Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iraq snapshot

August 29, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq -- and Alberto Gonzales only just got there, the AFP is reporting a peace deal with one militia group, Camp Democracy gears up for the September 5th opening, and, in Australia, Soldier 14 is asked if he shot Jake Kovco.

Starting in Iraq, the AFP reports that the Madhi Army forces have agreed to some sort of peace deal (that's one out of countless groups) and that "a few hours after a peace deal was reached" 74 were dead from a pipeline explosion. The explosion was not caused by Alberto Gonzales (at least not as far as anyone knows), however he is in Iraq and, CNN reports, he intends to impart the importance of "rule of law" to Iraqis who, hopefully, will turn around and teach him a few things about "rule of law" since his actions as US Attorney General and, earlier, as Bully Boy's "hard-on with a suitcase," would indicate the concept confuses him greatly.

Gangsta' Gonzales should feel right at home in Iraq amidst the chaos and violence.


Reuters notes that five people were wounded by mortar rounds in Baghdad and that, in Kirkuk, a roadside bomb claimed the life of a police officer and wounded nine people.


Reuters reports that, in Baquba, "[f]ifteen people were gunned down"; a bakery worker was shot to death in Baiji with another one wounded; a civilian was shot in Mosul; and an attack (by "gunmen") an office of Moqtada al-Sadr left two bodyguards dead and five wounded. AP notes that the office was attacked with more than guns ("three mortar shells, two rocket-propelled grenades and a bomb") and that the building was demolished.


Reuters reports 20 corpses ("gunshot wounds") were discovered in Baghdad, a corpse ("gunshot wounds" as well) was discovered in Balad, and four corpses were discovered ("handcuffed and blindfolded") near Baquba. CBS and AP note the 20 corpses in Baghdad rose to 24.

In the United States, Cindy Sheehan remains at Camp Casey III in Crawford, Texas. On Wednesday, August 30th, she plans to join Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson for a demonstration against the Bully Boy in Salt Lake City. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30th, not Thursday 31st, as noted here before. More information at Utah Voices. The prospects so overjoy the Repubes that they've launched an ad, as John Daley (KSL) points out, that includes: "Now Rocky Anderson has invited her to Utah." Don't make the Repubes do all the work getting the word out.

Sheehan's attendance may depend upon her health (she recently had surgery). Responding to the charge of 'irrelevancy' (by the Waco Tribune), Sheehan (Truthout) notes: "Peace will never be irrelevant as long as war is used as a diplomatic tool" and discusses her plans for The Camp Casey Peace Institute as "a force for real peace."

Sheehan will be moving Camp Casey to DC for Camp Democracy. Kevin Zeese (American Chronicle) interviewed David Swanson about the upcoming Camp Democracy which Swanson states "will bring together movements for peace, Katrina recovery, immigrants rights, labor rights, electoral reform, women's rights, environmental sanity, accountability and impeachment. We'll open the camp in Washington D.C., on September 5th and run at least until September 21, the International Day of Peace, when a movement called Declaration of Peace has planned massive civil disobedience."

Turning to the topic of Ehren Watada, Charles Burress (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that Sarah Olson will not assist the military investigation of Watada: "I declined because I don't think that it's right for the Army to be asking me to help them prosecute Lt. Watada" Olson has reported on Watada at Truthout and on Free Speech Radio News (among other outlets). Ehren Watada was the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. More information can be found at Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues. Today Soldier 14 took the stand. On Monday, Michelle Franco (forensic expert with the NSW Department of Health's Analytical Laboratories) refuted Soldier 14's previous claims that his DNA ended up on the slide of Jake Kovco's gun as a result of their shared use of a radio, megaphone, etc., from when they were both on duty the day of Kovco's death. Noting the concentration of Soldier 14's DNA on the pistol's slide and the fact that, were DNA transferred by such means, "after 30 minutes it would be virturally all gone." When asked point blank if she was saying that the Soldier 14 would have had to handle Jake Kovco's pistol to have left the DNA that was found on the slide, Franco testified, "It is consistent with that."

Soldier 14 had previous testified August 25th, August 21st and as he did on August 18th that he did not touch Jake Kovco's gun. Soldier 14 has been in Australia and complained that he wanted to return to Baghdad (also testified that 'many people' told him Shelley Kovco, widow of Jake Kovco and mother of their two children, was out to get him). Michael Edwards reported on PM that in testimony on Tuesday, Soldier 14 stated: "We've had discussions on a numerous occassions trying to work out what happened." He's speaking of Soldiers 17 and 19 who were Jake Kovco's roommates.

Attorneys for Judy and Martin Kovco (Jake Kovco's parents) and Shelley Kovco may want the Soldiers 17 and 19 to testify (by video-link or in person). Soldier 17 testified to hearsay on August 2nd, floating the rumor that Jake Kovco was a 'cowboy' with guns." At that time, he based that 'testimony' on what "others" had told him but he wouldn't name the others (and shot off a whiny "I don't have to if I don't want to" type of remark). Frank Holles (Judy and Martin Kovco's attorney) responded then: "I put it to you when it suits you, you will not provide information." No he won't. As Conor Duffy reported that day to Eleanor Hall of Soldier 17's claims, "He said he never saw this . . . He said that he didn't see it . . ." "It" was Soldier's 17's vivid testimony of how Kovco would allegedly play with his gun: "Like quick draw and you spin it around all that sort of s[**t]." His testimony to something he did not see, something he was told of by "others" whom he wouldn't name. Now Soldier 14 has admitted that he and Soldiers 17 and 19 discussed the case prior to their testimony. Soldier 17 should be forced to name the "others" and to testify as to his version of what the three of them discussed.

The "cowboy" claim made all the papers that day (in Australia) based on Soldier 17's vivid testimony . . . based on, admittedly, hearsay. And today Soldier 14 admits that they (he, Soldiers 17 and 19) attempted to 'sort it out'.

On July 24th, Detective Sergeant Phillip Elliott took the stand and noted that the clothes were destroyed, the roomates had showered, Jake Kovco's body had been washed all before he could begin his investigation. Elliott also noted that Soldiers 17 and 19 (Jake Kovco's roommates, in the room when he died) differed on where Soldier 17 was located in the room, on where Jake Kovco "lay after he fell" and that Jake Kovco's body had been turned over after he fell.

Belinda Tasker (The Courier-Mail) reports that Soldier 14 continues to insist that he never touched Jake Kovco's pistol. Dan Box (The Australian) reports that Soldier 14 told the inquiry "he wished his friend [Jake Kovco] was still alive to explain how his [Soldier 14's] DNA came to be on the gun." What a buddy, what a pal, what a mate. He wishes the late Jake Kovco were alive, why? To explain how his [Soldier 14} DNA was found on Jake Kovco's gun. What a selfish (and stupid) remark. Presuming Soldier 14's telling the truth about not touching Jake Kovco's gun, what makes him think Jake Kovco could explain it when (the living) Soldier 14 can't?

As previously noted, Jake Kovco and his two roommates were listening to music before Jake Kovco died (Cranberries) and Soldier 14 has tetified before about being bothered by the volume. AAP reports that Frank Holles asked him if he "had stormed into Pte Kovco's room because he was angry about the loud music he and his two roommates were playing." Michael Edwards reported it to Eleanor Hall (The World Today) like this: "Basically what the lawyer for the Kovco family, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Holles, said was that Private Kovco had been playing loud music in his room, which is adjoining that of Soldier 14 in the barracks in Baghdad, and that Soldier 14 went into Private Kovco's room, took hold of his . . . of Private Kovco's 9mm pistol and then shot him in the head."

Soldier 14 denied that he shot Jake Kovco; however, as Eleanor Hall pointed out, "But Soldier 14 has not denied being in the room, or the possibility that he may have been in the room when Private Kovco was shot?" To which Michael Edwards replied, "What he did today, he didn't deny being in the room. He said . . . it was put to him that hypothetically it wouldn't have taken him long to reach the room. And he agreed that hypothetically, yes, he said his room was adjoining Private Kovco's." It's interesting that it would hypothetically take two seconds for Soldier 14 to get to the room. Soldier Two (the platoon sergeant) testified on July 25th that he heard the shot and went to Kovco's room where he found Soldiers 17 and 19 beside Jake Kovco's body. Where was Soldier 14? Two seconds to get to the room, the platoon sergeant has made it to the room, where was Solider 14?

In other news of the Kovco trial, the AAP reports: "Meanwhile, the chief of staff at joint task force headquarters in Iraq, codenamed Soldier 39, has rejected as 'utter bulls**t" claims by military police that he ignored advice to keep Pte Kovco's body in Baghdad until investigators arrived to examine it." On the subject of the body, Jake Kovco was supposed to arrive in Australia's April 26th. He did not. Juso Sinanovic, a Bosnian carpenter, arrived instead. The company handling the transportation of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinanovic's bodies was Kenyon International. As Brooke Shelby Biggs (CorpWatch) has noted: "Kenyon International Emergency Services is a wholly owned subsidary of Service Corporation International (SCI), a funer services firm based in Texas. SCI is helmed by Robert Waltrip, a close family friend of the Bush clan and a major donor to George W. Bush's gubenatorial and presidential campaigns. SCI has been embroiled in a number of high-profile scandals in recent years, including one in which a subsidiary was discovered to be recycling crypts and dumping bodies in a wooded area behind a Jewish cemetery in Florida."

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[Note: Thanks to Elaine for pointing out that Soldier 17 wasn't identified in one sentence when he should have been.]