Saturday, September 30, 2006

Baghdad Under House Arrest

American officials have warned Iraqi leaders that they might have to curtail aid to the Interior Ministry police because of a United States law that prohibits the financing of foreign security forces that commit "gross violations of human rights" and are not brought to justice.
[. . .]
The issue centers on one of the most sensitive subjects within the Iraqi government: the joint Iraqi-American inspection in May and subsequent investigation of a prison in eastern Baghdad known as Site 4.
Within the prison there was clear evidence of systematic abuse and torture, including victims who had "lesions resulting from torture" as well as "equipment used for this purpose," according to a human rights report later published by the United Nations mission in Iraq.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "U.S. May Cut Aid to Iraqi Police Cited in Abuses" in this morning's New York Times (front page). So let's recap some of the developments. In the so-called 'liberated' Iraq, beacon of 'democracy,' security forces may lose their funding for refusing to punish gross human rights abuses, women's rights have gone from most advanced in the area to women shouldn't even drive a car, the so-called 'crackdown' has entered its fourth month and there's been no let up in the the chaos and violence (in the capital), a waterless moat surrounding Baghdad is still floated as an 'answer,' residents of Baghdad (outside the Green Zone) complain (still) of a lack of electricity for more than a few hours a day and the war hits the four year mark in March? That's 'liberation'?

The funding notion, it's interesting. The US can't provide funds for a regime that does that. But the bigger issue is that the US is the occupying power. They have legal responsibility by international law. It's easy for Zalmay Khalitlzad to point the fingter at Iraqi security forces, but the power in charge is the US.

The 'crackdown,' Sabrina Tavernise and Qaid Mizher tell you, includes a ban on all "traffic in Baghdad until Sunday morning." These bans aren't uncommon. Here's the new twist, it's a ban on cars "and pedistrian traffic." Ashford & Simpson sang "Nobody Walks in L.A." and they can add Baghdad to the list.

That's not a "ban" on traffic, that's putting the capital under house arrest. Why? An unindentifed man ("Iraqi working for one of Iraq's most prominent Sunni Arab political leaders") has been arrested. The reason is he was believed to plotting "mulitple-car suicided bombings inside the Green Zone". Inside the Green Zone is key.

[If you doubt that it's a house arrest of the city, and you may from the Times' careful wording, Reuters: "Iraq declared a curfew on Saturday in the capital Baghdad, ordering all cars off the streets and telling people to remain in their homes." That's a house arrest -- city wide. It's not "traffic," it's a house arrest.]

US forces have to maintain the Green Zone. They're fully aware that if the Green Zone suffers a serious attack, there will be multiple Walter Cronkite moments for the press, which is confined there. The 'crackdown' began when the outer edges of the Green Zone were stormed back in June, that was the cause for panic. Not the bodies piling up outside the Green Zone. In January of 2005, an attack led the Australian embassy to being moved inside the Green Zone. (The cry for the move began in earnest in October of 2004 when Australian troops were attacked. It took the January attack to make the move.) In August of this year, Australian troops were injured when one of several mortars fired into the Green Zone made it in.

The Green Zone's not Iraq. It's a heavily secured island. As we noted here before, the resistance will move to attack the Green Zone. It's a symbol of the occupation and it has built a great deal of resentment in all Iraqis (whether they participate in the resistance or not). The thought of an attack within the Green Zone (and the realization of how that will play on American television and in American newspapers) is enough to force the puppet of the occupation (Nouri al-Maliki) to put the whole capital under house arrest. Don't think that's going to decrease tensions. It's a pressure cooker and the lid's going to blow.

For some strange reason, the Times runs (A6) a story on al-Qaeda on the same page as the Iraq reporting. Why is that? Does an editor believe there's a link between 9-11 (heavily mentioned in the article, though Iraq isn't)? For a press supposedly so surprised that some Americans still believe the false link between Iraq and 9-11, Hassan M. Fattah's article could have and should have run on another page. There's no reason for it to be on this page and for a press so worried about the false link being so widespread, there's no excuse to run that story on what will be seen as "the Iraq page" by people who just scan the headlines. The paper could have put Sheryl Gay Stolberg's story (from the page before) on the page, they could have put Marc Lacey's on the page. When you're placing an al-Qaeda story (that has nothing to do with Iraq) and talking 9-11 with Iraq reports, you can't claim, "I have no idea why so many people still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11. We've certainly stated otherwise in print."

Martha notes Amit R. Paley and Sudarsan Raghavan's "U.S. Envoy Says Iraqi Premier Has Short Time to Quell Violence" (Washington Post) which contains more warnings to the puppet of the occupation (Nouri al-Maliki) that he can be dropped at any moment and another puppet installed:

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned on Friday that time is running out for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to contain the burgeoning sectarian bloodshed that threatens to plunge the country into civil war.
"He has a window of a couple months," said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. "If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue, then a big opportunity would have been lost and it would take a long time to address this issue."

His remarks, which came during a surge in reprisal killings across Baghdad, reinforced comments by several senior U.S. military officials this week that Maliki's government must move urgently to tackle the militias and death squads wreaking havoc across the country.

He is a puppet, that's all he is. He has to dance for the Americans and, if they're not pleased with is performance, he's out. If it were a real democracy, what US officials thought wouldn't matter. But it's not a democracy and Iraq hasn't been liberated. What you're seeing is the same type of actions that installed Saddam Hussein in the first place. Jay Garner was pulled from Iraq for having the notion that Iraqis should vote (and vote immediately). Bremer and Khalilzad have been happy to play "Let's talk democracy but not really allow it" game for some time. Which is why the polling of Iraqis shows they want Americans out of their country. The troops need to come home but, at this rate, it may take an attack on the Green Zone for the obvious to be stated widely. (It's widely stated by Americans now.)

Darrell Anderson returns to the US today. We'll note this from Canada's City News' "American Army Deserter Leaves T.O. To Face Justice Back Home:"

"I'm not happy to be going to jail but I'm not scared," the 24-year-old maintains. "I wasn't scared when I went to Iraq. I wasn't scared when I came to Canada. It's just another step in this long, hard process I've been going through."
He's grateful for the support he's received while he's been here. But it hasn't been easy. When he arrived, he hoped to start a new life. But when his lawyer failed to properly file the paperwork that might have secured his refugee status, it became clear he'd be deported.
He married Gayle Greer just two weeks ago, but even that failed to secure his status. Unable to work or guarantee his future on this side of the border, he's decided to return and face the military music, whatever it brings.
Still, despite his fate, he doesn't regret anything he's done. "If I didn't come to Canada, I wouldn't have made it," he affirms. "I was so messed up after coming back from Iraq that I needed to escape."

Note, another spelling for Gail Greer. (This one says "Gayle.") We're sticking with "Gail Greer" until we learn otherwise (and that is how her film credit reads).

Today on RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

We blow the whistle and bang the drum with DANIEL ELLSBERG who leaked the Pentagon Papers. He wants a CIA employee to leak the full national intelligence estimate on Iraq. RETIRED MAJOR GENERAL JOHN BATISTE wants Donald Rumsfeld to be sacked.
JEFF COHEN ventured inside cable news and now he's telling tales out of propaganda school. Plus a report from House hearings on electronic voting machines, and the YOUNGBLOOD BRASS BAND, live, in house.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST on Air American Radio stations, XM satellite radio and online. There's a "book" that I haven't seen that's noted in five e-mails this morning. Mia's the most offended. A supposed Air America Radio book that doesn't even mention Laura Flanders on the cover (she's noted on the back cover, not on the front). What can you say to that? She's written two best selling books, she's got radio experience that predates AAR by many years. If they don't grasp her value, all the more reason for you to. If you miss the show, Saturday's live broadcast and Sunday's live broadcast are compiled into a one hour commercial free that you can catch by mid-week here.

The following community members have posted new content at their sites in the last 24 hours:

Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.

In addition, I subbed for Kat (who is in Ireland) at her site last night.

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