Monday, June 12, 2006

Democracy Now: James Yee, Joshusa Denbeaux, Robert Jay Lifton

U.S. Begins Bombing Residential Areas Of Ramadi
Fears of an imminent U.S. assault on the Sunni city of Ramadi are increasing. On Saturday U.S. and Iraqi forces cordoned off the city of 400,000 people. The Los Angeles Times reported that fleeing residents say the U.S. has begun bombing residential areas. Thousands of families are reportedly trapped in the city and facing a mounting humanitarian crisis. Food and medical supplies are running low. Prices for gas have soared because of shortages. The Iraqi government has tried repeatedly to send medical and food aid into Ramadi, but it has been thwarted by insurgent attacks. A former governor of the city said that people in Ramadi are caught between two plagues: the vicious, armed insurgents and the American and Iraqi troops.

Bush Considers Keeping 50,000 Troops In Iraq Indefinitely
In other news on Iraq, President Bush is planning to meet today at Camp David with top military and civilian advisers today to discuss the future role of the United States in Iraq. This comes as the New York Times reports that the Bush administration is considering keeping at least 50,000 troops in Iraq for years to come, possibly for decades -- just as it has in Korea.

GOP Lawmakers OK Permanent Military Bases in Iraq
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers appear to be giving the Pentagon the go-ahead to build permanent military bases in Iraq. Last week lawmakers quietly removed a provision that would have blocked the military from establishing permanent bases in Iraq. Congresswoman Barbara Lee criticized the move. She said "The perception that the U.S. intends to occupy Iraq indefinitely is fueling the insurgency and making our troops more vulnerable."

Three Guantanamo Detainees Commit Suicide
The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced it is sending a team to investigate conditions at the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay following the suicide of three detainees on Saturday. The military reported the men hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets and clothes. They are the first reported deaths at Guantanamo. There had been 41 previous suicide attempts as well as widespread hunger strikes. Two of the men were Saudis, one was from Yemen. They had been held at the prison for up to four years and never charged with a crime. One of the men -- 21-year-old Yassar Talal al-Zahrani -- was first detained when he was a juvenile. One of the other men who committed suicide was due to be released -- but did not know it.

Israeli Shelling Kills Eight Palestinians On Gaza Beach
Eight Palestinian civilians -- including three children -- died Friday after being apparently hit by shells fired by Israeli gunboats. They died while picnicing on a beach in northern Gaza. One seven-year-old Palestinian girl lost her father, step mother and five siblings. Images were broadcast around the world of the child, Huda Ghalia, wailing near the body of her deceased father. At least 40 people were also injured in the shelling. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning to mark what he called a "bloody massacre." Abbas met with the seven-year-old orphan and vowed to care for her. Israel has admitted it was firing shells in the area in order to stop Palestinians from staging rocket attacks. But the Israeli military maintains the explosion on the beach may have been caused by Palestinians.

Maryland Man Arrested in Bomb Abortion Clinic Plot
And a 25-year-old Maryland man will be in court today on charges connected to a plot to bomb an abortion clinic in College Park Maryland. The man Robert Weiler was arrested last week after his own father contacted the FBI. Police said Weiler admitted he was planning the bombing and told investigators that he also intended to "shoot doctors who provided abortions." Last week police detonated a pipe bomb that Weiler had built at a friend's house. According to the National Abortion Federation there have been 11 bombings, 25 attempted bombings and 35 arsons at the offices of abortion providers nationwide over the past decade.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jonah, DK, Lily, Sunny, Kara and Brenda. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 12, 2006

- Three Guantanamo Detainees Commit Suicide
- Iraqis Claim U.S. Soldiers Beat Zarqawi to Death
- Bush Considers Keeping 50,000 Troops In Iraq Indefinitely
- GOP Lawmakers OK Permanent Military Bases in Iraq
- U.S. Payouts to Relatives of Killed Iraqis Skyrocket
- U.S. Begins Bombing Residential Areas Of Ramadi
- Israeli Shelling Kills Eight Palestinians On Gaza Beach
- Hamas Ends 16-Month Truce; Fires 17 Missiles at Israel
- U.S.: 500 Die in Afghanistan Over Past Three Weeks
- Maryland Man Arrested in Bomb Abortion Clinic Plot

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Guantanamo Attorneys Say Suicides Reveal Desperation, Hopelessness at U.S.-Run Prison Camp

Three detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- two Saudis and one Yemeni -- were found dead in their cells this weekend. The military reported the men hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets and clothes. They are the first reported deaths at the U.S.-run camp. The three men had been imprisoned for up to four years and never charged with a crime. We speak with an attorney for Guantanamo detainees and former Army Chaplain James Yee.
AMY GOODMAN: Chaplain Yee, the issue of juveniles there. When you were ministering at Guantanamo, did you meet teenagers?
JAMES YEE: Oh, for sure. It's confirmed that there were juveniles as young as 12-14 years old that were held down in Guantanamo. I had direct contact with them. But in the general population, I came across several prisoners who I thought were very close to the ages of 15 or 16, as I mentioned, being held in the general population, being treated like adults down in Guantanamo. That's very disturbing.
AMY GOODMAN: I also want to ask about President Bush's statement on Friday. He was with the Danish Prime Minister, who wants Guantanamo closed. And President Bush said, "I assured him that we would like to end the Guantanamo. We'd like it to be empty. And we're now in the process of working with countries to repatriate people." He said, "But there are some that, if put out on the streets, would create grave harm to American citizens and other citizens of the world. And, therefore, I believe they ought to be tried in courts here in the United States. We will file such court claims once the Supreme Court makes its decision as to whether or not -- as to the proper venue for these trials. And we're waiting for our Supreme Court to act." So, the president has said, he wants to close Guantanamo, says, he is waiting for the Supreme Court to act. He doesn't have to wait to close Guantanamo, does he?
JOSHUA DENBEAUX: Of course not. The Razul decision said that it is up to the District Courts to determine what process was due these people. The government created the combatant status review tribunals, which are patently inappropriate and insufficient process, in the hope that the District Courts would disagree as to whether that's sufficient in order to delay a decision for several years until the matter can be brought back to the Supreme Court. That's not even the decision that is coming up with the Supreme Court. So yes, the president has the authority to do whatever he wants. As far as the process that’s due, he has not even made the slightest attempt to provide a process that is anything short of a kangaroo court.

Dr. Robert Jay Lifton: American Psychological Association Should "Prohibit Any Involvement" of Psychologists in Interrogations

We speak with leading American psychiatrist Dr. Robert Jay Lifton about the psychological dimensions of war and occupation and the role of doctors in interrogation and torture. Lifton is co-editor of a new book titled "Crimes of War: Iraq."
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: This is what -- these are the two roles that Albert Camus warned us never to assume, always to resist. So they're perpetrators, but they're also victims. And there's something deeply troubling about placing young American men and women in a situation where they're psychologically likely to commit atrocities and be perpetrators, and also, at the same time, be victims of that same situation, in terms of the trauma, or even death, that it may cause them.
AMY GOODMAN: And then a media, in this country, that will not allow one to be talked about by talking about the other. When you talk about them being perpetrators, they say, "How dare you? They're victims."
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: That's right. The truth is to say both, and one can bring great sympathy to Americans put into that situation. On the other hand, one has to -- anybody has to assume responsibility for what he or she does in that situation. And that's the complicated balance that we need ethically. When I worked with anti-war veterans, it was interesting that in the [unintelligible], they insisted upon taking some responsibility for what happened. But they also said, "it's not just our responsibility, it's the whole damn society for sending us there."
AMY GOODMAN: Before we get to the whole society, what about the chain of command, and how does that fit in?
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: When you talk about atrocity-producing situations, it's always the foot soldiers who get prosecuted and who are blamed, but the ultimate responsibility has to do with those environments and those who create those environments. And those who create those environments are the military and civilian leaders going right up to the White House. So the responsibility lies at the top of the Department of Defense, and in the White House, and it has to do with how they define, or don't define, torture with policies they establish in relation to counterinsurgency war in Iraq. And with the deceptions they’ve brought forward about the whole situation. So yes, the responsibility is thrust upon the foot soldiers alone all too often. But greater responsibility certainly lies with the higher ups going right up to the top of the Department of Defense and the White House.
AMY GOODMAN: Criminal responsibility?
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: I think it is criminal responsibility. We call our book Crimes of War: Iraq -- we're talking about the American crimes of war, and the responsibility for those crimes of war comes from the top.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue as the BBC notes Bully Boy is at Camp David for a two-day retreat to explore the issue of Iraq today -- almost three years and three months after the illegal invasion was launched and eight US military fatatlies shy (official count) of 2,500 and after 17,869 US troops have been wounded. The BBC reports that Bully Boy's "talks are being held in a rare mood of optimism."

Not everyone is so optomistic as Reuters notes in "Arab leaders reluctant to enthuse about new Iraq" noting various voices including Mohamed Lakeb who declares, "As long as the new Iraqi government is linked to the Americans it will have little chance to restore security and hope among its people. I understand that withdrawing now is problematic, but staying there will worsen the situation."

An example of that may be a US air raid in Baquba on Monday which, AFP notes, the US military claims targeted terrorists. The US military claims they killed seven terrorists plus two children.The reality locals say is quite different. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, local residents are accusing the military of targeting civilians. Mohammed Abbas sketched it out to the AFP as follows: a local guard saw what he believed were 'insurgents' but "they turned out to be US troops on foot patrol." Shahin Abdullah backed that up noting that the local residents were used to the US military in "tanks and vehicles" but not on foot. After the locals mistook the US military for 'insurgents,' the US military apparently made the same mistake and called in air strikes. Locals gathered around the remains from the strike and, as the AP notes, one man "held up the charred body of a toddler whose head had been blown in half" from the US air strike. Reuters noted that "women wept and wailed." The "terrorist cell," according to locals, was actually a family of nine -- two adults and seven children.

Speaking to C.S. Soong today on KPFA's Against the Grain, Aaron Glantz, journalist and author of How America Lost Iraq, on the subject of the cycle of violence, discussed how common place the violence is, "You pick up the phone now, you call someone in Iraq and they have a story like this that happened in their neighborhood." Glantz noted that unlike at the start of the war, "you don't have to do any digging" because the violence is so common place, the story comes to you.

Such as the bombs exploding throughout Iraq.

Reuters notes the death in Tal Afar of at least six people and forty-wounded as a result of a car bomb. The Associated Press notes one in Baghdad that killed six and wounded at least ten. Gulf News notes that it wasn't one bomb, but three -- and that it is the victims were "workers to Iraq's industry ministry" and not, as reported, workers in the oil industry. A second bomb in Baghdad killed at least five and wounded at least thirteen. Reuters notes the death of one and the wounding of two in Kirkuk from a roadside bomb. In addition, RTE reports the death of four from mortar attacks in Baghdad.

Corpses? Reuters reports nine were found ("including a 10-year-old boy") in Suwayra as well as one in Baiji.

Also today, the second wave of people were released from prisons (under the orders of Nouri al-Maliki) and al Qaeda announced over the internet that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would be the designated replacement for Zarqawi.

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