A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.
Two lawyers involved in discussions about individual marines' defenses said they thought the investigation could result in charges of murder, a capital offense. That possibility and the emerging details of the killings have raised fears that the incident could be the gravest case involving misconduct by American ground forces in Iraq.
Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in cross-fire between marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has begun to find whether the events were deliberately covered up.
Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.
The above is from Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt and Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Military Expected to Report Marines Killed Iraqi Civilians" in this morning's New York Times. Think it's bad? Hold on for the next highlight.
Yesterday, we steered you to Robert Burns' report for the Associated Press on Gen. Michael W. Hagee trip to Iraq to look into what exactly is going on. Martha notes Thomas E. Ricks' "Top Marine Visits Iraq as Probe of Deaths Widens" (Washington Post) which provides more details:
The commandant of the Marine Corps flew to Iraq to address his troops yesterday, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were briefed on allegations that Marines had purposely killed as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians in November.
The two developments were indications of the growing seriousness of two investigations into the incident in Haditha that has led to charges from a congressman that Marines killed civilians "in cold blood."
"When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm," said retired Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms, formerly a top lawyer for the Marine Corps. "It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."
Worse than Abu Ghraib? And note, that's not an anonymous source, Brahms goes on the record.
Murtha knew about this last week which means Bully Boy should have known (and if he was out of the loop, when he heard of Murtha's remarks, he should have asked what they meant). Is this the 'turned corner' he was emphasizing? The steps? Freedom on the move? Remember that?
From Wally's "THIS JUST IN! 'FREEDOM IS MOVING!'" (Monday post in full):
BULLY BOY PRESS - CHICAGO.
THIS JUST IN!
"FREEDOM IS MOVING!"
OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES APPARENTLY BUT NOT TO IRAQ.
NO FORWARDING ADDRESS WAS LEFT.
"FREEDOM IS MOVING!"
WHO WANTS TO LIVE NEXT TO THE BULLY BOY?
"FREEDOM IS MOVING," SAID BULLY BOY, "BUT IT'S IN INCREMENTAL STEPS AND THE ENEMY'S PROGRESS IS ALMOST INSTANT ON THEIR TV SCREENS."
THE REMARK LED MANY TO AGAIN WONDER WHEN BULLY BOY WILL BE REQUIRED TO MASTER SIMPLE ENGLISH?
SHOULD AN ENGLISH ONLY MEASURE PASS, WOULDN'T THOSE LIVING IN THE WHITE HOUSE BE REQUIRED TO FOLLOW IT?
INCREMENTAL STEPS, BULLY BOY CAUTIONED, WARNING IT WAS 1 STEP AT A TIME. THE STEP SO FAR HAS COST NEARLY 2500 AMERICAN TROOPS. WHO KNOWS HOW MANY MORE IN STEP TWO?
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"Editorial: Here it comes, here it comes again"
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"Into the e-mails"
"Kat's Korner: Springsteen's Seeger Sessions"
So Bully Boy knew about the investigation but just kept talking that nonsense of a 'turned corner' all weekend? And some wonder why his poll numbers are consistently low?
Keesha noted Margaret Kimberley's "Tar Baby" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):
Fox News is the television news mouthpiece for the Bush administration. When the White House recently announced the departure of press secretary Scott McClellan rumors immediately surfaced that his replacement would be Tony Snow of none other than Fox News. The rumors were true and now it is official, Fox News speaks for Bush.
At his first press briefing Snow was asked about the NSA program that has allowed the federal government to spy on thousands of Americans. In his response Snow couldn’t resist throwing in references to white supremacy fantasy in order to defend government supremacy over our lives.
"I don't want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program – the alleged program – the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny."
You can take the man out of Fox, but you can't take Fox out of the man. Like his former colleagues at that network Snow doesn’t pass up an opportunity to openly espouse racist doctrine.
[. . .]
Snow's explanation for his insult was equally insulting. He whined about being picked on and pointed out what everyone already knows, that the term tar baby came from the Uncle Remus stories.
The words tar baby are a slur, period. They are used to hurt, to anger and to offend. The fact that they first appeared in the Uncle Remus stories doesn’t let Snow off the hook. The Uncle Remus stories were part of a carefully orchestrated effort to make plantation life appear benevolent instead of horrific.
On the topic of Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, the Times' coverage didn't impress me while the trial was going on. (Yes, they had 'access.' It didn't result in meaningful reporting on a day to day basis. If they're going to insist upon covering trials, how about they do that -- cover the trial. Quit sucking up to this attorney or that. Tell us what's going on in the trial not who ate where or who wore what or other details that honestly don't matter -- which includes their own predicitions and those of defense lawyers.) So instead of rewarding medicore reporting, we'll skip them and go to two highlights that Daniel noted.
First up, William Greider's "Rise and Fall of the Enron Boys" (The Nation):
These two thugs looted pension funds and destroyed the personal savings of families. They stole money from the rest of us, not to mention from government and other non-glamorous business enterprises. They rigged energy markets to drive up prices and bilk defenseless consumers (an old-fashioned swindle borrowed from nineteenth-century robber barons and newly decriminalized by deregulation). They swallowed viable, productive companies and wrecked them, especially wrecking the livelihoods of their employees. And, worst of all, they were best pals with politicians and political leaders as well as the most prestigious names in banking and finance--connections the Mafia would die for!
Sorry, am I shouting? My exuberance over this verdict is a mixture of joyous fulfillment and lingering doubts about the impact. Since the meltdown of the stock market in 2001 and the avalanche of scandalous revelations that followed from hundreds of corporations, I have thought the political system and the financial system and even the public at large did not sufficiently get the message. The pervasive rot in American capitalism is much deeper than acknowledged. The various forms of fraud by which millions of people are separated from their money continue in practice, often blessed by law itself.
Still flourishing, likewise, are the leading Wall Street firms--Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, to name a few--that showed Lay and Skilling how to do the fancy financial footwork, converting "debt" into "revenue," so that stock analysts could tout Enron's rising "profit". This was fraud too, but nobody from the banks went to prison (they paid millions, even billions, for no-guilt settlements with government and injured investors). Message to America: Don't rob the Seven Eleven with a six-gun. Rob the general public with pen and computer.
Congress, meanwhile, claimed to "toughen" financial laws, but they did not get reform halfway done. Now the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups are back in Washington insisting that the rather mild reform measures be scrapped too. They may very well succeed, if the public is not aroused. The media can take care of that. They will be describing this verdict as "an end of the era."
And Daniel also notes John Nichols' "Ken Lay--Guilty. George Bush--Guilty." (The Online Beat, The Nation):
The man who paid many of the biggest bills for George Bush's political ascent, Enron founder Kenneth Lay, has been found guilty of conspiracy and fraud almost five years after his dirty dealings created the greatest corporate scandal in what will be remembered as an era of corporate crime.
On the sixth day of deliberations following the conclusion of a long-delayed federal trial, a Houston jury found Lay guilty on six counts of fraud and conspiracy. In a separate decision, US District Judge Sim Lake ruled that Lay was guilty of four counts of fraud and making false statements.
The same jury that convicted Lay found Enron's former chief executive, Jeffrey Skilling, guilty on 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, making false statements and engaging in insider trading.
Lay, who President Bush affectionately referred to as "Kenny-boy" when the two forged an alliance in the 1990s to advance Bush's political ambitions and Lay's business prospects, contributed $122,500 to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns in Texas. Lay would later explain to a PBS "Frontline" interviewer that, though he had worked closely with former Texas Governor Ann Richards, the Democrat incumbent who Bush challenged in 1994, he backed the Republican because "I was very close to George W."
Needless to say, once Bush became governor, Lay got his phone calls returned. A report issued by Public Citizen in February, 2001, months before the Enron scandal broke, identified Lay as "a long-time Bush family friend and an architect of Bush's policies on electricity deregulation, taxes and tort reform while Bush was Texas governor."
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richard a. oppel jr.
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thomas e. ricks
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