Friday, February 20, 2009


"I am charged now with attacking the prime minister's guest," he said stoically, making his first public remarks since the incident. "We Arabs are famous for being generous with guests. But Bush and his soldiers have been here for six years. Guests should knock on the door. Those who come sneaking in are not guests."

The above is from Ernesto Londono and Zaid Sabah's "Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Defends Attack on Bush" (Washington Post). Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi appeared in court yesterday and told his story:

After being meticulously searched by American guards, Zaidi said, he took a seat in the small briefing room in Maliki's office, where the news conference was to take place. "The occupation forces started annoying and provoking us because we are Iraqis, on Iraqi soil, inside the office of the Iraqi prime minister," he said.
During the news conference, Zaidi said, he became enraged as Bush provided an upbeat assessment of the security situation. "I did not know what achievements he was talking about," Zaidi said. "I was seeing a million martyrs, seas of Iraqi blood, the desecration of mosques, the raping of Iraqi women and the humiliation Iraqis endure every day, every hour. Because I am a journalist, I know all about that."

Londono and Sabah are among the reporters turning out strong reports. Another is Liz Sly. From her "Iraq shoe-thrower goes on trial" (Chicago Tribune):

The chief judge, Abdul Amir al-Hasan, then asked Zaidi about a statement he made to an investigating judge in which he described how he had long harbored ambitions to throw shoes at Bush, and had even filmed himself practicing throwing the shoes.
Zaidi claimed the statement was untrue and had been extracted under torture, including electric shocks.
Rather, he said, he acted spontaneously after listening to Bush praise the "achievements" made in Iraq at the press conference with Maliki.
"While he was talking I was looking at all his achievements in my mind. More than a million killed, the destruction and humiliation of mosques, violations against Iraqi women, attacking Iraqis every day and every hour," he said.

Can you follow the above? I think it's fairly straight forward but, if you read the garbage Campbell Robertson typed up for the New York Times this morning, you'll grasp some people have comprehension issues. Robertson basically calls Muntadher a liar in print -- apparently going by the 'confession' Muntadher dismisses above. Since Robertson has not ever spoken with Muntadher (no member of the press has since Muntadher threw the shoes), since Muntadher denied the 'confession' in court, it takes a real desire to endorse abuse and torture to dismiss a witness' public denial, in court, of a confession. Campbell Robertson comes off like a first-rate idiot this morning and we'll address that in the next entry (including explaining math to Campbell), but for now we'll note that Tina Susman and Raheem Salman's "Iraqi shoe-thrower's case is adjourned" (Los Angeles Times) sketch out one aspect of the legal strategy:

Zaidi's legal team, more than 20 lawyers who jostled for space around the pen, cited two principal reasons why their client should not have been charged.
Bush was a drop-in guest, they said, not an official visitor to Iraq, hence Zaidi should not face charges of assaulting a visiting dignitary. Second, because the incident occurred in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, they said, technically Bush was not visiting Iraq at the time.
Beneath those legal quibbles lies what Zaidi's supporters consider the main issue: freedom to publicly oppose the U.S. presence in Iraq. They argue that throwing one's shoes and calling someone a dog, as Zaidi did -- both supreme insults in the Middle East -- were his way of protesting the war and the presence of about 140,000 U.S. troops.
"My professors tell me this trial is unfair," said one of Zaidi's brothers, Maitham, a law student in Baghdad. He was holding court at a cafe beneath a giant shade tree outside the courthouse before the session began early Thursday.

I'll say the Green Zone aspect (being a US zone or, as some laughable call it, "The International Zone") of the above is the strongest point and leave it at that.

KeShawn notes Peter Phillips' "Obama Administration Continues US Military Global Dominance" (Dissident Voice):

The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative agenda of US military domination of the world -- albeit with perhaps a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the Guantanamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and aggression will likely continue unabated.
The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations put into place solid support for increased military spending. Clinton’s model of supporting the US military industrial complex held steady defense spending and increased foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 63% by the end of his administration.
The neo-conservatives, who dominated the most recent Bush administration, amplified this trend of increased military spending. The neo-cons laid out their agenda for military global dominance in the 2000 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) report Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The report called for the protection of the American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, to perform global constabulary roles, and to control space and cyberspace. The report claimed that in order to maintain a Pax Americana, potential rivals -- such as China, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea -- needed to be held in check. This military global dominance agenda required forward deployment of US forces worldwide and increasing defense/war spending well into the 21st century. The result was a doubling of the US military budget to over $700 billion in the last eight years. The US now spends as much on war/defense as the rest of the world combined, making Americans the highest war-tax payers in the world.

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oh boy it never ends