Friday, May 8, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, US troops continuing shipping out to Iraq, some cover the War Crimes conviction, some stay silent, Diane Rehm bans female callers from the second hour of her show today out of fear that one will bring up Abeer, Odierno holds a press conference, and more.
Yesterday the jury issued a verdict in the War Crimes trial of Steven D. Green. Last night on The KPFA Evening News, the events were summed up as follows:
Andea Lewis: A jury convicted a former soldier today of raping and fatally shooting a 14 year old girl after kiling her parents and younger sister while he wsa serving in Iraq. PFC Steven Dale Green faces a possible death sentence when the penalty phase of his trial begins on Monday. Green, aged 24 from Midland Texas, was being tried in civilian court because he had been discharged from the army for personaltiy disorder before he was charged with the Iraq crimes. Green stared straight ahead as the verdict was read in U S District Court in western Kentucky efense attroney Darren Wolff speaking afterward said the defense never denied Green's involvement. "Is this verdict a surprise to us? No. The goal has been to save our client's life," Wolff said Green's defense team had asked jurors the context of war saying soldiers in Green's unit of 101st lacked leadership and received little help from the army deal with the loss of friends in combat. The prosecution rested six days into the trial after presenting witnesses who said Green confessed to the crimes and others who put him at the home of the 14 year old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, heard him shoot her family and saw him rape and shoot the girl. Three other soldiers are serving time in military prison for their roles in the attack and they all testified against Green at his trial.
Alsumaria explains, "A high panel court found Steve Green guilty for 16 counts while a death sentence is still to be decided in trial which will start on Monday." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) adds, "Prosecutors say Green was the ringleader in raping and killing fourteen-year-old Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi and killing her parents and five-year-old sister." Evan Bright reports on the verdict:
As the jury entered the court room, Green(red sweater vest) let out a large sigh, not of relief, but seemingly of anxiety, knowing the weight of the words to come. As Judge Thomas Russell stated "The court will now publish the verdict," Green interlaced his fingers and clasped them over his chin. Russell read the verdict flatly and absolutely. Green went from looking down at each "guilty" to eyeing the jury. His shoulders dropped as he was convicted of count #11, aggravated sexual abuse, realizing what this means. A paralegal at the defense table consoled Green by patting him on his back, even herself breaking down crying at the end of the verdicts.
After Russell finished reading the verdicts, he begged questions of the respective attorneys. Wendelsdorf, intending to ensure the absolution of the verdict, requested the jury be polled. Honorable Judge Russell asked each juror if they agreed with these verdicts, receiving a simple-but-sufficient yes from all jurors. Green watched the jury flatly.
Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who has been in the court every day of the trial and reporting on it. Something most outlets pointedly avoided. The only outlet that can hold its head high is the Associated Press which reported on it and utilized Brett Barrouquere to do so. Barrouquere has been on this story for nearly three years now and has covered the other court appearances of soldiers involved in these war crimes. Barrouquere notes some reactions in Iraq to the news of Green's convictions. Mohammed Abbas Muhsin states, "If American court has convicted the American soldier I will consider the U.S. government to be just and fair. This verdict will give the rights back to the family, the relatives and the clan of the victim Abeer." Ahmed Fadhil al-Khafaji feels differently, "The American court and government are just trying to show the world that they are fair and just. If they are really serious about it, they should hand the soldier over to an Iraqi court to be kept in Abu Ghraib prison and tried by Iraqis." Sami al-Jumaili, Habib al-Zubaidy, Tim Cocks and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) quote Abeer's uncle Karim Janabi, "By all measures, this was a very criminal act. We are just waiting for the court to sentence him so he gets justice and the court can change the image of Americans. Some people, when they die, I forget them. But we will never forget this girl [his niece Abeer] -- never." Another relative, Yusuf Mohammed Janabi, states, "So they decided this criminal was guilty, but we don't expect he'll be executed. Only if he's executed will it mean American courts are just."
Sky News reports on the case, as does the Belfast Telegraph, England's Evening Standard, Al Jazeera, the BBC, AFP, Caroline Hedley (Telegraph of London), the UK Daily Mail and Reuters. And US outlets? There's CNN and USA Today blogged on it.
Where's the New York Times? They are the news oulet, pay attention, that has refused to ever name Abeer. They began rendering her invisible in 2006. Let's fall back to the first big article the Times did on the matter by propagandists and professional liars Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall. "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence" ran August 5, 2006 and the fifth paragraph -- apparently in an attempt at parody, referred to the crimes as "first widely reported in June". Widely reported by whom? Not the Times. Ellen Knickmeyer's strong "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" ran, not in the Times, but in the Washington Post. And even now, if you read it, you'll see Abeer named. But Worth and Marshall scribbled a 1464 word article but somehow couldn't squeeze in Abeer's name. The entire article is an attempt to soften up sentiment for the criminals. Worth and Marshall got in bed with the defense and present the arguments that will later be made in the Article 32 hearing. Combat stress, you understand, and Marshall and Worth got there first -- even before the defense could make the case. Andy Mosher (The Washington Post) explained after the Article 32 hearing started, "Eugene Fidell, a Washington military law expert, said Tuesday that the defense attorneys were most likely emphasizing combat stress to argue that their clients not face a possible death penalty in the event of a court-martial. 'This is not a defense known to the law,' Fidell said. 'But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty'." This is not a defense known to law. But it was known to readers of the New York Times.
Worth and Marshall could present -- could argue for over 1400 -- for the defense, in logic, not "known to the law" but they couldn't mention Abeer's name. The paper always made it very clear where their loyalties were. It wasn't with Abeer. What did Aged Go-Go Boy in the Green Zone John F. Burns so famously say? Oh, yes, the paper tailors its Iraq coverage to US tax payers.
Worth and Marshall went to a lot of trouble hunting down sources who could give them the mind frame (or alleged mind frame) of the ones involved and their company. When do we get the serious story about Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family? When is that story going to be told? It's nearly three years since that propaganda ran in the New York Times and the paper has never run Abeer's story. The War Criminals Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall were carrying water for have all been sentenced. Surprisingly, the propagandists skipped reporting on that. And no one at the paper has ever told Abeer's story. Her name has never appeared in the paper.
Yesterday a US federal court found one of the War Criminals guilty on every count and yet you will find nothing about that in today's New York Times. You won't find an AP article they slapped on a page or even a paragraph in "Nation Briefs." You won't find anything. This is the alleged paper of record.
A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers who only knew of her because they were supposed to be protecting the neighborhood she lived in. These were War Crimes. This was an international incident. But readers of the New York Times have never heard that. They've never even been informed of Abeer's name. Today they don't even know that the ringleader was found guilty.
The paper has consistently rendered Iraqis invisible, over and over. In what is the worst known War Crime of the illegal war, the paper has avoided telling the story and it has done so repeatedly. Over and over.
When 'defense attorneys' Worth and Marshall thought they could sway public opinion on behalf of the War Criminals, the New York Times put the story on the front page.
The front page.
'Poor Little Boys in Iraq' was a front page story. Minimizing the crimes and excusing them was front page news for the New York Times. Telling the damn truth about what was done to Abeer? Telling the world that the ringleader was convicted? Not even worth a paragraph.
The paper should be ashamed of itself. It's far from alone in needing to feel shame. Diane Rehm thinks rape is icky. Here's a transcript of my call today with a friend on the show.
Friend: She thinks rape is a bad subject.
Me: She said that?
Friend: When the story was suggested, she wrinkled her nose.
Me: She wrinkled her nose?
Me: You're saying she wrinkled her nose? Excuse me, but considering the condition of her skin, how ever could you tell?
Diane didn't just nix it as a topic to put on the agenda for the second hour, she nixed the e-mails that came in before and during the show. A huge number of e-mails that came in. We'll include some of those at Third this weekend (passed on via my friend). Not only did she exclude the e-mails but she insisted, as the e-mails poured in on this topic, that no female callers be put through on air because she "just knew" that someone would try to sneak on to bring up Abeer. Which is why you had Diane speaking to several callers in the second hour but none were women. It's also why Diane didn't do one of her "___ in ___ e-mails . . ." Diane censored Abeer from the program. She went so far as to ban female callers from the second hour because she just knew a mole would get through, a woman who would trick the screener, get on the air, and say, "Diane, you ignorant hypocrite, how the hell dare you refuse to cover the federal conviction yesterday."
Well now we know how far someone will go to avoid covering the news. So the only real question is why Diane doesn't go ahead and retire if she's not interested in discussing -- during the international hour of her program -- an international incident. I didn't listen. I'm told, however, she did make time for swine flu. How very. What a proud way for a woman with one foot and four toes in the grave to prepare to go out.
Golly Diane, do you feel everyone should be like you? If raped or molested, they should never name their attacker? Is that what's going on? If so, it's pretty damn pathetic because you're seventy-three in September and you should have come to terms with being molested as a child long, long ago. If you can't, you don't need to be doing a public affairs show because while you grew up in the Dark Ages when sexual asaults weren't spoken of, today we name names, today we talk about the crimes. If it's too much for you, you really need to retire.
And this is why feminists should have been all over this story. Credit to Jill at Feministe and to Heart at Women's Space who drew attention to Abeer this week. But women needed to be on this story because we saw it during the Article 32. Abeer was ignored throughout the US coverage. International coverage would mention her. US coverage of the Article 32 hearing? No. Only by getting out in front of this, only by demanding that the press cover this, was it going to happen.
They have made it very clear that 14-year-old girl doesn't matter. Maybe it's because she was Iraqi? Maybe it was because she was Muslim? Maybe those two things added into it but what's really going on is what always happens which is stories that have to do with women's lives get ignored. Hillary Clinton, during her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, proposes a major move on combatting breast cancer and it's either ignored or reduced to one sentence in a 'report' about how she bowled with Ellen on Ellen's show. That's ridiculous. We see it over and over and we see how these sexual assualts are buried time and again. We knew the record on this or we should have known. And feminist should have been out in front demanding coverage of this.
Mother's Day is Sunday. No feminist who was silent has anything to celebrate. She should hang her head in shame. And that includes the women at Feminist Majority Foundation who are responsible for Feminsit Wire Daily and do not find time to mention it in their 'news briefs' today. At least Rebeckah (Women's Media Center blog) included it as an item on her news roundup. 35 years after Susan Brownmiller's classic Against Our Will is published and we're still surprised we have to fight to get sexual assault covered in the media? All of those Take Back The Night rallies of the last two decades and we're unprepared to fight to get sexual assualt covered? What a truly sad commentary on the state of feminism today -- or at least the state of feminism at the top. Among the grassroots? There's a lively discussion taking place at Feministe and we'll note this comment by Gillian:
I'm going to look to see if there's a new thread on this but I want to just ask: Am I the only one who thinks if rape weren't among the crimes, the press would have covered this story 24/7?
Look at what Valerie has to explain and the dismissal of rape period. I really think if this had been four murders we would have had CBS Evening News and everyone else parked outside the court house. Instead, they pretty much all stuck their heads in the sand.
I think when the issue is rape, a lot of our media would rather play dumb.
Actually, Feministe has two lively threads on the topic, click here for the other one. Let's be clear that the males and 'mixed' gender sites need to be calling out the silence as well but it's especially disappointing to see all the women online who are silent. New Agenda? Just pack it in, you're a disgrace. Today they serve up Nicky Kirstoff as a savior of women. Nicky who bought a sex worker. Do we forget that? Apparently New Agenda is Limited and Remidial Classes on Women's Rights.
Today at the Pentagon, US Gen Ray Odierno, top US commander in Iraq, gave a briefing to the press. At the start, he insisted that this was "not 2006 or 2007." True, in 2006 and 2007, peace activists actually thought US troops would be out of Iraq before the end of the decade. Odierno then insisted, "The government of Iraq has assumed complete responsibility for paying the Sons of Iraq, a clear sign of its resolve to continue the important program. The government has budgeted over $300 million to ensure full payments in -- in calendar year '09." And when will these payments be made because, as multiple news outlets noted earlier this week, they're still not paying all members of Sahwa. Odierno stated of US forces training Iraqi security forces:
I've been very proud of the U.S. units and the fact that they have continued to work with their Iraqi security force partners; that they have not even thought about their concern about continuing to work with their partners; that they understand that these are individuals who make these decisions and that we have to be vigilant about every individual because there are individuals that have still infiltrated some of the Iraqi security forces.
Yesterday Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) explored Iraqi security forces turning on the Americans who are allegedly training them. The reporters do note Saturday's events but fail to identify Hassan Al Dulaimi as the man who shot dead Jake R. Velloza and Jeremiah P. McCleery. The report mainly focuses (in terms of specifics) on the November 25, 2008 shooting deaths of Anthony Davis and Warren A. Frank by Iraqi soldier Mohammed Saleh Hamadi. From the article:
For months, Mr. Hamadi's case has been winding its way through the Iraqi justice system at a pace that frustrates members of the team. Two other soldiers from the battalion have been convicted for their roles in his escape.
"I guarantee you there's a handful of these in every battalion," Captain Keneally said, adding that if justice was not swift for Mr. Hamadi, others might get ideas.
Today Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reported, "Iraq's security forces, despite significant improvements, remain hobbled by shortages of men and equipment, by bureaucracy, corruption, political interference and security breaches" and built on interviews and government reports (Iraqi and US) to come to those conclusions.
At the press conference, Odierno insisted that the US was out of Iraqi "cities except for two, Baghdad and Mosul. We are on our way out of Baghdad." Really? From the April 27th snapshot: "Rod Nordland (New York Times) broke that story in today's paper and noted that Iraq and the US are going to focus on Mosul in talks about US troops remaining in some Iraqi cities. Nordland reveals they will remain in Baghdad (he says 'parts of Baghdad' -- that means they will be in Baghdad and Baghdad is a city) and that Camp Victory ['Camps Victory, Liberty, Striker and Slayer, plus the prison known as Camp Cropper'] and 'Camp Prosperity' will not be closed or turned over to Iraq according to Iraqi Maj Gen Muhammad al-Askari. The SOFA 'requires' that they be closed or turned over but al-Askari says they're making exceptions even though the SOFA 'requires' otherwise. For the mammoth Camp Victory, it is in Baghdad and out of Baghdad, for example, so al-Askari says they consider it out of Baghdad." They're not leaving Baghdad, they've got a waiver. There's a difference. The Bush administration pushed through a treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Barack, being Bush III, has gone along with it (after grand standing before the general election that he would oppose it and demand Congressional oversight of any agreement between Iraq and the US). Odierno was asked about it and where it might be "renegotiated to permit some elements of the US military to reamin -- air support, for example, and protective services?"
Ray Odierno: Yeah, I would just say I think it's too early for that, I mean, I think that's something that's down the road, that will have to be decided jointly between the United States and the government of Iraq. But I don't think now is the time to assess that.
Iraq's air force will not be prepared (not even in training) at the end of 2011. That was always known. Known when the agreement was forced through. But keep kidding yourself that the SOFA means something. Odierno noted it was "down the road" which is different from "no." He was asked about Facebook and we'll note his most recent post there. From May 4th:
This week, Iraqi Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 39th Iraqi Army Brigade, completed the first half of an eight-week commando training course run by Romanian Special Forces Soldiers near Basrah, Iraq. Romanian Soldiers guided their Iraqi students through the same course of instruction that Romanian special forces receive, consisting of tactical, physical, and weapons training. After completing the second half of the training, which will consist of complex exercises such as scouting, reconnaissance, check point procedures and patrolling, the Iraqi troops will join their units in patrolling the tri-province region of Dhi Qar, Maysan and Muthanna in southern Iraq. Meanwhile, at Al Asad in western Iraq, American special forces continue to develop Iraqi special operations capabilities, and this past week conducted fast rope insertion training with their Iraqi counterparts.
The DoD has a budget request. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) explains that Afghanistan war funding request is $4 billion more than Iraq ($65 billion to $61 billion). This as another battalion of Marines ship off for six-months of training before being deployed to Iraq. Howard Greninger (Terre Haute Tribune-Star) reports, "About 30 motorcycles, many driven by military veterans, escorted four buses Thursday containing more than 150 members of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines to Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field." Terre Haute's WTHITV has the story here with text and video. In addition to those marines, Fort Dix is sending 170 US soldiers to Iraq. The Reading Eagle reports, "Members plan a yellow-ribbon ceremony for families at Fort Indiantown Gap, Lebanon County, on May 16. Another ceremony is planned at Fort Dix in July, Gilmer said." Meanwhile Colorado just sent troops to Iraq. The Denver Post notes, "More than 100 Colorado Air National Guard support troops bound for Iraq, many of them for at least their fourth tour in six years, flew out of Buckley Air Force Base on Wednesday." And Ashley Bergen (Mountain View Telegraph) reports that the "Headquarters and Headquarters Company, a unit subordinate to the 1st Battalion of the New Mexico National Guard's 200th Infantry, will soon deploy for more than a year to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." We're not done. Matthew Hansen (Omaha World-Herald) reported yesterday that the 313th Medical Company of Nebraska's National Guard is re-deploying to Iraq and notes that on the earlier deployment, "Sgt Tricia Jameson of Omaha, died July 14, 2005, when a roadside bomb struck her Humvee as it raced to another roadside attack. Jaemson was the second female soldier from Nebraska to die in Iraq. She was the only member of the 313th Medical Company killed durign the company's first deployment." Still not done. Frenchi Jones (Coastal Courier) reports Charlie Troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Cavalry, 41st Infantry Brigade deploys to Iraq in July. Done? No. Didi Tang (Springfield News-Leader) reports 150 "Marines from the Weapons Company, 3rd Battallion, 24th Marines" will deploy to Iraq after training in California:
On Wednesday morning, loved ones bid farewell to the soldiers, sharing tears, at the U.S. Military Reserve Center at 1110 N. Fremont Ave.
"The last five minutes were tough," [Maj Shannon] Johnson said.
Missouri Highway Patrol troopers then escorted the military buses down Chestnut Expressway, up Kansas Expressway and west on Kearney Street toward the Springfield Branson National Airport.
Many family members followed the caravan, hoping to catch one more glimpse of their child or spouse.
The traffic was slow, but most motorists were patient.
When the buses passed Williams Elementary on West Kearney Street, schoolchildren were out, waving red and blue behind a school fence.
For a war Barack's allegedly ended/ending (depending on whom you speak to), a lot of troops are still going to Iraq. Today Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul car bombing which wounded four people (three were police officers).
Ehren Watada was the first officer to publicly resist the Iraq War. Yesterday's Free Speech Radio News noted the latest on Ehren:
Mark Taylor-Canfield: The Department of Justice has asked the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss their appeal of a lower court ruling which blocked a second court martial trial for 1st Lt Ehren Watada. In June 2006, Lt Watada refused to serve in Iraq on the grounds that the US invasion was both illegal and immoral. His court-martial was declared a mistrial in February 2007. A civilian US federal judge blocked the Army's attempt to hold a second court-martial in October of 2007, ruling that a second trial would qualify as double jeopardy. According to the US Constitution, a person cannot be tried twice on the same charges. Although Lt Watada's period of enlistment was up two years ago, he is still virtually confined to the US army has barred him from communicating with anti-war groups. Despite the Dept of Justice's decision not to appeal the earlier civilian court ruling, the US army is still considering prosecution of Lt Watada on two charges of "behaviour unbecoming an officer" because of an anti-war speech he gave to the Veterans For Peace national conference in Seattle in 2006.
Ami Radil (KUOW -- link has text and audio) adds, "Fort Lewis commanders must now decide how best to resolve them [the two charges]. Fort Lewis spokesman Joe Piek says Watada's old unit is now training for its third deployment to Iraq. Both sides say the mistrial was unfortunate because it prevented a fuller airing of important issues like the grounds for Watada's refusal, and whether service members are entitled to First Amendment protections. When he's released from the Army, Watada hopes to attend law school."
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations:
This week, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with one of the most prominent figures in world health to discuss the future of the swine flu pandemic. Dr. Larry Brilliant is an epidemiologist, former chief philanthropist at Google.org, and was a central figure in the World Health Organization's successful small pox eradication program.
Brilliant sheds light on high-tech tools that are making it easier for scientists to detect global outbreaks, the critical importance of early detection and early response, and how the current pandemic has yet to show its real hand.
"Anyone who tells you that they know that this is a mild pandemic, and the WHO has overreacted, they don't know. Anyone who tells you that the WHO and CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] have underestimated it, they don't know," Brilliant tells NOW. "We're all going to find out at the same time...we're all in it together."
The show also features vital insight from Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a Stanford University epidemiologist who specializes in hunting viruses to their source.
Lethal and deadly to female reporters, Washington Week and Gwen line up three suiters this week and toss in a woman for 'contrast.' Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Charles Babington (AP) and online gossip Eamon Javers (Hedda Hopper Lives!) are joined by token 'chic' Joan Biskupic (USA Today) in PBS continued war on women and Gwen's determination to be "the prettiest girl at the table! I am! I am! Miss Beasley hair and all, I am!" The vanity and sexism begins airing tonight on most PBS stations. Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Ann Lewis, Linda Chavez, Patricia Sosa and Karen Czarnecki to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
America's New Air Force
Increasingly, the U.S. military is relying on un-manned, often armed aircraft to track and destroy the enemy – sometimes controlled from bases thousands of miles away from the battlefront. Lara Logan reports. | Watch Video
The Perfect Spy
Steve Kroft examines one of the most mysterious cases in the annals of modern espionage: the curious life and death of Ashraf Marwan, an Egyptian billionaire claimed by both Israelis and Egyptians to be their greatest spy. | Watch Video
All In The Family
Bill James doesn't run, hit or catch a baseball but his intense statistical analysis of the game and its players have made him an essential ingredient in a formula that brought two world championships to the Boston Red Sox. Morley Safer reports. | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 10, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.