Saturday, March 03, 2007

Another prisoner dies at Camp Cropper -- play dumb like the MSM

Court-martial proceedings for a Schweinfurt, Germany-based Army medic charged with desertion and missing movement are to begin Tuesday morning at the Leighton Barracks courtroom in W├╝rzburg.
Spc.
Agustin Aguayo, 35, of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, went absent without leave in September to avoid deploying to Iraq with his unit. The deployment would have been Aguayo’s second to Iraq.

The above is from Mark St. Clair's "Soldier’s desertion trial set Specialist has applied for conscientious objector status" (Stars & Stripes). Remember that Amenesty International has released a statement on Agustin Aguayo's court-martial and will have a monitor present for it.
Diana notes this from Iraq Veterans Against the War:

Agustin Aguayo served as a combat medic in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. He applied for conscientious objector (CO) status in February 2004. When the Army denied his CO application, he filed a civil court suit in U.S. District Court in Washington against the Secretary of the Army; his appeal is still pending. Shortly before he went AWOL, he received an Army good conduct medal. He is a great example of both the courage it takes for our troops to go to war, as well as the courage it takes for them to oppose the war.

He and Helga are also the parents of two small children and he could have been charged with going AWOL but the military wants to make an example and charge him with desertion (by their rule of thumb, they usually reserve that for someone missing more than 30 days -- Aguayo wasn't even missing for the entire month of September).

There are a number of e-mails coming in about whether Ruth will have a new report? I don't know and she doesn't know. Rebecca and Flyboy were driving for the trip (due to Rebecca's pregnancy) and planning to leave on Sunday. Treva, Ruth's friend, was visiting and offered to make a road trip of it in her RV so they (and Elijah, Ruth's grandson) left on Friday. Ruth's not sure whether she'll have a report or not. If there's time for one, I told her she can dictate it over the phone and I'll type it up. (Rebecca has her laptop with her.) So it's still up in the air at this point.

Due to that, I'd planned a second entry for later today after we'd finished doing at least one article for The Third Estate Sunday Review (which we just did). All that's completed will post on Sunday but we're trying to get done early this weekend. Get done early, not ignore it. Which makes us different from the Democrats in Congressional leadership roles (it's called "transition). Marcus highlights Kevin Zeese's "The Democrats and the Peace Movement" (CounterPunch):

Rep. Chris Van Hollen is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It is his job to preserve and expand the Democrats majority in Congress in 2008. Rep. Van Hollen is also my congressman. So, this week when he held a town hall meeting I was paying close attention to his message on the Iraq War.
From his talk it is quite clear what they Democrats want. They want the peace movement to work for the Democratic Party rather than the Democratic Party representing the peace movement.
At the meeting there were signs held in the audience urging "use the power of the purse to end the war" and "support vets not war" and people in the audience held "defund the war" signs. A mother of a vet,
Tina Richards, whose son is getting ready to return for his third tour of duty in Iraq, read a poem by her son that explained why he works for peace and described his despair, his thoughts of suicide and the horrors he saw in Iraq. (See this powerful poem below with link to her website.) When she urged a cut-off of funds the audience of several hundred cheered wildly.
But, Rep. Van Hollen, who is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not commit to not voting to fund the war. Instead he pointed to the recent non-binding resolution passed by the House opposing the "surge" as a first step. He highlighted how the Republicans blocked even a vote on that in the Senate. He reminded people that he opposed the war and voted against the use of force resolution. (But, he didn't mention how he has voted for all of the $420 billion in funding for the war.) He concluded to end the war we need to build a political movement because we could not stop the war with the current Democratic majorities in Congress.
The Democrats seem to think the Iraq War is the "goose that lays the golden votes." They hope it is the golden goose that will expand their majorities and bring them the presidency. Keeping the war going, while showing their opposition through non-binding votes, criticizing Bush and conducting high profile hearings that point to the corruption of the administration as well as the mistakes of the commander-in-chief will get them more votes than ending the war. The Democrats can point to the Republicans as the problem and highlight Bush's reckless leadership as commander-in-chief and say "elect us."


Kevin Zeese also writes at Democracy Rising and, to do some housecleaning, that's one of the links we've added on the left (always on the left). The disgust with print media's refusal to call out the war (while falsely scolding "Be Honest") and their refusal to cover students (which only got worse this week when they demonstrated what they thought student activists were) meant (as Beth explained in her column two Fridays ago and I did in mine -- both at the gina & krista round-robin) that I put together a panel of members with the request to find some new links. (The panel was chaired by Keesha and the others on were Liang, Eli, Charlie, Kayla, Marci, Gareth, Gore Vidal Is God, West and Brandon. I asked Keesha to chair, and thank you to Keesha for that, and asked those to serve because they were among the most vocal complaining about the mushy independent print media, and thank you to them for serving. I should have noted that we'd added links here, in this space, but there's never time to note most of what needs to be noted. When Marcus noted Zeese's column, he also pointed out that Democracy Rising was now a link. The panel was selected by me because the e-mails complaining about, for instance, The Nation were becoming too numerous -- both to the private accounts and to Beth who called to ask what was going to be done? All participating were asked to do so that morning and 'met' online that evening. The next scheduled panel is in April and Beth's going to pick the members for that panel.)

In Iraq today, the violence continues.

Bombings?

Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that three bombings in Baghdad injured 8 police officers and killed one, while another bombing burnt out "American Humvee vehicle". Reuters notes a car bomb in Ramadi that killed 12 (including a child), a roadside bomb near Latifiya "killed a woman and her two children," a roadside bomb near Tikrit killed three police officers and left three more wounded, and a mortar attack in Iskandariya wounded four and killed two.

Shootings?

Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Lt. Col Fadhil al Rheem was shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters notes six family members shot dead in Yusufiya and one person shot dead in Hawija (with two more people wounded).


Corpses?

Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and two in Takya. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Iskandariya.

Also today, the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldiers died Saturday of wounds suffered after an improvised explosive device exploded next to their vehicle in centralBaghdad." They also announced: "A security detainee died Mar. 2 at Camp Cropper, Iraq, from apparent injuries sustained after being assaulted by other detainees." What's missing from the statement is "A prisoner died in American custody." Camp Cropper is a US run facility in Iraq (not far from Baghdad International Airport). It's not uncommon, sadly, for a prisoner to die at Camp Cropper, such as in October 2006 ("from apparent injuries sustained after being assaulted by other detainees"), such as in November 2006 ("from what appears to be natural causes"), and in December 2006 ("from natural causes"). How many deaths does it take to launch a full blown investigation into conditions of American prison in the United States?

Robert Fisk wrote about Camp Cropper in 2003 (Independent of London via Information Clearing House):

Amnesty International turned up in Baghdad yesterday to investigate, as well as Saddam's monstrous crimes, the mass detention centre run by the Americans at Baghdad international airport in which up to 2,000 prisoners live in hot, airless tents. The makeshift jail is called Camp Cropper and there have already been two attempted breakouts.
Both would-be escapees, needless to say, were swiftly shot dead by their American captors. Yesterday, Amnesty was forbidden permission to visit Camp Cropper. This is where the Americans took Qais Al-Salman on 6 June.
He was put in Tent B, a vast canvas room containing up to 130 prisoners. "There were different classes of people there," Qais al-Salman says. "There were people of high culture, doctors and university people, and there were the most dirty, animal people, thieves and criminals the like of which I never saw before.
"In the morning, I was taken for interrogation before an American military intelligence officer. I showed him letters involving me in US aid projects . He pinned a label on my shirt. It read, Suspected Assassin'."

The Red Cross was also denied access to a prisoner there that the US held. (In violation of the Geneva Conventions.) Michael Moss (New York Times) wrote about Camp Cropper at the end of 2006:

One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.
American guards arrived at the man's cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.
Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.
The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.


Speaking of Robert Fisk, he is among the guests on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST, Air America Radio, XM radio and online):

SATURDAY
When it comes to caring for the sick and the young, Americans still expect unpaid women to do it. It's time we snapped out of our time warp and politicized the personal -- again -- says RUTH ROSEN author of a new article on the Care Crisis. Rosen will be our guest on RadioNation this week, along with award-winning journalist, author and winner of the 2006 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Prize for Cultural Freedom, ROBERT FISK, on the political upheavals of the Middle East. Plus on the anniversary of the day the US constitution went into effect – March 4, 1789 -- the executive director, BILL MOYER of The Backbone campaign will tell us why their MarchForth! campaign will help us create 'more perfect union.'
SUNDAY
We'll rebroadcast our February 17th 2007 show on Truth and consequences: You'll hear our interview with CRAIG UNGER author of House of Bush House of Saud about the tricky truth of who is funding whom in Iraq. ELIZABETH de la VEGA, author of United States v. George W. Bush et al., et al. and DAVID SWANSON, Washington Director of Democrats.com, ImpeachPAC.org and co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, on the I-word and the option Congressional Democrats say is off the table. [. . .]

COMING UP ON NEXT WEEK'S SHOW
Where did Donald Rumsfeld go wrong? We’ll speak with ANDREW COCKBURN, investigative journalist and author about his new book Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, & Catastrophic Legacy.


If you missed the show that's rebroadcasting on Sunday, you should catch it. (We wrote about it at The Third Estate Sunday Review in "If he exceeds his reach, you must impeach.") As I noted before, we've already done one feature for The Third Estate Sunday Review already. During that Cedric mentioned a highlight he wanted to note, I'll note it here to save him having to blog. This is from Grace Lee Boggs' "WANTED: AMNESTY FOR BLACK PANTHERS" (Michigan Citizen via The Boggs Center):

The outrageous arrest in San Francisco this month of eight 50-70 year old men, believed to be former members of the Black Liberation Army, for the alleged killing of police officer John V. Young nearly three decades ago, provides movement activists with a unique opportunity to ask ourselves new questions and begin a new kind of organizing.
Should we continue to fight these cases individually and defensively, as in the decade-long struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal?
Or has the time come to launch an overall campaign to demand amnesty for Black militants incarcerated 20-40 years ago or now threatened with incarceration?
The main goals of such a campaign would be to (1) restore to the community activists who have been incarcerated or are now threatened with incarceration, and (2) bring an end to the relentless cycle of violence and incarceration that has devastated black families and the black community over the last forty years.


And we're not done with impeachment. Rachel notes these upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- over the airwaves in the NYC area (and beyond) and also available online (times given are EST) and the third one is devoted to impeachment:

Sunday, March 4, 11am-
THE NEXT HOUR
Actor/author/raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, March 5, 2-3pm
CAT RADIO CAFE
Playwright Julian Sheppard and actress Katherine Waterston talk about "Los Angeles," a new play at The Flea; author and editor Wendy Lesser on her new book of essays, "Room for Doubt." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Monday, March 5, 9-11pm
IMPEACHMENT SPECIAL
World Can't Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime Director Debra Sweet hosts this panel with Daniel Ellsberg; activist professor Father Luis Barrios; Hip Hop Caucus leader Rev. Lennox Yearwood; recent college grad Anastasia Gomes and others. With listener call-ins.


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