Monday, March 06, 2006

NYT: "Voices Baffled, Brash and Irate in Guantanamo" (Tim Golden)

But there are many more, it seems, who sound like Abdur Sayed Rahman, a self-described Pakistani villager who says he was arrested at his modest home in January 2002, flown off to Afghanistan and later accused of being the deputy foreign minister of that country's deposed Taliban regime.
"I am only a chicken farmer in Pakistan," he protested to American military officers at Guantanamo. "My name is Abdur Sayed Rahman. Abdur Zahid Rahman was the deputy foreign minister of the Taliban."
Mr. Rahman's pleadings are among more than 5,000 pages of documents released by the Defense Department on Friday night in response to a lawsuit brought under the Freedom of Information Act by The Associated Press.
After more than four years in which the Pentagon refused to make public even the names of those held at Guantanamo, the documents provide the most detailed information to date about who the detainees say they are and the evidence against them.
According to their own accounts, the prisoners range from poor Afghan farmers and low-level Arab holy warriors to a Sudanese drug dealer, the son of a former Saudi Army general and a British resident with an Iraqi passport who was arrested in Gambia.
One 26-year-old Saudi, Muhammed al-Utaybi, said he was studying art when he decided to travel to Pakistan to train with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. He was not much of a militant himself, he suggested, saying the training "was just like summer vacation."
The documents -- hearing transcripts and evidentiary statements from the two types of military panels that evaluate whether the detainees should remain at Guantanamo -- are far from a complete portrait of those in custody there.
They do not include the classified evidence that is generally part of the review panels' deliberations, nor their final verdicts on whether or not to recommend the detainees' release. Of the about 760 men who have been held at Guantanamo, the documents cover fewer than half.

The above is from Tim Golden's "Voices Baffled, Brash and Irate in Guantanamo" in this morning's New York Times. It's a long account and the first real reporting on the released documents that the Times has done. (Running an Associated Press article doesn't count.) (It also has a lenthy credit. Golden's credited with writing the piece so we'll credit him here.)

Trevor notes Ruhullah Khapalwak's "Afghan Uses Ax to Assault Peacekeeper:"

A Canadian soldier was seriously wounded by an ax-wielding youth during a meeting with village elders in a remote village in southern Afghanistan on Saturday afternoon, a Canadian military press statement said Sunday.
The attacker was shot dead by Canadian troops. The soldier, Lt. Trevor Greene, was wounded in the head and was in a coma, the statement said.
Lieutenant Greene was leading a civilian and military mission in the village of Shinkay, meeting with village elders to discuss their reconstruction needs, when he was attacked from behind.

Andrew Lehren and John Leland report on a six state study, utilizing data after 1999, and find a
"Scant Drop Seen in Abortion Rate if Parents Are Told." Erika noted that article and we're presenting it as a sentence, not because it's unimportant but because I'm not seeing any hard data (provided along with the story, I'm not questioning the story) so with the Times' corrections these days, I don't want to have to come back into an entry and state, "The excerpt we used here said 'Tennessee' but meant to say . . ."

Martha notes two stories on Iraq from the Washington Post. First John Ward Anderson and Saad Sarhan's "Gunmen Attack 3 Mosques In Iraq:"

Unidentified gunmen attacked at least three mosques in Iraq over the weekend, killing four people and prolonging a nearly two-week spate of sectarian violence that has deepened animosity between the country's Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
Politicians continued their efforts Sunday to form a national unity government that they hope can help heal the rifts and end an epidemic of attacks that has left more than 1,000 dead since the bombing of a revered Shiite mosque in Samarra, north of Baghdad, on Feb. 22. But a key Shiite religious leader, the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, indicated that he would not abandon his candidate for prime minister, interim Prime Minster Ibrahim al-Jafari, as Sunni Muslim and Kurdish parties are demanding.

From the physical damage to the mental toll, Jonathan Finer and Omar Fekeiki's "Iraq's Crisis of Scarred Psyches: Untreated Mental Disorders Seen as Widespread:"

One recent study was sparked by one of the country's darkest days in recent memory. Last Aug. 31, nearly 1,000 Shiite Muslim pilgrims died -- some trampled in a crush of humanity, others by drowning -- when a religious procession across a Baghdad bridge became a lethal stampede.
Months after the dead were buried and the wounded had begun to heal, a team of psychiatrists at the Health Ministry established a psychological outreach facility in Sadr City, a teeming Shiite slum in the capital, to assess and treat the damage inflicted on victims, witnesses and their families. What they found surpassed even their worst fears. More than 90 percent of the people surveyed suffered from psychological disorders, including depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
"The people we've identified as troubled are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the mental health situation in this country," said Ali Abdul Razak, 55, who runs the clinic in a dank corner of Sadr City's Imam Ali Hospital. "I don't consider this post-traumatic, I consider it 'continuous traumatic,' because the trauma they have is ongoing."
Resources for treatment are scarce. Only about 75 psychiatrists remain in a country that has endured a brutal eight-year war with Iran and two wars with the United States, along with crippling economic sanctions in the 1990s and the bloody insurgency today. Many fled along with other professionals to escape kidnappings and threats from insurgents. As a result, there is one psychiatrist for about every 300,000 Iraqis, compared with about one for every 10,000 Americans. There are currently no child psychiatrists in this country of about 25 million, Razak said.

Staying on the topic of the invasion/occupation, Mia notes Stacy Bannerman's "No Deals for Democrats: Quit Bargaining with the Lives of Our Loved Ones" (Common Dreams):

It's easy to make deals with soldiers' lives when it’s not your soldier. It's pretty simple to postpone coming up with an exit strategy when your loved ones are already home.
What's not so easy is sitting across from a familiar stranger, someone who looks like your loved one, but isn't, not quite. What's even harder is dining next to an empty chair, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Taking your meals at the bedside of what's left of your son lying in intensive care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a whole different degree of difficult.
Diane Benson's 26-year-old boy was still unconscious when he arrived at Walter Reed after being hit by a roadside bomb in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Latseen Benson, in the 101st Airborne, had his legs blown off, along with part of an arm. If he survives--and it's still a pretty big if--he will never again sit in his old chair at his mother’s table. Negotiate that, Senator Clinton.
Anne Roesler's son just returned from his third deployment to Iraq in three years. Before he left in August, he told his mom that, if he made it back this time, it would take years for him to recover. Iraq War veterans are already exhibiting post-combat mental health challenges at unprecedented levels.

That's reality. On the subject of propaganda, Zach notes "America Anesthetized" (Consortium News) which takes a look at how the spin gets out in the first place:

But what's going on? How can the Bush administration and its supporters get away with spreading so much confusion about the reasons for invading Iraq? How can they justify demonizing so many Americans who disagree with the war policy?
The answer seems to be that the relentless application of propaganda was always part of the administration's strategy for herding the American public in the direction favored by Bush and his neoconservative advisers.
Remember Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Office of Strategic Influence, the secretive project designed to manipulate international opinion but which was expected to "blow back" some of its propaganda onto the American people.
On Feb. 19, 2002, five months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and 13 months before the invasion of Iraq,
the New York Times reported that this Pentagon office was "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations" in order "to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries."
News of this disinformation program caused outrage and led to a Pentagon announcement that the office had been shut down. But Rumsfeld later explained that the concept was kept alive even though the office was closed.
"There was the Office of Strategic Influence," Rumsfeld said. "You may recall that. And 'Oh, my goodness gracious, isn't that terrible; Henny Penny, the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said, 'Fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done' and I have." [See Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting press release, Nov. 27, 2002]
So the Pentagon continued its propaganda project of placing stories, possibly false, in the foreign media, with some of them surely feeding back into the U.S. political debate though the U.S. government is barred from disseminating propaganda at home.
In 2003, the Pentagon produced another propaganda program described in a document called "Information Operations Roadmap," which describes the need for influencing journalists, enemies and the public.
The document recognizes that Americans consume propaganda -- on TV and through the Internet -- that is intended for foreign audiences. [BBC, Jan. 28, 2006]

Let me say thank you to Ty and Jess for doing the "And The War Drags On" entry last night as well as to Kat and Dallas for their help on Saturday. On that, Ruth goes up as soon as this entry is published. (Give it ten to twenty minutes.) Kat and Dallas assumed Ruth was attempting to provide links in certain spots. That was shorthand (equivalent of "lol" being "laughing out loud"). That was my mistake because I forgot Kat had never seen a typed entry from Ruth. (She did take down an entry Ruth dictated two weekends ago.) And Dallas never sees that either. For phrases she uses often, Ruth will save time by shorthanding. Sorry for the confusion and for the delay.

Remember this from Ruth:

My grandaughter Tracey didn't select two weeks of coverage, but she did select part one and part two of the interview with Hugo Chavez done by Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Margret Prescod of Sojourner Truth.

That was Tracey's pick for her favorite Democracy Now! report. Ten years of Democracy Now! be sure to listen, watch or read (transcripts) today.

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