Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, October 17, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq,  US "officials" issue statements and watch how Balad gets rewritten, an estimated 3,000 Iraqi police officers are told "no job!", and Cindy Sheehan focuses on the numbers that matter (and unlike the big news orgs, doesnt' feel the need to rewrite them).
On the slaughter in Balad, Al Jazeera magazine notes a "New York Times editorial".  It's not an editorial, it's a report by Michael Luo.  It's a report that the Times is now hiding online and have replaced with a new version.  The original is entitled "Iraqis Ask Why U.S. Forces Didn't Intervene in Balad."  That's the print headline and the headline if you use the link.  But that story doesn't show up on the Middle East page of the website.  Instead, a weaker version entitled "Fighting in Iraqi Town Killed Over 60, U.S. Says" with John O'Neil appearing in the byline and also in the end credit "in New York"!  Because, surely, to report on Balad, you need O'Neil in New York.
The original, with only Luo in the byline, reported: "Killing also continued to besiege the capital on Monday with the discovery of at least 64 bodies across the city, and two car bomb attacks that appeared to kill 22 people."  The white-washed attempt to suck up to "officials" opens with: "The American military said today that more than 60 people were killed in four days of sectarian fighting in Balad . . ." 
If you find that disgusting, and you should, take comfort in the fact that there's griping at the paper about the watering down of a fairly straight-down-the-middle report.  The original may disappear from the website so if you're interested in what alarms "officials," check it out now.  The whitewash tries to reassamble the article but mainly demonstrates how idiotic the paper is.  Well over 60 people have died in Balad from Friday to Monday and that was reported by other US outlets -- mainstream sources. [Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin (Washington Post) put it at 80 in their report in today's paper -- which, please note, the Post hasn't felt the need to rewrite to appease "officials."]  The original article did not ignore the opinions of the military but, such is the reality of the war, "officials" need things distorted and, such is the cowardice of the paper, that "offiicals" must be appeased.
For those still attempting to follow Balad, CBS and AP report that "sectarian fighting in Balad . . . has killed close to 100 people" since it "began Friday with the slaying of 17 Shiite Muslim workers.  Revenge-seeking Shiite death squads then killed 74 Sunnis, causing people flee across the Tigris River to the nearby Sunni-dominated city of Duluiyah."  This as CNN also chases down 'official' pleasure, though they claim they're not revising earlier reporting, just noting what 'officials' say and, it is true, they do include this statement: "The number of deaths vary".  Reuters harkens back to their earlier days (when they fronted for the US government as revealed during Congressional hearings in the wake of Watergate) by not even attributed their lowered figures to US "officials" or US "military."  Monday, before 'official' statements, Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin (Washington Post) reported: "By Sunday afternoon, 80 bodies were stacked in the morgue of the Balad hospital".  But watch as the mainstream media grabs onto "official" statement and trashes all that was previously reported.  Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that "at least 91 people" have been killed since Friday in Balad. A report the Times runs online but forgets to rewrite.
Those who watch network or cable news should pay attention to see who carries water for the administration and who notes the reality that was already well established in the mainstream (US) press reports.  AFP reports that despite 'official' US claims, US forces are not in control in Balad and that, according to "Malik Laftah, the head of Balad city council," corpses are lying in the streets. 
Let's note some of the reported violence but keep in mind that most outlets don't have the guts to stick with their own reporting in the face of a bold face lie from US 'officials' so who knows how the following will be rewritten?
Reuters, right now at this second because who knows how they'll cave tomorrow, reports that, in Baghdad, a car bomb killed killed two police officers and wounded nine, while a roadside bomb left five people wounded and that two different attacks with mortar rounds left a total of three people dead and and three wounded.  CBS and AP report that "two Katyusha rockets" left twenty wounded in Baghdad. Al Jazeera notes a bombing in Karmah that claimed the lives of five Iraqi soldiers.
CBS and AP report that, in Hillah, one man was shot dead and five were wounded when "unidnetified gunmen attacked a facility belongint to the central Euphrates electricity distribution authority".  They also note a home invasion in Balad Ruz that claimed the lives of "the mother and four dault sons" and left the father wounded; a drive by shooting in Falluja two police officers were shot dead.  AFP reports that four students were shot dead in Basra and, also in Basra, "gynaecologist Dr Youssra Hashem became the latest female professional to be killed amid a rise in violence against women by conservative Muslim factions".  Al Jazeera reports the shooting death of "a member of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan" in Mosul."
CBS and AP report that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("blindfolded and bound").
Now who knows what will be asserted tomorrow because some lose spines when officials' gums start flapping.  Staying on those who buckle, last week, Richard Dannatt caused a stir with criticism of the Iraq war and the suggestion that it was time to pull troops.  As Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) notes, "the new chief of the Britsh army" stated troops should leave because just being there "exacerbates the security problem."  He buckled quicker than a media boardroom.  Despite the fact that British soldiers strongly agreed with his statements.
Now, Lachlan Carmichael (AFP) reports that Tony Blair "has vowed to keep British troops in Iraq until their 'job is done' as her rejected claims that their presence fueled Muslim extremism at home and abroad."  The report focuses on Blair and Dannat and apparently missed Colin Brown (Independent of London) reporting that: "John Reid, the Home Secretary, conceded last night for the first time that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have played a part radicalisizing young Muslims."
AFP also reports that Bully Boy went on Bloated Men & Bleached Women (aka Fox "News") to declare his opposition to dividing the nation of Iraq into three autonomous regions.  Apparently, while cooing sweet nothings to Nouri al-Maliki on Monday, Bully Boy forgot to raise that issue (last week the parliament took another step in that direction).  As Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) notes, predicting "the worst is yet to come," "One sign came last week when the Shia parliamentary majority rejected Sunni opposition and passed a law allowing partion into autonomous federal regions.  It is but a small step from there to national disintergration."
A little noted "official" statement by "US army Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Martindale" is covered by AFP, this is regarding the violence in Balad: "Marindale also, however, confirmed that two Iraqi police officers had been arrested for taking part in the massacre which triggered the orgy of violence."  No, we're not returning to Balad -- the whole 'coverage' is too disgusting.  But keep that in mind: two police officers were part of triggering "the orgy of violence."  AFP reports that Iraq's interior ministry spokesperson (Abdel Karim Khalaf) held a press conference today to announce "that 1,228 [police officers] had been sacked for breaking the law while nearly 2,000 more were dismissed for derelection of duty."
The Interior minister is Jawad Bolani and, for those who've missed it, the militias are thought by some to have free reign via that ministry.  Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reported, Saturday, that when reminded that his ministry has been "accused of complicity in sectarian death squad killings," Bolani denied it. Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) noted that not only did Bolani deny the accusations, he "blamed the Facilities Protection Service, or FPS, a massive but unregulated government guard force . . . .  Bolani and his predecssor as interior minister, Bayan Jabr, both have minimized the possibility of any police involvement in the nightly killings."
Whether the purge, which also includes moving three police commanders to administrative jobs, is just an attempt to stop the questions from continuing to being asked or whether it's genuine, who knows?  But it's worth remembering Rick Jervis (USA Today) reported Monday on how al-Maliki refused to addres disarming militas "until later this year or early next year".
While many supposedly brave press outlets fudge the numbers to please the US administration, Cindy Sheehan (at BuzzFlash) notes some other numbers: 4, 4, 655,000 and more.  The first four is "Republican Congresspeople [who] have had to resign from scandals this past year" (Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, Tom DeLay); the second four is the number of "staff members of the corrupt adminstration [who] have resigned in disgrace this year" (Andrew Card, Scooter Libby, Susan Ralston and Snotty McClellan) while 655,000 is the estimate for the number of Iraqis who have dies since the start of the illegal war as a result of the violence.  She also reminds that Gold Star Families for Peace will be holding a sit around the White House November 7th and 8th and "Also, go to Progressive Democrats of America to sign the petition to support Congressman Jim McGovern's bill, HR4232, which cuts funding for the continuing occupation. Ending the funding is what stopped Vietnam. Let's cut Iraq off before it becomes as bad as Vietnam."
Also in peace news, Courage to Resist notes Ricky Clousing's statement to the judge in last Thursday's court-martial and sentencing: "My experiences in Iraq forced me tto reevaluate my beliefs and ethics.  Ultimately, I felt like I could not serve."  Clousing is a war resister and he will serve three months, be reduced in rank and then dishonorably discharged.  Clousing took a brave stand and Courage to Resist notes:
Ricky is currently being held in a military brig at Camp LeJune in North Carolina and it is urgent that he receive your words of encouragement and support!   Please write to Ricky today!    
More information on war resisters who have gone public can be found at Courage to Resist.
The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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