Tuesday, August 08, 2006

NYT: Paper of record files one report from Iraq

Mr. Passaro, a 40-year-old resident of Lillington, N.C., is charged with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault resulting in serious injury. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison. Although the man he had been questioning, Abdul Wali, died in his cell, Mr. Passaro is not charged in his death.
In opening statements Monday, the prosecution said at least three paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division had watched Mr. Passaro, working under contract to the Central Intelligence Agency, beat Mr. Wali during two days of questioning in June 2003 about rocket attacks on a base housing American and Afghan troops. Mr. Wali died the next day.
One prosecutor, Pat Sullivan, said Mr. Wali was chained to the floor and wall of a cell as Mr. Passaro kicked him and struck him with the flashlight and his fists. Once, he said, Mr. Passaro kicked his captive in the groin, having lined up like a football place-kicker. Mr. Passaro's fingerprints were on batteries from the flashlight, said Mr. Sullivan, adding that photographs to be shown the jury would detail the extent of Mr. Wali's injuries.

The above is from an Associated Press article entitled "C.I.A. Contractor Goes to Trial in Abuse Case" that Micah noticed at the New York Times' website. What caught Micah's attention? What we've been noting for several days. Read the excerpts. You see "Mr. Wali" four times and "Abudl Wali" once.

The crime has a victim. The victim has a name. Yes, we're talking Abeer Qasim Hamza again -- mainly because the Times can't say the three words. Playing the Silent Game today is Paul von Zielbaurer who pens the one, the only article they offer on Iraq today. It's entitled "Soldier Who Testified on Killings Says He Feared for His Life" and here's von Zielbaurer twisting himself in knots to avoid saying the words "Abeer Qasim Hamza:"

An American Army private who was close to four soldiers charged with raping a 14-year-old girl and then killing her and her family in March described at a hearing on Monday how he became the whistleblower in the case and how, once he spoke to military investigators, he feared for his life.
[. . .]
Specialist James P. Barker, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard and Paul E. Cortez are accused of the attack in the family's home in Mahmudiya, a volatile town south of Baghdad where the soldiers had patrolled.
The four, members of Company B of the First Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, are also charged with arson; military prosecutors accused them of burning the girl's body with kerosene in an attempt to conceal evidence. A fifth soldier, Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crimes. Prosecutors do not believe he was at the house where the crimes are said to have taken place.
A former member of Company B, Steven D. Green, was said to have conceived the plan to rape the girl, whom his unit had encountered on previous patrols, and kill the family.

What's with all this "the family" nonsense. They never name "the family" and after awhile it may seem like von Zielbaurer's writing about the mafia. The family has a name, the victims all have names. But the Times doesn't seem very interested in their names.

Do yourself a favor and go back and read Saturday's entry on how they ignore Abeer Qasim Hamza -- read that and note the comments about Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall's lousy piece of writing. Why? Read this from von Zielbaurer:

Defense lawyers, facing an enormous legal task in representing soldiers linked by evidence and their own statements to such a gruesome crime against civilians, appeared intent on establishing combat stress as a contributing factor.

Defense lawyers? Well apparently the Times is working for the defense. From Saturday's entry on rendering Abeer invisible:

Worth and Marshall went to a lot of trouble hunting down sources who could give them the mind frame (or alleged mind frame) of the ones involved and their company. When do we get the serious story about Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family? When is that story going to be told?
The 14-year-old had noticed and been made nervous by the way those alleged to have raped her (it seems crazy to say "alleged" to have killed -- she's dead, she was a fourteen-year-old girl, she was killed, no alleged). Her family was about to send her to another home for her own safety. If Worth and Marshall want to chart the decay of the military company, might they take a moment to wonder what sort of leadership existed that adult males sent by the US to Iraq were able to leer at (and comment on?) a fourteen-year-old girl? So much so that she and others noticed it. Who didn't notice it? And why didn't they notice it?
This nonsense of the leadership was under pressure and one of them needed to leave his command to get his head together isn't cutting it. But as long as the story is driven by the "pressure" (rape as an outlet for pressure? murder as an outlet for pressure?), a lot of questions about leadership (and training and who gets admitted) aren't being answered.
With Green it's already been reported that he had run ins with the law. When he was under age (which I'm not interested in -- others can be, that's their business) but also right before the military took him. Green's one person alleged to have been involved. Worth and Marshall report that there are now doubts that he was the "ringleader" as the press has billed him.
So who got in and how? And what was the training? What was the supervision?
Someone's quoted (anonymous) saying "none of that would have happened if he was around -- John Goodwin ("commander of Company B"). None of what? The murders, the rape? What about the days where Abeer Qasim Hamza was the object of attention that grown men know better of? At one point, the press (I don't believe the Times did this) made a big deal out of the age (I think it was when they'd finally downgraded to 16) and how in 'that culture' the girl is a woman. Adult males raised in the United States damn well know they don't have sex with a 14-year-old. Long before they raped her, Abeer Qasim Hamza was aware of enough going on to know that they were making her uncomfortable. Her family was aware of that as well -- which is why they were attempting to send her to another home for her own protection.
Now Worth and Marshall can quote a whiner about how everyone in Iraq hates them and you don't know who your friends are or who they aren't. They can quote that until the paper it's printed on decays to dust. That's not the issue. This isn't just murder or just rape (bad enough), this is a sexual assault on a child.
Had it been consensual (which it wasn't), it would have landed them behind bars in the United States. They know that. They knew that growing up.
All the crap in the world about how everybody hates them and they act like they're your friend to your face but the whole time they're plotting against you, is just crap. It's nothing more than crap.
Abeer Qasim Hamza was fourteen-years-old and she was raped. By US adult males. Someone shooting the wrong person because they thought they were under attack -- tragic but it happens. Someone raping a fourteen-year-old girl? Pressure is offered throughout the article. The pressure they were under.
Is the insanity defense going to be used because they'd have to be at least temporarily insane to think rape was okay (one they plotted for some time allegedly). And the rape victim was a fourteen-year-old girl. That's disgusting and the fact that the paper of record can't name her, can't try to report on her story from her angle is disgusting.

Worth and Marshall gave us the defense line in the longest article the Times has seen fit to do in days about events in Iraq. They've argued the case for the defense. It's a laughable defense but, you know what, it's one that's probably going to work. That's because no one's reporting on Iraq.

This is just one of the many incidents going on right now. Before the media (corporate and independent) packed up their bags and went elsewhere, there was a lot of drama (apparently pretend drama) in the coverage from independent media expressing outrage over this incident.
Corporate media in the form of Worth and Marshall argued the defense's case for them and no one batted an eye. Yesterday you had someone serving with the alleged rapists and killers testify and you had a military investigator testify to what he had been told while speaking with the alleged rapists and killers.

But you probably won't read about it or hear about it. It won't get attention. The Times renders Abeer invisible and independent media doesn't care enough to pick up the story and amplify the details the corporate media won't. With no outrage and no one watching over, there's not a great deal of pressure regarding this hearing.

It's not all together unlikely that we'll get one more whitewash.

Iraq doesn't matter anymore. Whether it's a watchdog or a news show or a public affairs show, there's just not time for it. Abeer and three members of her family were killed, Abeer was allegedly raped, their bodies were set on fire. All done allegedly by US forces. But independent media won't make time for this story or any stories coming from Iraq.

Going to where the silences are? I don't think so. I think independent media is reinforcing the silence. I think it's disgusting and shameful.

I'm not offended by what Kat wrote yesterday (LANGUAGE WARNING BEFORE YOU CLICK
on "I love KPFA but I can't take any more of this 'THE ONLY STORY IS ISRAEL!'"). KPFA aired something like five hours plus on what Israel's doing yesterday. Five hours plus. They didn't make time once for a discussion on Iraq. They went to the Congo, they went to Cuba. It's not cutting it. It's not doing the job of independent media.

Three hours of special programming? Should have been devoted to this case. The US is alleged to have direct involvement, that should matter. Iraq should matter. Abeer should matter. Headlines aren't covering it and people who think that qualifies as coverage should be embarrassed.

Here's Joshua Partlow (not independent media) covering the case with "U.S. Soldier Allegedly Described Rape Scene: At Hearing in Iraq, Investigator Tells of Statement Made by Man Charged in Case" (Washington Post, noted by Martha):

Spec. James P. Barker, 23, made the graphic admission in an interview and sworn statement, Special Agent Benjamin Bierce said at a hearing in Baghdad to determine whether the soldiers should face a military trial.
On March 12, Barker and three other soldiers donned black masks and entered the girl's home in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, Bierce said. The home was a few hundred yards from where the soldiers were manning a vehicle checkpoint.
Three of them -- Barker, former private Steven D. Green and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez -- took turns sexually assaulting the girl in the living room before Green shot her several times with an AK-47 assault rifle, said Bierce, citing Barker's June 30 statement. Then Barker poured lamp kerosene on her and someone set her on fire, Bierce said.
Barker, in his statement, said he was in the living room with the girl when he heard gunshots in the bedroom where the soldiers had corralled her mother, father and younger sister. Then, according to Bierce's testimony, Green came into the living room looking agitated and said words to the effect of: "They're all dead. I just killed them."
After the killings, the soldiers went back to their checkpoint, where Barker grilled chicken wings, Bierce testified.

Judging from Elaine's entry, WBAI isn't interested in this case either. (WBAI is always Sunny's first choice to listen to.) Is anyone interested? Are any of our independent media programs devoting any time to this?

Maybe they'll try to play catch up with a brief segment? Maybe they'll bemoan this a month from now while offering nothing currently?

We can get hour upon hour on Israel. And Iraq? Off the radar. It's off the radar in the Times (only one article -- I'm seeing two in the Post). That's called "silence." That's when independent media especially is supposed to provide coverage. That isn't happening. Read Jimmy Breslin's "In Case We All Forgot, Americans Are Still Dying in Iraq" (Newsday via Common Dreams) one more time and ask yourself when the media (corporate or independent) intends to get serious about covering Iraq?

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