Friday, March 13, 2009

Iraq: Bombings, shoes and medicine

Weighing in on the manslaughter case of Marine Sgt. Frank Wuterich, Thomas E. Ricks, author of The Gamble, observes (at Foreign Policy):

It struck me that the massacre of 24 Iraqis happened more than three years ago. This war is beginning to feel very long to me. But then I think it will be America's longest war, outstripping not just Vietnam but the revolution.

Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reports the judge in the hearing, Lt Col Jeffrey Meeks, has said no to the prosecution's insistence on obtaining unaired segments of a CBS 60 Minutes report on Wuterich. (Click here for the report that 60 Minutes aired.) For those paying attention, CBS News said "NO" and didn't have the need to say, "I'm trying to figure out my legal strategy. I can't figure out what I'm going to do, but I may have to do something and while I figure that out, I need you to object to the fact that I'm being asked for testimony. Mind you, I'm not saying I won't give testimony, I don't know what I'll do, but while I decide what I'll do, I really, really need you to fight my battles for me -- even though, in the end, I may not decide to fight at all." That's not a journalist's position which is why CBS News didn't attempt to argue it. But those paying attention are very aware of the Panhandle Media 'journalist' who did just that and tried to make Ehren Watada's court-martial all about her -- and she was assisted by so many beggars in Panhandle Media.

Had CBS News been ordered by the court to release the unaired segments, it would have been very easy for other press outlets to support them because CBS News had taken a position. In Panhandle Media, they don't want to take a position, they want you to waste your time fighting a stand that they may or may not take. It's never about news for them, it's an endless fundraiser for the beggar media. (Those late to the party -- grab a drink -- should know Panhandle Media refers to the so-called "alternative" media in the US.) Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) notes the judge's statement, "There is a qualified news-gatherers privilege, and it is applicable here based on concerns about a chilling effect on the press. The press has an interest in being able to prepare and preserve stories without being an investigative arm of the government."

And those wondering if I rushed so quickly this morning that I forgot to give Ehren Watada a link, I didn't. His site is down and has been down. I'd hoped to have time to remove sites from the permalinks on the left last night -- there's a list -- that are no longer working and haven't been working for at least four weeks. That's not an insult to Ehren or anyone else but there are many links on the left and those that aren't working need to be taken down.

Yesterday morning's entry included this: "Marc Santora (New York Times) reports this morning (online -- no article on Iraq in the paper) that the judge, Abdulamir Hassan al-Rubaie, found it was an official visit and made that announcement Tuesday." 'Yes, there was!' insists a visitor. This site is over four-years-old now. We have covered the New York Times pretty much every morning. (I believe we missed three days when their coverage was so bad I just wasn't in the mood and would note that. This was in the Go-Go Boy days of Dexy and John.) We have never and will never cover show trials. We don't weigh in on them, we don't note them. If Iraq had some sort of truth & reconciliation program (run by Iraqis), we'd cover that. What they're doing is not justice, it's vengeance. And 'they' includes the US government which directs it. We're not interested in those stories. We have never been interested in them. I understand the drive-by's confusion but we have never, ever excerpted those stories. So there was no story we cared about that was filed from Iraq in yesterday's paper, if you prefer. To clear up something else, we're not interested in what Sy Hersh says. I know Sy. Have for years. If he wants to 'say' something, he knows how to write about it. Unless he does, we're not interested. Forever and a day, he was going to write about the young Iraqi boy raped at Abu Ghraib. He never did. Did it happen? According to the public record, it didn't. Equally true, in 2004, he defocused from Iraq -- and encouraged others to as well -- with his non-stop garbage about "We're going to war with Iran!!!!" He did that in 2005, he did that in 2006, in 2007, in 2008 . . . Help me out, the US went into physical combat with Iran when? Didn't happen. But Sy certainly offered a distraction, didn't he? Reminding me of a long ago DC night, during Vietnam, where between a non-stop ringing phone (harassment calls), Sy regaled us all with humorous stories. They never added up to much of anything either. But they did provide a distraction and defocus from what was supposed to be a political strategy session. If he decides to write about something, we may or may not cover it. (I know Sy's sources and always take them into account.) But we're not covering his utterances.

The link to Santora above was his online report on Muntader al-Zaidi's sentence yesterday. In this morning's paper, Riyadh Mohammed and Anwar J. Ali cover it with "Iraqi Shoe Thrower Gets Three Years" noting:

Seconds after the verdict was read, word trickled out and his sisters and aunts wept loudly, some praying, others cursing the Iraqi judiciary. The men of his family shouted as well, insulting the Iraqi sentries who were guarding the court.
The lawyer who led Mr. Zaidi's defense team, Dhiya al-Saadi, said the decision would be appealed to the Court of Cassation, Iraq's highest court. Some experts said they expected that the government would pardon him after he had served part of his sentence.
"Hero!" supporters shouted as Mr. Zaidi was escorted from the courtroom. He smiled, but it was unclear from his reaction whether he was shocked or heartened.
Family members and politicians from the movement led by Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, charged that the sentence was political and had been determined even before Mr. Zaidi's lawyer had made his closing argument.

We covered the sentence and the reactions at length in yesterday's snapshot. The above excerpt seems pretty clear to me (and the article's well written) but if you need more than the excerpt and more than the article, see yesterday's snapshot. I'm just not in the mood. There was an e-mail last night from a concerned person (truly concerned) about Muntadher and she (not a community member, she has her own outlet) wanted to know what Americans could do? I really don't see this as anything that can be done. The attorneys will appeal. It's an Iraqi judicial issue. I doubt he'll serve three years. I don't believe he should serve any time. But the family's been very clear that they think the America system spread to Iraq and that hurt Muntadher. So I really don't see that as a request of, "Big US, please help us!" Some times, the smartest thing you can do is listen. And, if you do, you may actually here: We don't want your help.

The rescue impulse, though frequently a noble one, rests on a similar drive as the motivator that turns the US into the Cops of the World. The impulse should be checked. Especially when no one is requesting your help.

If you're asked to help, you can help. But to assume that, from the US, you're going to lead some action for a man who may or may not want your assistance . . . That's a presumptious super power thinking they know best. And that's the same impulse that leads us into misguided wars (as well as illegal ones).

He remains an individual and he (and his family) will request help or they won't. As they determine it.

In other Iraq news, Amnesy International is focusing on the system of 'justice' itself in Iraq. Waleed Ibrahim, Mohammed Abbas
and Philippa Fletcher (Reuters report

Rights group Amnesty International said on Friday Iraq should halt the imminent execution of 128 prisoners because their trials may not have met international standards, a charge the Iraqi judiciary denies.
Amnesty called on Iraq to make public the names and charges against those to be executed, and said the death penalty was a poor deterrent in a country plagued by suicide bombers.

Tuesday saw a bombing in Iraq which claimed 33 lives (plus the bomber's life). At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, Laith Hammoudi shares:

My neighbor who is an old women said "Laith, go and check for your brother). Sh wanted me to look for her son who is a real brother for me. I was trying to check weather the bomb was inside the mosque or not. Thanks God, its near the mosque. My other neighbor came out of her house crying and yelling "I lost my son, I lost my son" I tried to talk to her but she didn't listen to me and run towards the place of the explosion. Thanks God again, he was simply injured. I checked everything. I kept asking and I found out that only three or four people were injured. Only one man was seriouslyinjured. The Imam of the mosque used the loudspeakers asking everyone to leave home but again Iraqis never learn easily. The young men kept coming. I started shouting at them pushing them back. My uncle did the same and other men too.
It looks that the dream of living in peace in Iraq will not come true at least for the coming few years. The increasing violence during the last few days revealed the truth about the fragile security situation.

An Iraqi correspondent for BBC News weighs in on health care in Iraq. We'll note the section on historical (it's the opening) and you can use the link to find out what happens when the correspondent's daughter gets sick:

Not many years ago, there were few better countries than Iraq in which to bring up a child. And there were few better countries for a child to fall sick in - or for a worried parent to seek help.
It's also true that Iraq was renowned in ancient times as a beacon of medical science, as the homeland of Avicenna and al-Kindi, among other pioneers of the practice of healthcare.
Baghdad's College of Medicine is one of the oldest in the region, if not the world. And, until recently, people came from all over the Middle East to Iraq for treatment.
The health service began to decline as the sanctions imposed after the invasion of Kuwait began to bite. And the deterioration reached catastrophic proportions after 2003.
Many of Iraq's top doctors and scientists fled the country. Many more were assassinated by jihadists and death squads.

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