Saturday, January 19, 2008

Counting remains hard for Rubin

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations north of Baghdad Jan. 18."

In the New York Times today, Alissa J. Rubin contributes a really bad article. Among other groaners is her claim that yesterday's armed clashes "more than 40 people dead." Yes, it was 'more than forty.' 80 is indeed more than 40. In fact, it's twice forty. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) is able to count:

Members of an obscure messianic cult fought pitched battles Friday with Iraqi security forces in two southern cities, leaving at least 80 people dead, injuring scores and spreading panic among worshipers marking Shiite Islam's holiest holiday.

Counting has never been Rubin's strong suite as we've repeatedly noted here. Later in the article she will claim that the number of corpses discovered in Baghdad "has dropped to about three after months of dozens being found." "About three"? Three is not the average. Exactly what math system was Rubin trained in?

Rubin does report on an official, Maowaffak al-Rubaie, being cornered in Baghdad and how he pled to al-Maliki for help and the thugs from the Interior Ministry were sent to the mosque he'd been cornered in. By the way, al-Rbuaie's title? National Security Adviser. Condi would probably explain it away with, "No one could have guessed." The National Security Adviser of the puppet government gets trapped but let's all pretend that's a functioning government with support of the Iraqi people.

Rubin would do well to study how Zavis' notes the Soldiers of Heaven's past public history in US reports:

Last January, U.S. and Iraqi forces fought and killed hundreds of members of the Soldiers of Heaven, a messianic group they alleged was plotting attacks on the Shiite religious leadership in Najaf. The group's leader, Dhyaa Abdul-Zahra, claimed to be Mahdi and was killed in the fighting.

Rubin runs with the questionable past reports of the New York Times instead. It's a really bad article and one that may have gone through many drafts because it makes for a very awkward read just in terms of construction. (It runs on A6 so most will miss it.) That's a real shame because al-Sadr's announced (via a spokesperson) he's considering calling off the truce/freeze and you've got another Shi'ite bloc leader calling out the inaction of the puppet government.

Rubin can take comfort in the fact that a syndicated piece of drivel by another Rubin (war cheerleader Trudy) will probably be more noticed and provide more laughter. Long after the illegal war has ended, Trudy Rubin will still be distorting it and

Meanwhile, Pete Yost (AP) reports:

Apparent gaps in White House e-mail archives coincide with dates in late 2003 and early 2004 when the administration was struggling to deal with the CIA leak investigation and the possibility of a congressional probe into Iraq intelligence failures.
The gaps 473 days over a period of 20 months are cited in a chart prepared by White House computer technicians and shared in September with the House Reform and Government Oversight Committee, which has been looking into reports of missing e-mail.

Remember IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'."

Also in the Times is a report on Paul Slough who was involved in the slaughter of innocent Iraqis September 16th in Baghdad. From Ginger Thompson's "From Texas to Iraq, and Center of Blackwater Case :"

Initial investigations by the Pentagon, the F.B.I. and the Iraqi government found no evidence to support Mr. Slough's account -- no car bombs, no signs of enemy fire or insurgents. The F.B.I. concluded that at least 14 of the 17 fatal shootings had been unjustified, saying Blackwater guards had recklessly violated American rules for the use of lethal force. Military investigators went further, saying all the deaths were unjustified and potentially criminal. Iraqi authorities characterized the shootings as "deliberate murder."
Mr. Slough's lawyer, Mark Hulkower, said security contractors in Iraq work in "an extraordinarily challenging environment, where the enemy does not wear uniforms, unless disguised as Iraqi soldiers or police to exploit civilians."

They aren't contractors, they are mecenaries.

NOW on PBS began airing in most markets last night. If it's already aired in your area, you can stream online:

With the primary season underway, America is focused on whether the next president will be Democrat or Republican. Meanwhile, within the Democratic Party another struggle is unfolding. NOW on PBS reports on a rift between progressives who believe the party has sold out its liberal values and centrists eager to capture a broad swath of the more conservative voters. It's a struggle that is taking place at all levels of government.
In Maryland, six-term incumbent Al Wynn is facing a tough challenge from newcomer Donna Edwards. According to Edwards, Wynn has sold out to big business and the Bush agenda, including a vote for the war in Iraq and the 2005 energy bill. Wynn says his challenger is naïve and doesn't understand that there are choices in politics between compromise and doing nothing.

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