Friday, June 02, 2006

Democracy Now: Nukes, Gentrification

New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi
New evidence has emerged in the case of another alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of US troops. The BBC has obtained video footage bolstering accusations first made by Iraqi police that US troops murdered eleven civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon has insisted only four civilians died in the incident and that they were killed when their home collapsed during a gun battle. But according to the BBC, the new video shows a number of dead adults and children with visible gunshot wounds. Democracy Now covered this story in March. We spoke with Knight Ridder reporter Matthew Schofield in Baghdad. He first obtained the Iraqi police report that accused US troops of the civilian killings.
  • Matthew Schofield: "We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women. Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A number of -- you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The doctor said it's very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round, the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble, so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in, they came across the blankets. They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been handcuffed and shot."
Marines To Be Charged in Killing of Iraqi Civilian
In another case, seven marines are being held in the brig at Camp Pendelton. A defense attorney for a US Marine has disclosed the Marines are expected to be charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the shooting death of an Iraqi man in the town of Hamandiya in April. A member of the Navy will also be charged. The victim was reportedly dragged from his home before he was shot to death. Media reports have speculated troops planted a gun near his body to make it appear he was an insurgent.

Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis "Daily Phenomenon"
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

11th Soldier Convicted For Abu Ghraib Torture
And in other Iraq news, an Army dog handler who served at Abu Ghraib was convicted Thursday of using his animal to torment a prisoner. Sgt. Santos Cardona is the 11th soldier to be convicted for the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib. All but one of the 11 convictions has gone to a low-ranking soldier.

US Naval Ship Leaves Olympia Following Week-Long Protests
And finally, a port in Olympia, Washington was the site of a major anti-war protest this week against a US naval ship bound for Iraq. On Wednesday, the U.S. Naval Ship Pomeroy left the Port of Olympia after a week of protests that drew hundreds of people and led to more than three dozen arrests.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jack, Anne, Barry, Jordan and Portland. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 2, 2006

- Indonesian Earthquake Toll Reaches 6200
- Troops To Undergo Ethics Training
- New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi
- Marines To Be Charged in Killing of Iraqi Civilian
- Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis “Daily Phenomenon”
- 6 Countries, Including US, Reach Iran Consensus
- Peru Heads Into Presidential Elections
- US Naval Ship Leaves Olympia Following Week-long Protests

Why is the U.S. Hampering a Swiss Investigation into A.Q. Khan's International Nuclear Arms Smuggling Ring?

The Bush administration is ignoring requests from Swiss officials to hand over information that would help prosecute alleged members of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's underground nuclear network. We speak with the spokesperson for the Swiss Attorney General, Hansjurg Mark Wiedmer, former U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, David Albright and Pakistani physicist, Zia Mian of Princeton University. [includes rush transcript - partial]

Fmr. Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix Calls for Permanent Worldwide Ban on WMDs

Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix called for a permanent worldwide ban on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on Thursday. The recommendation is the central finding of a major report issued Thursday by the independent Weapons of Mass Destruction commission, which was headed by Blix. [includes rush transcript]

How One of New York City's Biggest Landlords is Systematically Driving Out Thousands of Low-Income Residents

One of the biggest owners of rent-stabilized apartments in New York -- the Pinnacle Group -- is carrying out an aggressive campaign to chase out many of its low-income and elderly tenants living in Harlem, the South Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez has been reporting on the issue for the Daily News for the past month.

Iraq snapshot. Chaos and violence.

There are at least three alleged incidents in Iraq that are under some form of investigation. (Remember that The Christian Science Monitor asked mid-week whether or not the military could investigation itself.) For two who were confused by the new ones noted last night, there is Haditha. Haditha took place November 19, 2005 and resulted in the deaths of twenty-four civilians. This is the one Rep. John Murtha has spoken of and that has had the most attention and media focus. Next, there is Ishaqi which took place in March 15th of this year. For background refer to Democracy Now!'s March report as well as the BBC's report on a tape that has turned up which appears to refute the US military claims. In that incident, the official version is that "four people died during a military operation" when a building that was on fire collapsed on them while the version put foward by Iraqi police is that "US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people." The third incident under attention currently took place on April 26th of this year in Hamandiya this is where one man died and US troops are accused of planting a shovel and gun on him while insisting that he was attempting to plant a roadside bomb. This is the incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman" for. Kidnapping? When Jim Miklaszewski reported it for NBC Sunday, he noted that the allegations included taking the man from his home, murdering him and then attempting to hide their own actions by planting the shovel and gun on him.

Those are the three incidents currently under some form of investigation and media light.

On the middle item, Jonathan Karl of ABC News (ABC, United States) is reporting that with regards to the events in Ishaqi, "military officials have completed their investigation and have concluded U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement." Which one is that? This is the one that BBC only recently reported having a tape of. One might argue far too recently for "military officials" to have "completed" anything that could pass for a full investigation. Or, as Australia's ABC puts it, "But a video obtained by the BBC shows evidence that the people were shot." Among the dead so-called insurgents in this incident that alleged followed "the rules of engagement," Australia's ABC reports were "a 65 year old grandmother and a six-month old baby." The Independent of London summarizes thusly: "But the BBC said its tape, which comes in the wake of the alleged massacre in Haditha in November, showed a number of dead adults and children at the site with gunshot wounds."

Pressure on the Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, Nuri al-Maliki, has led to his announcing that Iraq will launch their own investigation. As Ferry Biedermann notes in the Financial Times of London, this investigation is supposed to "look into other allegations of misconduct by the US-led forces in Iraq and the way troops behave toward the civilian population after they have come under attack." The Guardian of London reports that al-Maliki informed US ambassador to Iraq (and puppet master) Zalmay Khalilzad of this decision "during a visit to a power station."

Meanwhile, the AFP reports on a Friday lunch between Tony Blair (prime minister of England, lap dog of the Bully Boy) and Romano Prodi (newly elected prime minister of Italy). During the lunch, "Prodi stressed there was no going back on his decision to pull troops out" of Iraq. Presumably Tony Blair choked only on hard feelings since there's no report of a Heimlich being performed.

The AFP reports that at least four people were killed and fifty wounded "in twin blasts targeting a Friday morning animal market in downtown Baghdad." Reuters reports two other roadside bombs, one that wounded two police officers and the other that killed two people and injured four.

Pay attention to what Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Donald Rumsfeld said "Things that shouldn't happen, do happen in combat."

Finally, CBS and the AP report that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, wounded in Iraq, has been taken "off her respirator and [is] breathing on her own" as of this morning.

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