Thursday, February 21, 2008


Al Rashad's acting director, Dr. Sahi Aboub, was detained on Feb. 10 for his alleged role in helping to set up the attacks. Hospital workers say coalition forces spent several hours searching his offices and took the contents of several filing cabinets.
Al Rashad staff members said the allegations that Aboub provided mentally disturbed patients to al Qaida in Iraq are without merit.
First, they said, the hospital doesn't treat the mentally retarded or those with severe mental impairments.
Second, they said that the hospital is controlled by forces loyal to Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr and that Aboub is a Shiite who's unlikely to be in league with a Sunni extremist group such as al Qaida in Iraq.
Doctors also said that Aboub has no background in psychiatry and that, unlike those already on staff, he had no say in when patients would check in or out of the hospital.
"He's not crazy enough to risk his life and job by cooperating with al Qaida," one doctor said.
There also are questions about how long Aboub has been working at the hospital. A document that U.S. forces left at the hospital when they arrested Aboub said he'd been involved in selecting possible suicide bombers since Jan. 1.
But health ministry documents that hospital workers provided to McClatchy show that Aboub didn't start work at the hospital until Jan. 13.

The above is from Steve Lannen and Hussein Khadim's "Baghdad hospital staff feels wronged by suicide bombing charges" (McClatchy Newspapers) and it was noted in yesterday's snapshot; however, the press conference the US military staged yesterday appears to be the final word for too many in the press so we're stuck with really bad claims (by the US military) reported without questioning, reported as fact, by lazy reporters. For instance, here's Richard A. Oppel Jr. in this morning's New York Times (A6) writing about records he never saw:

Psychiatric case files of two female suicide bombers who killed nearly 100 people in Baghdad this month show that they suffered from depression and schizophrenia but do not contain information indicating they had Down syndrome, American officials said Wednesday.

That's his opening paragraph. He never saw the records but that's his lede. And as bad as that is, there's a local news show on right now that hasn't even gotten the talking point that Down syndrome has been dropped from the US military's official check list.

Peter Hart (of FAIR) offered a very astute critque of the press regarding New Hampshire where he noted that the issue wasn't that the polling was wrong (though they all rushed to say that's what led to the journalistic embarrassment), the issue was that they all accepted it and ran with it instead of doing their jobs -- which was to go beyond the polling and actually report on the issues. By the same token, the pre-illegal war coverage doesn't fall apart because reporters were fed lies or truths (they were fed lies), it falls apart because they rushed it into print without skepticism. In the horse race, they treated polling as if it repeating it was reporting, in their coverage of the illegal war (then and now) too many continue to believe that merely typing up military talking points is 'reporting.'

Michael Holden (Reuters) walks you through the US military's evolving claims:

The U.S. military conceded on Thursday it did not know if two women who carried out bombings in Baghdad that killed almost 100 people were mentally handicapped, casting doubt on earlier assertions.
Reports that al Qaeda was using mentally impaired women to unwittingly carry out attacks provoked widespread outrage and Washington said it proved that the militant group would stop at nothing to spread violence in Iraq.
On the day of the blasts on Feb 1., Iraqi officials said reports indicated the women had both suffered from Down's syndrome, a genetic disorder.
The U.S. military echoed those comments, saying al Qaeda militants had duped two mentally handicapped teenagers to carry bombs into packed pet markets, killing 99 civilians in the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital since last April.
But in a statement to Reuters on Thursday, U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith said he was unable to say for certain whether the women were actually mentally handicapped.

Attached Oppel's New York Times story online and running at the end in print is a two paragraph AP brief on Christopher Shore. Instead of noting that, we'll note this from the BBC on it: "US soldier has been convicted of aggravated assault in the killing of an Iraqi man near Kirkuk last year. " An extended AP report, by Sudhin Thanawala, can be found here:

A nine-member jury found Shore of Winder, Ga., not guilty of third-degree murder in the June 23 killing but guilty of the lesser offense. Aggravated assault carries a maximum eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge but lawyers said Shore could receive a lighter sentence.
Col. Donna Wright, who presided over the court-martial at Wheeler Army Airfield where Shore is based, set sentencing for later Wednesday. Another witness was being flown in from Iraq to testify at the sentencing.
The soldier had blamed the killing on his platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales of San Antonio, who is to go on trial on a premeditated murder charge on April 22.
Shore says he shot at but intentionally missed the victim when ordered by Corrales to finish him off outside a house near Kirkuk.

As speculation continues to mount on whether or not Moqtada al-Sadr will extend the cease-fire/truce, due to expire at the end of the month, Tina Susman and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report:

Aides to Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr cast doubt Wednesday on his commitment to extending a six-month cease-fire that expires this month, saying U.S. and Iraqi forces had not necessarily earned Sadr's continued cooperation.
The comments raised the specter of a return to sectarian violence and an upsurge in attacks on U.S. forces at an especially delicate time in the war. The United States is in the process of drawing down the additional 28,500 soldiers it deployed last year and has banked on a continuation of Sadr's cease-fire to help keep the peace as American troops depart.

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