Monday, June 05, 2006

NYT: Gunmen Kill 20 Passengers at Fake Checkpoint in Iraq" (Sabrina Tavernise)

The area, around Baquba, has become one of the most violent. The authorities found eight heads on a road there Saturday. One of the victims was Sheik Abdel Aziz Mashhadani, 39, from the town of Tarmiya, his cousin said. Sheik Mashhadani had been detained at what the cousin described as a police checkpoint.
On Friday, the family received an anonymous phone call, telling them they could find the sheik's head in the forensic department of the Baghdad morgue. The head had surfaced with seven others, all identified by small paper notes written with poor grammar. The family buried the head, the cousin said.
The military also reported on Sunday that an American soldier was killed in combat in the volatile Anbar Province on Saturday.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Gunmen Kill 20 Passengers at Fake Checkpoint in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times. There are other things covered in the article, besides the above, but most were noted in last night's "And the war drags on . . ." In addition to what was noted, just FYI, there were other reported incidents (on Sunday and Saturday) that didn't get noted. Not because they weren't worth noting but because there was so much to note. That's always going to be true and why it's dubbed a "snapshot." If something's missed (and something will be missed all the time) that stood out to you, always e-mail and we can pick it up. Friday's event, the Iraqis killed by a mortar round fired by US military forces, was picked up because it emerged on Sunday. Lynda wondered if the snapshot was going to be a Sunday thing as well? The details of the Friday incident (in Hibhib, with three dead and three wounded) was the reason we did it. Add in that I was very tired and avoided the radio and any news (other than papers) on Sunday so I felt I needed to catch up and that Marci and another member had both e-mailed on incidents from the weekend that they wanted noted, and we ended up with an Iraq snapshot for Sunday. (Also two members wrote about Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts. If I didn't cover it, and I may have forgotten too, Gina did note in last Friday's gina & krista round-robin that Isaiah had to attend a wedding over the weekend and there wouldn't be a comic Sunday.)

For the rest of this entry, we're noting what the Times isn't interested in this morning, reported cover ups and propaganda.

Martha notes an article but before we get to that, to be sure everyone knows which incident we're referring to, we'll note this from Friday's Iraq snapshot:

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.

That's the incident we're dealing with in Martha's highlight, Ellen Knickmeyer's "Iraqis Accuse Marines in April Killing Of Civilian: Disabled Man's Family Disputes Troops' Story" (Washington Post):

According to accounts given by Hashim's neighbors and members of his family, and apparently supported by photographs, the Marines went to Hashim's home, took the 52-year-old disabled Iraqi outside and shot him four times in the face. The assault rifle and shovel next to his body had been planted by the Marines, who had borrowed them from a villager, family members and other residents said.
Hashim's family alleged this weekend that a small group of U.S. servicemen came to them last week and offered the family money to support the Marines' version of the killing.
The slaying of Hashim, known in the village as Hashim the Lame because he had a metal bar surgically inserted into one leg several years ago, is the smaller and less prominent of two incidents being investigated over allegations of wrongful death and possible coverups. The other investigation, stemming from the deaths of 24 Iraqis on Nov. 19 in the western town of Haditha, is not expected to conclude until sometime this summer, Pentagon officials say. But a former Marine lawyer familiar with the case involving Hashim said Sunday that charges are expected and that the case "will move quickly."
"Look for them to be tried before the Haditha suspects," he said of the service members involved, on condition of anonymity.

[. . .]
Members of Hashim's family interviewed by a Washington Post special correspondent on Saturday said the disabled man's last hours began about 2 a.m. on April 26, when members of a U.S. Marine foot patrol banged at the door of his one-story, walled compound.
The Marines grabbed Hashim by the front of his cotton robe as soon as he came to the door, pulling him from the house, said one of his sons, Nasir, 26, an arts student in Baghdad.
"Less than an hour later, we heard shooting," Nasir said. The family was too afraid of the U.S. forces to immediately investigate, Nasir said.
At daylight, the family found a wide hole in the dirt road about 500 yards from their home, wet with bloodstains and littered with discarded plastic gloves.

Lewis notes Marie Cocco who's writing about the November 19th incident in Haditha and tying it into the large schemes of lies that led us into an illegal war and kept us in one. From Cocco's
"Yet Another Cover-up, Why Be Surprised?" (Boulder Daily Camera via Common Dreams):

But, it is fair to ask, why such surprise? The American endeavor in Iraq always has been a deception built upon a foundation of fraud.
In the beginning were the false claims that Saddam Hussein possessed potent weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons program that could lead to the fearsome "mushroom cloud." When Joseph Wilson wrote in The New York Times that his own CIA-sponsored trip to Africa essentially disproved evidence of an advancing nuclear program, the former ambassador and his wife, Valerie Plame, became targets of a leak-and-smear campaign orchestrated by Vice President Dick Cheney's office. The criminal probe into the Plame leak centers on whether high-level administration officials lied to the grand jury about it.
The lie that Saddam had some unspecified connection to the Sept. 11 attacks, promoted indirectly in the president's own speeches and more directly by the vice president, was for a time so potent that a huge majority of Americans believed it.
More recently exposed falsehoods include President Bush's public claim on May 29, 2003. "We have found the weapons of mass destruction," he declared, after two small trailers purported to be mobile biological weapons labs turned up. In truth, according to The Washington Post, a secret Pentagon fact-finding mission to Iraq had already concluded that the trailers weren't weapons labs at all, and had reported this to Washington.
With the commander in chief apparently incapable of telling the truth about Iraq, who can be stunned at duplicity in the ranks? This, too, started early on.
The early, iconic image of Saddam's statue being toppled in a Baghdad square was not a spontaneous act by joyous Iraqis. It was an Army psychological warfare operation that began when a Marine colonel chose the statue for its symbolism and the psychological team encouraged Iraqis to participate. In the end, a Marine vehicle dragged down the statue with a chain, but the evocative image was indelible -- because the military team filled the vehicle with cheering Iraqi children.

And on the topic of lies and propaganda, Cindy had a highlight from Common Dreams as well, Christopher Brauchli's "US Propaganda in Iraq: Manure Manufactured by Bush & Co.:"

According to a story by Al Kamen in the Washington Post in early May, the Department of Agriculture (for whom fertilizer creation and spreading is second nature) has begun issuing talking points to its employees that are designed to create a favorable impression among listeners as to how the war in Iraq is going. According to Mr. Kamen an e-mail containing the talking points was sent to about 60 undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and other political appointees giving them suggested language they could insert in speeches to remind people how well things in Iraq are going.
The talking points can be viewed at but for those of you who can't be bothered to go there to look them up here is an example of how they might be used. This is of course just my idea and people in the USDA will certainly come up with their own examples.
If an undersecretary were invited to go to Ault, Colorado, in order to address a group of 10 year-olds at a Future Farmers of America meeting, instead of starting right out by discussing the role of the family farm in America and why the administration wants to repeal the federal estate tax to protect the family farm so the 10-year olds will have a place to work when they grow up, the speaker would begin by saying: "Several topics I'd like to talk about today-Farm Bill, [your role as future leaders of your community], trade with Japan, WTO, avian flu, animal ID-but before I do, let me touch on a subject people always ask me about. . . progress in Iraq." The speaker then spends a few minutes reading from the script describing all the wonderful things the USDA is doing in Iraq even if it isn't. The speaker describes a November visit by Secretary Johanns with Iraq's Minister of Agriculture and how impressed he was with the minister's optimism. (Since that visit more than 325 U.S. service people have been killed and since the end of December more than 4,168 Iraqis have been killed.) The speaker then goes on saying: "The Iraqis have also discussed specific products, like tomatoes, which they are anxious to export into the world community." That is the sort of uplifting sentiment that will have the Future Farmers sitting on the edges of their chairs.
The Department of Agriculture speaker is not, of course, limited to talking about agricultural fertilizer. Another talking point discusses civil rights and is an especially moving piece. It starts out explaining that our democracy has evolved for two hundred thirty years and we're still working to become a more perfect union. The speaker then goes on to say that "before I begin talking about the civil rights climate at USDA, (a topic that most listeners had probably never thought would be addressed in a speech given by someone from the USDA) I'd like to address the situation in another nation that is just now forging the path to democracy." And with that, the speaker is off and running telling the 10-year olds about how well things are going in Iraq.

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