Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations" (Gregg Zoroya)

The front page of today's USA Today carries a story by Gregg Zoroya entitled "Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations." Justin Watt is the subject of the article and it's dealing with the death and rape of Abeer Qassim al-Jabani and the death of her parents, Fikhriya Taha and Qassim Hamza, and her five-year-old sister Hadeel. In addition to carrying a photo of Abeer, there is also a photo of her two surviving brothers Ahmed (nine-years-old) and Mohammed (eleven-years-old). That deserves noting. The New York Times, in their coverage, couldn't even name Abeer (she was "a fourteen-year-old girl" day after day during the Article 32 hearing). They certainly made no effort to run a photo of her surviving siblings (the photo credit is Ali al-Mahmouri of the Associated Press). And those familiar with the Times coverage may find items in this report that are new or different than reported by the Times.

From the article:

The official transcript of the hearing has not been released. According to the testimony reported by a pool of journalists and made available to news outlets, the rape victim and her family lived about 220 yards from a traffic-control point in Mahmoudiya. For several days before the killings, [Bryan] Howard, [James] Barker, [Paul] Cortez, [Jesse] Spielman and then-Army Pvt. Steven [D.] Green staffed the checkpoint.
Army investigator Benjamin Bierce testified at the hearing that Green repeatedly spoke of his desire to kill Iraqis and emerged as the leader of the attack, the media pool report said.
The soldiers also talked about the 14-year-old girl, whom they had seen passing through their checkpoint, Bierce testified.

Note, they did not see her just once though the Times coverage sure try to confuse that issue. Had they seen her only once, Abeer would have not had time to go to her parents and her mother would not have had time to ask someone in another town to take her in. (She was due to go there on the day following what would turn out to be the last day of her life.)

Back to the article:

Bierce testified at the Article 32 hearing that on March 12, the group had a plan to assault the girl. With Howard acting as lookout, Barker, Cortez, Spielman and Green entered the family's house, Bierce testified. Green herded the parents and the 5-year-old into a bedroom, according to the pool report of a statement made by one suspect, Barker.
At the hearing, there was conflicting evidence about who raped the girl, according to the pool coverage. Army investigator Michael Hood, for example, testified that Spielman passed a polygraph test in which he denied raping or shooting anyone during the attack. Cortez, in his statement, denied raping the girl. Howard's lawyer, Army Capt. Megan Shaw, argued that he did not believe the attack was actually going to happen.According to Barker's statement, Cortez pushed Abeer, the 14-year-old girl, to the floor, lifted her dress and tore away her underwear as she struggled. Barker said in his statement that he and Cortez both attempted to rape the girl.
Barker also said he heard gunshots from the bedroom, and an agitated Green emerged holding an AK-47, the media pool report said. "They're all dead. I just killed them," he told the others, according to Barker's statement.
Green then raped the girl and shot her to death, Barker told investigators, and her body was set on fire.

The article also details the fact that Justin Watt went to a mental health counselor "because he wanted to bypass what he thought would be a skeptical command structure and get an audience with Army investigators". Rick Watt, Justin's father, notes that he has received threats for coming forward and that the first time words of praise for their son coming forward were made to him or his wife (Vivi Watt) was on August 2, 2006 when Capt. William Dougherty wrote: "I am proud of him for coming forward. It took moral courage. I know he has been through a lot."
[Watt learned of the March events, alleged events, in June. Justin Watt was not involved or present for what transpired in March.] His father believes Justin Watt deserves a medal for coming forward and, my opinion, it's rather sad that it's his father noting that and not the military.

Gregg Zoroya also reports that Howard, Cortez, Spielman and Barker "charged with rape murder, who could face the death penalty if convicted, were recently transferred to a stateside military jail in an undisclosed location, Army spokesperson Kelly Tyler says." [Steven D. Green was discharged from the military before an investigation into the incident was started. He will be tried in a federal court, scheduled to begin in November.]

We'll also note something Ty read today (it was sent to The Third Estate Sunday Review and will be noted there on Sunday). We have members who are Democrats, Greens, third-party, you name it. And Green Party members did wonder why the race for the NY Senate Seat held by Hillary Clinton (she won her primary yesterday) meant, to quote Third Party, "Jokes about Republicans and cries of 'unfair' about this or that done to her Democratic opponent as if there was no Green in this race." Third Party wasn't speaking of mainstream coverage.

So when Ty mentioned this had come in at The Third Estate Sunday Review, I asked for permission to note it here. Things really need to come from members but I do know the Green Party members (members of this community) do feel that they get less attention than their party merits (that's true of the media, big and small, as well as this site), so we're going to run this press release in full:

Roger Snyder -- (631) 351-5763
National Committee Person, Green Party of the United States
Senior Advisor, Long Island for Malachy!

Ian Wilder -- (671) 9109
Co-Chair, Green Party of New York State
Co-Founder, Long Island for Malachy!

Kimberly Wilder -- (631) 422-4702
Chairperson, Long Island for Malachy!

Join America 's Peace Party Now!

New York voters do not have to wait until election day to send a message that they want our troops brought home from Iraq now. "If you have been let down by the results of the recent primaries, you can register in America's Peace Party, the Green Party, right now," said Ian Wilder, Co-Chair of the Green Party of NY State and Co-Founder of Long Island for Malachy!. "Registering in the Green party right now will show the people in power that you support a political party that supports peace. The Green Party is the only national party committed to peace and an end to war. Enrolling Green and voting Green is the only option left during the 2006 campaign season for citizens to demand peace."

You can use a voter enrollment form to change your party enrollment. To enroll in the Green Party you just need to check off the box marked "Other" and write in the word "Green."

In 2004, the Green Party of New York State (GPNYS) ran War Resisters League leader David McReynolds for US Senate. In 2006, GPNYS is running union activist Howie Hawkins for Senate, as an alternative to Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton has consistently voted for Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq . Clinton has voted to increase military spending. Hawkins calls for an immediate return of the troops from Iraq , and for $300 billion in cuts to the military.

Author/actor Malachy McCourt is the Green Party candidate for Governor. Both Democratic candidate Eliot Spitzer and Republican candidate John Faso support the Iraq War. Both Spitzer and Faso support the death penalty. The Green party is proud to offer New Yorkers a progressive choice on the ballot. McCourt has spoken out loudly against the death penalty. And McCourt's campaign calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq . "Every dollar we send to Washington supports this war, so we must find ways to not send money to Washington ", said McCourt. "Our State Legislature must condemn this war. And we must condemn war as a way of solving problems."

The Green Party needs to get 50,000 votes for Governor in order to regain automatic ballot status. Being a ballot status party would allow the Green Party to run many more Peace candidates, and make it easier to enroll in the Green Party. With ballot status in 2001, the Green Party of New York State ran over 200 candidates. Without ballot status in 2005, the Green Party of New York State ran only 20 candidates. For more information about Long Island for Malachy! Go to

From: Long Island for Malachy! team

For all other races, things need to come from members. I don't do endorsements, members can. If you're for a candidate (Kevin Zeese has been endorsed by a member here) and you want it noted you do have the gina & krista round-robin (and Polly's happy to note anything anyone wants to write for Polly's Brew) as well as having something here. And, reminder, after the November election, there's already a roundtable (set up by Gina and Krista) that will discuss issues of the election including who got attention and who didn't. Third Party's already signed on to participate in that round-table. There are three open spots still for the roundtable and Krista says she's willing to hold those for members who do not belong to either of the two main parties. So if you'd like to participate in that, e-mail Krista.

The e-mail address for this site is