Wednesday, December 10, 2008

LAT lets Iraqis speak, NYT goes gunning for US workers

The current Blackwater defendants won't face trial in Iraq, but they could face decades in prison in the United States if convicted, something that pleases Iraqis such as Ali Abdul Ali.
"This is good," said Ali, an unemployed military veteran. "It means no one is above the law, even if he's an element of foreign forces. It also means the victims will get justice."

[. . .]
Police officers stationed in the circle were happy to discuss the Blackwater case and to show off the bullet holes from that day. One of them quickly interrupted his lunch of beans, rice and bread to weigh in.
"I heard about [the charges against the Blackwater employees] yesterday on the news," said the officer, who like his colleagues was not authorized to speak to reporters and would not give a name. "Because they killed 17 innocent people, of course they should be arrested."
[. . .]
"That's where the doctor and her son died," he said, referring to Mahasin Mohssen Khadum Khazali and her son, Ahmed Haitham Ahmed Rubaie, who were in a white sedan that the Blackwater guards said they suspected of being rigged to explode.
"Justice should be served. These victims -- their rights should be taken into consideration," said another policeman, edging in front of the first cop and quickly taking over the conversation. This officer said that if the Blackwater guards are convicted, they should die.

The above is from Tina Susman and Usama Redha's "Iraqis applaud charges against Blackwater guards" (Los Angeles Times) and it's probably the best report filed today from a US outlet. (There is plenty more than the excerpt which was very difficult to select hence the non-stop use of ellipses.) While it's true that many take yet another day off from Iraq, even on a day when the New York Times, for example, could get off its lazy, pampered ass and file something, Susman and Redha's report would still be a strong one.

Since the Times of New York can't offer a damn thing on Iraq, let's note one example of the garbage they think passes for news this morning. On the front page David Leonhardt offers the embarrassing "$73 an Hour: Adding It Up" (link provided only for those who question something so stupid could exist, let alone run on a front page). Well, Leonhardt argues, the $73 an hour for auto workers assertion may not exactly be true, but it's not exactly wrong. It is exactly wrong, the $73 is a lie. It's a smear meant to blame the mis-management problems on the workers.

Inside the paper, a 'graph' tells you the workers for Ford make $71 an hour! No, they don't. They make -- by the chart -- $29 an hour. That's not amazing for a union job (especially when the data includes more than just assembly workers). So how do they get to $71 an hour? By including things like "training". By including things like overtime. By including things like pension.

Now let's be really clear here, on the previous bail-out, the paper wasn't a bit interested in where money had gone. And on this proposed one, they still aren't. But they are willing to scapegoat workers this go round. Wouldn't it be great to have an itemized listing of the bank execs responsible for the housing crisis? But the paper wasn't interested in that (and really wouldn't be unless details of pay came out in a nasty divorce action).

Ford auto workers (a vauge grouping the paper's unclear on and may include some levels of management) make $29 an hour on average. That's not $73 and hour, it's not $71 an hour and there's something really disgusting when, in the 21st century, the New York Times is pushing an article that is arguing in essence that vacation time should be on the chopping bloc. (Doubt it? The graph shows they included vacation time to reach their lie of $71 an hour.)

Yesterday the Defense Dept's inspector general released a report [PDF format warning, click here]. Mike Mount (CNN) reports:

The U.S. Marine Corps knew of the threat posed by roadside bombs before the start of the Iraq war, yet did nothing to buy protective vehicles for troops, according to a report to be released by the Pentagon.
Additionally, Marine leaders in 2005 decided to buy up-armored, or reinforced, Humvees instead of Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles to shield troops in Iraq from mines and other explosives -- a decision that could have cost lives, according to the report obtained Tuesday by CNN.
The report by the Department of Defense inspector general was requested by the Marine Corps in early 2008 after a civilian employee with the service complained that bureaucratic delays undermined the program to develop the armored vehicles.

Washington Post's Derek Kravitz explained last night:

The report was requested after a separate, internal report, released in January, found that hundreds of Marines had died unnecessarily because of delays in getting the vehicles on the ground, USA Today reports.
That study, authored by Franz Gayl, an ex-Marine officer and civilian science adviser, was initially met with skepticism. In September, Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.) wrote that the whistleblower was being targeted by his superiors for "adverse personnel action" because of the report.
After the inspector general's report became public, the Pentagon announced late today that it would order up between 2,800 to 10,000 of the vehicles, called MRAP-All Terrain Vehicles, for the Army and Marine Corps.

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the los angeles times
tina susman

david leonhardt
mikw mount
the washington post
derek kravitz