Monday, August 07, 2006

Other Items

We're opening with Riverbend's "Summer of Goodbyes..." (Baghdad Burning):

I've said goodbye this last month to more people than I can count. Some of the 'goodbyes' were hurried and furtive- the sort you say at night to the neighbor who got a death threat and is leaving at the break of dawn, quietly.
Some of the 'goodbyes' were emotional and long-drawn, to the relatives and friends who can no longer bear to live in a country coming apart at the seams.
Many of the 'goodbyes' were said stoically -- almost casually -- with a fake smile plastered on the face and the words, "See you soon"... Only to walk out the door and want to collapse with the burden of parting with yet another loved one.
During times like these I remember a speech Bush made in 2003: One of the big achievements he claimed was the return of jubilant 'exiled' Iraqis to their country after the fall of Saddam. I'd like to see some numbers about the Iraqis currently outside of the country you are occupying... Not to mention internally displaced Iraqis abandoning their homes and cities.
I sometimes wonder if we'll ever know just how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis left the country this bleak summer. I wonder how many of them will actually return. Where will they go? What will they do with themselves? Is it time to follow? Is it time to wash our hands of the country and try to find a stable life somewhere else?

Now does anyone care about that? Does anyone care what's going in Iraq because treating war like an after thought doesn't demonstrate it. That's mainstream media, that's independent media.

It must be nice for all those reporters (and "reporters") to have a new topic to cover or chase after or gas bag over, but Riverbend doesn't have the option of treating Iraq as an after thought. No, she doesn't have the "luxury" of doing so. It's amazing that so many outlets, mainstream and independent, seem to think they have the luxury to ignore it. And they ignore it repeatedly. What's the hot topic that will bury Iraq this week? Will it be an election? Week after week, Iraq's the after thought.

It's amazing that the administration (illegally) declares war on Iraq and we can't focus on it. The killing, the dying, the destruction day after day, not "newsy" enough for us. Not worth a discussion on a radio show (independent or mainstream), not worth much at all. All media forms are allowing this illegal war to drag on. Individual exceptions do exist but the reality is that the coverage finds time for a variety of jerk off topics it just can't find time for Iraq. Oh well, maybe Jon Stewart will say a funny today and we can all blather on about that and kid ourselves that somehow we're doing our part to keep people focused on Iraq?

From Paul von Zielbauer's "4 G.I.’s Tell of How Iraqi Raid Went Wrong" (New York Times):

Sgt. Armando Acevedo, another member of Company C on that day’s mission, later told prosecutors that he heard Sergeant Geressy reply, "We're bringing back these detainees when they should be dead." Sergeant Geressy denied saying that.
About that time, Sergeant Lemus and Private Mason told investigators, Sergeant Girouard appeared to have second thoughts about the four detainees in custody. "He mentioned that First Sergeant Geressy transmitted over the radio that the detainees should have been killed," Sergeant Lemus wrote in a sworn statement in June.
Sergeant Girouard gathered Sergeant Lemus, Specialist Hunsaker and Privates Clagett and Mason around him in a room in the house and, according to Sergeant Lemus, laid out a plan: Specialist Hunsaker and Private Clagett were would kill the detainees after cutting off their wrist ties and ordering them to run away. Sergeant Lemus and Private Mason told investigators they wanted no part of the plan and left.
Several minutes later, Sergeant Girouard dispatched 6 of his squad’s 10 soldiers to secure a pickup zone for an incoming Black Hawk, 70 yards southwest of the house. That left Sergeant Girouard, Specialist Hunsaker and Privates Clagett and Mason at the house. Specialist Hunsaker and Private Clagett were guarding the three men, who were blindfolded, seated and had their hands restrained with zip ties behind their backs.
Sergeant Girouard walked Mr. Shelish, the man they had taken from the mud hut, toward the pickup zone, handing him to Corporal Helton. Minutes later, Private Mason, inside the house with the two women, heard Specialist Hunsaker shout an expletive. He and soldiers at the landing zone then heard fire from Private Clagett's machine gun and Specialist Hunsaker’s M-4.
Sergeant Ryan and Corporal Helton saw the three men sprinting barefoot toward the mud hut. "That was followed by gunshots as the men fell," Sergeant Ryan wrote in a sworn statement.
Private Clagett and Specialist Hunsaker told investigators they had cut the flimsy wrist ties off all three detainees at once -- a procedure considered tactically unsound -- to replace them with thicker plastic cuffs that would not break. They said one man had suddenly attacked Specialist Hunsaker with a knife as a second man punched Private Clagett.

Individual stories on Iraq, on the violence that went on this weekend? Forget it. The Times isn't interested (nor or many other outlets).

Yazz notes Brenda Norrell's "Buffy Sainte-Marie's censored sounds" (Indian Country Today)

PHOENIX - Nearly two decades after Cree singer and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie's song ''Universal Soldier'' was released and shipments of her records mysteriously disappeared, the truth of the censorship and suppression by the U.S. government became public. Now, in federal court, Charles August Schlund III stated he is a covert operative and supports Sainte-Marie's assertions that the United States took action to suppress rock music because of its role in rallying opposition to the Vietnam War.
Sainte-Marie says she was blacklisted and, along with other American Indians in the Red Power movements, was put out of business in the 1970s. ''I found out 10 years later, in the 1980s, that [President] Lyndon Johnson had been writing letters on White House stationary praising radio stations for suppressing my music,'' Sainte-Marie said in a 1999 interview with Indian Country Today at Dine' College.
''In the 1970s, not only was the protest movement put out of business, but the Native American movement was attacked,'' Sainte-Marie said.

There's no need for the government to make such efforts today, too many are willing to defocus and ignore Iraq on their own without any orders or outside encouragement -- you see that in the non-coverage from indymedia and mainstream media. Read Jimmy Breslin's "In Case We All Forgot, Americans Are Still Dying in Iraq" (Newsday via Common Dreams) and, note, Iraqis are still dying in Iraq too. It hasn't stopped, the media's just stopped covering it.

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