Thursday, July 06, 2006

Democracy Now: Seymour Hersh, Subcomandante Marcos, Kathy Kelly, Mike Ferner

Iraq Calls For Independent Inquiry Into Rape, Killings
The Iraqi government is calling for an independent inquiry into the rape of an Iraqi woman and the killing of her and three members of her family. The woman, Abeer Qasim Hamza, is believed to have been as young as fifteen years old. Former US soldier Steven Green was arrested for the crime on Monday. At least four active US troops are also under investigation. Military officials have said little on the case but some details of the allegations were revealed in an FBI affidavit obtained by the Washington Post. According to the document, the soldiers planned the attack after noticing Abeer Qasim Hamza at a US checkpoint in the town of Mahmudiyah. On March 12th, the soldiers disguised themselves in dark clothing and broke into her family’s home. Green then herded Hamza’s parents and young sister into a room and shot them with an AK-47 rifle. Green and another soldier then raped the woman, shot her, and set her body on fire in an apparent effort to cover up the crime. Neighbors told investigators Abeer Qasim Hamza had expressed concerns to her mother because the soldiers had made advances towards her. The military believed insurgents carried out the attack on her family until at least two soldiers discussed it during counseling sessions following the abduction and slaying of two members of their platoon. Speaking in Kuwait Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said the case is raising questions over the immunity granted to occupying troops.
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki: "We believe that the immunity given to international forces is what emboldened them to commit such crimes in cold blood. This requires that such immunity should be reconsidered. We affirm that we should participate in investigating crimes committed against the Iraqi people."
10 Killed in Kufa Bombing
In other news from Iraq, ten people were killed and forty wounded in a suicide car bombing today in the holy city of Kufa. Most of the victims were Shiite pilgrims from Iran. On Wednesday, six people were killed and seventeen injured in a bombing near a mosque in Baghdad.
Decorated Marine To Return Medal in Act of Protest
Meanwhile, a decorated Marine has announced he will return one of his six medals in protest of the Iraq war. The marine, Sgt. Matthew Bee of Akron, Ohio, says he believes President Bush has used the War on Terrorism service medal for political purposes. Bee and other Marines will travel to Washington where they will try to return their medals to Bush or to members of Congress.
Italy Intel Officials Arrested Over CIA Abduction
In Italy, two high-ranking intelligence officers have been arrested on charges they helped CIA agents abduct a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan three years ago. Mauro Mancini, the deputy head of Italy’s military intelligence service, has been jailed. His predecessor, Gustavo Pignero, is under house arrest. The arrests marked the first time Italian officials have been linked to the abduction of Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Nasr was seized as he walked from his home to a local mosque. He was taken to joint U.S.-Italian base and eventually flown to Egypt. There, Nasr says he was beaten and given electrical shocks on his genitals. He was never charged with a crime and has never appeared in a court of law. Meanwhile, prosecutors say they’ve obtained new warrants for three CIA agents and one employee of the local US air base. The new warrants bring to twenty-six the number of Americans charged in the case since last year.
House Subpoenas Rumsfeld For Abu Ghraib Docs
In news from Capitol Hill, the House Government Reform Committee has subpoenaed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to turn over documents related to the probe into abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. The subpoena was issued following Rumsfeld’s failure to respond to an earlier request. The committee is investigating how the Pentagon handled claims of abuse at the prison. Specialist Samuel Provance, who ran a computer intelligence network at the prison, has alleged Pentagon officials ignored his attempts to provide information on the abuse and retaliated against him for speaking to the media.
The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Micah, Carl, Liang, Tori and KaraDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 6, 2006

- Iraq Calls For Independent Inquiry Into Rape, Killings
- 10 Killed in Kufa Bombing
- Decorated Marine To Return Medal in Act of Protest
- Calderon Holds Slim Lead in Disputed Mexico Recount
- Peru’s Farmers Protest US Trade Deal
- Italy Intel Officials Arrested Over CIA Abduction
- House Supboenas Rumsfeld For Abu Ghraib Docs
- Report: African-Americans Families Earning Less Than 2000
- Enron Founder Ken Lay Dies
Subcomandante Marcos Says Zapatistas Received Reports of Electoral Fraud in Mexico Presidential Election

Mexico's presidential election is still too close to call as electoral authorities work round the clock to verify vote tallies from Sunday's poll. Populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador refused to accept preliminary results issued earlier this week alleging voter fraud. In a national broadcast exclusive, we air an excerpt of a radio broadcast with Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos who says he also received reports of electoral fraud. [includes rush transcript]
Seymour Hersh: Senior Pentagon Officials Challenging President Bush's Iran War Plans

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the Defense Department has been drawing up plans, at President Bush's direction, for a major bombing campaign inside Iran. Hersh says that generals and admirals have told the Bush Administration the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran's nuclear program and that war planners are not even sure what to target.
Did Bush Administration Policy on North Korea Help Provoke Ballistic Missile Tests?

North Korea launched its first ballistic missile tests in eight years on Wednesday firing seven missiles over the Sea of Japan. Leon Sigal, author of "Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea" says that the Bush administration's policy on North Korea "provoked Kim Jong-il to accelerate nuclear arming and missile development."
Vietnam-Era Veteran Arrested at VA Medical Center for Wearing Peace T-Shirt

Mike Ferner, a Vietnam-era veteran, says he was arrested at the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center in Chicago for wearing a Veterans for Peace T-Shirt. We also speak with longtime peace activist Kathy Kelly about the crackdown on dissent.
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
Today in Iraq, CBS and AP report that a car bomb "near Ana town" wounded two.  While the AFP notes car bombs in Baghdad that resulted in at least three dead and at least eight wounded.  And the bombing of buses in Kufa has killed at least twelve and wounded over forty.  Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports that: "The bomber drove his car between the two Iranian coaches as they arrived at the Maithem al-Tamar shrine".
KUNA reports that six corpses were discovered in Kirkuk,  Reuters notes "a beheaded" corpse was discovered in al-Zab, AFP reports "the discovery of 35 corpses of the last 24 hours, despite a three-week old security crackdown in the capital".  The "crackdown" we're not supposed to notice the failure of.
Among the many of victims of violence has been Alaa Hassan.  Hassan, 35-years-old, was an unembedded journalist who died in Iraq Wednesday June 28th: " When Alaa crossed the bridge Jun. 28, gunmen sprayed his car with machine-gun fire, killing him with six bullets.Aaron Glantz remembers his sometimes co-writer in "A Story IPS Never Wanted to Tell" (IPS). Hassan and Glantz co-authored: "Basra Begins to Fall Apart" (IPS) and "U.S. Military Hides Many More Hadithas" (IPS). (That's not a complete list.)
Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the illegal occupation and the current prime minister, turns chatty.  KUNA reports that he says Iraq is "determined to hound the 41 outlaws" (including Saddam Hussein's daughter) and again bragged about how tight he was these days with the so-called insurgents.  He then began recounting his whirlwhind trip in recent days (when he might have better served Iraq by addressing the issue of the alleged rape and murders in as they were happening as opposed to waiting over five days later to even make a public comment) but somehow left out the assurances he gave everyone about how 'stable' Iraq is now and how they should start investing.  Though one might expect such statements to be greeted with loud laughter, greed knows no reality.  IRIN reports: "Kurds approve foreigner-friendly investment law" and Reuters reports "[a] top United Nations envoy" was in Baghdad today to extoll the IMF and World Bank, and to promise international aid and support provided "Babhdad will commit itself to a series of yet unedfined political, economic and security steps." 
Bloomberg notes this on al-Maliki and others' attempts at a peace 'scam': attempts at Happy Talk: "Harith al-Dari, who heads the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told AFP on June 30 that the amnesty offer was meaningless because it excluded those who had targeted foreign soldiers. He also said most insurgent groups had rejected the plan because it offers no timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, AFP reported.
As noted during WBAI's Pacifica news break at noon anchored by Mitch Jeserich*, Ehren Watada was charged by the Army yesterday for his refusal to serve in the illegal war.  Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes that "Watada said he was morally obligated to obey the Constitution, not what he claimed were unlawful orders to join in an illegal war."  Courage to Resist notes: "Supporters in Washington State’s Puget Sound area will gather . . . July 6, at 5pm over Interstate 5 on the Exit 119 overpass (adjacent to the entrance to Ft. Lewis)."
In other news, Mitch Jeserich also noted: "Anti-war activists are at the White House" protesting with CODEPINK and, as Medea Benjamin stated, hope to encourage the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do as was done during Vietnam, give harbor to the war resistors.*  The fasting is to put pressure on the administration and Congress to withdraw US troops from Iraq; to say no to permanent bases; to create "a massive reconstruction effort but with funds going to Iraqi, not U.S. contractors."   For more information, click here.
And in trash news, does editing the Independent for a publicity stunt mean London's Independent goes easy on you?  Apparently so as Andrew Buscombe works over time to defend the piggish 'rock star' Bono. 
Fat and happy, if not exactly peaceful, Bono has long decided to play his own version of corporate raider (picking off the bones of others) but Buscombe appears unaware of that as he rushes to provide cover for Bono's part in releasing a videogame that brings the "joy" of declaring war on Venezuela to your own home.  Unlike an earlier game Bono was involved with ("unwittingly" Buscombe would no doubt rush in to say), Mercenaries 2 World In Flames does not appear to have been financed with either US Defense Department money or CIA money.  While Buscombe provides Bono with so much cover he's practically spooning him, Wednesday's KPFA Evening News provided a more in depth look at the "rock star" and his business.  Though quite happy to put out videogames where one gets to attack Iraq or, now, Venezuela, Bono infamously told Jann Wenner, for the November 3, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, that he didn't feel he could "campaign" against the illegal war in Iraq.  Though he may suffer from "War Got Your Tongue?" that doesn't prevent him from profitting.
*Note: Thanks to Ruth for passing on both Mitch Jeserich items.
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