Friday, March 06, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 6, 2009.  Chaos and violence no doubt continue (it's Friday, forget getting a violence report on today's violence out of Iraq), Amnesty documents the violence targeting Iraqi women, a Feb. 23rd press conference contained all sorts of details about Iraqi prisoners but US audiences didn't get to hear about it, some talk reality (Debra Sweet, Matthis Chirous and Elaine Bower) and more. 
Yesterday in NYC, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux and Debra Sweet discussed upcoming actions and the need for them.  Click here to stream at wearechangetv.  Debra Sweet is the national director of World Can't Wait and this from the discussion:
Debra Sweet:  To my right is Matthis Chiroux who is a resister of the Iraq War -- someone who came out of the US army and decided that he would refuse orders to go into Iraq.  And he's courageously right now fighting a battle with the US army so that he's not put in a position of having to back off that stand and he's trying to make a fight on principle. That the war is illegitimate in the first place and no one should have to serve.  We got to know him very well when he led a group of Iraq Veterans Against the War and hundreds of others of us to protest at the last debate between Obama and McCain out in Hampstea,d New York -- a bunch of them got beat up.  And what they did  were very righteous.  To my left is Elaine Brower who is also a member of  World Can't Wait and also a member of many other organizations -- such as Peace Action, Military Families Speak Out -- and is leading a national effort to get the Guard out of the federal government which would allow, we hope, them to be pulled out of US military adventures around the [world] including Iraq and Afghanistan. So we want to just have a conversation first among ourselves and, once we turn the cameras off, we'll bring everyone else in New York into this conversation. And again we're urging people listening right now to listen and then go out and make your plans for March 19th. Thursday March 19th is two weeks from today. There's plenty of time to make the kind of strong message we need to put together, emanating from this country. So I want to turn to Matthis and Elaine and ask a couple of questions.  We're going to have a conversation.  First of all what do we think about the responsibilities of the people living in this country in regards to the occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan  and especially the escalation of Afghanistan 17,000 more troops being sent by Obama and what about the responsibility  we have for the US torture state and the announcement that, number one,  there will be no prosecution, if Obama has anything to say about it, of the people who put together the us torture state and, number two, that he wants to continue both the use of state secrets to keep this quiet and secret rendition to take people from third countries to be tortured.  I guess I've given an indication of what I think about this but let's hear from Matthis and Elaine.
Matthis Chiroux:  Hi, everybody here, everybody here, joining us at home via the internet, all around the world.  Thank you for taking this moment  to try and understand where our responsibility lies in this movement to resist the crimes of our government.  What Debra said is very true. I think it is our responsibility to not only be organizing and demonstrating against these occupations but to being taking responsibly for them because ultimately I believe this isn't Bush's war, this isn't Obama's war, this is  America's war.  And in a democratic society, the more we would like to believe that we have a say so, in the same sense the more responsibility that we share for the actions of our elected representatives.   It is imperative that the entire country go into mourning on March 19th for the 2 million dead of both of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our movement needs to be distancing itself from President Obama. I'm sorry to say it because I know he was many of our candidate. But he has chosen not to be our president instead he has chosen to be an emperor and I protest emperor's and everybody should in this entire country and across this entire planet.  So ultimately it is our responsibility and if we are not in the streets on March 19th protesting loudly and furiously the crimes of our government the world will consider it complicity and we cannot afford for that to happen.  So, as a brief opening statement, yes, it is absolutely our responsibility to oppose these crimes and to demonstrate in the streets and to be putting our bodies on the line for peace and justice as citizens as the world not simply America.  And I'll turn it over to Elaine.
Elaine: Good evening everybody and thanks for being here and thanks for watching.  I just want to say that we invaded Iraq.  It's six years now. And we protested the invasion before it happened and we need to keep protesting the occupation.  And people sort of got complacent with the election coming.  And we see that now there's slogans out there "Yes we can end the war," "Yes we can bring the troops home" but we're not saying what we used to say.  We're not demanding -- demanding -- that the occupation and the wars end now.  What we need to do for the world -- because the Afghani civilians are depending upon us, the soldiers are depending on us and the Iraqi civilians are depending on us to --  get out in the streets in mass mobilization on the 19th and shut down business as usual.  We've been saying this for six years we've tried and we haven't accomplished it. People voted for change twice in this country  In 2006 they went out and they tried to vote in Democrats for change and that didn't happen.  And now they thought, "Well okay so we're going to vote in a new administration that's all Democrats and yes we're gonna get change."  Well maybe we'll get some domestic change but we certainly are not getting a change in foreign policy. In fact If you listen to the pundits, they've been saying that they're very disappointed and things are absolutely not changing under this administration. So it's up to us in the movement to make sure that we're visible not on a weekend but during the week when people can see us out in the streets.  And I know this is difficult to do this and I know -- I've been doing it myself for seven years, pretty much everybody here has been doing it and I know people that are watching  have been doing it. But we cannot stop.  This is the point where really need to mobilize and say, "No, you're not going to continue this killing and occupation in our name with out dollars."  Obama's not talking about taking the mercenaries out of Iraq or Afghanistan. He's only talking about possibly drawing down troops, maybe.  And he could always change his mind depending upon what goes down on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. So we've got to make sure that they know we're out there.
Debra Sweet: I'd like to talk for a moment, since I raised it and since it's a demand, I think it's a just demand, for March 19th   The occupation of Iraq has to end. I think most people are very clear on that. But I will tell you this right now, many people are not clear about Afghanistan.  Many people are not clear that it is a terrible thing to be sending drones dropping bombs on people in Pakistan.  Many people are not clear  that Obama talking about diplomacy with Iran can be and has been used as just another way of making war on the Middle East and moving towards controlling  it.  And I think our responsibility -- yes, I think we have a responsibility to resist and I really agree with what Matthis and Elaine are saying, but we have even a heavier responsibility.  We have to go out to the people we know who are not in this room, who are not watching who are thinking about something else and thinking everything has been solved and talk to them about why sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan after you've already raised the civilian murder rate.  The killing of civilians,  40% in the last year, is absolutely unacceptable.  And this is, I think, part of this heavier layer of responsibilty that I'd like us all to think about and to talk about.  What does it take for people to start looking at this situation not just as Americans but through the eyes of humanity?  And to give you a really shaper example, I was at a peace meeting two nights ago and it was a film called Obama's War. A representative of United For Peace and Justice -- of which World Can't Wait and many of us are members -- actually said, "Aren't you glad this is Obama's War and not McCain's War?"  And I said, and I thought and said to myself, "How do the people in  feel that this is Obama's War?"  Do we think they're celebrating that the bombs being dropped on them have a big "D"  for Democrat on them?  I think hell no. This is an outrage that this president right now is still being seen by people all over the country as an anti-war president.  Let's just be for real, this is a continuation of an unjust war no matter what it is called and it is a rebraniding of  injustice in the name of something that it isn't, peace.  What do you think?
Matthis Chiroux: I absolutely agree.  I think one of the most important things for this movement to remember right now is that while this war was a liability to the Bush administration, it is something that was an embarssment for them.  Every time something about the war came up, they were on the defensive -- trying to defend why we had to go get Saddam Hussein and why we still had to be going after bin laden in Afghanista. And people thought, "Oh, this is your fault.  This is your mistake."  This war is not a liabilty to Obma.  This war is potentially something he can use to look like he's being strong on terror as a Democrat.  This is something that he can escalate.  And if the slightest, tiniest bit of progress can come out of it, this country will want to hail him as the hero of peace and justice and all of that stuff when, in reality, what we're doing is what we've always done.  And I can say it having been in the US military and having been part of the occupation of German and Japan sixty years after WWII. I literally lived in the old Axis of Evil.  And what I learned is that: we never leave.  Right now in Iraq, while people believe that the war is over and that we won and we've struck a blow upon the anvil of imperialism and so on and so forth, it is just not the case. We are building permanent bases and leaving troops on a permanent timetable when we ought to be admitting wrong and paying reperations to people whose society we have destroyed.  And there's no amount of capitulation that we can do to the Obama administration that is going to make the bombs stop falling.  It was one of the first things he did when he took office, the bombs started falling on Pakistan.  And then it came out that he was going to continue this legacy of state secrets to hide the fact that tortture does take place on a regular basis by the orders of the US government .  Fahad Hasmi is still lingushing in solitary confiement right here in NYC  We're talking about Guantanamo closing in a year as being a great victory for this movement when, in fact, all that's going to happen is they're going to shut down and they're going to move them back into the federal system here where every bit as much injustice is occuring.  For those who do not know, Fahad Hashmi is an American citizen who has been held in solitary confiement now for more than a year while in a state of presumed innocence for the supposed crime of allowing af riend to sleep on his couch for two months three or four years ago.  It's craziness.  Obama . . .  I, right now, have a hearing with the military where I'm going to have to defend my decision not to report to duty last summer to deploy to Iraq  The army's decision [applause], I say that because the army's decision to prosecute me, to set a date and show up, didn't come until after Obama took office.  If we could expect serious change that would have stopped. But  It's not. Those policies are continuing  policies that are keeping poeple like Fahad  literally, I'm sorry you don't have to water board someone to torture him. I think leaving him in a solitary confined space for a year without telling them what they did wrong  is torture and we have to oppose that just as loudly.  Look we have to understand change will absoultely not manifest itself in this country until we cease the unjust practices of the past.  And when those unjust practices are simply being rebranded under a different face and a different name, it is our responsibility as a movement to provide clear contrast to something that people want to believe in but is ultimately a fairytale.  Obama has plotted* a clear choice for this country from imperalism to impearlism-lite  And I said it before and I'll say it again, as any ex-smoker will tell you, just because you switched from Reds to Marlboro Lights doesn't mean you quit the habit.  You don't quit the habit  until you put it out and we need to extinughs this war on terror because until we do the habit continues  
Debra Sweet: I want to ask Elaine a specific question because I've known Elaine snce after her son was  deployed to Afghanistan -- right aft 9-11 -- and since then he's been in Iraq twice and in fact he's there for the second time now.  So this is a very personal question and a personal quest but what do we say to people who say that Afghanistan is the good -- "Yeah, yeah, I know Iraq is bad, we should get out of there.  But what about Afghanistan isn't that the good war, isn't this a good thing?"
Elaine: Well it's interesting because as a member of Military Families Speak Out, we just opened up a discussion form because it became a hot topic. Now what's happening is a lot of the military families are seeing their loved ones instead of going to Iraq, they're going to Afghanistan.  And this is something they never expected. So there's a real debate now amongst military families, shouldn't we add this to our mission, shouldn't this be a part of our mission statment that we do not want to send our soldiers to afhgnaistan? And people now are sort of getting on board with that it's dawning on them, "Well why are we going to afghanistan?" They're questioning that: "Well what are we looking for?  The Afghani people never attacked us. Okay, so mabye it was bin Laden, who knows?  We don't even know that for a fact.  But let's say it was that's one person and al Qaeadea is one group of people. So we just bomb Afghansitan? Do we send soldiers into the mountains to kill innocent people in villages  that have nothing to do with this?" So this discussion is starting to surface.  And, no, it is absolutely wrong to send soldiers into Afghanistan.  In fact today I was talking about  National Guard and now they're taking the national guard and sending them to Afghanistan.  For what? Our National Guard is supposed to be here in the  United States responding to any emergeinces we have here -- whether they be hurricanes or accidents of major magnitude.  But they're no longer here. In fact, yesterday in Wisoncisn, they sent 3200  national gaurd members to Iraq they happened to go, but here from Rochester we lost 2000 national guard going to Afhgnistan.  So this is definitaly a situation where, being a military family member, I live and breathe this every day.  I have to tell you personally when you have children what you do -- or a loved one -- I knd of have this little grid in my head.  And I know where my daughter is.  And I know where my husband is. And when my son joined the military I lost track of him in this grid.  And I had to place him where ever he was.  And I was thinking today on my wall, I used to have a map and I had thumbtacks in it.  And before 9-11 and he was in Afghansitan I'd put a thumbtack and then he went to Australia and East Timor and then he kind of got lost in Iraq and it was very traumatic for me.  And I have been going through this for seven years. And there are other military family members who are saying  "When is this going to end?  Even if he's going to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq, who are those 50,000? Are they the same people that have gone three four times already? Or are they now freshly recruiting right out of high school" -- which we've seen new young people -- "to go over there to do what?  What are they protecting?"  They're protecting this monstrotisty of an embassy  What are we doing there? What's the purpose?  So Afghanistan is defintely wrong. I know that and I think now it's sort of bubbling to the surface and people are starting to question that which they didn't before.  But I think we're going to see more of that.  Getting out on the 19th, to me, is very critical because . . . I do not want my son to come back from Iraq -- he's supposed to come back in June, I hope he comes back in one piece --  I don't want to see him go to Afghanistan.  Or back to Iraq for that matter. I want this over and I think pretty much everyone who is in my position does also. 
Consider the above a rush transcript.  Example, Matthis may have said Barack's "charted" and not "plotted."  Second, last night was going to include Judith LeBlanc but Jim called a related section for Third.  Two people present (neither was Debra Sweet) at the event Debra is speaking of (above) called during the event to say Judith LeBlanc had just said "the most insane thing" and "disgusting thing" and it was the story that Debra related.  I have no intention of covering for UPFJ's Judith LeBlanc.  It's all over the peace movement (I've had voice mails and e-mails from easily 200 friends passing it on in the days since it took place) and no one can stop talking about it.  Debra Sweet was nice about it.  It was supposed to be in last night's entry and Judith was going to be named.  Since the story's being told above, I feel no need to be nice (see "Guess Who, Don't Sue" at the end of the snapshot for more on that) and the person is Judith LeBlanc.  Judith hasn't had this much attention since she started wearing those tacky, faux leather, men's sandles a few years back. And, again, I'm not in the mood (see the last item in the snapshot), if you'd like to ask Judith why she said that, her business e-mail should still be You might also want to ask her if she stands by the ridiculous lie she pimps in various interviews about Barack's reach-out to veterans during the DNC convention.  (When he punked IVAW by sending Big Lies From Texas out to disperse them in Denver.)  Then again, why shouldn't Judy spit on the truth?  She already spits on her own family heritage when she calls Barack "Black."
Those who want to chant "Obama! Obama!" while rubbing themselves can join Judith in a frenzied rush but those who want to stop the Iraq War can join with The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War for an action this month. From IVAW's announcement:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)     
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or
MN Roy (Cleveland IMC) evaluates Barack's bad, war-on wagging speech from last Friday and remembers to include a shout-out for UPFJ:
Obama's abandonment of even a pretense of appearing to be "anti-war" was further underlined by his keeping Bush's war minister and generals aboard in the name of "non-partisanship." You can be sure that "General Betray-Us," amongst others, has far more say in shaping the policies of the Obama administration vis-a-vis Iraq than any of his slavish supporters in "MoveOn.Org" or UFPJ. While there are plenty of Clinton and Bush era retreads, not to mention generals, in the Obama administration for all to see and hear, where are the representatives of the "mass movement" that supposedly propelled Obama into office? Indeed where is the "mass movement?" You'd think by now that there would have been some sign of protest against the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the maintenance of the rendition and torture lite or the endless welfare for Wall Street that are becoming the signature items of the Obama regime. Then again, none of them raised a peep, at least not in public, against the Obama endorsed Israeli onslaught against Gaza. Maybe it's that when you keep people off the streets for so long in order to get them into the voting booth, you can't get them out in the streets again. Unless, of course, like UFPJ, you don't want to get them out there to begin with.UFPJ opposes marching on Washington on March 21st against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan out of deference to the Democrats.
The question for the pro-Obama "left" is whether they will follow the logic of their politics and become supporters of Obama's wars and his austerity attacks on American workers in spite of the slap in the face he just gave them or will that slap finally wake up some or any of them. Back in the sixties, many of today's "Progressives for Obama" came of age politically in response to an imperialist war being waged by a liberal Democratic administration, one that actually could still be pressured into cleaning up some of American capitalism's more blatant inequities and excesses. Yet that didn't stop Martin Luther King, Jr. from boldy breaking with LBJ in order to oppose the Vietnam war. King became persona non grata vis-a-vis the pro-Democrat "civil rights" establishment but he stood his ground. Today some of the leaders of UFPJ want to do the same thing to antiwar activists who opposed voting for the pro-war Democrats. So just as Obama has embraced his Republican rivals in "non partisanship," ie, in common defense of American capitalism and, in doing so, repudiated his supporters, today's liberal-left by uncritically embracing Obama, has done the same. As they used to say in the sixties, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Or to be a bit more frank, if the boot fits, they'll lick it!
MN Roy has a very strong analysis of the speech but when someone captures UPFJ so perfectly, we go with that for the excerpt.
In Baghdad, a woman is raped, beaten and scarred with a lit cigarette by armed men who are trying to make her miscarry; in the KRG, a woman's brother shoots her for running away from the forced marriage to a relative ("her cousin"); in Basra, Rand 'Abd al-Qader is killed by her own father for the 'crime' of speaking to a British soldier (the father admits his crime to Iraqi police and is never even charged), Leila Hussein (Rand's mother) leaves her murderous husband and she is shot dead in Barsra in May 2008; Bergerd Hussein Muhammad Amin, an Iraqi journalist, is repeatedly threatened by her estranged husband and the police do nothing, she ends up stabbed repeatedly and dies but murder is 'unknown.'  Those are but two of the stories to be found in  Amnesty International's new report [PDF format warning] entitled "Trapped By Violence: Women In Iraq."  The report notes:
Acts of sexual violence against women in Iraq are severely under-reported, not least because of the victims' fear of reprisal, and reported incidents are not systematically recorded.  However, the majority of women who responded to a survey conducted through networks of Iraqi women organizations and published by Women for Women International in 2008 said that violence against women was rising.  Many women are trapped indoors as they fear the risks of stepping out of their homes.
Across the board, rights for women have gone into retreat in Iraq and those women who speak up and fight for equality often find themselves targeted.  Nothing was done to protect Iraqi women because the US government did not give a damn about them (and apparently still doesn't).  It was more important to push through plans for corporations and that required 'stability' which was easier to 'achieve' by empowering thugs.  Yes, the Afghanistan model was used in Iraq which, prior to the start of the illegal war, had been a secular MidEast country.
Not mentioned in the report is Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.  She is the fourteen-year-old girl murdered March 12, 2006 by US soldiers in Mahmoudiyah.  While she was gang-raped, her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya were murdered in the next room as was her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza.  The plan was to blame the War Crimes on 'insurgents' and, for many months, that worked. Since then, some involved have stood before the courts.  James Baker pleaded guilty to his part in the gang-rape, Paul Cortez pleaded guilty to his part in the gang rape, Jesse V. Spielman pleaded guilty to his part in the gang-rape and Bryan L. Howard was found guilty of covering up the crime but not participating in them.  That leaves Steven D. Green who maintains his innocence but whom all others have fingered as the ring-leader.   From the Monday, July 3, 2006 snapshot:
Developments in the Mahmoudiya incident where four Iraqi civilians died, allegedly at the hands of the US forces, in March continue including the age of one of the alleged victims and the arrest of a US soldier. To recap, one of the four was allegedly raped and this morning Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) broke the news that the town felt the "woman" was a fifteen-year-old girl who had complained about the 'interest' some US forces had in her. Sandra Lupien noted on today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the military had put the age of the female at 20 years-old when they announced their investigation last week (Friday). Reuters reports that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister". Lupien also noted the arrest of Steven D. Green. Green, is 21 and was with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. Friday, in Asheville, North Carolina, he was arrested and charged with both the four deaths as well as the rape. According to the US government press release, if convicted on the charge of murder, "the maximum statutory penalty . . . is death" while, if convicted on the charge of rape, "the maxmium statutory penalty for the rape is life in prison."
Green, who maintains his innocence, has still not been on trial.  Green had already been discharged before the crimes were discovered.  He will stand trial in a civilian court.  The United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky is where United States vs Green, Steven D. is scheduled to take place.  Jury selection is set to begin April 6th with the trial to start at nine a.m. April 27th.  Green is being represented by Scott T. Wendelsdorf, Patrick J. Bouldin and Darren C. Wolff.  United States Attorney David L. Huber notified the court of the government's intent to seek the death penalty July 3, 2007:  "The Government further gives notice that in support of the imposition of the death penalty it intends to rely upon all all the evidence admitted by the Court at the guilt phase of the trial and the offenses of conviction as described in the indictment as they relate to the background and character of the defendant, Steven D. Green, his moral cuplability, and the nature and circumstances of the offenses charged in the indictment."  The defense has introduced several motions including that the death penalty is unconstitutional (August 26, 2008, Judge Thomas B. Russell denied all those motions).  May 15, 2008, the defense notified that they would be arguing insanity and that they would be providing expert witnesses on that defense during the hearing. 
In other Iraq War Crimes news, Josh White (Washington Post) reports Santos A. Cardona is dead.  It does not appear to be a great loss. Caronda was among the War Criminals responsible at Abu Ghraib.  As White notes, "Cardona and his tan Belgian Malinois, Duco, were shown in photographs of detainee abuse that surfaced publicly in 2004.  The most notable image showed Duco growling at a cowering, naked detainee."  During his June 2006 trial, his attroney, Kristen M. Mayer, proved she could lie and spin better than anyone as she attempted to insist that all he Cardona was guilty of was allowing his dog to bark (and "get too close").  She insisted that Cardona did not participate in interrogations at Abu Ghraib and, the military jury not willing to do their duty, went along and pretended it was then logical for her to introduce memos on interrogation policies to argue that Cardona wasn't responsible for his actions, higher ups were.  Repeating, the case she presented was (a) it wasn't abuse, (b) it did not take place in an interrogation and (c) even if it did, nah-nah-nah, look at these memos.  In White's article, we learn Cardona was allegedly 'haunted.'  By his War Crimes?  No, by the world knowing.  He wanted to get back to Iraq and prove he was a good . . . what?  Not citizen.  He wanted back on the buddy patrol.  When his plans to go to Iraq were demolished by public outrage and when his conviction prevented him from re-enlisting, Cardona became a mercenary in Afghanistan where the man found guilty of abusing and terrorizing Iraqi prisoners was allowed to roam around with a dog.  His concern was never over the Iraqis or over justice.  He wanted to prove he was still one of the buddies.  And he died over there.  Oh well.  He wasn't ordered to go and those who profit off wars are generally seen as lower than low by most in any society.  If he wanted to make right what he'd done (which may or may not have been possible -- truly only the Iraqi prisoners he tormented could offer redemption to him), he could have publicly named the higher ups.  But that would have kicked him out of the buddy system.  It was so much easier to do nothing, to make no efforts at redemption and just whine that those higher up never got punished.  Boo-hoo.  That doesn't mean you were innocent and, in fact, you were found guilty.  Cardona was a War Criminal -- convicted War Criminal.  That's reality.  The fact that he was allowed to remain in the military until his service contract expired says a great deal about how little oversight and accountability there is.  The fact that K-9 Detection Services would hire him to work with a dog in another war zone says a great deal about their hiring practices and the kind of 'winners' they'll employ. 
But let's return to Kristen M. Mayer.  Let's assume she's not a liar -- for a moment anyway -- and that she was serious about the fact that the Iraqi prisoners Cardona (and his dog) came into contact with were not being interrogated.  Why were they naked?  Why was a dog able to get into, in the most famous photo, one man's face.  Why was the man naked and crouching on the ground?  Can you imagine the outrage in the US if photos of dogs snarling at prisoners in prison were circulated?  (Granted, the biggest concern would most likely come from the animal lobbies, but still, there would be outrage on the part of those who care about human rights and those who work on prison issues.)  There was nothing 'normal' about what Cardona was taking part in.  He chose to go along with it, not out of fear, but because he wanted to be one with the buddies.  And, again, we're assuming Mayer's not a liar.  That really was her summation, whether she grasped it or not.  He's dead.  The Iraqis he terrorized who are still alive live with the nightmares.  No one really needs to shed a tear over the death of a War Criminal.
Staying with prisoners, February 23rd Brig Gen David Quantock briefed the press (mainly Iraqi press) about the prison situation in Iraq and admitted that at one point, the US was holding 900 Iraqi juveniles prisoner.  Quantock announced the US was only holding 38 juveniles currently. As of Feb 23rd the US military was holding 140 Third-Country Nationals (non-Iraqis) prisoner in Iraq.  Four prisoners (captured in Afghanistan), on the orders of "the minister of defense and the Government of Iraq" (that Quantock speaking) were transferred from Guantanamo to Iraq.  (Did you know the US government took orders from Iraq?) And the Quantock appeared to want to blur a point regarding Afghanistan and Guantanamo.  He wanted to argue -- and run it together -- that no prisoners captured in Iraq were transferred to Guantanamo and running it together imply that of Afghanistan as well.  "We have not transferred any detainees from Iraq to Guantanamo."   Three days after, Feb. 26, Defense Minister John Hutton would declare the following to the UK House of Commons:
During the final stages of the review of records of detentions, we found information about one case relating to a security operation that was conducted in February 2004, a period which honorable members I'm sure will recall saw an increased level of insurgent activity as the transfer to Iraqi sovereignty drew closer.  During this operation, two individuals were captured by UK forces in and around Baghdad.  They were transferred to US detention in accordance with normal practice and then moved subsequently to a US detention facility in Afghanistan.  This information was brought to my attention on the first of December, 2008.  And I instructed officials to investigate this case thoroughly and quickly so I could bring a full account to Parliament.  Following consultations with US authorities we confirmed that they transferred these two individuals from Iraq to Afghanistan in 2004 and they remain in custody there today.  I regret that it is now clear that inaccurate information on this particular issue has been given to the House by my department.  I want to stress however that this was based upon the information available to ministers and those who were briefing them at the time.  My predecessors as secretaries of state for defense have confirmed to me that they had no knowledge of these events.  I have written to the honorable members concerned, correcting the record, and am placing a copy of these letters also in the library of the house.  And again, Madame Deputy Speaker, I want to apologize to the House for these errors.  The individuals transferred to Afghanistan are members of Laskar-e-Taiba, a proscribed organization with links to al Qaeda.  The US government has explained to us that they were moved to Afghanistan because of a lack of relevant linguists necessary to interrogate them effectively in Iraq.  The US has categorized them as unlawful enemy combatants and continues to review their status on a regular basis.  We have been assured that the detainees are held in a humane, safe and secure environment meeting international standards which are consistent with cultural and religious norms and the International Committee of the Red Cross has had regular access to the detainees.  A due diligence search by the US officials of the list of all those individuals captured by UK forces  and transferred to US detention facilities in Iraq has confirmed that this was the only case in which individuals were subsequently transferred outside of Iraq.  This review has established that officials were aware of this transfer in early 2004.  It has also shown that brief references to this case were included in lengthy papers that went to then-Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary in April 2006.  It is clear that the context provided did not highlight the significance at that point to my right honorable friends.  In retrospect, it is clear to me that the transfer to Afghanistan of these two individuals should have been questioned at the time. We have discussed the issues surrounding this case with the US government and they have reassured us about their treatment but confirmed that, as they continue to represent significant security concerns, it is neither possible or desirable to transfer them to either their country of detention or their country of origin.  
Quantock also wanted to take the Iraqi press to task during the press briefing as he whined about how they said the US released prisoners that they didn't have evidence against.  They did so! He whined that, anyway.  But they didn't think it was evidence that would stand up in court, he pouted.  In other words, you had no credible evidence against the thousands of prisoners ("detainees") that have been released since the start of this year.  He expects all prisoners to be transferred out (to somewhere) of US custody by the start of 2010.  The prison in Taji, an Iraqi prison, is costing the US tax payers $80 million dollars so far, according to Quantock ("So we've spent about $80 million to stand up that facility and then we're going to give it to the Government of Iraq.")  Despite the fact that he declared this was being built still, the Iraqi press pointed out that the prison was indeed open and that the US was operating it.  Yes, Quantaock agreed, cornered, the prison is open but it could hold 5,000 prisoners and the US is only holding "180 in there right now."  And that's just, he said" to put some detainees in there just to test our procedures."  Why are you testing US procedures in an Iraqi prison when you claim you are in the process of turning all prisoners over to the Iraqi government and will have done so by the start of the next year?  What procedures do you need to test as you 'go out of business?'
It was a very interesting press conference and we could go on and on with it.  It's a shame US reporters stationed in Iraq didn't feel it warranted coverage.  But, hey, Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) can tell us Shi'ites can take a pilgrimage to Samarra now.  Well, yea!  Let's just set aside all the issues of Iraqi prisoners.  (And note that the New York Times never covered John Hutton's statements.  Guess that would interfere with all that feel-good Hopium in the air.)
In the US, James Rainey (Los Angeles Times) covers Thomas E. Ricks new book The Gamble and notes the broadcast networks running from Iraq with 2008 offering 1/10 the coverage of Iraq on the evening news that could be found the year prior and the "less than a dozen stories," ABC, CBS and NBC have done on Iraq so far this year.  Turning to public broadcasting. NOW on PBS examines a murder from 2005 this week, David Brancaccio interviews Danile Junge who made the documentary They Killed Sister Dorothy about the murder of Catholic nun Dorothy STang in the Amazon.  On Washington Week, which also begins airing Friday on many PBS stations, Gwen sits down with David Wessel (Wall St. Journal), James Barnes (National Journal) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine) -- the latter of whom is working on her Bette Davis "stars" speech from Now Voyager in an attempt to incorporate into the sham discussions on health care that Barack is leading currently. "Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon, we have the stars." Moving over to broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, on 60 Minutes:

Bank Failure
Scott Pelley has an exclusive look as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation takes control of a failed bank.
Lesley Stahl reports on flaws in eyewitness testimony that are at the heart of the DNA exonerations of falsely convicted people like Ronald Cotton, who has forgiven his accuser, Jennifer Thompson. (This is a double-length segment.) | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, March 8, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Guess who, don't sue?  This member of Congress has dined out on a tale of woe for years which, it turns out, isn't in fact reality.  More importantly, a ____ _____ informed the Congressional Dem that the story appeared to be a falsehood last year; however, that hasn't stopped the Barack Cheerleader from continuing to repeat it and from using it as their entire raison d'etre.  Currently, the moldly lie is being picked up in local press but if and when it transfers to the national stage, will any reporters sleuth around and ask a few questions?  For starters they might consider safety practices and they might also consider billing and payment.  After that, they might try looking into the background of those who supposedly victimized the liar.  The background of those people is not one that jibes with the story being told -- in fact, their background suggest something very, very different. Questions about safety, payment and billing go to why problems were experienced and not the fairytale like 'explanations' the Congress member continues to give.  Now being embellished with the addition of a phone call!  (At that point, the person is no longer repeating a lie, the person is actively engaging in LYING.)  Warning, Barack Cheerleaders, I am not in the mood for your s**t.  I'll out you on anything and everything and the person we're discussing faces re-election next year.  This little scandal could give the seat away.