Monday, August 07, 2006

NYT: Continuing render Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible

Earlier in the day, an Iraqi Army medic described a gruesome tableau of violence he encountered when he walked into the house where, according to investigators, the rape and killings took place.
The medic, who testified anonymously for security reasons, said he found the naked and burned body of the girl with a bullet hole in her face and saw the bullet-ridden bodies of her sister and parents -- a scene that left him "sick for almost two weeks," he said.

The above is from Kirk Semple's "Iraq Hearing on Rape and Murder Opens" in the New York Times and continues the actions of the paper to bury Abeer Qasim Hamza. That's the name of the fourteen-year-old girl who was murdered and allegedly raped. (As noted before, she's dead. That's not in dispute. She was murdered. Allegedly by US troops.) Think of the Times coverage on any trial, domestic or international, and have their ever worked so hard to refuse to identify a dead person? Story after story on this incident, they avoid her name like the plague. They render her invisible day after day after day.

Her name was Abeer Qasim Hamza and that's only one the paper regularly refuses to report on her case. Now maybe Semple's out of the loop and isn't aware that his lede is pretty much useless. Most wire reports yesterday either didn't mention it or mentioned it late in the story.
What are we talking about? Steven D. Green reportedly saying "all Iraqis are bad people." Semple leads with that. Most reporters don't.

Why is that? It's old news. From July 30th (not yesterday, two Sundays ago, two):

Hearts and minds? Remember Steven D. Green? Andrew Tilghman is reporting that Green told him the following (AFP):
"I came over here because I wanted to kill people," he quoted Green as saying. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be."I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience," Green was quoted as saying. "And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.'"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," Green was quoted as saying. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant."I mean, you kill somebody and it's like, 'All right, let's go get some pizza.'"
Green is charged with raping and murdering 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza and with the killing of three other members of her family. (Tilghman's report can be read at the Washington Post.) Along with Green, Paul E. Cortez, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman and Bryan L. Howard are charged with rape and murder for the incident and Anthony W. Yribe has been charged with derelicition of duty and providing a false statement in the incident.

By the way Steven D. Green? Not part of the current military inquiry. He's in the US. So it's really not a lede no matter how hard Semple tries to push it. It's not a lede in a report on a military inquiry that Green's not even standing before. Abeer Qasim Hamza is dead and the Times doesn't want to tell you her name and they don't even want to report what was said yesterday by the medic. The excerpt above, that's all they offer on the medic's testimony.

From the AFP (and noted here yesterday):

An Iraqi army doctor has told of his horror at coming upon a dead teenager "naked with her legs spread" after the alleged murder of her family by a group of US soldiers.
[. . .]
Her five-year-old sister was found in an adjacent room. "She had been hit in the head, it looked like a bullet would. It looked like it entered the front of her face" and went out the back of her head, the medic said.
The girls' mother and father had also been shot dead: "The brain was on the floor and parts of the head were all over the place.""I was feeling very bad. I was sick for almost two weeks," the doctor said.

That's called details. The medic offered details. The Times takes a pass on reporting them. Just like they repeatedly take a pass on indentifing Abeer Qasim Hamza. Semple's happy to present what Green allegedly said. He apparently thinks it's a new detail -- he must think that because he fails to credit the Washington Post for reporting this two weeks ago. He thinks it's news and leads with it, makes it his lede. Even though Green's not standing before this inquiry.
Even though Green is in the US. Why does the Times think they can render Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible repeatedly? And where's the outrage over that? We're all smart enough to know that a faceless victim gets no sympathy. We're all smart enough to know that and to grasp what the Times does each day they write about this story.

A fourteen-year-old girl was murdered and apparently raped. (Read the medic's description -- not in the Times of course.) The Times isn't interested in the details and they're really not interested in reporting on this. If they were, someone would have advised Semple that his lede was over eight days old. Let's go to Martha's highlight, Joshua Partlow's "Iraqi Medic Describes Carnage: Testimony Begins in Hearing for U.S. Soldiers Accused of Rape" (Washington Post):

An Iraqi medic who responded to a home where U.S. soldiers allegedly raped and killed a teenage Iraqi girl and murdered her sister and parents described on Sunday a display of carnage so horrific he said it made him sick for two weeks.
In the opening day of testimony in a military hearing in Baghdad to determine whether there is enough evidence to hold a court-martial for five U.S. soldiers, the medic, whose name was withheld for security reasons, testified that he saw smoke when he arrived at the family's home in Mahmudiyah on the afternoon of March 12. Inside, on the floor of the living room by the window, a teenage girl lay dead on her back, her legs spread, her clothes torn off, her body burned from her waist to her head, a single bullet hole under her left eye, he said.

Her mother also lay dead on the floor with bullet wounds in her chest and abdomen, he said.
In another room, the medic found what remained of the girl's father in a pool of blood. "The brain was on the floor and parts of the head were all over the place," the medic said. Next to him was his other daughter, who was about 6years old. It appeared to him as if a bullet had "entered the front of her face and out the back of her head," he said.
With the help of Iraqi soldiers, the medic said, he put the remains of the family in bags and stored them in an air-conditioned ambulance because there was no room at the Mahmudiyah hospital.
The case is one of the most brutal in a series of recent incidents in which U.S. soldiers allegedly killed Iraqis. The sexual nature of the crime has outraged Iraqis, and the killings caused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to call for a review of rules that prevent U.S. troops from being tried in Iraqi courts.

That's the opening of the article and while Partlow doesn't name Abeer Qasim Hamza either, readers of the Post get the reality of what the medic testified to, readers of the Times get a highly sanitized version. Where is the outrage over the way the Times repeatedly covers this case? Where are our brave press watchdogs and why aren't they barking?

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