If the cost of this war is measured in human lives, one block in southeast Baghdad has paid more than its share.
On a hot morning two summers ago, 34 children were killed here in a flash of smoke and metal. They were scooping up candy thrown from an American Humvee. The suicide bomber’s truck never slowed down.
More than 3,000 Iraqis are dying every month in this war -- roughly the total deaths in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or all the American troops killed since the war began. But behind the headlines and statistics, most of the war is experienced in Iraqi living rooms and on blocks like the one here, where families struggle with the intense pain of loss.
And while American war planners discuss the way ahead, Iraqis on this scarred block are stuck in the past on the morning of July 13, 2005, when time stopped and the war truly began for them.
"Our life now, it’s not a life, it’s a kind of dream," said Qais Ataiwee Yaseen, whose two boys, ages 8 and 11, were killed that day. "Life has no taste. I even feel sick of myself."
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Bomb's Lasting Toll: Lost Laughter and Broken Lives" which the paper wisely front pages. Tavernise is the NYT journalist who can capture the human cost of the war. Though, honestly, few have tried. And, especially in the early years of the war -- how sad that it's already gone on so long that "in the early years of the war" is a phrase that springs to mind -- no one really tried. There are reporters covering Iraq who have other strengths but this is her strength. If the paper wins any awards for their Iraq coverage (any deserved), it will most likely be for one of her pieces, one of James Glanz' pieces chartering the corruption or, most likely, one of Kirk Semple's straight-forward pieces.
We can also note Paul von Zielbaur's "U.S. Inquiry Backs Charges of Killing by Marines in Iraq" witn only one needed addition:
An American government report on the killing of 24 Iraqis, including several women and children, by marines in the village of Haditha in 2005 provides new details of how the shootings unfolded and supports allegations by prosecutors that a few marines illegally killed civilians, government officials said yesterday.
The report, by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, contains thousands of pages of interviews with marines, Iraqi Army soldiers who had accompanied them and Iraqi villagers who had seen the attack.
[. . .]
The evidence contained in the report, the most exhaustive of several inquiries begun by the military last year to determine what happened in Haditha that day, led prosecutors to charge four enlisted marines with murder. Four marine officers, who were not present during the attack, were also charged with dereliction of duty and other crimes for failing to properly report details of the episode.
The details of the investigation, first reported by The Washington Post yesterday, corroborate accounts of how the killings took place over a period of hours, as described by senior military and Defense Department officials last year in The New York Times.
Addition needed? First reported by the Times in 2005 going strictly by the military's account. That was 2005. In 2006, the truth emerged. In real time, it was spit out what the military press release stated. Back to the article:
The four enlisted men charged with unpremeditated murder, all members of a squad of Company K, Third Battalion, First Marines, are: Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich of Meriden, Conn.; Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz, 24, of Chicago; Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, 22, of Carbondale, Pa.; and Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, 25, of Edmond, Okla.
The attack on the Iraqis began after the roadside bomb blew up one of four Humvees the marines were traveling in on Nov. 19, 2005. Minutes after that, the report portrays Sergeant Wuterich, the squad leader, and Sergeant Dela Cruz as killing five men who had nervously piled out of a taxi that had stopped near the marine convoy, the officials said.
The men "were shot by Wuterich as they stood, unarmed, next to the vehicle approximately 10 feet in front of him," the report said, according to a person who has read it.
And? We don't cover the show death here which eliminates one article. I'm also not keen on an article about Bully Boy's plan that uses "could" in the opening sentence. He'll announce whatever he'll announce and all of our Sunday is too important to spend on speculation this morning.
Today, the US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group died Jan. 5 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." They also announced: "Insurgent small arms fire targeted a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southwestern section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 6. The unit was providing route security on a well-traveled route in the area when they received small arms fire, killing one Soldier."
ICCC lists the current total for the month as five and the current total since the start of the illegal war as 3009.
Stephen notes Teresa Watanabe's "Case tests officers' right to dissent: 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's lawyer likens his client's comments against the war and the administration to those of retired military officials" (Los Angeles Times):
Do military officers have the right to publicly voice dissent about their commander in chief and U.S. war policy?
That question highlighted last week's pretrial hearing at Ft. Lewis Army base near Seattle for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the nation's first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial and six years in prison for failing to deploy with his Stryker Brigade last year and for making four public statements criticizing President Bush and the Iraq war.
"This is an important case that will test the limits of dissent within the Army officer corps," said Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice in Washington, D.C.
Watada, a 28-year-old Honolulu native who enlisted after the Sept. 11 attacks, said he gradually came to the conclusion that the Bush administration had lied about the basis for war and had betrayed the trust of the American people, making Watada ashamed to wear the uniform. In media interviews and in a speech at a peace convention, Watada also said that the Iraq war was "not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law," and that soldiers could stop it by refusing to fight.
Reuters notes that, in Baghdad, two bodyguards of Habib al-Shimir (Education Ministry) were killed by a roadside bomb, a mortar attack killed four people and another roadside bomb killed two; in Hilla, a car bomb killed two and left eleven more wounded; two corpses were discovered in Mosul [at least 27 corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Saturday, FYI] while, in Riyadh, a headless corpse was discovered; shooting deaths included one person in Samarra, and a police officer in Samarra while four were wounded in Tuz Khurmatom.
And on an upcoming event, this is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Joan Mellen lecture on JFK assasination 1-28-07" which I meant to note last week but didn't have time (we will be noting it, Monday through Friday, in the week leading up to the Sunday event):
We'll be noting this again in January, but we'll note it right now. Author Joan Mellen will be speaking Sunday, January 28th at 7:30 p.m. in NYC at the 92nd Street Y (92nd Street and Lesington Avenue). Mellan, a professor at Temple University and the author of seventeen books, will be presenting a lecture on the JFK assasination . . . and beyond. Tickets are $25.
Mellen's latest book is A Farewell to Justice which probes the assasination of JFK. She was a guest on Law and Disorder November 7, 2005. And the March 15, 2006 broadcast of KPFA's Guns and Butter featured her speech "How the Failure to Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led to Today's Crisis of Democracy." You can also read a transcript of that speech here.
Again, that's Sunday, January 28th, 7:30 p.m. the 92nd Street Y in NYC.
For Molly who worries that people won't think to check the archives to find Ruth's latest, Ruth's Report went up last night. Use the link to access it. Isaiah's latest goes up after this posts. (And at West's request, he's done one featuring Laura Bush today.)
New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Ehren Watada stands and independent media heads for the bathrooms
Only the Dumb Asses Love Patti
Rush Limbaugh has lacatation envy
The Nation's sense of perspective
Democracy Now!'s sense of perspective
How to throw a civil war
The New York Times snubs Coretta Scott King one la...
Green Party: "Alternative Views on the State of th...
10 CDs we listened to during this edition
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