Thursday, January 18, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, Janurary 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, accuses Bully Boy and Condi Rice of helping "terrorists"; new developments in the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza and the murder of three members of her family by members of the US military emege; and support for Ehren Watada continues -- even as the 'judge' in the military 'justice' system does his part to railroad Watada.

Starting with war resister Ehren Watada who, in June of last year, became the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the 'judge' of the pre-trial has issued a ruling on what is and isn't acceptable in the February 5th court-martial. As Courage to Resist notes "ALL POLITICAL SPEECH CHARGES GO TO TRIAL."
Teresa Watanabe (LA Times) reports that Watada has called for everyon to "stop the war so the death and sacrifices of American soldiers will not be in vain" and "I firmly stand by my belief that this war is illegal and immoral."

"Judge" Head issued his rulings on Tuesday and since Watada will not be allowed to present a defense, why even waste time and money on a court-martial? "Judge" Head has refused Watada's right to present a defense and, in his ruling, "Judge" Head is quite clear about "a preponderance of evidence" and is disallowing any evidence that could counter it so the kangaroo court-martial will go foward but the ruling is already pre-determined and contained in "Judge" Head's ruling. That's the only 'value' in the ruling (well, that and the revelation that, by his signature, John Head apparently thinks he's a young starlet).

The AP reports that "Army officials said in a statement that they had full confidence in the military justice system". Of course they're gloating -- JUDGE TOOL handed them a win before the first argument is made in the court-martial. Now if they had any self-respect, they'd realize that this isn't justice and that obviously there's no faith in their abilities to fairly prosecute Watada.

Earlier this month, Watada spoke with Lance Holter and Ave Diaz (Haleakala Times) and shared his expectations of the trial: "I certainly expect the army to make an example out of my stand and what I'm speaking against." He was correct. Holter and Diaz also note US war resister Pablo Parades who was allowed, in his court-martial, to argue his case. From Parades' statement at his court-martial (via Democracy Now!): "I am convinced that the current war in Iraq is illegal. I am also convinced that the true causality for it lacked any high ground in the topography of morality. I believe as a member of the Armed Forces, beyond having duty to my Chain of Command and my President, I have a higher duty to my conscience and to the surpreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect, in the current aggression that has been unleased on Iraq. In the past few months I have been continually asked if I regret my decision to refuse to board my ship and to do so publicly. I have spent hour upon hour reflecting on my decision, and I can tell you with every fiber of certitude that I possess that I feel in my heart I did the right thing."

Ehren Watada will not be allowed to present a similar defense. What is the military afraid and what sort of 'judge' acts in such a cowardly craven manner?

Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that what Watada will not be able to present in 'court' of 'judge' Head, he will be able to present "this weekend, a 'Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq' will convene in Tacoma to address that issue in support of Watada." The hearing will take place at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus on January 20th and 21st from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day. Among the participants will be Antonia Juhasz, Ann Wright, Daniel Ellsberg, Enis Halliday (who was on yesterday's Flashpoints speaking with Dennis Bernstein about the deaths caused by sanctions against Iraq), Bejmain G. Davis, Richard Falk, Francis Boyle, Dennis Kyne, and US war resister Darrell Anderson. In addition, Karen Hucks (The News Tribune) reports that Daniel Ellsberg ("who started a national uproar in 1971 when he released the Penatagon Papers") will speak in Tacoma Friday "from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Washington State History Museeum, 1911 Pacific Ave. The University of Washington Tacoma is sponsoring the free event." In addition
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance on the edge of Fort Lewis to show their support for Watada.

Ehren Watada spoke in Seattle on Monday (MLK day) and Kay Suzat (PSL) reports: "A tremendous standing ovation greeted Watada and concluded his remarks. The crowd demonstrated its solidarity and support for his refusal to deploy to Iraq and be part of the imperilist occupation."

Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

And, good news!, you can find information about a war resister at The Nation . . . provided he's a resister of the Vietnam war, a professional athlete and a household name. Dave Zirin
covers sports and he's always managed to cover the war (unlike The Nation). To read his column "Muhammad Ali: The Brand and the Man" use the link freely, it takes you to Yahoo and not to The Nation which still can't manage to show interest in war resisters.

Turning to the topic of 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza who was gang raped and murdered on March 12, 2006 by what was spun as 'insurgents.' The reality is that it was by American soldiers who also murdered her five-year-old sisters and both of her parents. The soldiers watched the 14-year-old, making her uncomfortable with their inappropriate attention to the point that she complained to her parents who immediately began making arrangements to get their daughter the hell away from perverts supposedly stationed in their area to protect the Iraq people. Abeer was due to move but, before she could, Paul Cortez, James P. Barker, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and Steven D. Green wanted to have a little 'fun' and, boozed up to the gills in a war zone, they decided the most 'fun' they could have would be in murdering a family after gang raping the 14-year-old daughter. So they changed into civies, approached the home via a hole in a fence they'd already created, and the 'fun' began -- adult males holding down a 14-year-old girl to take turns gang raping her while her parents and sister were shot dead and then, after the gang rape, murdering Abeer.

At the Article 32 hearing in August, Captain Alex Pickands declared: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

In November, James P. Barker confessed to his role in the planning of the war crimes and to his raping Abeer. He also named Steven D. Green as the one who shot and killed Abeer, her parents and her sister. He identified Green as taking part in the gang rape and also identified Paul Cortez as taking part in the gang rape. Green has denied any involvement and will be tried in a civilian court because the US military had discharged him before the crimes were uncovered. Last week, Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Green had been diagnosed by the Army Combat Stress Team with "homicidal ideations" on December 21, 2005, three months prior to the rape and murders. Today, Ryan Lenz reports that William Cassara, attorney for Paul Cortez, has stated, "Sgt. Cortez is going to go in and accept the responsibilities for his part in what occurred" which would be WAR CRIMES and that "Our version of events is that he knew what was going to take place and participated as an observer." According to Barker's confession, Paul Cortez took part in the gang rape -- that's a bit more than 'observing.'

AFP is now reporting that Cortez "has pleaded guilty in the rape and murder" of Abeer

Silence has largely greeted the story of Abeer in many media outlets (big and small). The same sort of silence that leads many to wrongly hail the 'symbolic' bi-partisan nonsense in the Senate. Cedric and Wally addressed that yesterday. The Senate resolution championed by US senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Chuck Hagel and others is a joke. Reporting on what proposals are in the US Congress currently, Leigh Ann Caldwell (aired on Free Speech Radio News, The KPFA Evening News) termed the Jo-Jo proposal "the tamest of them all" noting US Senator Christopher Dodd's proposal calls for Congressional approval before any more troops are sent to Iraq and caps the total number of US troops at the number in Iraq on Tuesday, noting US Senator Ted Kennedy's proposed legislation "would not fund any troops increase" and noting that US Senator Hillary Clinton ("I do support cutting funds for Iraqi forces if the Iraqi government does not meet set conditions") has spoken of a cap on the level of US troops and cutting off funds for the Iraqi military. Caldwell's report quoted US Rep. Lynn Woolsey on the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act which she, US Rep. Barbara Lee and US Rep. Maxine Waters have proposed: "It will save lives, bodies and minds and it will give Iraq back to the Iraqis. It is an important step in regaining our credibility in the region and our credibility throughout the world."

Caldwell noted that the proposed legislation would lead to withdrawal of US troops in six months, fully funded health care for veterans and two years of funding for the training of Iraqi forces. Woolsey's speech can be read, heard or watched at Democracy Now!

While Waters, Lee and Woolsey propose legislation that, get this, actually does something, Levin, Biden and Hagal propose legislation that does nothing. It provides politicians with cover to hide behind in the 2008 elections (a point I believe Robert Knight made on yesterday's Flashpoints) but it has no teeth and is non-binding. Consider it a poll of the pulse in the Senate and nothing more.

What may be most offensive is the way Joe Biden speaks when he attempts to sell it (listen to Caldwell's report): "The president ignored the advice of every major voice, every major voice! In the government, outside the government, military personell in the government, military personell outside the government, former secretaries of state, former secretaries of defense, and leading foreign policy scholars! He has to listen!"

Every major voice, Jo-Jo? Who did you leave you out? The most obvious major voice: THE PEOPLE. Considering that Jo-Jo's job depends upon public support (votes) and that he intends to run for 2008 president, someone might want to tell him that the advice from the people is "major" and possibly the most important anyone occupying the Oval Office should heed. Reporting on what the people are saying, Ronald Brownstein (LA Times) covers the results of the latest LA Times & Bloomberg poll which found three-fifths of respondents stating that they opposed Bully Boy's planned escalation (21,500 more troops in Iraq), "more than three-fifhts of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting" and "half said they believed he deliberately misled the U.S. in making his case for invading Iraq."


In Iraq today.


Salam Faraj (AFP) reports five car bombs went off in Baghdad with three going off "almost simultaneously in the southern district of Dora, leaving 10 people dead and 30 wounded" in an attack on "the Rasheed vegetable market, the main market in southern Baghdad that is often crammed with residents shopping for food." Reuters notes, in Baghdad, a car bomb attack on police that killed 4, a car bomb in the eastern area of the capital that took 3 lives and left seven more wounded, and, in the New Baghdad district, a car bomb kille 2 and left four wounded; while in Mosul a car bomber killed 1 civilian wounded six people and a bomb tossed "at a police checkpoint" took the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded. That's a total of 21 killed by bombs in Iraq that were reported.


Reuters notes an attack on "a wedding convoy in Mosul" that left 2 people shot dead and four more wounded.


Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Iskandariya.

And the US military announced: "A Sailor assigned to 16th Military Police Brigade, Camp Bucca, Iraq, died Jan. 17 in a non-combat related incident."

Lara Logan (CBS) reports on the corpse of a young Iraqi: "He was young, possibly in his early twenties, and he'd been shot three times. It was hard to tell at first, because of his clothes, but I could see the small bullet hole next to his nose. Funny how the entry wound often doesn't look like much, it's the exit wound that tells the real story of how much damage that bullet has done. That's where it gets really messy. [. . .] Here was somebody's son, probably someone's brother, possibly someone's husband or lover. I didn't know anything about him or why he'd been killed or who may have done it. That's part of the strategy here with these murders — remove all identification, obscure the facts and make it that much harder to find the truth. If you're lucky — and most of the killers usually are — then that will be enough to make sure no one even looks for you, let alone finds you and holds you accountable."

CNN reports that the US military has explained their violations of the Sudanese Embassy in Baghdad with this pithy statement: "The compound was searched as part of an operation aimed at denying insurgents safe haven to carry out attacks against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens." Having already shown no respect for diplomatic areas with their raid on the Iranian consulate, the US military does not, this time, attempt to wiggle out of whether or not the facility was a recognized diplomatic site -- instead, they simply say, "We don't give a damn." An attitude that will have historic consequences in the future.

Meanwhile, as US Senator Hillary Clinton states she approves of cutting off funding the Iraqi army (if they can't meet set goals), suddenly the puppet of the occupation springs to life.
No, not the laughable claims that Nouri al-Maliki is finally addressing the issue of Shi'ite militias. The puppet of the occupation is whining, reports Stephen Farrell (Times of London), that the US won't give Iraq "sufficient guns" -- since US guns abound in Iraq, possibly al-Maliki could just buy them off the black market the way other Iraqis do? (Or is he still attempting to play Big Spender -- on the US dime -- by continuing to dole out millions to neighboring countries?) Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that al-Maliki says the comments by the Bully Boy and Condi Rice "probably helped the 'terrorists'" because they "give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort" and yada, yada, yada.

Remember how Bully Boy trots out the lie that anyone who questions him undermines his illegal war and the so-called war on terrorism, apple pie and who knows what else? Well al-Maliki also takes time to criticize the Bully Boy's administration -- naming US Secretary of State Condi Rice specifically and claiming that Iraq's government is undermined by the US administration's talk of "borrowed time." Realities must be ignored, argue both the Bully Boy and al-Maliki, or 'freedom' is undermined. Today, that laughable argument gets tossed back in Bully Boy's face.

democracy now
ronald brownstein

Don't be flakey. Get Yahoo! Mail for Mobile and
always stay connected to friends.