Saturday marked the third anniversary of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. On Apr. 28, 2004 CBS broadcast the first graphic photos of torture inside of the U.S.-run prison in Iraq on its 60 Minutes II programme.
"Americans did this to an Iraqi prisoner," news anchor Dan Rather said as a slideshow of disturbing torture photos flashed across the screen. "The man was told to stand on a box with his head covered, with wires attached to his hands. He was told if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted."
More photos followed. U.S. soldiers posed with naked Iraqi prisoners, including one with detainees stacked in a pyramid. In most of the photos, the soldiers were smiling. At the time, the Pentagon, represented by Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said only a few "bad apples" engaged in torture.
"What would I tell the people of Iraq?" he said. "This is wrong. This is reprehensible, but this is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are over here. I would say the same thing to the American people. Don't judge your Army based on the actions of a few."
The soldiers in the photos were prosecuted and many received prison sentences, but no high-ranking officers or George W. Bush administration officials were put on trial. That didn't sit well with U.S. Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis. He came forward to say that torture was common practice in Iraq and that he had himself tortured prisoners while stationed in Mosul in 2004.
"We would bring in dogs," he told IPS. "They would be muzzled dogs, but the prisoner would be blindfolded so he wouldn't realise the dog was muzzled. We would try to terrify them and induce pain, put them in stress positions, sleep deprivation, all of these together to break down the prisoner."
Subsequent reports indicated that each of those interrogation policies was approved by then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.
Lagouranis says his immediate superiors orchestrated the torture he meted out.
"My superiors organised the dogs," he said. "They had organised the shipping container that we would use to maintain these prisoners in this state and they just told us, 'This is what we're going to do for this guy' or 'We've targeted this person for this and that's what you're going to do' and we followed orders."
Turning to news of today, this is from Alexandra Zavis' "U.S. military shows its side of Iraq war on YouTube" (Los Angeles Times) about the military's "new front" (comments after excerpt):
The U.S. military has opened a new front in the Iraq war: cyberspace.
Moving into a realm long dominated by Islamic militants, the military has launched its own YouTube channel offering what it calls a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the conflict. The move recognizes that the Internet is becoming a key battleground for public opinion at a time when domestic support for the war is dwindling.
Islamic militants use the Internet to promote themselves and recruit followers with videos of tearful hostages, exploding military vehicles and U.S. soldiers cut down by sniper fire. No longer confined to a few obscure websites, the footage is turning up on popular video-sharing sites such as YouTube.
Now the U.S. military is offering up its side of the war. Available for download are blistering firefights across rooftops, nighttime raids filmed through the green glow of night-vision devices and a "precision strike" that wiped out an insurgent antiaircraft gun in a huge ball of fire.
"This effort was not designed to combat what ends up on extremist websites," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq. "But we understand that it is a battle space in which we have not been active, and this is a media we can use to get our story told."
Military commanders have long complained about the "negative" slant of Iraq reporting, with its focus on the violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since U.S.-led forces invaded in March 2003.
New? They've been promoting footage at their website (MNF) for some time. They've actively attempted to penetrate the web. They've e-mailed sites promoting the videos, calling them "cool," asking various sites to link to them. It's not new.
They're taking the plan to YouTube because their other efforts didn't work. The only thing "new" is that they're posting it on YouTube because their efforts to "get the word out" and get links didn't work.
Turning to an event that will be streamed online for those interested but not in the area:
First Iranian to Win the Nobel Peace Prize Will Speak at University of The Pacific on May 3rd
Press and Bloggers are invited to submit questions in advance which Ebadi will answer during the podcast of her speech
(Stockton, Calif.), May 1, 2007 -- Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, will speak at University of the Pacific at 7 p.m. May 3 at the Faye Spanos Concert Hall. She was awarded the prize in 2003 for her significant efforts in spreading democracy and human rights and fighting for the rights of women and children in her country and around the world.
Ebadi is an attorney and founder of the Children's Rights Support Association in Iran. Her speech at Pacific is one of only two appearances on the West Coast. Ebadi’s speech, titled "Iran Awakening: A Story of Revolution and Hope," is one of many lectures and events dealing with the Middle East at Pacific this year.
"With the precarious state of relations with Iran, Shirin Ebadi’s comments and viewpoints are more important than ever before," said Margee Ensign, associate provost of international initiatives and dean of the School of International Studies at Pacific. "We are proud that she is coming to Pacific and look forward to hearing her comments about Iran as well as gender issues in the Middle East."
Nobel laureate Ebadi was born in Hamadan, Iran, but her family moved to Tehran in 1948. She was admitted to the law department at University of Tehran in 1965 and passed the qualification exams to become a judge in 1969. She started her career as a judge in 1970, earned a master's degree in law in 1971 and became the first woman in Iran to preside over a legislative court in 1975.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, she was forced to resign her post after conservative clerics insisted that women were prohibited to be judges under the rules of Islam. She was not allowed to practice law until 1993. During that time, she wrote many articles and books on Iranian law and child abuse cases. After she was given a law license again, she took on a large number of social cases and many cases that received widespread press attention, including several child abuse cases. She also represented the relatives of several journalists who were jailed or killed for doing their jobs. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.
Ebadi continues to be in the news with her campaign for equality. She recently issued a joint statement with United Nations Secretary General Irene Khan calling for an end to all discrimination against women in Iran. "We know there is a direct relationship between peace, justice, and respect for human rights. As long as women are denied human rights, anywhere in the world, there can be no justice and no peace," Ebadi and Khan stated. "Recognizing women's equal rights, therefore, is an essential requirement for the creation of strong, sustainable, and stable societies and ensuring that women enjoy equality with men in all areas of life are key steps to making human rights a universal reality."
Ebadi is not the only woman from the Middle East who will speak at Pacific in May. On May 16, Afghani activist and Pacific alumna Sakena Yacoobi will host a benefit with students and community members about her work in her native country to educate women and children. She also will receive an honorary doctorate during Pacific's Commencement on May 19.
Earlier this year, Pacific hosted a speech by Middle Eastern expert Juan Cole, professor of history at University of Michigan and president of the Global Americana Institute. During the past year, the University has hosted several discussions on Islam.
Dr Ebadi's speech at Pacific will be available via streaming audio podcast live on May 3rd at 7:00 PM Pacific Time. Link to this audio stream is: rtsp://etsxserve.pacific.edu/ebadi.spd.
A few weeks following the speech, a video recording will be posted to the School of International Studies home page, http://sis.pacific.edu/.
Press and bloggers are invited to submit questions for Dr. Ebadi via email to
Questions for Ebadi can be emailed during her speech to
and Dr. Ebadi will answer selected questions during the podcast of her presentation.
For more information about Ebadi's visit, call the School of International Studies at 209.946.2650.
More on Ebadi can be found on the Web at: nobelpeaceprize.org/eng_lau_biography2003.html
Contact: Patrick Giblin
Shirin Ebadi was included in Ms. magazine's grouping of "peace mongers" you can also read about Iran and about her in Ms. magazine's "Iran's Quiet Revolution" (winter 2007 issue). The Bully Boy beats the war drums with an eye to Iran. There are any number of topics that can be addressed.
3351 is the current total of US service members who have died in Iraq, over 655,000 Iraqis. With that in mind, Eddie notes Robert Parry's "Dying for W" (Consortium News):
Obviously, there is no guarantee that a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal would bring peace to Iraq. The greater likelihood remains that civil strife will continue for some years to come as Iraq’s factions nurse their grievances and push for a new national equilibrium.
But the counterpoint to Bush's veto threat against a withdrawal timetable is that his open-ended war is doomed to failure. To attain even the appearance of limited success would require American forces to effectively exterminate all Iraqis who are part of the armed resistance to the U.S. occupation.
After all, the only logical reason for not wanting the "enemy" to lie low is so American troops can capture or kill them.
That has been Bush’s strategy for the past four-plus years -- longer than it took the United States to win World War II -- and the military situation has only grown increasingly dire. Meanwhile, anti-Americanism has swelled around the world, especially among Muslims.
Along with being the anniversary of the ridiculous claim of "Mission Accomplished," it is May Day. Zach and Mia noted three of the following and I was pairing that up but I see Megan's already done that in her e-mail. KPFA has special programming today:
The Morning Show
Tuesday, May 1st, 07:00am
Dana Frank, Chris Kutalik, and Marsha Niemijer participate in a labor scholar roundtable. And Deepa Fernandes speaks about her new book "Targeted: National Security And the Business of Immigration."
[Deepa Fernandes will be participating at an event tomorrow, 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC), Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci. Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.]
Against the Grain
Tuesday, May 1st, 12:00pm
Nicolas Lampert on the Haymarket Tragedy; "Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority."
May Day Special Broadcast: Rally for Amnesty for Undocumented Workers
Tuesday, May 1st, 1:00pm
Live broadcast of the march and rally in San Francisco for unconditional amnesty for undocumented workers.
Free Speech Radio News: May Day Special
Tuesday, May 1st, 3:00pm
Free Speech Radio News looks at the issues facing workers around the world.
Hard Knock Radio
Tuesday, May 1st, 4:00pm
Davey D speaks with Hip-Hop rapper Pharoahe Monch about the music industry, and the increasing backlash Hip-hop has been facing.
Tuesday, May 1st, 5:00 pm
A look at the plight of undocumented workers and labor.
La Raza Chronicles
Tuesday, May 1st, 7:00 pm
A report back from the rallies around California in support of immigrant workers.
Tuesday, May 1st, 8:00 pm
Music inspired by May Day.
Marches for immigrant rights will be taking place across the country. (Click here for the Bay Area -- Aileen Alfandary just noted it on air.) Diana notes that it's raining in Dallas but their march will start later today and she hopes the rain clears out by then. Last year, Dallas had over a *half a*million people participating in the march. IMC will cover the actions around the country and provide live streaming on this throughout the door. US Indymedia does run it at the top.