Saturday, March 12, 2005

Jehl and Files are worth reading in this morning's New York Times Glanz slips in that Sgrena & Calipari were part of a convoy

Liang e-mails wanting to highlight John Files' " U.S. to Pay Hungarian Jews in 1945 Looting."

From the article:

The United States government and a group of Hungarian Jews have agreed to a $25.5 million settlement for the looting of the Hungarians' valuables by American soldiers during World War II, lawyers for the group said Friday.
[. . .] "a symbolic acknowledgement of an isolated and unfortunate chapter in the Americans' role in the Holocaust."
"But the acknowledgement matters," he ["Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany . . ."] added. "History matters."

Liang: While I'm glad that Hungarian Jews will be getting repayment it seems to me that there's a definition of propetry and damage that operates in some cases but not in others. I'm thinking of the court decision to toss out the Agent Orange lawsuit this week."

For those not familiar with the case Liang's referring to, from Thursday's Democracy Now! Headlines:

Judge Dismisses Agent Orange LawsuitIn New York, a federal judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit concerning the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. A group of Vietnamese citizens had accused U.S. chemical companies including Dow and Monsanto of committing war crimes by supplying the military with the chemical agent. During the war the U.S. military sprayed over 3,000 Vietnamese villages with Agent Orange affecting between two and five million people.

Roy e-mails regarding James Glanz' " Italian Was Killed at Iraq Checkpoint Set Up for U.S. Ambassador's Trip ."

Roy: So when people like Mike Malloy and news papers discuss the John Negroponte connection the paper of record weighs in two days later with an overlong piece that's justifying and over-explaining Negroponte (in group therapy they call that "rescuing") that minimizes and rationalizes his involvement? I've yet to see NYT state clearly that we did know [Giuliana] Sgrena was going to the airport but we can minimize and rationalize for Negroponte and offer sob-stories about how confusing it all was. I also find it interesting that Negroponte is mentioned four times in this article (personalizing him for the reader?) while Sgrena and Nicola Calipari each are only mentioned once. (Calipari died but apparently he's a footnote to the story.)

It would appear that Calipari was a footnote in this article, I agree. I'll also note one other thing. Though the Times referred to a "car" (single) repeatedly (starting with their original reporting of the incident) someone slipped up and allowed this to appear today:

American soldiers say the Italian vehicles were traveling at a fast speed . . .

The Italians reject that (as well as the allegations that follow) but note vehicles. Plural. It was a convoy and for whatever reason the paper has elected to ignore that in previous reporting as we pointed out last Saturday.

Roy notes the "'a reporter' nonsense" in his e-mail. ("A reporter" had a similar experience on Friday 'proving' it's confusing at the check points.) I agree that it's nonsense and doesn't belong in the story. John F. Burns has already dealt with the nature of checkpoints (in an article we didn't highlight because unless you bring them up, we're not discussing the stories filed from Iraq that the New York Times runs). Whether "a reporter" is 'this reporter' (Glanz) or not, the story has a "it happens to embedded reporters too!" attitude that detracts from the story (my opinion). As a feature or an op-ed it might work, as a news story, it doesn't cut it.

Isn't it funny this continued discussion on something the Times rushed to assure us last Saturday "political analysts" were saying was pretty much insignificant?

From last Saturday's entry:

There's outrage being expressed over this but you won't find it in the Times. You won't find reference to Reporters Without Borders eithers. But you will get this gem of bad reporting:
Political analysts doubted that the shooting would strain the relationship between Italy and the United States, or threaten the mission of Italy's roughly 3,000 troops in Iraq.
Political analysts? Robert Novak's in the Green Zone? What the hell?
You've got Wong reporting largely from the Green Zone, Horowitz from Rome, James Glanz tossing in from Baghdad, Kirk Semple from London and Steven R. Weisman and Thom Shanker from D.C.
Who spoke to "political analysts?" Who are these political analysts?
They serve the purpose to allay concerns and tell the reader "Nothing to see here, move along." That may be the reason they are included. But what political analysts from what countries? There's no need for anony-mice to sneak into this story to provide that irrelevant bit of info.
Ben: I thought the NYT was supposed to have struck these anonymous sources? I also find it very interesting that the reporters tell us that these check points shootings "of innocent vehicles . . . have taken place in recent months, and have been documented by reporters and photographers."
Exactly where in NYT have these photos been shown? I'm not remembering any
"Photographs . . . showed the surviving children covered in their parents' blood" in NYT. I am remembering tons of unnamed sources rushing in to tell us "everything's cool, everything's fine, stay the course! stay the course!" repeatedly. I'll assume these anonymous sources are from the State Department and that they and the paper are attempting to minimize the ugly truth before it can break out.
Considering the way the story of Giuliana Sgrena's kidnapping has played out in Italy, who indeed are these 'wise' political analysts that say there will be no impact from this? Who are these big smarties, these anony-mice, so quick to rush in with words the Bully Boy administration no doubt finds reassuring? The coverage of the kidnapping has been strong in the Italian press but our 'wise analysts' shake their Magic 8 Ball and deliver instant 'wisdom' to us via the Times.
Look Giuliana Sgrena is already speaking and the reaction, as reported elsewhere, suggests anony-mice need to scurry for cover right about now.

Maybe they need to rethink the names in their roladoxes?

A number of you are e-mailing about an editorial in this morning's Times. If you want to address the opinions offered (and the interpretation of facts or "facts") please do so. We don't address them here. (Noting that Jane Mayer wasn't credited although she was quoted twice, was not an analysis of the editorial, in my opinion, or intended as such. It went to the issue of crediting people for the work they've done -- especially when you elect to quote from their work twice.) I will note this editorial runs on Saturday when the editorials have their smallest audience and that it's really not meant to speak readers as much as it is to someone visiting our country (my opinion on the second point). (You could also argue it's meant to counter that visit.) One person who did say she could be quoted but doesn't want to be identified saw it as "another in a long line of the elite NYT looking down its snooty nose at working class Catholics through disrespectful slants, misreadings and a sneering tone."

Again if anyone wants to have at it (or if many want to) the site address is but I try not to get into a yes, it is/no, it's not discussion re: editorials. I have stated I generally agree with the editorials so if anyone's wondering if this is one I generally agree, no, it's not. With any luck, the editorial will backfire in whatever aims the board had when they wrote it.

Note Douglas Jehl's front page story "Army Details Scale of Abuse In Afghan Jail:"

Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.
One soldier, Pfc. Willie V. Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths, another Army document shows. Private Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of having maimed and killed him over a five-day period by "destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes."
The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that "even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated," the Army report said, citing a medical examiner.

[. . .]
The reports, from the Army Criminal Investigation Command, also make clear that the abuse at Bagram went far beyond the two killings. Among those recommended for prosecution is an Army military interrogator from the 519th Battalion who is said to have "placed his penis along the face" of one Afghan detainee and later to have "simulated anally sodomizing him (over his clothes)."

The article is based upon reports obtained by Human Rights Watch which doesn't highlight them on their web site's front page.

From Jehl's article:

American military officials in Afghanistan initially said the deaths of Mr. Habibullah, in an isolation cell on Dec. 4, 2002, and Mr. Dilawar, in another such cell six days later, were from natural causes. Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, the American commander of allied forces in Afghanistan at the time, denied then that prisoners had been chained to the ceiling or that conditions at Bagram endangered the lives of prisoners.
But after an investigation by The New York Times, the Army acknowledged that the deaths were homicides. Last fall, Army investigators implicated 28 soldiers and reservists and recommended that they face criminal charges, including negligent homicide.

Human Rights Watch does have "Enduring Freedom:" Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan available online (from March, 2004). From the section on deaths while in US custody (scroll down two-thirds of the way):

Deaths in U.S. custody
Two Afghans died while in detention at Bagram airbase in December 2002.111 Both deaths were ruled homicides by U.S. military doctors who performed autopsies.
One of the prisoners, Dilawar, aged 22 and from near Khost city in southeastern Afghanistan, died on December 10, 2002 from "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease," according to his death certificate prepared by a military pathologist, which was obtained by the New York Times.
112 The other detainee, Mullah Habibullah, aged approximately 30 years and from the southern province of Oruzgan, died earlier, on December 3, 2002. A military spokesman at Bagram confirmed to reporters from the New York Times that Mullah Habibullah’s death was ruled a homicide by a military pathologist, the cause being "pulmonary embolism [blood clot in the lungs] due to blunt force injury to the legs."113 Both military pathologists, when contacted by Human Rights Watch in November and December 2003, turned down requests to be interviewed.
Military officials at Bagram said in March 2003 that the military had launched an investigation into the deaths. But as of this writing in February 2004, they have not announced any results.
In June 2003, another Afghan died at a detention site near Asadabad, in Kunar province.
114 U.S. military officials in Afghanistan and in the United States have refused to provide any details about this death.
Human Rights Watch has written repeatedly in 2003 and 2004 to officials in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (which CENTCOM officials have said is responsible for the Bagram investigation) asking for information about all three of the detainee deaths. Officials from both offices have replied and stated that the investigation into the Bagram deaths is ongoing and that no information is available. As for the Asadabad death, both offices have refused to release any information at all -- not even a statement that an investigation is ongoing.

Dilawar and Mullah Habibullah are mentioned in Jehl's report today (and in the pull quotes from his article).