Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ricky Clousing stands trial today (and will the media cover it?)

The American-financed rebuilding of an Iraqi police headquarters that was meant to show a new approach to reconstruction has instead turned out to be rife with shoddy construction and is exposing security forces to unnecessary risk, a federal oversight agency said yesterday.
The criticism has come in the midst of an intensive American push to train and equip a police force capable of restoring order to Iraq's increasingly violent streets.
The headquarters project, in the ethnically divided and volatile northern city of Mosul, is the second police-related contract to face harsh criticism recently. Two weeks ago, the same oversight agency told Congress of grotesque plumbing failures and other problems at a $72 million police college in Baghdad.
In the earlier project, most of the criticism was directed at Parsons, the American contractor hired by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to carry out the work with the help of Iraqi subcontractors. But this time, in a step the Army Corps has said will eliminate some of the construction problems, the work was contracted directly to a local Iraqi company.
But the Mosul police headquarters project, a $988,000 contract that was much smaller and presumably simpler than the earlier one, suffered some of the same troubles, according to a report released yesterday by the agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The above is from James Glanz' "U.S. Agency Cites Flaws in Another Iraqi Construction Project" in this morning's New York Times. Within the daily US papers, this has turned out to be Glanz' beat and, should he choose to explore this in book form, he'd have a better and more useful book than anything his peers at the paper can produce on Iraq (that includes a much laughed at proposal making the rounds currently). It's the story of Iraq, behind the WMD lies, behind the 'democracy' and 'liberation' talk. It's Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) over and over and there's a reason for that. And if you don't get that, please read Klein's article -- one of the most important pieces written on Iraq. We'll drop back to this topic in a moment but today is Thursday, October 11th. From Courage to Resist's"Sgt. Ricky Clousing to face Court Martial for Desertion Charge TODAY! " which, again is today:

Clousing and attorney to hold press conference at 10am
Supporters to gather at Noon in Fayetteville, N. C.
Sgt. Ricky Clousing to face Court Martial for Desertion Charge today Oct. 12Clousing and attorney to hold press conference at 10amSupporters to gather at Noon in Fayetteville, N. C.
Ricky Clousing at press conference outside Veterans for Peace conference on August 11, 2006 photo by: Jeff Paterson
Sgt. Ricky Clousing, who served as a U.S. Army Interrogator in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 has been charged with desertion by the Army and will face court martial on Thursday, October 12 at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Prior to the court martial Clousing and his attorney, David Miner, will hold a press conference at 10am at the Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC (223 Hillside Ave) and at Noon supporters will rally in downtown Fayetteville to demonstrate their support for Sgt. Clousing. Clousing left Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he was stationed in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. He had been AWOL until August 11th, 2006, when he called a
press conference in Seattle, WA coinciding with the annual Veterans for Peace national convention.
At the press conference, Clousing went public with his stand stating, "In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to doubt and reconsider my beliefs."

Read entire statement...
Later in the day, he turned himself in to Fort Lewis military police where he was confined for two days and then ordered to report to Ft. Bragg. If Clousing is convicted for desertion he faces up to a year confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
The 82nd Airborne of the United States Army has opened two parallel investigations into disclosures made by Sgt. Clousing about the abuse of power and lack of accountability of the U.S. Military in Iraq, but has not yet released the findings of this investigation. Clousing will testify at his court martial about the abuses he witnessed while serving in Iraq and the defense may call other witnesses.
In response to charges related to his 14 months absent-without-leave, Ricky stated: "Since I left the army I have known that being court martialed was a possibility I could face. I am at peace with my decision. I followed my conscience and, if need be, I will feel honored to join the ranks of others who have been prosecuted for doing the same."
Clousing does not claim to be a conscientious objector, as is defined by the U.S. military, he is opposed to the war and occupation of Iraq based on his firsthand experience in country, which brought him to the conclusion that the Iraq war is a "war of aggression" that has "no legal basis to be fought".
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Get the word out and I'm sure we can expect the usual silence on this topic from the usual sources. All the more reason to get the word out. Returning to the topic of disaster capitalism and who profits, Erika noted "American Accused of Taking a Bribe for Work on Iraq" (credited to "The New York Times") which covers the case of Bonnie Murphy:

A former Pentagon employee accepted gold jewelry worth thousands of dollars for illegally steering nearly $6 million in contracts to an Iraqi company for work at a sprawling American military base adjacent to Baghdad’s main airport, according to an indictment released yesterday by the Justice Department.

Not mentioned in the Times today is Ayham al-Samarrae who is, however, covered elsewhere today. From Martha's highlight, Amit R. Paley's "Parliament Approves Measure Allowing Autonomous Regions" (Washington Post):

Also on Wednesday, former electricity minister Aiham al-Sammarae was convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. Afterward, U.S. troops took custody of Sammarae, who holds dual Iraqi-American citizenship, because he feared being killed if he was placed in jail, said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.
Dabbagh said that the Iraqi government had demanded his return and that the Americans agreed. "The government of Iraq expects that the Americans will respect Iraqi juridical authority," he said.
Lou Fintor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said he could not comment because "federal privacy law prohibits us from releasing information concerning U.S. citizens in the absence of a Privacy Act waiver."

You really need to think about the above. It demonstrates that Iraq has no legitimate government, no legitimate authority. No surprise there, it's been a puppet government all along. But the US is willing to run in and pull custody? What other countries can you think of where that would happen?

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