Tuesday, May 15, 2007

NYT: Still can't say the name

It went on to cite the rape last year of a teenage girl by American troop near where the abduction occurred.

The above is from Damien Cave's "Qaeda Group Calls Hunt for Soldiers Pointless" in this morning's New York Times. The sentence above refers to what the group claiming to have the three US service members who have been missing since Saturday. Let's zoom in on "teenage girl." Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. Let's repeat that: Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. The name the New York Times avoids. The name the paper has avoided for some time. Was the raped? She was gang-raped. She was also murdered and her corpse was set on fire. Both of her parents were shot dead (while she was being gang-raped by the first two US soldiers -- there's no alleged needed there, they have both confessed) as was her younger sister. Then -- here's where we have to use "alleged" -- a third US soldier took his turn. That is said to be Steven D. Green who maintains he is innocent.

Sidebar: For some reason (hopefully honest mistake), YouTube has a video of "James P. Barker". There are 12 e-mails from visitors suggesting we link to that video. I don't have time to watch it all (I caught 10 seconds this morning). That is not James P. Barker displayed in the photo. That is Steven D. Green. The clue should have been that he's in civilian clothes (Green had been discharged before the crimes came out). One visitor wrote that the video "says we have to remember this face" -- that's not James P. Barker's face in the video. It's Steven D. Green's. And let me correct it, thirteen e-mails from visitors on this video.

Back to the Times, in minimizing reality and allowing Abeer to go unnamed, Cave's not doing anything novel. He's part of a long history of reporters avoiding the war crimes. See: "The New York Times rendered Abeer invisible yet again."

Martha and Lloyd both e-mailed sections from Sudarsan Raghavan's "Search for Troops Is 'in Vain,' Insurgents Declare" (Washington Post):

The group suggested the abductions were to avenge the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl in the same area and abuses committed by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib and other prisons.
"We say to you that what search for your soldiers you may do will not lead you to anything except fatigue, and setbacks for you. Your soldiers are firmly in our hands," the Islamic State of Iraq said in a statement posted on insurgent Web sites.

"Remember what you had done in this area, when you violated our sister Abeer," the statement added, referring to Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. Five soldiers were charged in the March 2006 murders of Abeer, her parents and her younger sister. Three soldiers have pleaded guilty in the case.

That shouldn't be a shock to any of the above members of the community. (Nor should it be a shock to readers of the Washington Post. Ellen Knickmeyer, early on, covered the story of Abeer -- "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings.") When it was time to cover (or, rather, miscover) the Article 32 hearing in August, the Times (specifically Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall) were so busy arguing the defense case for them before the defense even could -- a defense that had no legal precedant but somehow Marshall and Worth just 'guessed' what it would be before it was ever argued -- that there wasn't space to name Abeer. There was plenty of room to advance the defense arguments -- and again, before the defense did.

This didn't appear in the paper (it's from CNN):

"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."

But the Times just wasn't interested. Now Marshall and Worth's slanted coverage was as wrong as anything that carried Judith Miller's byline. It's not even open to debate because 3 of the soldiers have confessed. The way to 'deal' with that at the paper is to find a spot for floater Paul von Zielbauer by letting him grab Marshall's beat. But Carolyn Marshall and Robert Worth should be ashamed of themselves. It went far beyond jounalistic incompetence.

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