Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi is the 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped and murdered March 12, 2006. The illustration to the right is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Justice for Abeer and her family?" and the illustration is of James Barker and Paul Cortez beginning the gang-rape of Abeer while Steven D. Green was in the other room murdering Abeer's five-year-old sister and her parents. For that article, we based the illustrations on Barker's confession in court. At the time, the Guardian of London summarized Barker's written testimony, ". . . Green dragged the father, mother and younger sister into a bedroom, while Abeer was left in the living room. . . . Barker said Cortez appeared to rape the girl [Abeer], and he followed. He said he heard gunshots and Mr. Green came out of the bedroom, saying he had killed the family, before raping the girl and shooting her with an AK-47."

That's what Barker confessed to, Cortez' confession matched it. No need to say "alleged" with regards to them. No need to say it with regards to Steven D. Green. His attorneys are not disputing the statements that he was the ringleader, that he murdered four people, that he took part in the gang-rape or any of it.

He's being tried in a Kentucky federal court and his trial began yesterday. The ambulance chasing public defenders representing Green are the Keystone Cops of the legal field as they make one offensive argument after another. The case they presented yesterday was, "Yes, he did it, but think about what he went through and think about the fact that some US service members died in Iraq and think about . . ."

Think about this, that's as offensive as the argument the judge disallowed. The judge's refused to allow Green's attorneys to argue to the federal court jury, the civilian jury, that they can't judge Green because they weren't in Iraq. The defense offered yesterday is as offensive because it continues one of the threads which is: "This is normal behavior." It is not normal behavior. Were it normal behavior, every US soldier in Iraq would be doing what Green did. The defense is arguing that this is normal behavior and a normal response and it's not and that insults everyone who's served in Iraq or any other war zone.

The defense argues it was a normal response (murder and gang-rape) and that Steven D. Green is the victim here because he had problems. No question he had problems. He joined the military because he'd been arrested AGAIN. He joined the military to get out of being tossed into prison. He joined the military from jail. He couldn't get it together, no question.

But when you don't dispute the charges and when the charges are multiple murders and gang-rape, when your client could get the death penalty, you don't argue "normal" reaction. You argue that your client is mentally ill and was exhibiting those signs early on.

Green was unfit for entry in the military. There's no question of that. To get him, he required a 'moral' waiver. That's your case.

When the defense starts asking the jury to feel sorry for Green because it's "normal," they're running off the jury. The argument for this line of defense should be, "Yes, he did this. He did it because he's got huge problems and that's why you need to sentence him to a medical institution."

But when the defense wants to claim this is 'normal,' it's offensive. It's offensive to the society we live in. It's offensive to the military. And it also says, "Put him to death." That's what the defense is accidently arguing. If they're arguing this is 'normal' -- and it's not -- the jury's looking at Green and thinking, "Normal for him." Meaning it's incumbent upon them to ensure that he never has the option of doing anything like that again.

Steven D. Green's defense is a joke.

Does Green qualify for an insanity plea? I don't personally know. But that's all the defense has to argue because everyone else involved confessed to his actions and their own, because he was observed leering at Abeer and stroking her face and doing other things that made her uncomfortable (he was at a checkpoint in her neighborhood and harassed her repeatedly when she would have to pass through). If you're going for the insanity plea, you're asking the jury to consider your client out of control.

If you're client's 'out of control' is also, you argue, 'normal' then don't be surprised if a jury decides they're dealing with a rabid dog that needs to be put down.

It is very doubtful Green looks sympathetic or will come off as such. The strongest defense is that Green is f**ked up and that this was ignored by every institution and outlet he came before, repeatedly ignored so the jury is the last chance for him to receive help. That might get him institutionalized as opposed to put to death. But the arguments the defense is making currently or more likely to piss of the jury because, again, they're not disputing the charges.

Andrew Wolfson's "Trial opens for ex-soldier in Iraqi family's deaths" (Louisville Courier-Journal) is probably the strongest article this morning:

A cousin who found the burning bodies of rape victim Abeer Al-Janabi and her slain family south of Bagdad in March 2006 testified yesterday that he never suspected American soldiers were responsible.
"I thought it had to be terrorists," Abu Farras testified in U.S. District Court on the first day of the capital murder trial of former Army soldier Steven Dale Green. "This was a massacre, not a crime. I thought no American would do such a thing."
Abeer's brother, 15-year-old Mohammed Al-Janabi, who was left an orphan by the murders, testified that when he came home from school on March 12, 2006, he didn't know the smoke coming from his family's home was from his sister's body, which had been set ablaze.

That's the opening of his article. Where's the New York Times? They were happy to join the cover up -- Robert Worth and Carolyn Marshall -- and advance it. So why the hell, after it blew up in their faces, does the New York Times believe they can avoid covering this trial? These are War Crimes and, again, no need for "alleged" with Green. His attorneys are not disputing the charges. Alsumaria reports, "A relative of the victim’s family in Baghdad, Rashid Hamza, said that two family members attended the trial in the United States. He wished the US solider accused of this atrocity be executed."

AFP provides this context:

Three other soldiers were given life sentences in the March 2006 atrocity which was allegedly devised over whiskey and a game of cards at a traffic check point in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.
A fourth soldier who acted as a lookout was sentenced to 27 months in jail.

Steven Robrahn (Reuters) quotes one of Green's attorneys, Patrick Bouldin, telling the jury, "You have to understand the background that leads up to this perfect storm of insanity." Billie notes the Dallas Morning News carries an AP brief on the story. Where are the beggars of Panhandle Media? Why isn't Free Speech Radio News present? As everyone gas bags over non-topics and non-stories today on various Pacifica outlets (Amy Goodman actually has a good show on Democracy Now! today so she's left out of the critique for a change), remind yourself that in the 60s and 70s and 80s, on far less money, Pacifica Radio was there for the stories that mattered.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends