally kill us.

Lila Garrett: Are you saying, that this is happening in Iraq or is happening in Iran?

Bill Rosendahl: This is happening in Iraq as we're talking right now, Lila.

Lila Garrett: By Iraqis?

Bill Rosendahl: By Iraqis.

Lila Garrett: And the United States is not stopping it?

Bill Rosendahl: It is not stopping it.

Lila Garrett: This is unbelievable.

Bill Rosendahl: It is unbelievable. It's outrageous. It is a living hell for my folks over there.

Lila Garrett: I don't understand why this isn't the story in the United States.

Bill Rosendahl: Well because the American media is so perverted. They spend all this time about Miss America and all that at the same time this is going on over there. They spend more time on trivia here than they do on real stories. They spent some quality time on that young lady that was in Iran that was arrested as a spy who was a reporter. But this particular issue has gotten no press, mainstream press, it has gotten a lot of other press and there's a lot of e-mails that are circulated and the gay and lesbian international groups have documented it, have gone over there and are the ones who first brought it to my attention. And that's why I brought it to the attention of my colleagues on the City Council and we unanimously passed a resolution. In fact, my chief of staff Mike Bonahma was with the vice president of the United States the next day, Joe Biden, because he was one of the early Obama supporters, and mentioned it to him, handed him the resolution and as Biden left the room, he said, "I'll get back to you on it." So hopefully our president will show real leadership and show an outrage to this.

Lila Garrett: Let's not hold our breath before Obama shows real leadership.

Bill Rosendahl: I know.

Lila Garrett: I want to get back to these 600 gay people that have been murdered. By the Iraqis -- by whom among the Iraqis? By the Sunnis?

Bill Rosendahl: No, no, no. I'm talking about family. I'm talking about just the militias and the insurgents in general. They consider this [being gay] wrong and a murderous act and they literally kill us. And when the numbers started to become hundreds -- and now it's over 600 documented -- that's when it was brought to my attention. In fact, one of the international leaders of the gay group read a letter that was sent to him by a 25-year-old gay man who was in that threatened position. So we're trying to raise the awareness out there, the public awareness, and you're helping with that, Lila, by putting it on your show.

As noted May 15th, "Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) reports that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to approve Council Rep Bill Rosendahl's 'resolution calling for federal legislation urging the Iraqi government to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people'." Lila noted that the segment was taped ahead of time so, for perspective, the resolution passed May 15th. This year, the targeting's been noted here first in more on the issue, you can see this snapshot, this entry and the roundtable Friday night ["Roundtable on Iraq," "Roundtabling Iraq," "the roundtable," "Iraq," "Iraq in the Kitchen," "Roundtable on Iraq," "Talking Iraq," "Iraq," "Talking Iraq roundtable" and "Iraq roundtable"] That's going back to the start of April and it is not true that the MSM has ignored it. They could do a lot more but they have covered it and where there has been no amplification is in Panhandle Media which appears to feel it's a 'niche' story to be left to the LGBT media. In April, Wisam Mohammed and Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN), the Dallas Morning News, UPI and AFP reported on it. Michael Riley (Denver Post) covered the story and covered US House Rep Jared Polis' work on the issue (which included visiting Iraq), PDF format warning, click here for his letter to Patricia A. Butenis. Polis is quoted at his website stating, "The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of nay kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting. Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses." For the New York Times, Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" covered the topic. BBC News offered "Fears over Iraq gay killing spate." The Denver Post offered an editorial entitled "Killing of gay Iraqis shouldn't be ignored: We applaud Rep. Jared Polis for his efforts last week to shine the spotlight on the killings of homosexuals in Iraq," Nigel Morris offered "Iraqi leaders attacked over spate of homophobic murders" (Independent of London), the Telegraph of London covers the issue here. Neal Broverman (The Advocate), Jessica Green (UK's Pink News), and Doug Ireland
covered it (here's one report by Ireland at GayCityNews -- he's filed more than one report), AFP reported on it again when signs went up throughout Sadr City with statements such as "We will punish you, perverts" and "We will get you, puppies" (puppies is slang for gay men in Iraq) and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reported on that as well. Chris Johnson offered "Polis seeks to aid Iraqis: Says gays 'fear for their life and limb' after fact-finding trip to Baghdad" (Washington Blade), Killian Melloy (The Edge -- this is the April 2nd story that contains the State Dept stating it's not happening -- the denial) and [PDF formart warning] the April 15th "Iraq Status Report" by the US State Dept notes the killings. Amnesty International weighed in as did the International Gay and lesiban Human Rights Campaign. Jim Muir (BBC News -- text and video) reported on the targeting and the attacks. UK Gay News covered it, last week ABC News offered Mazin Faiq's "Tortured and Killed in Iraq for Being Gay" Chicago Pride and UPI covered the latest deaths last week. And AFP and Jessica Green (UK's Pink News) covered the public statement from Moqtada al-Sadr about how they needed to be "eradicated" for "depravity" and he thinks they can be 'taught' not to be gay. As for the technique, Bill Rosendahl didn't want to discuss on air Doug Ireland (ZNet) reported on that in May:

As the murder campaign targeting Iraqi gays intensifies, a leading Arabic television network last week revealed the use of a horrifying new form of lethal torture against Iraqi gay men -- anti-gay Shiite death squads are sealing their anuses with a powerful glue, then inducing diarrhea, which leads to a painful and agonizing death. The use of this stomach-turning new torture was first reported by the Al Arabiya network, which is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates and was alerted to the story by a leading Iraqi feminist and human rights activist.Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), told Al Arabiya that the torture substance "is an Iranian-manufactured glue that, if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile telephones in Iraq." Al Arabiya said its reporter confirmed the use of this anal torture by "visiting the Baghdad morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed they have the bodies of seven homosexuals in the morgue. He said, 'We were not able to identify the culprits, who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled without being seen.'" A two-person team from Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently in Iraq to investigate persecution of LGBT people has also confirmed the use of this form of torture. In a widely-circulated email from Iraq, the head of HRW's LGBT desk, Scott Long, said he and his colleague had gathered evidence which confirms the Al Arabiya report and that HRW would make its own detailed report after the organization's two staffers return to the United States next week.

Over the weekend, Alsumaria reminded, "After the US administration agreed to publish photos of Iraqi detainees' torture in US prisons, US President Barack Obama reversed the decision and asked a federal appeals court to block the publication of images showing detainee abuse, citing concern it could incite violence in Iraq and Afghanistan." On the torture photos, Diane Bartz and Philip Barbara (Reuters) report that Antonio Taguba states he did not tell the Telegraph that he had seen the photos that Barack is refusing to release. Jeremy Scahill explains Taguba saw another set. The torture continues under Barack Obama as WBAI's Law and Disorder noted today when co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith spoke with Jeremey Scahill (Heidi Boghosian and Dahlia Hashad also co-host the program)

Jeremy Scahill: I think that one of the clearest pieces of evidence that we have that a prosecution, a criminal prosecution of those that authorized the torture, ordered the torture and carried it out would be the best preventative measure from this happening again would be is the fact that torture is continuing right now at Guantanamo under Barack Obama of course Michael Ratner has been at the forefront of litigating the illegality of Guantanamo and defending prisoners there -- I write about Michael in this article -- but the point here is that Obama on January 22nd issued an Executive Order saying that Guantanamo would be closed in a year futhermore he said that the United States will respect the Geneva Conventions particularly Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions that would prohibit the abuse of prisoners in US custody. What we know now is that not only are there -- is there systematic torture continuing to happen at Guantanamo but that Obama -- and this is what my article is about -- is continuing to allow the use of a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo known as the Immediate Reaction Force -- the IRF. This force is so notorius that lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees have created a new lexicon or language to describe the operations of this force. They say that they're IRF-ing prisoners or prisoners are being IRF-ed up by them. In short, this is a riot type squad that comes in with what Clive Stafford Smith describes as Darth Vader outfits. They come into a cell five men deep, they douse prisoners in chemicals. Each of the five thugs sent in there is assigned to a different body part of the prisoner -- the head, the right arm, the left arm, the right leg, the left leg -- and there job is to "subdue resitve or combative prisoners." What I found in my investigation is that this thug squad -- Michael, you've called them the Black Shirts of Guantanamo --

Michael Ratner: I've called them the Black Shirts of Guantanamo, Jeremy, taken from your original book, when I always made a distinction between US fascism and German because I said we don't have people on the street beating people up and you said, 'Oh no, Michael, we got Blackwater Black Shirts.' And these IRF guys, Immediate Reaction Force people, those guys are the Black Shirts of Guantanamo. There's no --

Jeremy Scahill: They're being used to punish people. This is not about stopping a prisoner from stabbing a guard, this is not about stopping a riot in a prison. What we found is that prisoners who take an extra styrofoam cup after a meal and keep it in their cell as some psychological form of comfort -- that they have some other possession in their cell -- they, the IRF teams, are called in and they beat them to a pulp. Among the tactics they use, they put prisoners' heads in toilets and then flush the toilet repeatedly. They did that to a British resident named Omar Deghayes who is one of the key in the Spanish investigation. They have smeared feces from another prisoner on the face of other prisoners. A man who is being represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights -- this was after Obama's inauguration -- was doused in chemicals, beaten and then had one of these IRF team members urinate on his head as part of the "displinary measures" taken. This force, from the lawyers I've talked to, is entirely illegal in terms of the actions it's taking under international law and under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

"This is still continuing under Obama and I think that's the point that's most important," says Scahill who ties the refusal to prosecute in with the continuation. Chris Hedges was also on the program. Mike may note that tonight. We'll link to Mike tomorrow if he does or note it here on our own. Hedges, Scahill, Sister Dianna Ortiz, Michael Ratner, Andy Zee and others (like Laura Flanders because, as Diane Keaton notes in Love & Death, you've got have some uglies in the mix) will take part June 3rd at seven p.m. in a discussion at New York Society for Ethical Culture. Meanwhile, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned, two U.S. military officers, a senior defense official and a State Department official have told McClatchy." It's really been cute and hilarious to watch the ever changing story from the US government. Barack was forced to change his mind . . . by Gen David Petraeus and Gen Ray Odierno! Now Barack was forced to change his mind by Nouri! Reality, Barack controls his own damn mind. He wasn't tricked. He wasn't forced. He made the decision. It's on him. Just like he's made the decision to continue torture. In the Wall St. Journal today, George McGovern offers "My Advice for Obama" which includes "order all U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by Thanksgiving". Which he could do. If he wanted to. No one's 'tricking' Barry O, no one's twisting his arm. He's continuing the illegal wars because he wants to and he thinks he can get away with it. (And the Cult of St. Barack's refusals to call him out allows him to think the whole world will remain silent as he flaunts his own War Crimes.)

[. . .]

Reuters released a story yesterday that's garbage and we were going to ignore it but it's being picked up elsewhere (Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, etc. -- and the Wall St. Journal has written their own unsigned 'report'). It asserts -- and remember this came out yesterday -- that civilian deaths in Iraq -- that undefined 'civilian' term -- fell to an all time low. They made that assertion before May was over, of course. They made that assertion while they were, in fact, reporting on Saturday deaths in a story posted after the lowest-deaths-ever! In other words, they published the story before May was over.They also didn't use their own figures. They used the Health Ministry's figures. Figures which have repeatedly turned out to be wrong -- so much so that those choosing to cite their figures today seem intent to take part in a lie. Once upon a time, when Nancy A. Youssef was in Iraq, McClatchy kept track of civilian deaths (the ones they were able to) and published a monthly number a few months after a month ended. Once upon a time. McClatchy hasn't publised an Iraq story in six days. But once upon a time, once upon a time, it used to. Maybe they'll do so again? In the meantime, 134 is the number of "civilians" killed in Iraq in May, alleges the Health Ministry. We're getting 226 deaths.

We'll walk through slowly. A word on who's counted. Suicide bombers are not counted in this total. They died but I seriously doubt they'd be considered "civilians" by the Ministry. Would Sahwa? They're not being brought into the government. What does that make them? We have counted all deaths except bombers and except for US civilians (2 US civilians were killed in the Green Zone in May, 2 US civilians were killed in Falluja in May) and US service members. Now here's the breakdown.

May 1st, 10 people reported dead (6 in Mosul bombing, 2 people shot dead in Tikrit, 2 in Mosul). May 2nd, 3 dead (killed in Kirkuk bombing). May 3rd, only wounded. May 4th, 14 dead (4 in Baghdad bombing, 4 in Baghdad grenade attack, 1 in Diyala bombing, 1 shot dead in Mosul, 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead, 3 corpses in Mosul). May 5th, 4 dead dead, (2 shot dead in Mosul, 1 shot dead in Baghdad, 1 corpse in Kirkuk). May 6th, 2 dead (2 dead in Mosul from roadside bombings). May 7th, 3 dead (1 12-year-old boy shot dead in Mosul as well as 2 fishermen shot dead on the day before but reported on May 7th). May 8th, only wounded. May 9 - 10th, 2 dead (1 shot dead in Basra, 1 shot dead in Mosul). May 11th, 6 dead (1 in Baghdad roadside bombing, 2 in a Kirkuk car bombing, 1 shot dead in Baghdad, 1 shot in Mosul, 1 corpse of a 5-year-old boy discovered in Baghdad). May 12th, 7 dead (6 in Kirkuk bombing, 1 corpse of a 13-year-old girl in Diyala Province). May 13th, 7 dead (1 Baghdad roadside bombing, 2 in a Mosul car bombing, 2 in a Ramadi roadside bombing, 1 shot dead in Mosul, 1 shot dead in Baghdad). May 14th, 6 dead (3 shot dead in Baquba, 3 shot dead in Kirkuk). May 15th, 1 dead (1 shot dead in Baghdad). May 16 - 17th, 20 dead (1 in Baghdad mortar attack, 4 in Baghdad roadside bombings, 1 in Mosul roadside bombing, 1 in Basra grenade attack, 3 in Baghdad roadside bombing, 1 in Mosul car bombing, 2 shot dead in Mosul, 1 shot dead in Jalawla, 1 corpse in Mosul, 1 near Samarra and 4 in Baquba). May 18th, 2 dead (1 in Kirkuk roadside bombing, 1 in Basra bombing). May 19th, 3 dead (2 dead in Taji roadside bombing, 1 killed in Mosul). May 20th, 2 dead (1 shot dead in Mosul, 1 corpse discovered in Mosul) plus 40 dead (one Baghdad bombing -- using Alsumaria's final figures) for total of 42. May 21st, 24 dead (2 dead in Baghdad bombing, 2 shot dead in Mosul, 12 dead in a Baghdad bombing, 8 dead in Kirkuk bombing). May 22nd, 4 dead (1 dead in Mosul roadside bombing and Reuters goes back to the 21st to add 1 dead in Mosul roadside bombing, 2 corpses in Mosul). May 23rd, 10 dead (2 dead in Diyala roadside bombing, 1 US citizen dead in Green Zone and we're not including that in the count, 4 dead in Mosul roadside bombing, 1 6-year-old shot dead in Mosul, 1 adult shot dead in Mosul, 2 corpses found in Salahuddin and -- not counted in our count -- 1 US civilian's corpse found in Green Zone). May 24th, 12 dead (8 dead in Mosul bombing, 3 shot dead in Mosul, 1 in Hilla). May 25th, 11 dead (6 corpses discovered in Baquba, 2 shot dead in Mosul, 2 people killed in Awisat, 1 infant killed in a grenade attack). May 26th, 5 dead (1 dead in Mosul bombing, 4 shot dead in Kirkuk). May 27th, 8 dead (4 dead in Abu Ghraib bombing, 3 shot dead in Mosul, dropping back to the 25th 1 dead in Mosul roadside bombing). May 28th, 3 dead (1 dead in Mosul roadside bombing, 1 shot dead in Diwainyah, 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk). May 29th, 9 dead (8 dead in Baquba bombings, 1 corpse discovered in Telkeif). May 30th, 3 dead (2 in Baquba roadside bombing and 1 shot dead in Baquba). May 31st, 5 dead (1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk, Reuters drops back to the 30th to note 1 dead in Haswa bombing, 2 dead in Samarra roadside bombing and 1 dead in Iskandariya bombing). That adds up to at least 226 reported deaths.

There are probably more than 226 reported and we've probably missed a death on any of the days linked. The deaths are primarily reported by McClatchy and Reuters but there's also Alsumaria, DPA and the US military in the mix. Should McClatchy do a study, there numbers would be more precise.

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