Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marc Santora (NYT) reports on yesterday's attack

Today the US military announces: "One U.S. Soldier and one Iraqi interpreter died as a result of an attack at an Iraqi Police station in Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 24. Three U.S. Soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were also wounded. Injured personnel were taken to the Combat Support Hospital in Mosul, where the U.S. Soldier died of his wounds. The cause and nature of the attack are under investigation. The names of the deceased and wounded are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the U.S. Department of Defense." The announcement brought the number of US troops killed in Iraq to 4251. That's the death noted at the start of yesterday's snapshot.

And, good for Marc Santora, it's the one he covers in "G.I.'s Attacked by Iraqis in Uniforms" (New York Times). The story makes it into this morning's paper (A10 in the national edition) and Santora does a strong job of reporting what was known and not known. He provides context by explaining this was "at least the third attack in the restive northern city in the past two months by Iraqis wearing the uniforms of security officers." He makes clear that the death has not been announced by the military but was being reported (AP and Reuters); however, the US military had issued a statement on the attack which noted the death of one Iraqi translator. Santora notes:

The Americans were on patrol, inspecting a police checkpoint, when two men dressed as police officers opened fire on them, according to an Iraqi official in Mosul. It was unclear if the attackers were members of the police force or were simply posing as policemen, and whether the checkpoint was an official one.

So a strong article, good for Santora, and one that makes it into the paper on the morning the US military makes an announcement, good for the paper.

While the coverage of the deaths appears to matter to news outlets less and less (check last night's evening news on commercial, broadcast networks), the deaths continue in Iraq and are felt in the US. Matthew D. LaPlante's "Utah soldier, onetime teacher, killed in Iraqi firefight" (Salt Lake Tribune) notes Michael Alleman's passing:

The students in Micheal Alleman's class didn't take kindly to the news.
It was the middle of the school year, and the popular fifth-grade teacher was leaving his career as an educator to join the Army. He told the class he wanted to be like the nation's first president, who left his career as a Virginia planter to take up arms against the British monarchy.
"He said that George Washington was his hero," said Samantha Larkin, 11, a student in Alleman's class at Nibley Elementary School in Cache County, last year. "But it was a little bit confusing to us."
On Tuesday, Alleman's former students were among those in several Utah communities coming to terms with a revelation that was even more difficult to accept: The teacher-turned-soldier had been killed in Iraq.

And you can contrast that with the disgraceful coverage in Illinois of the three*Indianapolis* soldiers who died in Iraq. You can marvel over the Chicago Tribune's use of a brief (three sentences) AP report, you can scratch your head over the smaller outlets in Illinois (we'll be kind and not name them) but that's just disgusting and goes to the point made yesterday: This is self-censorship. No one's banning them from reporting on the fallen. They're banning themselves. They should be ashamed. [*Corrected. The Tribune is the biggest paper in the area and its reach is so great, think back to the primaries, that Barack was supposed to win Indiana as a result of it and other Illinois media. The Tribune's daily circulation is twice any Indiana paper and its Sunday circulation is nearly three times the Indianapolis Star.]

In the Los Angeles Times, Monte Morin and Caesar Ahmed offer "In Iraq, a homeless family's plight furrows brows:"

Even with more than 2 million Iraqis displaced from their homes by war and sectarian conflict, it's practically unheard of to see a family living on the street in Baghdad's bustling downtown.
So residents of the City Center district have been shocked by the predicament of 48-year-old Allia Abbis Ali Kassem Tibiti and her parents. For about two months now, they've made their home on the steps of the shuttered Rashid Theater, on the bank of the Tigris River.
Their encampment, flanked by two police checkpoints, consists of a clump of battered mattresses, piles of blankets and dozens of cardboard boxes, plastic bags and dented water bottles.
On a recent afternoon, Allia Tibiti prepared a stew of tomatoes and vegetables on a small gas stove as her father and mother, both 65, huddled beneath blankets and stared vacantly at the traffic rolling past.

Elsewhere, Alan Gomez makes a fool out of himself at USA Today. Biting what the puppet government's feeding (as the idiot Patrick Cockburn did last week), Gomez trumpets 'recovery' and housing in Baghdad is now high priced! Now? Now, you idiot? Sunday at Third, we examined Submersion Journalism: Reporting in The Radical First Person From Harper's Magazine in "The sexism at Harper's." That book of essays features Adam Davidson "Out of Iraq: The Rise and Fall of One Man's Occupation." Davidson was in Iraq reporting for NPR. He and Salon's Jen Banbury decided -- this is in the fall of 2003 -- to leave the hotel scene and set up a house in Baghdad for themselves and other reporters. The market did not, as Gomez wants to insist, suddenly rise. When Davidson and Banbury were being asked for $100,000 to lease a house for a year (and finally found a 'bargain' that was $14,000 every three months), idiots like Gomez and Cockburn beg to be laughed at.

Billie notes this news wrap up by the Dallas Morning News -- top three items are Iraq. It includes the US soldier killed yesterday, the news in England and the dropping of charges in Germany. On the news from England, Gareth notes this from Gary Slapper's "Iraq Cabinet minutes: 'Jack Straw should not be his own judge'" (Times of London):

Jack Straw, in ruling against the release of cabinet minutes relating to the UK's going to war in Iraq, has violated a key principle of the British constitution. That principle is nemo judex in sua causa: no-one should be a judge in his own case. Mr Straw stands personally to gain by the continuing secrecy of the cabinet papers.
The war in Iraq has been described by Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the former senior law lord, as "a serious violation of international law". The British public has a legitimate interest in knowing how its government came to have entered it. Jack Straw was Foreign Secretary at the key time.
If there was something unlawful taking place how can one of the possible culprits be the person who makes a quasi-judicial decision that the evidence must remain secret? That is the equivalent of a police suspect telling the police there will be no investigation as there is nothing to worry about.

Kristoffer Walker is the 28-year-old Iraq War veteran currently in the news for refusing to return to Iraq, stating that the war is wrong. What the hell is wrong with the press in Wisconsin? The Journal Times editorial board doesn't make the factual errors that the Green Bay Post-Gazette did regarding military policies and regulations (or 'regulations'); however, it advances some Big Dumb to argue for Kristoffer to return to Iraq:

Walker, once an infantryman and now an office worker, doesn't have a moral argument. He advances a legalistic one, as if to say that every decision the country makes should be good and every cause it commits to should be right. Unfortunately that doesn't happen with humans. Fear, ego and who knows what else combined to drive the Iraq war, yet we at least now recognize the depth of our mistake and are trying to disengage. The irony is that Walker may not have served that much longer in Iraq even aside from the year left on his enlistment.

He does have an ethical argument. Just because you disagree with it doesn't make it unethical. He is opposed to this war and he is being asked to fight in it. The editorial board's on slippery ground but here's where they fall on their face -- feel free to stomp on their backs as you walk over them:

People who expect perfection in a marriage partner or a country are bound for disappointment, and that is how such commitments provide a test of character. One sees the imperfection but realizes that the entirety of the commitment is greater than a single moment or fault, or one walks away and is thought less of. The same idea can be applied to the rest of us as citizens. We have a civic duty to build our community. Walking away diminishes us, not the people we leave.

A marriage partner? That's where they want to go? And then they want to argue you can't walk away from marriage? In the United States of America, they want to argue that? What idiots. [We used the marriage metaphor back in December of 2004, "SHOULD THIS MARRIAGE BE SAVED?" The answer to the question is "NO!"] "Do your duty!" cries the Journal-Times which apparently did their's on the editorial pages -- now who's going to be stuck cleaning it up?

Meanwhile Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes:

When former President George W. Bush addressed the U.S. Congress in January 2008 he gave three pages of his speech to the Iraq war. On Tuesday night his successor Barack Obama spoke a single sentence.
"We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war," Obama said in his first speech to Congress since being elected on Jan. 20.

Ann Scott Tyson and Anne E. Kornblut (Washington Post) cover Barack's possible draw down. Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports that following Iraqi MP Mohammed al-Daini's departure to Jordan being blocked this morning (supposedly, the plane was already in Jordian air space), Parliament has lifted his immunity and he may now be charged with the crimes the puppet government says he has committed.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has two announcements. First up:

KRG statement: Deputy Prime Minister

Statement by Kurdistan Regional Government
25 February 2009

Based on a decision by the Politburo of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan at a meeting on 24 February, Mr Emad Ahmed has been put forward as candidate for the post of Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Mr Ahmed is the KRG Minister for Housing and Reconstruction.

Next up:

Prime Minister hosts roundtable on rule of law capacity-building plan

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq ( – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday met with US officials, the Judicial Council, judges, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders to discuss a ten-year capacity building plan designed to strengthen the rule of law.

Modernising the judicial system and creating an independent judicial branch has been among the Prime Minister's most important domestic aims, and he spoke passionately about the importance of such steps for the future of the Region.

“One of the most important duties of the Kurdistan Regional Government is to strengthen our judiciary and law enforcement mechanisms. We know that, more than almost any other challenge, failure to address these matters will hold back progress across a broad range of issues.”

Prime Minister Barzani outlined six concrete steps upon which he wishes to focus: judicial training, simplification of the judicial process, developing investigative skills and technology, improvements to the prison system, public education curricula, and benefiting from international initiatives conducted in the Middle East.

Ms Lucy Tamlyn, US Regional Reconstruction Team Leader, said, “The United States is pleased to provide the funding for the Rule of Law survey and strategy - also called road-map - for the Kurdistan Region.” She continued, “I am confident that this project will make a very important contribution to the Region.”

Wilson Myers, US Regional Reconstruction Rule of Law Adviser, briefed the participants on a variety of efforts underway so far.

In the spirit of the roundtable discussion, the Prime Minister spoke openly about the necessity for an independent judicial system, non-interference by political entities, and creating public trust in the judicial system as the third pillar of government.

The Chief of the Kurdistan Regional Government Judicial Council, the Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, and the Minister of Justice all expressed their dedication to this project, and emphasised the importance of recent legislation to enhance judicial independence.

See also Prime Minister Barzani's speech at the round table

Meanwhile Iraq's Foreign Ministry announces:

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari received on 25/2/2009 in his office, Mr. Hoges Minckerly, President of the members of the European Union delegation for the seventh round of trade and cooperation agreement between Iraq and the European Union in the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad.

During the meeting they dealt with the ongoing discussions of items of the agreement and the importance of completing it to expand cooperation between Iraq and the European Union in all areas.

Minister Zebari spoke on the internal developments in Iraq and Arab and foreign delegations visiting Iraq, and welcomed the visit of European senior officials and thanked the valuable assistance of the Union to Iraq. Minister Zebari also stressed the need to complete the trade cooperation between Iraq and the European Union because it would widen the prospect of Iraq in front for great commercial dealings with the European Union.

And they announced:

The seventh round of negotiations on trade and cooperation between Iraq and the European Union started on the morning of Wednesday, 25/2/2009, at the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, , which comes within the directives of the European Union to contribute to providing support and assistance for Iraq in achieving development and political stability in addition to contributing to the reconstruction and integration between the EU and the Iraqi economy.

The Iraqi side was headed by Dr. Mohammed Hajj Hmoud, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Multilateral Relations,membership of representatives from the ministries of the Foreign Trade, Planning and Development Cooperation, Migration and Displaced Persons, culture, tourism and antiquities , the Central Bank of Iraq, and from the European side, Mr. Hoges Minckrily, Chairman of the Department of Middle East and south Mediterranean and the European Commission representative in Baghdad.

The EU delegation arrived on Thursday 24/2/2009 and will meet a number of Iraqi officials during their stay in Baghdad.

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oh boy it never ends