Thursday, May 7, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, justice for Abeer at last, the US Congress hears testimony today that the country's biggest problem is not enough lying, a DLC Democrat refers to Americans as paranoid, Amnesty asks for an end to the death penalty in Iraq, and more.
A federal court in Kentucky has reached a verdict today. March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in their Iraqi home while Abeer was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. Steven D. Green is said to be the murderer of all four, a gang-rapist and the ring leader who planned the entire thing. The jury went into deliberation yesterday. Evan Bright reports, "Steven Dale Green found guilty of and convcited on -- ALL -- sixteen (16) counts; including eight (8) which could bring a death sentence." Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who has attended and reported one every day of the trial. This is Bright reporting on Marisa Ford, of the US Attorney General's office, making her closing remarks yesterday:
She reminded the jury of Barker and Cortez raping Abeer while "Green, behind closed doors, blew Qassim Hamza's brains out with his Army supplied shotgun." According to Ford, he then took the AK47, "which was provided to the family for protection against insurgents," and used it on the mother, Fahkriyah, and their six year old daughter, Hadeel."
She went on to describe Green's sexual assault and execution style murder of Abeer, before he "burned her, beyond all recognition." At this, Green(in a blue Polo) looked down but was still listening intently. She talked about Green having had the AK47 disposed of, and his not-so-impaired judgement. "This was a crime…not committed in the chaos of battle, not committed while on an Army assigned mission, but a crime planned, and acted out in cold blood."
Marisa cattle prodded the Defense team, referring to Pat Bouldin's "dumbing things down" for the jury in his opening statement. "To 'dumb things down' for you is an insult to your intelligence," Ford told the jury, "you don't need things dumbed down to know that what Stephen Green did was wrong." Mr. Bouldin frowned as he listened. She talked about the non existent evidence that would dispute the planning of this crime(regarding the conspiracy counts). The killings were "a result of planning and deliberation," Ford intoned(referring to the four counts of pre-meditated murder). "Everything you have seen before, during, and after the crimes, all the evidence, shows pre-meditation."
The Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson also notes that Green was convicted on all counts as does AFP. Brett Barrouquer (AP) notes that jury delibrated for a little over ten hours.
While lies were exposed in court, something different happened today in front of the legislative branch. While lying during Congressional testimony is neither new nor novel, it's rare that Congress is informed that the US needs more lying and that, in fact, laws should be changed to allow it. But that's what tubby David Kilcullen insisted. Meanwhile Lisa Schirch fluttered her War Hawk feathers in public.
Not everyone is a person of peace. That should be obvious. And just because someone claims they are doesn't mean they are. Again, it should be obvious. But the laughable War Hawk Lisa Schirch has been allowed to repeatedly and falsely pimp herself as a person of peace. Schirch is the director of 3D Security Initiative. Somehow being the director of 3D did not prevent her from writing on it for Foreign Policy In Focus -- nor was it noted anywhere in "Leveraging '3D' Security: From Rhetoric to Reality" (November 15, 2006) that she was the director of 3D Security Initiative, not even in her credit line. When the usual crowd of useless ran her soggy 'reasoning' entitled "I Want a Woman President But Am Voting for Obama," it wasn't thought necessary to present her as anything but a college professor.
War Hawk Lisa Schirch has been given a pass by our 'allies' in the peace movement and it's past time that her pass was revoked and people quit pimping her as a peace queen. Certain elements of the US 'intelligence' community (those who worked in Jakarta subverting freedom and human rights) have been happy to promote Lisa as a 'hero' and that should have only alarmed the left further. But they ignored it. At their own peril. This morning Lisa appeared before the House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.
Lisa Schirch: The-the- field that we're talking about is conflict prevention and this conference that the JFCOM Joint Forces Command and the Marine Corps put on together was called "Whole of Government: Conflict Prevention." And many of us in the NGO community are working actively now to try to figure out how to build a more comprehensive approach to the issues of terrorism? And for the NGOs, we have been working actively on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, and we have many partner networks who are indeginious Iraqi NGOs and Afghan NGOs who have been sharing their perspective on counter-terrorism and how best to prevent the kind of spread of the insurgencies we see in these regions. And they very much want to be able to feed into the process and partly -- part of the challenge here is that interagency coordination is so new here in Washington that there's really no points of contact for NGOs that are on the ground who have cultural intelligence information to share that would inform US strategy. Uh over the weekend, Dr. Kilcullen made some statements that were in the media about the drones flying over Pakistan bombing villages is actually having a counter-effect to our national interests in the US -- that the drones end up creating more fuel on the ground for recruitment into Taliban-al Qaeda insurgencies. We've been hearing that in civil society NGOs for several years -- that this kind of drone activity is counter to US interests. So that's the kind of information civil societies want to give over and have conversations with the [US] government. So it's actually very much in our interest as uh civil society to help to help to foster and think about what is the best way for the defense, development, diplomacy, tools of American power, how they are coordinated because this impacts then how civil society can feed into the process. Again, we don't take particular stands on whether it's the State Dept's Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization -- although we very much support that -- or the National Security Council. There are a variety of models that I think we need to have more hearings on how is this best going to be done in this country because it's very urgent. The-the ratio of cost prevention versus -- uh prevention versus cost of terrorism is -- is not met in terms of our US budget, in terms of national security. So several of us have argued for a unified security budget that would try to balance out more these preventative responses uh because right now if you look at one tax dollars less than half-of-a-percent is going to all of our development activities abroad. Whereas almost 60 percent of that dollar goes to defense approaches. So this balance is off. It makes coordination between -- in this interagency process -- very difficult for USAID at the Simulation For Conflict Prevention, they couldn't really risk a lot of the staff time because they have so few staff to even give over to this conversation.
Smith: It also pushes DoD into doing a lot more development work than they are actually qualified to do because they have the money.
Lisa Schirch: Right. And and they were comments at this conference that DoD is being forced to create its own internal USAID, its own civilian response corp which is mirroring structures that also exist in the State Dept and USAID which is a waste of tax payer dollar.
There is so much be appalled by in Little Lisa's statements. Let's start with NGO. It stands for, pay attention, Lisa, Non Governmental Organization. Non Governmental. That's hard for Little Lisa to grasp because she believes NGOs WHORE themselves out to a government. So getting into bed with the US government is, for her, perfectly natural. Her testimony, public testimony, just made life a whole lot harder for real NGOs in Iraq who will now be suspected of existing to spy.
That is what Little Lisa's floating. NGOs have information on combatting terrorism! They have knowledge on how to work a better counter-insurgency! The US government must listen to Little Lisa. That is a betrayal of what NGOs are supposed to do. (It's a betrayal of "civil society" as well -- whether one uses the definitions established by Hobbes or Locke or the definitions of Marx and Alexis de Tocqueville.)
What concern is it of an NGO director what the US spends money on? If they want to give money to DoD, what business is it of an NGO? It's not. It's none of her damn business as director of an NGO. It's about as relevant as her ridiculous story where she attended a USAID conference and, you know what, people there were saying DoD was getting more money and they were saying DoD duplicates efforts and, oh did you hear about Tad and Brenda, I so cannot believe that and let me tell you one damn thing, Tad's in a lot of trouble, he is in hot water, that little mister better watch his --
Little Lisa, in testimony before the Congress gave gossip. Little Lisa talked about what DoD was doing (according to gossip) based on a conference that DoD wasn't present at. She gave unsourced comments that had no grounding in reality and were most likely made up by her on the spot. (If you'd seen her body language and the way she threw herself forward during this part of the production, you'd be very sure that she made it up on the spot.)
The United States is not an NGO. Little Lisa is the Director of 3D. She needs to learn to speak properly (that would require her to lose the Valley Girl inflections, eliminate the hair toss and attempting to flirt with members of Congress while testifying and a great deal more). And she needs to be called out.
A 'peace' person does not speak about how drones attacking civilians is 'bad' because it breeds anger. A peace person states: "You don't kill innocent civilians." That's not complicated. It's not even controversial. It is a peace position and has been for many centuries now. The hearing was entitled "Counterinsurgency and Irregular Warfare: Issues and Lessons Learned." Yes, it was a huge blurring of lines. Consider it the let's-drop-acid hearing of the Congress. And grasp that the counter-insurgency movement in the US supported Barack. They were not the peace movement and the refusal of the No Stars of Beggar Media (print and Pacifica) to explore that aspect goes a long ways towards explaining how a counter-insurgency czar like Barack could ever be mistaken for a peace candidate. Counter-insurgency is war on the native people. It is colonialism and it, rightly, had a horrible reputation after Vietnam. Lisa Schirch, Montgomery McFate, Sarah Sewall, Samantha Power and many more worked overtime to give it some gloss and buff it up. But it is war on a native population.
The Network of Concerned Anthropologists' David Price has been one of the few voices to strongly and consistently call out counter-insurgency. Last month, at CounterPunch, he noted that counter-insurgency exists to:
provide military personnel with cultural information that will help inform troop activities in areas of occupation. Since the first public acknowledgement of HTS [Human Terrain Teams] two and a half years ago, it has been criticized by anthropologists for betraying fundamental principles of anthropological ethics, as being politically aligned with neo-colonialism, and as being ineffective in meeting its claimed outcomes. For the most part, the mainstream media has acted as cheerleaders for the program by producing a seemingly endless series of uncritical features highlighting what they frame as kind hearted individuals trying to use their knowledge of culture to save lives; while misrepresenting the reasons and extent of criticism of the Human Terrain program.
A few early boosters of Human Terrain Systems (HTS) have now called for its closure (most notable, the British journal Nature), and some journalistic coverage has shifted from uncritical fawning to more reserved critical writing (e.g. Noah Schachtman's writings on Wired's military Danger Room blog). But most media coverage remains uncritical in its thinly veiled support for a program that has never had to answer to the fundamental critiques of its critics, and Human terrain continues on its trajectory of counterinsurgency domination.
While David Price deserves applause, it's past time to ask Foreign Policy in Focus, David Swanson, Foreign Affairs (Marxist Thought Online) and so many others why they pimped counter-insurgency cheerleader Lisa? She is not about peace. Not only did she participate in today's hearing, she advocated NGOs -- non governmental by definition -- turning over 'intel' to the US government. Information that will be used against a people. Counter-insurgency does include (and has included in Iraq, as Bob Woodward has detailed) 'targeted killings' (assassinations) of local figures. That's not peace and someone on the ground in Iraq, the NGOs Lisa's talking about, would be just the ones to provide that 'intel.' It's shocking, it's appalling and the peace movement needs to pull a Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather and close the door in her face.
Was counter-insurgency guru David Kilcullen forced out of Australia due to the government's fear that there wasn't enough food to feed him? It certainly appears that way and it's hard to think of a hearing where a chair's appeared under more assault than the one he plopped his huge girth in. David Kilcullen wanted the subcommittee to know a few things, "One is that we place a different priority within the military on information operations to the priority that our enemy places." "We"? Kilcullen is not a member of the US military nor does he work for the Defense Dept. He most recently worked under Condi Rice at the State Dept. The State Dept is not "within the military." That might be confusing for Kilcullen since he is not a US citizen and only left Australia in 2005. If we're really worried about immigration, how about worrying about the truly dangerous who come to these shores to do harm to the rest of the world and not those who just try to make a living for themselves and their families?
Kilcullen continued that the Taliban "put information or propaganda first so the first thing they decide is what is the propaganda mission that we're trying to send?' Then they figure out what operations to design and carry out to meet that propaganda objective. We do it the other way around. We design how we're going to operate and then at the last minute we throw it to the information office folks and we say, 'Hey, can you just explain this to the public?'" So Kilcullen thinks that's the more effective propaganda model. As you listen to the John Candy wanna be you wonder how the hell the United States decided to bring in this reject into our government? Even more you wonder if, decades from now as this stain on the US grows ever greater, will it be remembered that the nation let a foreigner dictate this? One who knows little about the history of the United States and shows no respect for the bits he managed to register? If you doubt that or how much this human filth loves his propaganda, let's note this from section of his testimony today:
And one final legislative issue. We had a lot of trouble uh in Iraq uh trying to counter al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda because of the Smith-Mundt act which meant that we couldn't do a lot of things online uh because if you put something on YouTube uh and it's deemed to the information operations and there's a possibility that an American might log on to that page and read that and be influenced by that's technically illegal under the Smith-Mundt Act and we had to get a uh uh a waiver as you may recall to be able to do that. I think for Congress it might be worth looking at uh how that legislation may need to be relooked at or re-examined in the light of a new media environment so that it still has the same intent but doesn't necessarily restrict us from legitimate things that we might need to do in the field.
Background, Smith-Mundt Act is the popular name for 1948's US Information and Educational Exchange Act. Marc Lynch has observed:
The temptation to manipulate American public opinion has always been there, and has only grown more potent in an age where counter-insurgency practitioners and "Long War" planners openly view the American domestic arena as a vital strategic arena. I'd go so far as to suggest that a non-insignificant portion of General Petraeus's information operations efforts have been directed towards shaping American public discourse. It isn't an accident that he has been so available to so many journalists, or that the flow of "good news" about the Anbar Awakening and the surge into the American media has expanded so dramatically. And why wouldn't he, when at the heart of the new counter-insurgency doctrine lies the recognition that maintaining domestic public support for a long, drawn-out military presence is one of the most important single factors?
Subcommittee chair Adam Smith shamed his party by insisting that "it absolutely needs to be fixed" -- Smith-Mundt, the legislation Harry Truman signed into law. He is a blight on the Democratic Party. A long term War Hawk, Smith can no longer embarrass himself but the DLC "New Deomcrat" War Hawk can and does embarrass the party.
He embarrasses the party with statements like this one today, "The problem we're going to have is the paranoia of the American public right now that the government's trying to manipulate them." Oh, those paranoid Americans! Justice would be a Green, Republican, Libertarian or whatever running against him in 2010 and using that little soundbyte for the commercials. Just zooming in on "the paranoia of the American public" and asking if Washington is really sending Adam Smith to DC to talk about American citizens like that?
Turning to some of today's reported violence in Iraq . . .
Reuters notes a Mussayab roadside bombing which wounded three people. Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report two Salahuddin Province sticky bombings on tankers which left three drivers injured yesterday, today a Falluja suicide car bombing no known injuries or deaths other than the bomber ("The U.S. military cordoned off the area so that not even Iraqi police were allowed near the site. No comment from the U.S. military was available at time of publication."), a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people, a Mosul grenade attack . . .
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report the Mosul grenade attack was followed by US soldiers shooting and a 12-year-old boy was shot dead and, yesterday, 2 fisherman were shot dead by "Iranian snipers."
The Iraqi authorities executed 12 people on Sunday, according to information received by Amnesty International. The 12 are believed to be among the 128 people who were on death row. There are growing fears that more executions will follow in the coming days or weeks.
The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council confirmed to Amnesty International on 9 March 2009 that Iraq's Presidential Council had ratified the death sentences of 128 people who had been facing imminent execution.
The death sentences were originally passed by criminal courts in Baghdad, Basra and other cities and provinces on charges under Iraq's Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism law that include murder and kidnapping, and were upheld by the Cassation Court.
A spokesperson for Amnesty International expressed dismay at the executions and called for their full names to be disclosed.
"Amnesty International is urging the authorities to commute all death sentences and to establish an immediate moratorium on executions," said Malcolm Smart, the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. "Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases."
Yesterday's snapshot noted the news in Lt Ehren Watada's case. Watada was the first officer to resist the Iraq War publicly. Quickly, US District Judge Benjamin Settle barred a second court-martial on three charges. This was when the military should have appealed. In October 2008, Desert Peace explained then, "However, this time around the military added back in the two counts of conduct unbecoming . . . and did not offer the same deal to stipulate. So now Judge Settle has left it up to the military to appeal his ruling as well as continue on concerning those two counts." What happened yesterday? The same thing. The three charges Settle found (Nov 2007) to be double-jeopardy risks are not allowed. The other two charges the military could file on. William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) explains: "More than a year and a half after he would have left the Army -- had he deployed as ordered -- the 1996 Kalani High School graduate still reports to a desk job at Fort Lewis in Washington state. Watada is likely to continue to have to do so as the Army weighs its next move." Courage to Resist highlights an action for another war resister:
Your letter to the Commander of Fort Stewart, Georgia requesting that Iraq War resister Cliff Cornell's 12-months prison sentence be reduced is urgently requested. Cliff was convicted of desertion on April 28, 2009 after being denied sanctuary in Canada. These letters of support will be collected by Cliff's civilian lawyer James Branum and submitted to the military through the official appeals process.
Address letters to: COMMANDER, Fort Stewart and fax to 866-757-8785. Please do not send letters directly to the CG but through Cliff's lawyer at the fax number provided.
Basic guidelines for letters:
Good points to raise:
Things to avoid:
Letters should include the full name and contact information of the author, including e-mail. This is requested so that Cliff's lawyer can contact you if needed.
Letters need to be received by May 31, 2009 so that they can be submitted as part of the formal appeals process.
Yesterday's snapshot noted J-Som (Liberal Rapture) who, to his credit, added an update: ""Below I take what any logical person would read as a dig at Chris Hedges. I was not clear. I have read Hedges here and there and he spoke at my church once and I attended. What I have read and heard from him I found edifying and thought provoking. Hedges is morally consistent, unlike so many others on the Left. My interjection of 'gee. ya think?' was in response to my annoyance with the entire Lefty chattering class using a cut and paste from Hedges as back up. It reads as a direct dig at Hedges which is unfair. And it was sloppy of me and I apologize for it." Applause for J-Som. (That's not sarcasm but we'll leave it at that because we're moving quickly.)
Non-Iraq, independent journalist David Bacon latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). In the latest issue of Monthly Review, Michael D. Yates' "Don't Pity the Poor Immigrants, Fight Alongside Them" addresses Bacon's book and notes:
A third conclusion that flows from Bacon's book is that anti-immigration politics have little basis in fact. If we look just at undocumented immigrants, we find that they pay their own way. They add more to the national income than they take from it. They pay taxes, all sorts of taxes, including sales and excise taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, and yes, income taxes. They get little in return for these taxes; they are much less likely than similarly-situated natives to receive health care, education, public assistance, police protection, and all other publically provided services. As noted above, they do not often compete directly with native workers for jobs. By any reasonable standard, they face harsher work regimens and enjoy fewer protections on the job than do native laborers. They commit fewer crimes than natives. What all of this means is that the crusades being waged against "illegal aliens" have ulterior motives. Lou Dobbs and Tom Tancredo know that employers will never be harshly prosecuted for hiring undocumented workers, and they do not want them to be. Rhetorical attacks on employers play well with the masses, and this is why they do it. What the hysteria they foster does accomplish is to divide working people by making part of the working class the "other," a quasi-criminal element that can be used to hide the true horrors of this economic system, one that the immigrant bashers love and profit from. Whatever divides workers makes it hard for them to form the one thing that employers and their xenophobic allies really hate-unions.
David L. Wilson also reviews it in "The Immigration System: Maybe Not So Broken" (only Wilson is available online):
Much of Bacon's answer is right there in his title: Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants. He argues that undocumented workers come here largely because of the neoliberal economic policies that the U.S. elite has vigorously pushed on our southern neighbors over the past 30 years, disrupting local economies and forcing millions to seek employment outside their countries. At the same time, he says, U.S. legislators were passing laws that tightened restrictions on immigrants from these countries. These restrictions haven't stopped immigration; instead, they've created a class of "illegals" who are forced to keep their heads down as they work for less pay in brutal conditions -- involuntarily providing downward pressure on the wages of native-born workers. In short, he shows us a system that lets U.S. corporations profit from globalization in countries like Mexico and then profit again by exploiting globalization's victims when they seek work here.
It's easy enough to document this process with statistics and academic studies, and Bacon does his share of that. But he also brings the statistics to life by providing the other element missing in the immigration debate -- he tells us about the experiences and opinions of actual immigrants.
-- Juan Gonzalez (not his real name) worked at the giant Cananea copper mine, which the Mexican government sold in 1990 for a fraction of its value to the Grupo Mexico corporation as part of a massive privatization program promoted by the United States. Gonzalez was fired in 1998 because of his role in a strike against the new owners. Blacklisted and unable to find a decent job in his home state of Sonora, he ended up becoming an "illegal" working in an Arizona warehouse.
-- Luz Dominguez and Marcela Melquiades worked for years cleaning hotel rooms in Emeryville, a small city on the San Francisco Bay. Their employers had no problems with their lack of legal status until the city council passed a living wage ordinance and some hotel employees complained their bosses weren't in compliance. Management then discovered problems with the workers' documents and fired them.
-- Edilberto Morales is the only survivor of a September 2002 accident that killed 14 immigrant forestry workers when their speeding van ran off a wooden bridge into Maine's Allagash River. The workers were employed through the U.S. government's H2 guest worker program. The U.S. Labor Department found that the employer, Evergreen Forestry Services, had failed to ensure the workers' safety and fined Evergreen $17,000 -- but the company never lost its certification for the H2 program.
Bacon brings together the system's different aspects in the person of Representative James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin. Sensenbrenner is best known as the author of HR 4437, an ultimately unsuccessful bill that would have made felons of undocumented workers like Gonzalez, Dominguez, and Melquiades. But Sensenbrenner has other interests in the issue. His family founded the Kimberly-Clark Company in the early 1900s, and the family trust continues to be an important shareholder in the papermaking giant. Many of the workers who plant and fell the trees that ultimately become Kimberly-Clark's paper are hired through the H2 program by forestry companies like Evergreen, which employed Morales and his 14 coworkers. Kimberly-Clark's Mexican subsidiary is closely associated with Grupo México, which fired Gonzalez from the Cananea copper mine.