Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Democracy Now: Sara Rich, Stephen Grey

Video Claims Soldier Killings Revenge For Rape, Killings
Meanwhile, an al-Quaida-linked group has released a video claiming last month's abduction and murder of two US soldiers was in revenge for the rape and killings. The video shows the mutilated bodies of two soldiers, believed to be Private Kristian Menchaca and Private Thomas Tucker. The two were from the same unit as the five accused soldiers.
Human Rights Minister: Iraq Seeks Revocation of US Immunity
Meanwhile, in another major development, Iraq's human rights minister said Monday he will ask the United Nations to stop granting U.S. troops immunity from local prosecution. We'll have more on the Iraq rape and murder case later in the broadcast.
White House Releases Controversial Cuba Plan
The Bush administration has unveiled a controversial new plan for intervening in Cuba's political affairs. The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba has produced a report calling on the US to spend millions of dollars supporting opponents of Fidel Castro.
  • Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: ''The commission's recommendations include concrete support for democratic change in Cuba. Under a new two-year, $80 million program, we are stepping up our efforts along multiple fronts. We are increasing our determination to break the regime's information blockade, and we are offering support for the efforts of Cubans to prepare for the day when they will recover their sovereignty and can select a government of their choosing through free and fair multi-party elections.''
The promised funding has been billed as "democracy promotion." Critics say it will work to undermine Cuba's government the same way the US democracy funding has destabilized democratically-elected regimes in other countries such as Haiti and Venezuela. Cuba's government has likened the new program to a declaration of war.
Bush Admin Seeks Another NSA Suit Dismissal
In Detroit, the Bush administration has asked a federal court to dismiss another lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency's domestic spying. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of a group including scholars, attorneys, journalists and NGOs that regularly make phone calls or send e-mails to the Middle East. The Bush administration has also asked a federal judge to dismiss a parallel suit filed here in New York.
Widow of Al Jazeera Correspondent Sues Bush Administration
The wife of slain Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayoub is bringing a lawsuit against the Bush administration for her husband's death. On April 8 2003, Ayoub was reporting from Al Jazeera's offices when he was killed by a US missile. An attorney for his widow, Dima Tahboub, says the case is being launched in part from the disclosure in London's Daily Mirror President Bush told British Prime Minister Tony Blair of his desire to bomb Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar. The Mirror cited a secret memo leaked from the British government. A recent book from investigative journalist Run Suskind bolstered the accusations based on his interviews with unnamed US intelligence officials.

Ex-Intel Director Links Pinochet To Cocaine Trade
In Chile, a jailed ex-intelligence director has linked former dictator Augusto Pinochet to the country's cocaine trade. The Chilean newspaper La Nacion says Manuel Contreras -- the ex-director of the Intelligence Service -- told a judge Pinochet manufactured and trafficked cocaine during his seventeen year rule. Contreras also implicated several members of Pinochet´s family. Pinochet's family denies the allegations. Pinochet has been indicted for several human rights abuses committed under his regime. He has been able to avoid most of them by convincing judges he is in poor health. He is also facing money laundering charges.

The above six items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Kara, Brandon, Charlie, Sabina, Marcus and Liang. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for July 11, 2006

- Report: Pentagon Grants Detainees Minimal Geneva Protections
- US Identifies 4 Soldiers Charged in Iraq Rape Killings
- Video Claims Soldier Killings Revenge For Rape, Killings
- Human Rights Minister: Iraq Seeks Revocation of US Immunity
- Lopez Obrador Releases Video of Apparent Ballot Stuffing
- Chechen Rebel Leader Dies in Accidental Bombing
- Israel Destroys Northern Gaza Bridge, Rejects Prisoner Swap
- Ex-Intel Director Links Pinochet To Cocaine Trade
- White House Releases Controversial Cuba Plan
- Widow of Al Jazeera Correspondent Sues Bush Administration

Italian Probe of CIA Abduction Broadens to Domestic Spying Scandal and "Black Propaganda" Misinformation Campaign by Italy Intel

Two Italian intelligence officers have been arrested on charges they helped CIA agents abduct a Muslim cleric off the streets off Milan three years ago. Italian investigators are now widening their probe into whether Italian intelligence agents were engaged in illegal domestic spying and a "black propaganda campaign of misinformation.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, can you talk, Stephen Grey, about the part of the story that has come out with investigators coming into this apartment, or this office, that turns out to be a major site of Italian intelligence and how they've discovered this whole illegal surveillance operation?
STEPHEN GREY: That's right. They were listening to these senior Italian intelligence officials talking to each other. They then realized they were talking to an official who seemed to be helping them with their inquiries. And what they were doing was they were actually monitoring the investigations by the prosecutor in Milan against them. And they were getting some information. It appeared to be coming from journalists, who the Italian intelligence were actually recruiting, it's alleged, and sending to the prosecutor, to sort of do a rather bogus interview and find out what he was up to and how he was getting on with his inquiries.
And that operation centered in a flat, an 11-room flat, an attic, actually, apartment in the center of Rome. And last week, last Wednesday, they actually raided this place to find out what was there. And not only did they find evidence of this operation to monitor the Milan inquiry, but also boxes and boxes of files, which, according to investigators, contained information about magistrates, prosecutors, politicians and other journalists. It seems like a whole surveillance network they've uncovered in this way. It all remains to be proved, but that's what they're looking at at the moment.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, they have journalists' names there. Journalists who they investigated? Journalists who apparently were on the payroll? These were conservative journalists from the newspaper, Libero?
STEPHEN GREY: They allege that there's a rightwing newspaper, where they actually recruited journalists from. And they were used to plant -- they planted articles in their newspaper. And they were used to go and find out information. They also were monitoring the activities of other journalists who were perhaps more not so sympathetic, and they were actually putting wiretaps on them and tailing them. That's what they allege, and that's what they're investigating now. It seems like quite a -- the Italian newspapers refer to this as a center of black propaganda, of misinformation. It’s caused quite a scandal in Italy, well beyond the actual investigation into rendition.
AMY GOODMAN: And the investigators have also found what they said were drafts of articles, including one suggesting a smear campaign against Prime Minister Romano Prodi, which was published in Libero?
STEPHEN GREY: That's right. And it accused Romano Prodi of complicity in the CIA rendition program. This article was written after Prodi became prime minister. If that is true, that would amount to a gross disloyalty against the prime minister, because these people were supposedly working for this new prime minister.

Iraqi Journalist Details Family Accounts of Iraq Rape, Killings

The U.S. military has identified the four soldiers charged with raping an Iraqi teenager and murdering her and three family members. We go to Baghdad to speak with an Iraqi journalist with the Los Angeles Times who interviewed the cousin of the family, Abu Firas Janabi - he says he was the first person to enter the house after the attack.

Mother of Sexually Harassed Soldier Recounts Ordeal as Daughter Remains Confined to Base

We speak with Sara Rich, the mother of Army Specialist Suzanne Swift. Swift has been arrested and confined to base for going AWOL after her charges of sexual harassment and assault went un-addressed by the military. She turns 22 years old on Saturday. [includes rush transcript]
SARA RICH:We did a vigil for her that Monday, because she was taken Sunday night. We did a vigil, and she was watching us. I didn't know she could see us. There was like 70 people outside, and we were all saying how much we love Suzanne. "Suzanne, we support you." She’s like, "I was banging on the window." I couldn’t see her. So -- sorry, I don't know why I'm crying so hard. So, she said that was the first night she had cried really hard for a long time. She said she cried all night in her cell. And she was all by herself. So she --
AMY GOODMAN: She's 21?
SARA RICH: Yeah, she's 21 right now. It's the point where, you know, the frontal lobes connect. This is a real delicate time for people, and by the way she's having to grow up. So they transported her to Fort Lewis, and they returned her to her unit under the supervision of the first -- the sergeant, platoon sergeant, that, you know, said, "Do you want to have sex with me?" in the jeep. And she called me. She said, "Guess who’s supervising me." And I said, "Who?" She said Sergeant -- this sergeant. And I said, "Oh, hell no!"
And I called the attorney. I called the senator's office. I said, "She cannot be under this man's care, because this is one of the perpetrators." So they had to fight to get her out of that unit, but they did and got a no-contact order for this sergeant. And first, they were making a buddy system, where she couldn’t be alone. And then it was confined to barracks, then confined to base. And then, I went up a couple weeks ago and got to see her. And I’ve seen her twice since then. And then, now we're just waiting for charges to be filed against her -- nothing has been filed so far -- and pressing charges against the three sergeants.
AMY GOODMAN: Sara, can you talk about when she was first brought for psychological tests? This is when she's still confined to base.
SARA RICH: Oh, sure. Monday, June 26, I get a call from her at 8:00 in the morning, and she's crying. And I said, “What's going on, babe? What’s going on?” She said, “Mom, they have me at the hospital, and they're trying to give me a psych eval.” And I said, “Wait a minute. They can't do that unless your attorney or I are there. Somebody needs to be there with you.” Because, you know, I didn't want her to be re-traumatized or have her go through this whole psych eval, which she’s already had to go through, you know? Sexual assault victims aren't supposed to be interviewed and dealt with in this way for mental health reasons. I said, "They can't do that if your attorney is not there and I’m not there." And she said, "Well, they're making me do it, and they're telling me I have to be here." So I said, "Well, don't say anything and don't sign anything.” I said, “I’m calling your attorney."
I couldn't get a hold of the attorney, so I called Senator Wyden, Senator Murray and Congressman DeFazio's office and told all three of them that it was an emergency and they needed to intervene on Suzanne's behalf. And they eventually did, and Suzanne was taken back to her barracks.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue . . . to continue.

And are we surprised? The usual Hawsk strut and pander while the violence claims more lives.


As Sandra Lupien noted on today's KPFA's The Morning Show, 2 bombers blew themselves up "outside the so-called Geen Zone." Along with being home to various embedded reporters and their bodygaurds, the Green Zone also houses Iraq's parliament, Defense Ministry, High Criminal Court and the US embassy -- a huge complex, as the AP noted in April, with "21 buildings on 103 acres" which makes it "six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington's National Mall."

The 'grandness' of it all suggests to some that the United States has no intent of handing over power or leaving. On the latter, Robert MacPherson (Mail & Guardian) reports that today, in England, Tony Blair announced England wasn't withdrawing anytime soon and that his wife, Cherie Booth, explained that he wasn't ready to step down. England's prime minister demonstrated what long ago led to him being dubbed the Bully Boy's poodle as he took slams at two nations in a single sentence: "Not for us the malaise of France or the angst of Germany."

In other nonsense, Gulf Times reports the William McCoy (US Army Corps of Engineers, "Major General") believes that, by the end of summer, electricity in Baghdad might be available for eleven hours. That's apparently "eleven hours" on some sort of Operation Happy Talk Clock since McCoy notes that right now electricity is available for six to eight hours -- a claim most media reports dismiss and note the figure is closer to between two and four hours a day.

More nonsense comes from Angel Ortiz (the Army Corps seems to have hacks and flacks all over today issuing press releases) who maintains that by the end of the year Falluja will have "clean water" in 80 percent of all homes as well as "an $8 million wireless telecommunications project". Falluja was reduced to rubble in November 2004 (the article notes the need to more "laborers to haul away seemingly endless piles of rubble) and there's been little done to assist or help with many residents of Falluja who fled as the US forces began their attacks nearly two years ago, still homeless. Expect both inflated predictions to be forgotten as the deadlines draw near.

Meanwhile back in the real word, Sunni parliamentarian Ayad al-Samaraie has asked that the United Nations supply peace keepers immediately due to the fact that: "the occupation forces cannot protect the people." This as the Associated Press estimates the chaos and the violence in Iraq today claimed the lives of "at least 47 people nationwide." (Look for the New York Times to pooh-pah that number as they've done with press reports for the last two days -- today with Edward Wong, yesterday with Kirk Semple. If you thought it was hard work selling an illegal war, step back and watch the paper of no record really get down to the business of selling the illegal occupation.)

Early on, the BBC estimated that the bombings in the Green Zone resulted in five deaths and ten injured. Reuters woud place the fatalities at 15 as the day wore on. Al Jazeera notes that in addition to the two bombers who blew themselves up, there was also a car bomb. The BBC notes that police assume the target was "a restaurant frequented by police" while the AP reports that Gufran al-Saadi (female Shi'ite parliamentarian) states that she believes she was the target. The car bomb went of near the restaurant, according to Al Jazeera, while "[a]n Aljazeera witness" place one of the bombers "in front of the governmental compound in the Green Zone".

The BBC reports the kidnapping of Wissam Jabr in Baghdad "an Iraqi foreign ministry official who had been serving as a diplomat in neighbouring Iran." Reuters reports his name as Wissam Abdulla al-Awadi.

Also in Baghdad, Reuters notes that "eight employees of an Iarqge contracting company" were killed when their office was stormed by "gunmen" while the Associated Press notes two bakery workers were shot dead while on the job. CBS and the AP report two more bombs in Baghdad (one under a fuel tanker, the other a car bomb) that resulted in the death of at least four and and twenty-four wounded).

Outside of Baghdad, CBS and the AP report that "an engineer with Iraq's North Oil Co. and his driver" were ambushed and killed in Kirkuk. Reuters reports the shooting deaths of 19 in Baquba and of nine (Iraq soldiers) in Al-Shirqat. And the AP reports that, in Tikrit, three people were wounded when a bomb went off near a "private clinic." Later the three wounded would become two wounded and one dead. Dr. Amira Qassim al-Rubaie died, "the wife of the governor of the dangerous Salahuddin province".

Reuters notes the end of the Sunni boycott of parliament following the kidnapping of Taiseer Najah al-Mashhadani. (No, al-Mashhadani has not been released.) The Associated Press quotes Adnan al-Dulaimi: "We have decied to attend the meetings as of tomorrow in response to the call Muqtada al-Sadr." Various reports note that those holding al-Mashhadani have stated they are treating her as "a guest" and that she will be released in the next few days. Reuters notes that the Iraqi Accordance Front (the Sunni bloc in parliament with 44 seats) has been in contact with the kidnappers.

In the United States, Amy Goodman interviewed Sara Rich, the mother of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL and was arrested in last month. Rich explained Swift's case, noting the sexual harrassment of her daughter was ongoing: "So this other sergeant started pursuing her and finally coerced her into having a sexual relationship with her. And I’ve learned now what that's called is 'command rape,' when the person that has a direct life-or-death decision over you in a combat zone coerces you into having sex, it's called 'command rape.' And he would sabotage her and do really mean things to her. He would show up in her room, in her bunk, in the middle of the night, drunk. And just horrible, you know. And she would call me, crying."

On July 15th, a rally will be held "at the gates of Ft. Lewis in Tacoma, WA." Courage to Resist is getting the word on that event. Kevin Zeese recently spoke with Max Diorio who explained "resisters need to feel that they are being upheld and supported by people in their communities. To take such a large step into the unknown, it is invaluable for resisters to feel that they'll have people to rely on when they are being persecuted by the US military."

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