Mamouri remembers sitting in court in September hoping to see the four men accused of planting the bomb testify. Instead, the presiding judge asked to be removed from the case, citing political pressure on the court. The judge also cited allegations that the detainees had been tortured to extract confessions.
"The political sides intimidated the judge and made him leave the case," Mamouri said. "Maybe it was a political party that has power in the government and intimidated the judge, or a side that had militias."
After the judge stepped down, the case was assigned to Baghdad's criminal court. A date was finally set, but when police failed to bring the defendants to court Sunday, the trial was postponed once more.
The aftermath of the assassination reveals much about the precarious nature of justice in Iraq; more than five years after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, there hasn't been a single conviction of anyone from a major government party for human rights abuses committed during the civil war.
The above is from Ned Parker's "Slain Iraqi police chief's family awaits justice" (Los Angeles Times) on the still unsolved assassination of Qais al-Mamouri. From the December 10, 2007 snapshot:
Among the deaths reported in Iraq over the weekend, one has gotten more attention that most murdered Iraqis receive. Yesterday, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the continued targeting of officials and the roadside bombing in Hilla which claimed the life of the Babil province's police chief Brig. Gen. Qais Al Mamouri (two other people also died in the bombing). Adrian Croft (Reuters) noted that there have been multiple attempts on Mamouri's life over the years and quotes a historian specializing in Iraq's history, Reidar Visser, declaring, "For several years, Mamouri stood out as an honest figure of authority in the mixed governorate of Babel, and had fought hard against militias regardless of their sectarian affilaitons." In this morning's New York Times, Paul von Zielbauer noted this "assassination of the police chief, Brig. Gen Qais al-Mamori, who led the police forces in Babil Province, was the latest of several attacks against provincial leaders in the mainly Shiite Arab region in recent months. General Mamori, who was 48, had become known for cracking down on militia leaders. He and the two bodygruads were killed as their police convoy rolled past a gas station in Hilla, the provincial capital, a local police official said. The leader of the provincial council's security committee, Hassan Watwet, said an investigation into Sunday's explosion was under way." von Zielbauer also noted that Muhammad Ali al-Hassani and Khalil Jalil Hamza -- governors of the Muthanna Province and the Qadisiya Province respectively, were assassinated several months ago "in what appeared to be a power struggle among rival Shiite militias for control of the oil-rich region." CBS and AP note: "The death of Brig. Gen. Qais al-Maamouri, chief of Babil's provincial capital of Hillah, was the latest in a series of assassinations of provincial leaders in the mainly Shiite region. Hundreds marched along dusty roads in Babil to mourn al-Maamouri, chanting and firing guns into the air."
A year later and still no justice in the assassination of al-Maamouri. And the assassinations and assassination attempts continue -- most recently this morning. Reuters reports Abd Thiab ("Iraq's Higher Education Minister") was the target of a roadside bombing this morning in Baghdad (two civilians were injured, no one else is reported harmed). They also note another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded four people (including one Iraqi solider). One year later, actually over that, and no trial in the assassination and no end to the assassinations.
And while shaking your head over what passes for justice in Iraq, don't think the guilty get punished in the US. President of Vice and War Criminal Dick Cheney dropped by PBS' The NewsHour yesterday (link has text, audio and video) to shoot the breeze and serve up some revisionary history:
MR. LEHRER: The president has also said that he made some mistakes in the last eight years. Did you make any?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, make mistakes - I can think of places where I underestimated things. For example, talking about Iraq, the extent of which the Iraqi population had been beaten down by Saddam Hussein was greater than I anticipated. That is, we thought that the Iraqis would be able to bounce back fairly quickly once Saddam was gone or the new government established and step up and take major responsibilities for governing Iraq, building a military and so forth and that took longer than I expected. I think that what happened in Saddam's reign as well as what happened in '91, when after the Gulf War there was an uprising in Iraq that was brutally crushed by Saddam. I think that eliminated a lot of the people that were potential leaders; if they'd stuck their heads up they'd have been chopped off. And if I were to look for one where there was a miscalculation on my part, I think I underestimated the difficulty of getting an Iraqi government stood up.
MR. LEHRER: When you look back on that, why? How did that miscalculation come about?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, we didn't have that good of intelligence, I don't think, with respect to sort of the state of affairs inside Iraq. A lot of that had been wiped out over the years. Saddam Hussein was so brutal, killed so many people, slaughtered so many innocents, that it had a lasting effect on Iraqi society that was greater than I expected.
MR. LEHRER: Is it fair to say, then, that the miscalculation resulted in chaotic situation that existed immediately after for awhile and got - immediately after the invasion and all that sort of stuff?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I can't say that. I can't like those -
MR. LEHRER: Sure.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: - two particular points. What I can say is I think if we had been able to move more rapidly to stand up a government that was capable, I think we might have avoided some of that. But I don't want to blame all that on the Iraqi government; it was a difficult situation, but it was successful. We now find ourselves in a situation where, five years later, we've achieved most of the objectives that you would have set out in the spring of '03 when we launched into Iraq.
We've got the violence level down to the its lowest level since '03, we've had three national elections, a constitution written, a new government stood up, a new army recruited and trained, the Iraqis are increasingly able to take on responsibility for themselves and we've now entered into a strategic framework agreement with the new Iraqi government that will provide for the ultimate withdrawal of U.S. forces. You could not have asked for much more than that in terms of the policies that we started on in '03.
MR. LEHRER: Mr. Vice President, getting from there to here, 4500 Americans have died, at least a hundred thousand Iraqis have died. Has it been worth that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I think so.
MR. LEHRER: Why?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Because I believed at the time that what Saddam Hussein represented was, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, was a terror-sponsoring state - so designated by the State Department. He was making payments to the families of suicide bombers; he provided a safe haven and sanctuary for Abu Nidal and other terrorist operations. He had produced and used weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological agents. He'd had a nuclear program in the past. He killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and he did have a relationship with al-Qaida. Now, we've had this debate, keeps people trying to conflate those arguments. That's not to say that Saddam was responsible for 9/11; it is to say - as George Tenet, CIA director testified in open session in the Senate - that there was a relationship there that went back 10 years.
So this was a terror-sponsoring state with access to weapons of mass destruction and that's the greatest threat we faced in the aftermath of 9/11: The next time we found terrorists in the middle of one of our cities, it wouldn't be 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters, it would be terrorists armed with a biological agent or maybe even a nuclear device. So I think, given the track record of Saddam Hussein, I think we did exactly the right thing, I think the country's better off for it today, I think it's been part of the effort alongside Afghanistan to liberate 50 million people and establish a vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East. I think those are major, major accomplishments.
Summarizing. Mistakes? Chency don't make no stinking mistakes! Read again as he allows for 'underestimations' but no mistakes. (Lehrer labels them "miscalculations.") Was the intel off? It must be that notorious modesty of Cheney's that prevents him from noting that he was running the intel, manipulating it in fact. Note that when Lehrer asks about the dead Americans and Iraqis, and was it worth it, Cheney voices that he believes it was and the reason is "because I believed at the time that what Saddam Hussein represented . . ." First, he's lying. He knew better. But those who want to pretend Cheney Dick is capable of honesty and take him at his word, no. If he truly believed Saddam represented this and that then but now knows better than the deaths were not worth it.
Cheney also worked to out undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Not Valerie Wilson.
The New York Times did some of the worst reporting (though 'progs' surpassed them in 2008 as they rushed to ignore Joe Wilson when not slandering him) on the outing of Valerie Plame and seems determined to continue that as well as the long tradition of sexism at the paper. Michael Falcone's "Court Orders Search of White House Computers" today refers to "Valerie Wilson."
What's that? The cover of her book. Valerie Plame Wilson is what she goes by now. Not "Valerie Wilson." And her professional name was Valerie Plame when the outing occurred.
That's a David Bacon photo of the demonstration in Oakland to protest the shooting of Oscar Grant by police officers. His latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which was picked as one of 2008's three best books by this community [see "2008 in books (Martha & Shirley)"]. He has other photos of the demonstration rally but I'm having no luck finding them this morning. I'm finding his column "Somebody has to respond" (San Francisco Chronicle). He was on Uprising recently (January 12th) and Oscar Grant was also a topic of another segment of the broadcast. Okay, thank you to a ____ (a very good friend) who just found them. Click here for Political Affairs where you will find some of Bacon's photos from the rally.
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