Saturday, May 09, 2009

Same old same old





Yesterday the jury issued a verdict in the War Crimes trial of Steven D. Green. Last night on The KPFA Evening News, the events were summed up as follows:

Andea Lewis: A jury convicted a former soldier today of raping and fatally shooting a 14 year old girl after kiling her parents and younger sister while he wsa serving in Iraq. PFC Steven Dale Green faces a possible death sentence when the penalty phase of his trial begins on Monday. Green, aged 24 from Midland Texas, was being tried in civilian court because he had been discharged from the army for personaltiy disorder before he was charged with the Iraq crimes. Green stared straight ahead as the verdict was read in U S District Court in western Kentucky efense attroney Darren Wolff speaking afterward said the defense never denied Green's involvement. "Is this verdict a surprise to us? No. The goal has been to save our client's life," Wolff said Green's defense team had asked jurors the context of war saying soldiers in Green's unit of 101st lacked leadership and received little help from the army deal with the loss of friends in combat. The prosecution rested six days into the trial after presenting witnesses who said Green confessed to the crimes and others who put him at the home of the 14 year old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, heard him shoot her family and saw him rape and shoot the girl. Three other soldiers are serving time in military prison for their roles in the attack and they all testified against Green at his trial.

Alsumaria explains, "A high panel court found Steve Green guilty for 16 counts while a death sentence is still to be decided in trial which will start on Monday." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) adds, "Prosecutors say Green was the ringleader in raping and killing fourteen-year-old Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi and killing her parents and five-year-old sister." Evan Bright reports on the verdict:As the jury entered the court room, Green(red sweater vest) let out a large sigh, not of relief, but seemingly of anxiety, knowing the weight of the words to come. As Judge Thomas Russell stated "The court will now publish the verdict," Green interlaced his fingers and clasped them over his chin. Russell read the verdict flatly and absolutely. Green went from looking down at each "guilty" to eyeing the jury. His shoulders dropped as he was convicted of count #11, aggravated sexual abuse, realizing what this means. A paralegal at the defense table consoled Green by patting him on his back, even herself breaking down crying at the end of the verdicts. After Russell finished reading the verdicts, he begged questions of the respective attorneys. Wendelsdorf, intending to ensure the absolution of the verdict, requested the jury be polled. Honorable Judge Russell asked each juror if they agreed with these verdicts, receiving a simple-but-sufficient yes from all jurors. Green watched the jury flatly.

Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who has been in the court every day of the trial and reporting on it. Something most outlets pointedly avoided. The only outlet that can hold its head high is the Associated Press which reported on it and utilized Brett Barrouquere to do so. Barrouquere has been on this story for nearly three years now and has covered the other court appearances of soldiers involved in these war crimes. Barrouquere notes some reactions in Iraq to the news of Green's convictions. Mohammed Abbas Muhsin states, "If American court has convicted the American soldier I will consider the U.S. government to be just and fair. This verdict will give the rights back to the family, the relatives and the clan of the victim Abeer." Ahmed Fadhil al-Khafaji feels differently, "The American court and government are just trying to show the world that they are fair and just. If they are really serious about it, they should hand the soldier over to an Iraqi court to be kept in Abu Ghraib prison and tried by Iraqis." Sami al-Jumaili, Habib al-Zubaidy, Tim Cocks and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) quote Abeer's uncle Karim Janabi, "By all measures, this was a very criminal act. We are just waiting for the court to sentence him so he gets justice and the court can change the image of Americans. Some people, when they die, I forget them. But we will never forget this girl [his niece Abeer] -- never." Another relative, Yusuf Mohammed Janabi, states, "So they decided this criminal was guilty, but we don't expect he'll be executed. Only if he's executed will it mean American courts are just."

Sky News reports on the case, as does the Belfast Telegraph, England's Evening Standard, Al Jazeera, the BBC, AFP, Caroline Hedley (Telegraph of London), the UK Daily Mail and Reuters. And US outlets? There's CNN and USA Today blogged on it.

Where's the New York Times? They are the news oulet, pay attention, that has refused to ever name Abeer. They began rendering her invisible in 2006. Let's fall back to the first big article the Times did on the matter by propagandists and professional liars Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall. "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence" ran August 5, 2006 and the fifth paragraph -- apparently in an attempt at parody, referred to the crimes as "first widely reported in June". Widely reported by whom? Not the Times. Ellen Knickmeyer's strong "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" ran, not in the Times, but in the Washington Post. And even now, if you read it, you'll see Abeer named. But Worth and Marshall scribbled a 1464 word article but somehow couldn't squeeze in Abeer's name. The entire article is an attempt to soften up sentiment for the criminals. Worth and Marshall got in bed with the defense and present the arguments that will later be made in the Article 32 hearing. Combat stress, you understand, and Marshall and Worth got there first -- even before the defense could make the case. Andy Mosher (The Washington Post) explained after the Article 32 hearing started, "Eugene Fidell, a Washington military law expert, said Tuesday that the defense attorneys were most likely emphasizing combat stress to argue that their clients not face a possible death penalty in the event of a court-martial. 'This is not a defense known to the law,' Fidell said. 'But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty'." This is not a defense known to law. But it was known to readers of the New York Times.

Worth and Marshall could present -- could argue for over 1400 -- for the defense, in logic, not "known to the law" but they couldn't mention Abeer's name. The paper always made it very clear where their loyalties were. It wasn't with Abeer. What did Aged Go-Go Boy in the Green Zone John F. Burns so famously say? Oh, yes, the paper tailors its Iraq coverage to US tax payers.

Worth and Marshall went to a lot of trouble hunting down sources who could give them the mind frame (or alleged mind frame) of the ones involved and their company. When do we get the serious story about Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family? When is that story going to be told? It's nearly three years since that propaganda ran in the New York Times and the paper has never run Abeer's story. The War Criminals Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall were carrying water for have all been sentenced. Surprisingly, the propagandists skipped reporting on that. And no one at the paper has ever told Abeer's story. Her name has never appeared in the paper.

Yesterday a US federal court found one of the War Criminals guilty on every count and yet you will find nothing about that in today's New York Times. You won't find an AP article they slapped on a page or even a paragraph in "Nation Briefs." You won't find anything. This is the alleged paper of record.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers who only knew of her because they were supposed to be protecting the neighborhood she lived in. These were War Crimes. This was an international incident. But readers of the New York Times have never heard that. They've never even been informed of Abeer's name. Today they don't even know that the ringleader was found guilty.

The paper has consistently rendered Iraqis invisible, over and over. In what is the worst known War Crime of the illegal war, the paper has avoided telling the story and it has done so repeatedly. Over and over.
When 'defense attorneys' Worth and Marshall thought they could sway public opinion on behalf of the War Criminals, the New York Times put the story on the front page.

The front page.

'Poor Little Boys in Iraq' was a front page story. Minimizing the crimes and excusing them was front page news for the New York Times. Telling the damn truth about what was done to Abeer? Telling the world that the ringleader was convicted? Not even worth a paragraph.

The paper should be ashamed of itself. It's far from alone in needing to feel shame. Diane Rehm thinks rape is icky. Here's a transcript of my call today with a friend on the show.

Friend: She thinks rape is a bad subject.

Me: She said that?

Friend: When the story was suggested, she wrinkled her nose.

Me: She wrinkled her nose?

Friend: Yes.

Me: You're saying she wrinkled her nose? Excuse me, but considering the condition of her skin, how ever could you tell?

Diane didn't just nix it as a topic to put on the agenda for the second hour, she nixed the e-mails that came in before and during the show. A huge number of e-mails that came in. We'll include some of those at Third this weekend (passed on via my friend). Not only did she exclude the e-mails but she insisted, as the e-mails poured in on this topic, that no female callers be put through on air because she "just knew" that someone would try to sneak on to bring up Abeer. Which is why you had Diane speaking to several callers in the second hour but none were women. It's also why Diane didn't do one of her "___ in ___ e-mails . . ." Diane censored Abeer from the program. She went so far as to ban female callers from the second hour because she just knew a mole would get through, a woman who would trick the screener, get on the air, and say, "Diane, you ignorant hypocrite, how the hell dare you refuse to cover the federal conviction yesterday."

Well now we know how far someone will go to avoid covering the news. So the only real question is why Diane doesn't go ahead and retire if she's not interested in discussing -- during the international hour of her program -- an international incident. I didn't listen. I'm told, however, she did make time for swine flu. How very. What a proud way for a woman with one foot and four toes in the grave to prepare to go out.

Golly Diane, do you feel everyone should be like you? If raped or molested, they should never name their attacker? Is that what's going on? If so, it's pretty damn pathetic because you're seventy-three in September and you should have come to terms with being molested as a child long, long ago. If you can't, you don't need to be doing a public affairs show because while you grew up in the Dark Ages when sexual asaults weren't spoken of, today we name names, today we talk about the crimes. If it's too much for you, you really need to retire.

And this is why feminists should have been all over this story. Credit to Jill at Feministe and to Heart at Women's Space who drew attention to Abeer this week. But women needed to be on this story because we saw it during the Article 32. Abeer was ignored throughout the US coverage. International coverage would mention her. US coverage of the Article 32 hearing? No. Only by getting out in front of this, only by demanding that the press cover this, was it going to happen.

They have made it very clear that 14-year-old girl doesn't matter. Maybe it's because she was Iraqi? Maybe it was because she was Muslim? Maybe those two things added into it but what's really going on is what always happens which is stories that have to do with women's lives get ignored. Hillary Clinton, during her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, proposes a major move on combatting breast cancer and it's either ignored or reduced to one sentence in a 'report' about how she bowled with Ellen on Ellen's show. That's ridiculous. We see it over and over and we see how these sexual assualts are buried time and again. We knew the record on this or we should have known. And feminist should have been out in front demanding coverage of this.

Mother's Day is Sunday. No feminist who was silent has anything to celebrate. She should hang her head in shame. And that includes the women at Feminist Majority Foundation who are responsible for Feminsit Wire Daily and do not find time to mention it in their 'news briefs' today. At least Rebeckah (Women's Media Center blog) included it as an item on her news roundup. 35 years after Susan Brownmiller's classic Against Our Will is published and we're still surprised we have to fight to get sexual assault covered in the media? All of those Take Back The Night rallies of the last two decades and we're unprepared to fight to get sexual assualt covered? What a truly sad commentary on the state of feminism today -- or at least the state of feminism at the top. Among the grassroots? There's a lively discussion taking place at Feministe and we'll note this comment by Gillian:

I'm going to look to see if there's a new thread on this but I want to just ask: Am I the only one who thinks if rape weren't among the crimes, the press would have covered this story 24/7? Look at what Valerie has to explain and the dismissal of rape period. I really think if this had been four murders we would have had CBS Evening News and everyone else parked outside the court house. Instead, they pretty much all stuck their heads in the sand.I think when the issue is rape, a lot of our media would rather play dumb.

Actually, Feministe has two lively threads on the topic, click here for the other one. Let's be clear that the males and 'mixed' gender sites need to be calling out the silence as well but it's especially disappointing to see all the women online who are silent. New Agenda? Just pack it in, you're a disgrace. Today they serve up Nicky Kirstoff as a savior of women. Nicky who bought a sex worker. Do we forget that? Apparently New Agenda is Limited and Remidial Classes on Women's Rights.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Steven D. Green convicted




On the issue of getting the word out on the case, I want to take a moment to note three people. I'll start with Brett Barrouquere of AP who has covered this story since 2006. He had not yet hit the three year mark but it was looming. A great deal of what the world learned about all the trials on these War Crimes came from Barrouquere. He was also the only reporter from the MSM who covered Green's trial each day. I want to note Evan Bright. He covered every day of the trial as well. Bright is a high school senior. C.I. heard about him from friends at the US AG and they interviewed him for Third ("Evan Bright Puts Big Media To Shame"). Bright doesn't think he'll end up being a reporter after college but, if you ask me, he's a natural with real talents. I do hope someone's advised him to include his coverage of the trial as part of his college application. Third? C.I. C.I. never let go of this story. She was on it when it started and she regularly called out the lies and the silences. For nearly three years. She knows the case incredibly well and has the facts down pat. In part due to a friend who needed help researching Green for a movie but also because that's C.I. She did an amazing job. When no one was covering it, she was on it. This month and last, her coverage included reporting on an analyzing court filings up through the court orders for some witnesses on the prosecution's list. She walked you through the judge refusing to allow some of the more ludicrous lines of defense Green's attorneys wanted to make. That was reporting. And she's the only one who did that. No one else went through those court documents and reported on them. When she started doing that in April, she was hoping to build some interest in Abeer outside the TCI community. Thinking covering Green's ridiculous requests would peek interest. That really didn't happen. But she covered Abeer and when the trial started, she made sure Abeer was mentioned each trial day repeatedly to ensure Abeer wasn't forgotten. There are only three people I'm thanking. The reason for that is that they're the only ones who did real work.


A federal court in Kentucky has reached a verdict today. March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in their Iraqi home while Abeer was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. Steven D. Green is said to be the murderer of all four, a gang-rapist and the ring leader who planned the entire thing. The jury went into deliberation yesterday. Evan Bright reports, "Steven Dale Green found guilty of and convcited on -- ALL -- sixteen (16) counts; including eight (8) which could bring a death sentence." Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who has attended and reported one every day of the trial. This is Bright reporting on Marisa Ford, of the US Attorney General's office, making her closing remarks yesterday:She reminded the jury of Barker and Cortez raping Abeer while "Green, behind closed doors, blew Qassim Hamza's brains out with his Army supplied shotgun." According to Ford, he then took the AK47, "which was provided to the family for protection against insurgents," and used it on the mother, Fahkriyah, and their six year old daughter, Hadeel." She went on to describe Green's sexual assault and execution style murder of Abeer, before he "burned her, beyond all recognition." At this, Green(in a blue Polo) looked down but was still listening intently. She talked about Green having had the AK47 disposed of, and his not-so-impaired judgement. "This was a crime…not committed in the chaos of battle, not committed while on an Army assigned mission, but a crime planned, and acted out in cold blood." Marisa cattle prodded the Defense team, referring to Pat Bouldin's "dumbing things down" for the jury in his opening statement. "To 'dumb things down' for you is an insult to your intelligence," Ford told the jury, "you don't need things dumbed down to know that what Stephen Green did was wrong." Mr. Bouldin frowned as he listened. She talked about the non existent evidence that would dispute the planning of this crime(regarding the conspiracy counts). The killings were "a result of planning and deliberation," Ford intoned(referring to the four counts of pre-meditated murder). "Everything you have seen before, during, and after the crimes, all the evidence, shows pre-meditation."

The Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson also notes that Green was convicted on all counts as does AFP. Brett Barrouquer (AP) notes that jury delibrated for a little over ten hours.

While lies were exposed in court, something different happened today in front of the legislative branch. While lying during Congressional testimony is neither new nor novel, it's rare that Congress is informed that the US needs more lying and that, in fact, laws should be changed to allow it. But that's what tubby David Kilcullen insisted. Meanwhile Lisa Schirch fluttered her War Hawk feathers in public.

Not everyone is a person of peace. That should be obvious. And just because someone claims they are doesn't mean they are. Again, it should be obvious. But the laughable War Hawk Lisa Schirch has been allowed to repeatedly and falsely pimp herself as a person of peace. Schirch is the director of 3D Security Initiative. Somehow being the director of 3D did not prevent her from writing on it for Foreign Policy In Focus -- nor was it noted anywhere in "Leveraging '3D' Security: From Rhetoric to Reality" (November 15, 2006) that she was the director of 3D Security Initiative, not even in her credit line. When the usual crowd of useless ran her soggy 'reasoning' entitled "I Want a Woman President But Am Voting for Obama," it wasn't thought necessary to present her as anything but a college professor.

War Hawk Lisa Schirch has been given a pass by our 'allies' in the peace movement and it's past time that her pass was revoked and people quit pimping her as a peace queen. Certain elements of the US 'intelligence' community (those who worked in Jakarta subverting freedom and human rights) have been happy to promote Lisa as a 'hero' and that should have only alarmed the left further. But they ignored it. At their own peril. This morning Lisa appeared before the House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

Lisa Schirch: The-the- field that we're talking about is conflict prevention and this conference that the JFCOM Joint Forces Command and the Marine Corps put on together was called "Whole of Government: Conflict Prevention." And many of us in the NGO community are working actively now to try to figure out how to build a more comprehensive approach to the issues of terrorism? And for the NGOs, we have been working actively on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, and we have many partner networks who are indeginious Iraqi NGOs and Afghan NGOs who have been sharing their perspective on counter-terrorism and how best to prevent the kind of spread of the insurgencies we see in these regions. And they very much want to be able to feed into the process and partly -- part of the challenge here is that interagency coordination is so new here in Washington that there's really no points of contact for NGOs that are on the ground who have cultural intelligence information to share that would inform US strategy. Uh over the weekend, Dr. Kilcullen made some statements that were in the media about the drones flying over Pakistan bombing villages is actually having a counter-effect to our national interests in the US -- that the drones end up creating more fuel on the ground for recruitment into Taliban-al Qaeda insurgencies. We've been hearing that in civil society NGOs for several years -- that this kind of drone activity is counter to US interests. So that's the kind of information civil societies want to give over and have conversations with the [US] government. So it's actually very much in our interest as uh civil society to help to help to foster and think about what is the best way for the defense, development, diplomacy, tools of American power, how they are coordinated because this impacts then how civil society can feed into the process. Again, we don't take particular stands on whether it's the State Dept's Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization -- although we very much support that -- or the National Security Council. There are a variety of models that I think we need to have more hearings on how is this best going to be done in this country because it's very urgent. The-the ratio of cost prevention versus -- uh prevention versus cost of terrorism is -- is not met in terms of our US budget, in terms of national security. So several of us have argued for a unified security budget that would try to balance out more these preventative responses uh because right now if you look at one tax dollars less than half-of-a-percent is going to all of our development activities abroad. Whereas almost 60 percent of that dollar goes to defense approaches. So this balance is off. It makes coordination between -- in this interagency process -- very difficult for USAID at the Simulation For Conflict Prevention, they couldn't really risk a lot of the staff time because they have so few staff to even give over to this conversation.

Smith: It also pushes DoD into doing a lot more development work than they are actually qualified to do because they have the money.

Lisa Schirch: Right. And and they were comments at this conference that DoD is being forced to create its own internal USAID, its own civilian response corp which is mirroring structures that also exist in the State Dept and USAID which is a waste of tax payer dollar.

There is so much be appalled by in Little Lisa's statements. Let's start with NGO. It stands for, pay attention, Lisa, Non Governmental Organization. Non Governmental. That's hard for Little Lisa to grasp because she believes NGOs WHORE themselves out to a government. So getting into bed with the US government is, for her, perfectly natural. Her testimony, public testimony, just made life a whole lot harder for real NGOs in Iraq who will now be suspected of existing to spy.

That is what Little Lisa's floating. NGOs have information on combatting terrorism! They have knowledge on how to work a better counter-insurgency! The US government must listen to Little Lisa. That is a betrayal of what NGOs are supposed to do. (It's a betrayal of "civil society" as well -- whether one uses the definitions established by Hobbes or Locke or the definitions of Marx and Alexis de Tocqueville.)

What concern is it of an NGO director what the US spends money on? If they want to give money to DoD, what business is it of an NGO? It's not. It's none of her damn business as director of an NGO. It's about as relevant as her ridiculous story where she attended a USAID conference and, you know what, people there were saying DoD was getting more money and they were saying DoD duplicates efforts and, oh did you hear about Tad and Brenda, I so cannot believe that and let me tell you one damn thing, Tad's in a lot of trouble, he is in hot water, that little mister better watch his --

Little Lisa, in testimony before the Congress gave gossip. Little Lisa talked about what DoD was doing (according to gossip) based on a conference that DoD wasn't present at. She gave unsourced comments that had no grounding in reality and were most likely made up by her on the spot. (If you'd seen her body language and the way she threw herself forward during this part of the production, you'd be very sure that she made it up on the spot.)

The United States is not an NGO. Little Lisa is the Director of 3D. She needs to learn to speak properly (that would require her to lose the Valley Girl inflections, eliminate the hair toss and attempting to flirt with members of Congress while testifying and a great deal more). And she needs to be called out.

A 'peace' person does not speak about how drones attacking civilians is 'bad' because it breeds anger. A peace person states: "You don't kill innocent civilians." That's not complicated. It's not even controversial. It is a peace position and has been for many centuries now. The hearing was entitled "Counterinsurgency and Irregular Warfare: Issues and Lessons Learned." Yes, it was a huge blurring of lines. Consider it the let's-drop-acid hearing of the Congress. And grasp that the counter-insurgency movement in the US supported Barack. They were not the peace movement and the refusal of the No Stars of Beggar Media (print and Pacifica) to explore that aspect goes a long ways towards explaining how a counter-insurgency czar like Barack could ever be mistaken for a peace candidate. Counter-insurgency is war on the native people. It is colonialism and it, rightly, had a horrible reputation after Vietnam. Lisa Schirch, Montgomery McFate, Sarah Sewall, Samantha Power and many more worked overtime to give it some gloss and buff it up. But it is war on a native population.

The Network of Concerned Anthropologists' David Price has been one of the few voices to strongly and consistently call out counter-insurgency. Last month, at CounterPunch, he noted that counter-insurgency exists to:

provide military personnel with cultural information that will help inform troop activities in areas of occupation. Since the first public acknowledgement of HTS [Human Terrain Teams] two and a half years ago, it has been criticized by anthropologists for betraying fundamental principles of anthropological ethics, as being politically aligned with neo-colonialism, and as being ineffective in meeting its claimed outcomes. For the most part, the mainstream media has acted as cheerleaders for the program by producing a seemingly endless series of uncritical features highlighting what they frame as kind hearted individuals trying to use their knowledge of culture to save lives; while misrepresenting the reasons and extent of criticism of the Human Terrain program. A few early boosters of Human Terrain Systems (HTS) have now called for its closure (most notable, the British journal Nature), and some journalistic coverage has shifted from uncritical fawning to more reserved critical writing (e.g. Noah Schachtman's writings on Wired's military Danger Room blog). But most media coverage remains uncritical in its thinly veiled support for a program that has never had to answer to the fundamental critiques of its critics, and Human terrain continues on its trajectory of counterinsurgency domination.

While David Price deserves applause, it's past time to ask Foreign Policy in Focus, David Swanson, Foreign Affairs (Marxist Thought Online) and so many others why they pimped counter-insurgency cheerleader Lisa? She is not about peace. Not only did she participate in today's hearing, she advocated NGOs -- non governmental by definition -- turning over 'intel' to the US government. Information that will be used against a people. Counter-insurgency does include (and has included in Iraq, as Bob Woodward has detailed) 'targeted killings' (assassinations) of local figures. That's not peace and someone on the ground in Iraq, the NGOs Lisa's talking about, would be just the ones to provide that 'intel.' It's shocking, it's appalling and the peace movement needs to pull a Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather and close the door in her face.

Was counter-insurgency guru David Kilcullen forced out of Australia due to the government's fear that there wasn't enough food to feed him? It certainly appears that way and it's hard to think of a hearing where a chair's appeared under more assault than the one he plopped his huge girth in. David Kilcullen wanted the subcommittee to know a few things, "One is that we place a different priority within the military on information operations to the priority that our enemy places." "We"? Kilcullen is not a member of the US military nor does he work for the Defense Dept. He most recently worked under Condi Rice at the State Dept. The State Dept is not "within the military." That might be confusing for Kilcullen since he is not a US citizen and only left Australia in 2005. If we're really worried about immigration, how about worrying about the truly dangerous who come to these shores to do harm to the rest of the world and not those who just try to make a living for themselves and their families?

Kilcullen continued that the Taliban "put information or propaganda first so the first thing they decide is what is the propaganda mission that we're trying to send?' Then they figure out what operations to design and carry out to meet that propaganda objective. We do it the other way around. We design how we're going to operate and then at the last minute we throw it to the information office folks and we say, 'Hey, can you just explain this to the public?'" So Kilcullen thinks that's the more effective propaganda model. As you listen to the John Candy wanna be you wonder how the hell the United States decided to bring in this reject into our government? Even more you wonder if, decades from now as this stain on the US grows ever greater, will it be remembered that the nation let a foreigner dictate this? One who knows little about the history of the United States and shows no respect for the bits he managed to register? If you doubt that or how much this human filth loves his propaganda, let's note this from section of his testimony today:

And one final legislative issue. We had a lot of trouble uh in Iraq uh trying to counter al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda because of the Smith-Mundt act which meant that we couldn't do a lot of things online uh because if you put something on YouTube uh and it's deemed to the information operations and there's a possibility that an American might log on to that page and read that and be influenced by that's technically illegal under the Smith-Mundt Act and we had to get a uh uh a waiver as you may recall to be able to do that. I think for Congress it might be worth looking at uh how that legislation may need to be relooked at or re-examined in the light of a new media environment so that it still has the same intent but doesn't necessarily restrict us from legitimate things that we might need to do in the field.

Background, Smith-Mundt Act is the popular name for 1948's US Information and Educational Exchange Act. Marc Lynch has observed:

The temptation to manipulate American public opinion has always been there, and has only grown more potent in an age where counter-insurgency practitioners and "Long War" planners openly view the American domestic arena as a vital strategic arena. I'd go so far as to suggest that a non-insignificant portion of General Petraeus's information operations efforts have been directed towards shaping American public discourse. It isn't an accident that he has been so available to so many journalists, or that the flow of "good news" about the Anbar Awakening and the surge into the American media has expanded so dramatically. And why wouldn't he, when at the heart of the new counter-insurgency doctrine lies the recognition that maintaining domestic public support for a long, drawn-out military presence is one of the most important single factors?

Subcommittee chair Adam Smith shamed his party by insisting that "it absolutely needs to be fixed" -- Smith-Mundt, the legislation Harry Truman signed into law. He is a blight on the Democratic Party. A long term War Hawk, Smith can no longer embarrass himself but the DLC "New Deomcrat" War Hawk can and does embarrass the party.

He embarrasses the party with statements like this one today, "The problem we're going to have is the paranoia of the American public right now that the government's trying to manipulate them." Oh, those paranoid Americans! Justice would be a Green, Republican, Libertarian or whatever running against him in 2010 and using that little soundbyte for the commercials. Just zooming in on "the paranoia of the American public" and asking if Washington is really sending Adam Smith to DC to talk about American citizens like that?

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bad reporter




TODAY SHE CLAIMS THAT ATHEIST STANLY ANN DUNHAM WAS A CHRISTIAN. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT SHE WRITES, "Some enthusiastic Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) have evidently "baptized" Obama's mother, the late Stanley Ann Dunham who died in 1955."





Starting with big news involving the first officer to publicly resist the Iraq War. The Seattle Times reports Lt Ehren Watada will not be subjected to double-jeopardy. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported November 9, 2007: "A U.S. District Court judge on Thursday barred a second court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada while the Army officer pursues his claim that it would violate his constitutional rights. It was a legal victory for Watada, the first Army officer to face prison for refusing to deploy to Iraq." That was in November of 2007. (Not October of last year -- I have no idea where people are getting their false information.) The military has decided not to appeal that 2007 decision. However, US District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled on three of the five counts against Ehren so the Seattle Times cautions, "It is unclear if the Army plans to pursue those [two] charges." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) cites Ehren's civilian attorneys stating that the "Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today granted the Army's motion to dismiss the case." And he cites the military stating that Ehren may yet be court-martialed. Vanessa Ho (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that the military is unclear what they'll do next and that James Lobsenz (one of Ehren's two civilian attorneys, the other is Kenneth Kagan) states, "We are cautiously optimistic that perhaps we've had enough litigation." In June 2006, Ehren Watada went public with his refusal to serve in the Iraq War because it was an illegal war and, as an officer, he would be responsible not only for himself but for those serving under him. In August 2006, an Article 32 hearing was held and, weeks and weeks later, the finding was released: the military would proceed with a court-martial. That court-martial took place in February of 2006. On Monday, February 5, 2007, Watada's court-martial began. It continued on Tuesday when the prosecution argued their case. Wednesday, Watada was to take the stand in his semi-defense. Semi-defense? Despite the gravity of the charges, despite the maximum number of years in prison he was facing if convicted, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) refused to let Watada explain why he would not deploy. Watada was boxed in to a yes-or-no-I-did-it type of defense which is no defense at all. Judge Toilet also refused to allow the defense to call various witnesses. Wednesday morning, Judge Toilet was suddenly concerned with the stipulation -- the same stipulation he was involved one, the same one he signed off on, the same one both the defense and the prosecution agreed to, the same stipulation Judge Toilet had explained to the military jury on Monday. Suddenly, the stipulation was a problem. Toilet tried to argue Ehren didn't understand the stipulation. Ehren understood it and was doing what he announced he would be doing the week prior to Toilet. Did Toilet not understand the stipulation?

He certainly didn't understand double-jeopardy which had already attached to the case when, sensing the prosecution was losing, Judge Toilet declared a mistrial over defense objection. Judge Settle found the double-jeopardy argument was correct and ruled accordingly in the fall of 2007. Turning to other legal issues, Steven D. Green's War Crimes trial. March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in their Iraqi home while Abeer was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. Green is said to be the murderer of all four, a gang-rapist and the ring leader who planned the entire thing. Today the jury heard closing arguments. Evan Bright reports, "Scott Wendelsdorf just completed the Defense closing statement. 'Madness? Madness. Madness is the only way any of this could have happend'." Brett Barrouquer (AP) quotes US prosecutor Marisa Ford stating that those who took part in the attack had "forfeited their right to call themselves American soldiers". In other ways she echoed the closing arguments of US Army Capt Alex Pickands during the August 2006 Article 32 hearing held in Iraq. Pickands argued:

"Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl. . . . They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

Today in court, Marisa Ford declared, "This was a planned, premeditated crime which was carried out in cold blood." Evan Bright and Brett Barrouquer have covered every day of the trial. Jill at Feministe notes the trial today. And has her facts right. Others aren't so lucky.

Gail McGowan Mellor was dispatched by The Huffington Post to cover the trial and arrived yesterday. Possibly this late arrival is why she has problems in this report? "Sex was incidental; they wanted to hurt Iraqis." Rape is not "sex" and, if that was McGowan Mellor's point, we'd be agreeing with her. That's not her point her point is that Abeer's family was hit because "the five U.S. soldiers reasoned that the family would be easy to kill and that nothing more substantial than her parents stood between them." It was about, Gail tells, hatred of Iraqis.

I'm really amazed at the late to the party check-ins who didn't even bother to do any damn research. Abeer was the target. I'm sorry Gail didn't have time to study nearly three years worth of press. Steven D. Green inappropriately touched Abeer in public -- at that military checkpoint -- and freaked her out. His constant staring had already unnevered her. After he started touching this 14-year-old girl, her parents decided to get her out of the house. Had they struck the next night, the US soldiers wouldn't have found her because she was going to live somewhere else. Do not pretend that Abeer was not the focus. Green was fixated upon her. And do not pretend that it was because of some 'easy kill' element you've just introduced into the narrative. Get a damn grip.

Evan Bright reporting on Day Four of the trial: "According to Barker, 'Cortez took a little convincing to get him to come along. He said if we were gonna have sex with the girl, he wanted to go first'." Gail McGowan Mellor wasn't present for day four and apparently didn't bother to read up on it. Cortez took a little convincing? For what? For an 'easy kill'? No, to take part in the gang-rape that Barker terms "sex." Bright reported on Friday's testimonies that Paul Cortez testified they "knew what was goin' on, we knew were were goin' down to that house to have sex with that girl, and Barker and Green seemed to know where they were going to get there."

Gail McGown Mellor is showing up late and imposing a narrative. This isn't reporting. And it needs to be called out. She's imposing her values and desires on the story while ignoring the facts. Now she can have an opinion and she can make her entire article her opinion but she better know the facts. She can argue with the facts, she can disagree with them, but she better know them. There is no indication that she knows anything. She appears to think she's 'cute' with her 'local color' piece she's turned in playing, as Bob Somerby might say, the readers for rubes.

"Four of Green's co-conpirators have been convicted by military tribunal and put away" insists Gail despite the fact that it's incorrect. She doesn't even know the trial history. She doesn't even know that, for example, Paul Cortez confessed. He wasn't convicted, he confessed. The ignorance on display is astounding until you grasp that Gail jetted in with a narrative firmly in place and was going to work it like crazy. (If you can't pick up on it, Gail's argument -- which will no doubt be even more clear in later posts from her -- is WAR CORRUPTS ALL.) Especially hilarious is where she blames the local press:

There were only twelve folks viewing the trial yesterday, five of us from the media. It's arguably not a lack of public intelligence and curiosity; it's a failure of local journalism. The Paducah Sun, which is blocks from the federal courthouse, is not supplying daily or in-depth coverage, and local broadcast news does not supply enough information on the complex case to fill a tweat. The report of one anchor was simply, "There were two witnesses today." There sure were; that was the day that two of Green's co-conspirators testified for the prosecution.

Gail was viewing it for the first day, her first day in the area, so how she knows what an anchor said last week is something she might wish to clarify. But it's not the job of the local press to cover this trial. It's not a local trial. It's an international trial. The events took place not in some city in Kentucky, they took place in Iraq. The problem isn't local news which is struggling. The problem is the outlets like the New York Times and others who could send a slew of reporters to Alaska not all that long ago but can't send one reporter to Kentucky. Wonder over that. There should be more local coverage but I've spoken to people at one local paper and at one local station and they said the issues included no amplification. If there reports were getting picked up by the networks or by other papers, they would be covering it. But they showed up for day one and saw little interest from the press. With minimal interest locally (from residents) and no amplification, it wasn't worth their resources to cover it.

Why is there minimal interest among local residents? For one thing, the case should have been infamous but never has been. Find the network report on it. Not just from Green's trial, find the network report on any of the trials. There's no reason the citizens of Paducah should be any more familiar with the case than the rest of the country. That's a point Gail ignores either out of ignorance or intentionally. What is the point of her anonymous quotes from locals? She is aware that Steven D. Green didn't grow up in or live in Paducah, isn't she? Whether she is or not, she's off spinning her yarn and facts be damned because she's smelling Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil. Heaven save us all from bad feature writers who think they're bringing us the news.

It's really a shame because there are details in McGown Mellor's feature article that, if they are true, could make for a very strong report. But she's made it so abundantly clear that facts matter so very little that who can trust anything she provides? "Only after three years of legal maneuvering however was Green brought to trial." What? Does she have any clue what she's reporting on? Green wasn't even arrested until June 30, 2006. Three years have yet to elapse. And 'legal'? From April 3, 2008: "As a result of the fact that he had been discharged, he was set to face a civilian court and that trial was finally due to start this coming Monday; however, AP reports the trial has been delayed "by three weeks to accomodate a quilt show". No, that is not a joke." It wasn't just "legal" delaying the trial.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The destroyers












Starting with the War Crimes trial. March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in their Iraqi home while Abeer was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. These were War Crimes committed by US soldiers and four have already faced a court and been sentenced. Steven D. Green's trial is ongoing. Friday night, Heart (Women's Space) posted some of her 2006 coverage of the War Crimes and among the comments, we'll note this by Khazeema:

Nobody how much we talk about this case, my littlesister Abeer wont come back. The american troops raped, tortured and killed her, and they could do it just because they were AMERICANS. Bu believe me.. Steven D Green and his buddies who raped and killed Abeer Hamza Qassim Al-Janabi they will get their punishment.. If they wont in this life, they will defenatly in the next life…. Some day they will die either, and then they will realise what they have done… and what they did is beyond doubt something which wont be forgive..
And to my dear sister Abeer Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi.. You will always be in my heart, I have wept for you scince your death, but at least - ya habibti - Allah is big, and he will take revenge for you.. Inshallah you are a shaheed, and your murders will suffer in hell for what they did to you.. WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU SISTER… Lailaha il Allah..

Last week, Steven D. Green's trial began in a Kentucky federal court. Of the first day, Australia's ABC reported: "The girl's brother then testified about how he came home from school to find his house on fire and his family dead. Mohammed al-Janabi, now 15, stood outside crying with his younger brother but did not go in until after the bodies were removed. 'I saw blood on walls,' he said through an interpreter, 'I saw flesh and my father's brain was scattered there'." Yesterday the prosecution rested. Evan Bright reported that Noah Galloway was the last witness for the prosecution which rested their case before noon. At 1:30, the defense began presenting its side and Lt Col Karen Marrs took the stand to offer testimony as the psychiatric nurse practioner familiar with Green. She described him as "On edge and angry." Bright notes, "The defense MAY have one witness tomorrow before resting and moving on to closing statements. Expect a guilty/not guilty verdict by Wednesday, before moving to opening statements." Today the defense rested. Brett Barrouquere (AP) reports that a deposition of James Gregory was shown to the jury for an hour because Gregory couldn't show up at the court due to . . . getting married. How that played to the jury is anyone's guess but when the defendant is potentially facing the death penalty and someone chooses to blow off testifying in person, that does send a message. Christopher Barnes actually showed up and took the witness stand. Barnes made comments about "they" and "them" and how awful they were. US Attorney Marisa J. Ford cut through that nonsense by asking, "You didn't rape any 14-year-old girls? You didn't kill any Iraqi civilians, did you?" (No and no.) Justin Watt testified and his remarks should receive attention and examination. (We'll see if they do.) Tomorrow the jury hears closing arguments.

Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman (Washington Independent), still a hack and reality challenged, laps up the statement from Nouri al-Maliki's flack about 'no extensions' for US troops to remain in Iraqi cities past June 30th deadline, he forgets/doesn't know (idiot) that the extension already took place in Baghdad. Poor tiny hack. From the April 27th snapshot: "Rod Nordland (New York Times) broke that story in today's paper and noted that Iraq and the US are going to focus on Mosul in talks about US troops remaining in some Iraqi cities. Nordland reveals they will remain in Baghdad (he says 'parts of Baghdad' -- that means they will be in Baghdad and Baghdad is a city) and that Camp Victory ['Camps Victory, Liberty, Striker and Slayer, plus the prison known as Camp Cropper'] and 'Camp Prosperity' will not be closed or turned over to Iraq according to Iraqi Maj Gen Muhammad al-Askari. The SOFA 'requires' that they be closed or turned over but al-Askari says they're making exceptions even though the SOFA 'requires' otherwise. For the mammoth Camp Victory, it is in Baghdad and out of Baghdad, for example, so al-Askari says they consider it out of Baghdad." There's your reality Spensy, accept it or plan to grab an adjoining padded room with Patrick Cockburn. Fortunately there's so much stupidity going around, Spensy may be able to sneak by.

Take the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees which made a stupid move that they should have known would be immediately misunderstood. Let's start with the misunderstanding. Mark Leon Goldberg (UN Dispatch) goes for the gold in the Stupidity Olympics as he pants, "I think you can file this one under 'good news' in the sense that the UNCHR believes the situation in certain Iraqi regions is stable enough for the return of refugees." No, that's not what it was stating. The UNHCR was stupid enough with what they said but Goldberg had to go even further. And, to really go for the gold, he then quoted "the Washington Post" -- or thought he did. It was Reuters, Goldberg. Your clue was the byline "By Laura MacInnis[,] Reuters." It wasn't the Post. When someone can't even grasp what publication they're reading, maybe it's not at all surprising that they can't grasp the meaning of the words they read? Mark Leon Goldberg is a stupid, stupid man.

The UNHCR did not recommend the return of external refugees to Iraq. That would be more idiotic than Mark Leon Goldberg. Violence is again on the rise in Iraq. The UNHCR made a stupid decision to say that external refugees "from Al-Anbar, ecompassing much of the country's western territory, and the south should be assessed on individual merit." What does that mean? It's the strongest the UNHCR was allowed to issue at the risk of two other UN agencies publicly calling UNHCR and it's 'tight' relationship' with Nouri al-Maliki out. (Today's statement has been argued about within the UN for over two weeks.) The statement specifically states, "The agency stressed that improvement in the situation in Iraq is not yet sufficient enough to promote or encourage massive returns and it recommended that refugees already benefiting from international protection should retain their status." How much clearer does it have to be for Mark Leon Goldberg? Someone needs to explain to him that his stupidity is deadly. You DO NOT tell refugees to return when it's not safe to do so. And if the UN doesn't say it's safe to return (and they didn't say it was safe to return), you do not say that they did.

The UNHCR statement never should have been issued but Nouri and his government have been pressuring and, let's all be honest, the United Nations has never had any independent standing in Iraq. NEVER. That's why their idiotic doctor didn't just take part in the Baghdad's government's press conference last fall but actively blamed Iraqi women for the yearly cholera outbreak.

They are not encouraging any groups to return. They are encouraging that some be judged on appeals by 'individual merit' and not the blanket category of refugees. Apparently the UNHCR suffers from some delusion that the blanket category was somehow assisting Iraqis in garnering asylum. Not in the US, not in the European Union, not in Australia. Those countries have done as little as possible. But even with this cateogry of people, the UNHCR stresses that there is a split and that those who are "religious and ethnic minorities; Iraqis perceived as opposing armed groups or political factions; UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers; human rights activists; and homosexuals" should be given "favourable consideration" regardless of whether or nto they are fron Anbar. And if you didn't grasp just how weak the UNHCR is, note that the "at risk" grouping included UN workers.

We'll stay with those categories for a bit. "Abu Muslim likens his work to that of a surgeon, cutting out diseased parts of a body to save it from cancer." What? That's from Nizar Latif (The National) reporting on the excutioner of gays and lesbians in Iraq. The executionor explains, "We see this [homosexuality] as a serious illness in the community that has been spreading rapidly among the yough after it was brought in from the outside by American soldiers. These are not the habits of Iraq or our community and we must eliminate them." Doesn't he sound like some crazed Nazi inventing excuses for slaughtering the Jews? Yes, he does. And like the Nazis, he uses an ahistorical 'background' because actual history doesn't back him up. Real history does not allow him to persecute and murder. So he lies and goes along with his government's lies. He brags to Latif about the "ermission from key community leaders" he has stating, "We had approval from the main Iraqi tribes here to liquidate those [men] copying the ways of women. Our aim is not to destabilize the security situation. Our aim is to help stabilise society." Again, this is the Nazis. (And, yes, the Nazis also targeted gays and lesbians.) And why the hell should the US remain in Iraq at this point?

Truly. These are the people the US government installed and the ones the US forces on the ground keep in place. And these people are killing and slaughtering. Not only that, but then they try to blame human behavior (that they see as 'wicked') on US soldiers. Iraq's never going to be a free country until the US leaves and these thugs are forced out by the Iraqi people. Iraq was a tolerant society before the US wanted to 'whip' the population 'into shape' quickly in order to purse the tag sale on Iraqi assets.

Friday the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issued their latest report, the 2009 Annual Report on religious freedom violations around the world. Commission Chair Felice Gaer explained of the "countries of particular concern" Friday, "Iraq and Nigeria are new to that list. Iraq was added last December and Nigeria today. Nina Shea explained this:

is a crucial year in Iraq, with provincial councils changing hands, national elections expected before year's end, and the US military beginning its drawdown. In December, an extensive report on religious freedoms in Iraq, based on travel, interviews, briefings, meetings and other activities was released by the commission and we recommended then that, for the first time since 2003, that the State Department designate Iraq as a country of particular concern.
This CPC recommendation was based on the ongoing severe abuses of religious freedom in the country and the government's toleration of these abuses, particularly against Iraq's smallest and most vulnerable religious minorities, including Chaldo-Assyrians and other Christians, Sabean-Mandeans and Yazidis. As described in this year's annual report, the concerns outlined by the commission in December persist as these vulnerable minorities have, in recent years, experienced targeted intimidation and violence, including killings, beatings, abductions and rapes, forced conversions, forced marriages, forced displacement from their homes and businesses and violent attacks on their houses of worship and religious leaders. Despite the overall drop in violence in the country, these incidents continued in 2008 and 2009 including in this month. The cumulative effect of this has created a serious threat to these ancient communities' very existence in Iraq. And the statistics are staggering. About half the Christian populations have left the country or been killed -- and that's starting from a total of 1.4 million. About ninety percent of the Mandean community report that they have left or been killed. This jeopardizes Iraq's future as a pluralistic, diverse and free society. In addition, the commission is concerned about the continued attacks and tense relations between Shia and Sunni Iraqis, as well as other continued, egregious, religiously motivated report on page 54 where we have extensive recommendations on Iraq. The commission urges the US government to take a number of specific steps to ensure, inter alia, the prevention of abuses against religious minorities is a top priority. We call for the training and deployment of police for these vulnerable minorities, that the KRG uphold minority rights in their area and that the situation of internally displaced persons and refugees is effectively addressed.

Shea took two questions on Iraq and noted that the USCIRF had long critiqued the constitution:

We are very concerned by the contradiction within the Iraqi Constitution. On the one hand, religious freedom for everyone is stated -- and for minority groups -- and on the other hand, there can be no law that contradicts Islam. So there is a possibility that there isn't a right to have individual choice in religious freedom or to manifest your beliefs publicly. It's very questionable. So we wanted to know what the -- I think there's some language about the consensus on the agreed upon tenets of Islam -- that no law can contradict the agreed upon tenets of islam. But there really, in fact, is no consensus on Islam. There is two main branches of Islam in Iraq -- Sunnis and Shiites. There are different schools. There are different commentaries on those schools. So there's many different points of view, so the constitution is ont clear and it leaves in doubt the extent of religious freedom particularly for minorities. The main problem we're seeing, though, is the extremists. Not government violence, but extremist violence. And the failure of the government to protect or allow these minorities to develop and flourish and remain in Iraq. So many of them -- half of them -- have left. And many of them continue to be in the region. The United States has been very dilatory in addressing this problem. It appears no, that they're not going back in great numbers. And I think the United States has a responsibility to -- and we make recommendations for this -- that the United States has a responsibility to support these people and to help them find refuge either in the United States or elsewhere.

The 269 page report is entitled [PDF format warning] Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and Iraq is pages 43 through 60. We'll note the recommendations on human rights (and wonder why the administration requires someone else suggesting them):

* appoint and immediately dispatch a Special Envoy for Human Rights in Iraq to Embassy Baghdad, reporting directly to the Secretary of State, to serve as the United States' lead human rights official in Iraq; to lead an Embassy human rights working group, including the senior coordinators on ARticle 140 issues, on corruption, and on the rule of law, as well as other relevant officials including those focusing on minority issues; and to coordinate U.S. efforts to promote and protect human rights in Iraq; and

* appoint immediately one or more U.S. advisors under the Department of State's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office to serve as liaisons to the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights.

To address past and current reports of human rights violations in Iraq, the U.S. government should urge the Iraqi government at the highest levels to:

* undertake transparent and effective investigations of human rights abuses, including those stemming from sectarian, religiously-motivated, or other violence by Iraqi security forces, political factions, militias or any other para-state actors affiliated with or otherwise linked to the Iraqi government or regional or local governments, and bring the perpetrators to justice;

* cooperate with international investigations of such abuses; and

* create and fully fund the independent national Human Rights Commission provided for in the Iraqi Constitution and ensure that this Commission is non-sectarian, that is has a mandate to investigate and individual complaints, and that its functions and operations are based on the UN's Paris Principles.

Multiple links can be found at this page of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The above alone goes to why the UNHCR had no business issuing any statement (not even to appease al-Maliki and his desire to interest foreign investment). Equally true is that this 'downturn' was one month (January) and each month since has seen an increase in violence with last month reaching 2008 levels. Equally important, things are always highly fluid in Iraq. Indpedent journalist Dahr Jamail (via Countercurrents) observes:

Indicative of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq, on May 1 the US military reported the death of a Naval petty officer who was killed "on April 30 while conducting combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq." The Department of Defense report went on to explain that the sailor "was deployed with an East Coast based Navy SEAL team." That same day, the military announced the deaths of two marines "killed while conducting combat operations against enemy forces here April 30." The dateline for the latter press release is "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq." Apparently, all is not well in Fallujah and al-Anbar province. The US military, having met the fiercest resistance throughout their occupation of Iraq in these areas, is once again conducting combat operations there.
The fact that the US military has largely hung the Sahwa out to dry, exposing the 100,000 strong Sunni militia to the ire of the Maliki government for ongoing assassinations and detentions, has taken the lid off the volcano that the Sahwa were keeping from erupting. Let us remember - it was the Sahwa who kept al-Qaeda in Iraq in check, not the US military or the Iraqi military. As members of the Sahwa continue to leave their security posts due to lack of pay and being targeted by the Iraqi government, they are returning to the resistance from which most of them had emerged to join the militia.
Let us also be clear about the fact that the Sahwa allied themselves with the US military so as to protect themselves from the Shia-dominated sectarian government of Prime Minister Maliki.
I asked a good friend of mine in Baghdad to interview a Sahwa leader in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad a few days ago. The leader asked to be identified as Abu Ahmed. He is 40 years old, married, has four children, and had this to say, "I would like to say that the Iraqi Government, and especially Mr. Maliki, are continuing to target us. They have been doing this from the beginning, and they continue to do this against the Sahwa. The reason is because we are Sunni and the Iraqi government are a sectarian government."
Abu Ahmed said he and his fellow Sahwa members support the immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces "and then we can change our government by ourselves and build a nationalist government to replace this current sectarian government."
He then added, succinctly, "Our purpose is to end the occupation, end al-Qaeda, and make a new Iraq that is safe."

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Naomi Wolf wins Dumbest on the Face of the Planet









In Iraq on March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered while she was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. The War Crimes were committed by US soldiers and four have already faced justice: James Barker entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 90 years, Paul Cortez also copped a guilty plea and was sentenced to 100 years, Jesse V. Spielman was convicted (no plea) and sentenced to 110 years and Bryan Howard had a plea agreement which resulted in 27 months of imprisonment. The only one accused and not tried was Steven Dale Green who had already left the US military when the truth came out and had to be tried in a civilian court. Green's trial began last week at the United States District Court Western District of Kentucky. The man who has been described as the "ringleader" and fingered as the one who killed all four, a participant in the gang-rape of Abeer and the one who thought up the criminal conspiracy is somehow pleading 'non-guilty' at the same time his attorneys do not dispute the charges but ask that the 'context' of his actions be considered.

Today the prosecution finished presenting their case. Brett Barrouquere (AP) reports Blake Huggins and Noah Galloway were witnesses for the prosecution today and both testified that Green told them he had committed the War Crimes shortly before his federal arrest June 30, 2006. Barrouquere quotes Huggins stating, "He had mentioned to me that he and a group of guys walked into a house, killed a family and raped a young girl. He just kind of mentioned it to me." Galloway testified that Green was aware the federal authorities were after him, that he knew he would be arrested shortly and that he confessed to all of it including being the one who shot dead all four family members. Barrouquere has been covering the developments in this story for nearly three years -- one of the few can make that claim. The trial is also being covered by an 18-year-old high school senior, Evan Bright, who reported on Friday's testimonies which included the ridiculous statements by War Criminal Paul Cortez who declared that we "knew what was goin' on, we knew were were goin' down to that house to have sex with that girl, and Barker and Green seemed to know where they were going to get there." A) Green knew because he had cased the home the same as he had repeatedly touched Abeer when she came through the military checkpoint. That is why her parents were arranging to get her out of the house as quickly as possible. Had the soldiers attempted their actions the following night, Abeer wouldn't have been home. She was to leave the morning after she died. As for "have sex with that girl," "that girl" has a name and "have sex" isn't rape. Cortez may have confessed at his own hearing but his remarks in Green's trial demonstrate no understanding of his crimes and no remorse for them. He also is either a liar or has cognitive issues. He, Barker and Green took part in the gang-rape of Abeer. But he told the jury in Green's trial Friday that killing her and the family "that wasn't . . . the intention. Sh . . . stuff just went crazy . . ." Really? That wasn't the intention? And what did Cortez think would happen? They'd break into an Iraqi home, hold a family at gun point while gang-raping the fourteen-year-old daughter and then just leave?

He wants everyone to believe that the family wouldn't have gone to the local police? Maybe he believes that but others didn't and that's obvious by the fact that after Abeer was murdered, her body was set on fire in an attempt to destroy the evidence. After they murdered her, they suddenly thought the police might be involved but gang-rape, excuse me, "have sex with" apparently was no big deal in their minds. Cortez might also want to ask why they went to so much trouble to remove evidence from their own bodies of the gang-rape? Evan Bright reported this on Jesse Spielman's testimony:

He testified to seeing Green unbuttoning his pants and getting down between Abeer's legs and raping her, after which he took a pillow and put it over Abeer's head and fired an AK47 into the pillow, killing her. At this, the defendant was spotted looking down. He then watched Barker pour a liquid onto her body. While her body was burning, he added clothes and blankets to fuel the flames, "to destroy evidence," he said. He continued, describing Cortez & Barker washing their chests and genitalia back at TCP2, and how he himself threw the AK47 into the canal. When asked why he didn't turn his squad members in, he "didn't feel right, telling on people [he] served with."

Cortez knew to wash his "chests and genitalia" and that's was due to the gang-rape. Cortez didn't fire a weapon. For those who fear that Cortez didn't think anything out in advance, they can refer to Evan Bright reporting on Day Four of the trial:

According to Barker, "Cortez took a little convincing to get him to come along. He said if we were gonna have sex with the girl, he wanted to go first." He testified to ushering the 5-year-old girl and father into the house, and then separating 14-year-old Abeer from her family. He said that he held Abeer's hands down while Cortez raped her in mere seconds, while Green shot the remaining three family members. When Cortez was finished, they switched places, with Abeer screaming and crying the entire time. Afterwards, Green raped her, and then shot her.

See, he did put some thought into it and his thought was, if they're going to gang-rape a fourteen-year-old girl, he wanted to go first. As offensive as these War Criminals are, equally offenisve is the silence that's surrounded this trial as so many have bent over backwards to avoid covering or even mentioning it. We interviewed Evan Bright for Third yesterday and, in reply to how many reporters were covering the trail, he explained, "3-4. On Monday, opening statements day, there were 6-8. I'm here with Brett Barrouquere of the AP and Jim Frederick of Time Magazine who's writing a book on Bravo company. The people who only came for opening statements are Andy Wolfson from the Courier Journal, someone from Reuters, Mira Oberman the midwest correspondent from the 'Agence France-Press'... the French press."

Related, Feminist Wire Daily notes:

Marilyn French, a feminist author best known for her novel, "The Women's Room," died over the weekend in New York. According to the Telegraph UK, French once said "My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world." Gloria Steinem described the novel in an interview: "It was about the lives of women who were supposed to live the lives of their husbands, supposed to marry an identity rather than become one themselves, to live secondary lives….It expressed the experience of a huge number of women and let them know that they were not alone and not crazy," reported the Manila Bulletin. French also published Beyond Power: On Women, Men, and Morals (1985) The War Against Women (1992), and From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women (2002), among other titles.
The above explains a great deal. First, Marilyn would be covering the trial. Second, The Women's Room was a popular novel and it certainly helped get the word out on feminist concepts and was turned into a breakthrough mini-series by ABC whose cast included: Patty Duke, Mare Winningham, Colleen Dewhurst, Lee Remick, Tyne Daly, Ted Danson, Gregory Harrison among others. But the emphasis on a popular novel?

"Chilling, well-documented . . . A sobering reminder that the situation of women may still be so universally abysmal that if any other ethnic, national or religious group were attacked, dominated and maimed at the same rate, it could be said to constitute a state of emergency or war". That's the New York Times Book Review and it's not for The Women's Room. That's reviewing her 1992 The War Against Women. That was a very important book and a best seller. In 1992. It's very sad that a popular novel published in 1977 is the crux of the obit. As though French did nothing after? From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in Three Volumes is a major work, published in 2002. It's really telling that instead of noting her life's work an obit wants to emphasize a popular novel that was turned into a TV mini-series. It's all about popularity, apparently, and not at all about knowledge. Those of us who knew Marilyn appreciated her in life and mourn her now. Though the obit implies her best moment was in 1977, her life was an endless journey and her talents and skills only increased with each year. She will be sorely missed. From page 189 of The War Against Women:

So powerful and pervasive is the taboo against blaming men-as-a-class in our society that even social scientists who deplore male violence against women perpetuate a sense of male blamelessness for these acts. Male language generally -- the language used by those who work in military, engineering, computer, and or other "masculine" enterprises -- is characterized by a lack of agency. Like the nuclear strategy analysts discussed earlier, social scientists who write about male violence toward women and whose work may be aimed at ameliorating the situation for what is happening, that "things" happen as it were by themselves, or that both parties are equally responsible.

Think about the above not only in the statements made by those participating in the War Crimes of gang-rape and murder, but think about in terms of all the men and women who refuse to use their power to draw attention to the federal trial going on right now in Kentucky.

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