Monday, May 4, 2009. Chaos and violence contine, the prosecution rests in the Steven D. Green trial, a Sahwa leader is arrested and the response is further tensions, Barack wants more money for his illegal wars, Moqtada al-Sadr surfaces (winter is officially over), Marilyn French has passed away, and more.
In Iraq on March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered while she was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. The War Crimes were committed by US soldiers and four have already faced justice: James Barker entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 90 years, Paul Cortez also copped a guilty plea and was sentenced to 100 years, Jesse V. Spielman was convicted (no plea) and sentenced to 110 years and Bryan Howard had a plea agreement which resulted in 27 months of imprisonment. The only one accused and not tried was Steven Dale Green who had already left the US military when the truth came out and had to be tried in a civilian court. Green's trial began last week at the United States District Court Western District of Kentucky. The man who has been described as the "ringleader" and fingered as the one who killed all four, a participant in the gang-rape of Abeer and the one who thought up the criminal conspiracy is somehow pleading 'non-guilty' at the same time his attorneys do not dispute the charges but ask that the 'context' of his actions be considered.
Today the prosecution finished presenting their case. Brett Barrouquere (AP) reports Blake Huggins and Noah Galloway were witnesses for the prosecution today and both testified that Green told them he had committed the War Crimes shortly before his federal arrest June 30, 2006. Barrouquere quotes Huggins stating, "He had mentioned to me that he and a group of guys walked into a house, killed a family and raped a young girl. He just kind of mentioned it to me." Galloway testified that Green was aware the federal authorities were after him, that he knew he would be arrested shortly and that he confessed to all of it including being the one who shot dead all four family members. Barrouquere has been covering the developments in this story for nearly three years -- one of the few can make that claim. The trial is also being covered by an 18-year-old high school senior, Evan Bright, who reported on Friday's testimonies which included the ridiculous statements by War Criminal Paul Cortez who declared that we "knew what was goin' on, we knew were were goin' down to that house to have sex with that girl, and Barker and Green seemed to know where they were going to get there." A) Green knew because he had cased the home the same as he had repeatedly touched Abeer when she came through the military checkpoint. That is why her parents were arranging to get her out of the house as quickly as possible. Had the soldiers attempted their actions the following night, Abeer wouldn't have been home. She was to leave the morning after she died. As for "have sex with that girl," "that girl" has a name and "have sex" isn't rape. Cortez may have confessed at his own hearing but his remarks in Green's trial demonstrate no understanding of his crimes and no remorse for them. He also is either a liar or has cognitive issues. He, Barker and Green took part in the gang-rape of Abeer. But he told the jury in Green's trial Friday that killing her and the family "that wasn't . . . the intention. Sh . . . stuff just went crazy . . ." Really? That wasn't the intention? And what did Cortez think would happen? They'd break into an Iraqi home, hold a family at gun point while gang-raping the fourteen-year-old daughter and then just leave?
He wants everyone to believe that the family wouldn't have gone to the local police? Maybe he believes that but others didn't and that's obvious by the fact that after Abeer was murdered, her body was set on fire in an attempt to destroy the evidence. After they murdered her, they suddenly thought the police might be involved but gang-rape, excuse me, "have sex with" apparently was no big deal in their minds. Cortez might also want to ask why they went to so much trouble to remove evidence from their own bodies of the gang-rape? Evan Bright reported this on Jesse Spielman's testimony:
He testified to seeing Green unbuttoning his pants and getting down between Abeer's legs and raping her, after which he took a pillow and put it over Abeer's head and fired an AK47 into the pillow, killing her. At this, the defendant was spotted looking down. He then watched Barker pour a liquid onto her body. While her body was burning, he added clothes and blankets to fuel the flames, "to destroy evidence," he said. He continued, describing Cortez & Barker washing their chests and genitalia back at TCP2, and how he himself threw the AK47 into the canal. When asked why he didn't turn his squad members in, he "didn't feel right, telling on people [he] served with."
Cortez knew to wash his "chests and genitalia" and that's was due to the gang-rape. Cortez didn't fire a weapon. For those who fear that Cortez didn't think anything out in advance, they can refer to Evan Bright reporting on Day Four of the trial:
According to Barker, "Cortez took a little convincing to get him to come along. He said if we were gonna have sex with the girl, he wanted to go first." He testified to ushering the 5-year-old girl and father into the house, and then separating 14-year-old Abeer from her family. He said that he held Abeer's hands down while Cortez raped her in mere seconds, while Green shot the remaining three family members. When Cortez was finished, they switched places, with Abeer screaming and crying the entire time. Afterwards, Green raped her, and then shot her.
See, he did put some thought into it and his thought was, if they're going to gang-rape a fourteen-year-old girl, he wanted to go first. As offensive as these War Criminals are, equally offenisve is the silence that's surrounded this trial as so many have bent over backwards to avoid covering or even mentioning it. We interviewed Evan Bright for Third yesterday and, in reply to how many reporters were covering the trail, he explained, "3-4. On Monday, opening statements day, there were 6-8. I'm here with Brett Barrouquere of the AP and Jim Frederick of Time Magazine who's writing a book on Bravo company. The people who only came for opening statements are Andy Wolfson from the Courier Journal, someone from Reuters, Mira Oberman the midwest correspondent from the 'Agence France-Press'... the French press."
Related, Feminist Wire Daily notes:
Marilyn French, a feminist author best known for her novel, "The Women's Room," died over the weekend in New York. According to the Telegraph UK, French once said "My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world."
The above explains a great deal. First, Marilyn would be covering the trial. Second, The Women's Room was a popular novel and it certainly helped get the word out on feminist concepts and was turned into a breakthrough mini-series by ABC whose cast included: Patty Duke, Mare Winningham, Colleen Dewhurst, Lee Remick, Tyne Daly, Ted Danson, Gregory Harrison among others. But the emphasis on a popular novel?
"Chilling, well-documented . . . A sobering reminder that the situation of women may still be so universally abysmal that if any other ethnic, national or religious group were attacked, dominated and maimed at the same rate, it could be said to constitute a state of emergency or war". That's the New York Times Book Review and it's not for The Women's Room. That's reviewing her 1992 The War Against Women. That was a very important book and a best seller. In 1992. It's very sad that a popular novel published in 1977 is the crux of the obit. As though French did nothing after? From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in Three Volumes is a major work, published in 2002. It's really telling that instead of noting her life's work an obit wants to emphasize a popular novel that was turned into a TV mini-series. It's all about popularity, apparently, and not at all about knowledge. Those of us who knew Marilyn appreciated her in life and mourn her now. Though the obit implies her best moment was in 1977, her life was an endless journey and her talents and skills only increased with each year. She will be sorely missed. From page 189 of The War Against Women:
So powerful and pervasive is the taboo against blaming men-as-a-class in our society that even social scientists who deplore male violence against women perpetuate a sense of male blamelessness for these acts. Male language generally -- the language used by those who work in military, engineering, computer, and or other "masculine" enterprises -- is characterized by a lack of agency. Like the nuclear strategy analysts discussed earlier, social scientists who write about male violence toward women and whose work may be aimed at ameliorating the situation for what is happening, that "things" happen as it were by themselves, or that both parties are equally responsible.
Think about the above not only in the statements made by those participating in the War Crimes of gang-rape and murder, but think about in terms of all the men and women who refuse to use their power to draw attention to the federal trial going on right now in Kentucky.
Drawing attention to himself is something that Jalal Talabani specializes in. From the April 20th snapshot: " Alsumaria broke the news that Jalal Talabani, the current president of Iraq, has decided he will run for the office again when his term expires in December. Saturday March 14th, Talabani was telling the world he wouldn't run and apparently sealing that decision by declaring the following Monday, to Sabah, that, 'The ideal of a united Kurdistan is just a dream written in poetry. I do not deny that they are poems devoted to the notion of a united Kurdistan. But we can not continue to dream'." Apparently his announcement did not garner him enough attention. Which would explain his announcement over the weekend. Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports Talabani is stating he will retire when his term ends in December. Yes, this is a reversal. And it comes as Talabani and fellow Kurd Massoud Barzani (Barzani is President of the Kurdistan Regional Government and a political rival of Talabani's) make a joint announcement. Reuters reports they stood side-by-side today and announced that the Constitution will be followed regarding oil rich Kirkuk, that the KRG will not give up their claim even if a 'trade' is offered. They are calling for the Constitution to be followed. (A referendrum was to have been held. It has still not been held in violation of Iraq's Constitution.)
While Talabani's not sure what he wants to do, it appears obvious that some want to target Sahwa. Reuters noted Saturday 1 person was killed in a clash at a "Sunni Arab militia checkpoint in Yusufiya". That was Sahwa checkpoint. Sahwa is more popularly known as "Awakening" Councils or "Sons Of Iraq." They are resistance fighters that the US put on the US tax payer payroll because, as then US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus explained repeatedly to Congress in April of 2008, it meant they would stop attacking US troops. Today they're under attack and that includes Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting yesterday that a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting Sahwa which left three people injured, But they're also under attack from the central government in Baghdad. Sunday saw three of their "leading members" arrested by US and Iraqi forces today, Al Jazeera reports, for actions against US service members before they went on the US payroll. Reuters notes one arrested leader and identifies him as Nadhim al-Jubouri (the other two, according to Reuters, are his two brothers): "Ahmed Karim, the deputy governor of Salahuddin province, said Jubouri was accused in killings that took place in the largely Shi'ite town of Dujail during the height of Iraq's sectarian conflict in 2006-2007." There is talk and speculation, including by Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, that Karim was arrested on a warrant that was several years old. No one has yet to point out that such warrants have been filed away and used repeatedly for political reasons throughout the Iraq War. Hameed Rasheed and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) observe, "Awakening leaders have been squeezed from all sides in recent months, with Iraqi authorities carrying out a series of arrests against them and Al Qaeda in Iraq continuing to target them with bombs. Late last month, Jibouri escaped a suicide attack at a mosque in the town where he was also an imam. The bomber, who detonated an explosives vest, killed five people and wounded 18, including one of Jibouri's now-detained brothers. In an interview with The Times the day after the explosion, Jibouri blamed the attack on the insurgents he had abandoned when he agreed to join the Awakening, called the Sons of Iraq by the U.S. military." There is fall out among the Sahwa over the arrests. James Hider (Times of London) reports, "Now leaders of the militias, who still guard their communities against al-Qaeda attacks, are accusing the Government of trying to undermine them, playing into the hands of the terrorists." Hidger quotes Mullah Jebori stating, "We signed a ceasefire agreement with American forces, just as we signed an agreement to grant us immunity from the courts, even if we killed half the American army or shot down a plane. The case has been raised because I was in armed groups before ... The complaints have been raised against us because we were in armed groups falsely accused of killing and kidnapping." Saturday Ali Rifat, Hala Jaber and Sarah Baxter (Times of London) reported. "The resistance council recently issued a call to disaffected Sons of Iraq to take up arms against US and Iraqi troops after the government of Nouri al-Maliki failed to integrate them into the national security forces. Many fighters have abandoned their security posts, allowing militant groups to fill the gap. Abu Omar, the leader of an Awakening militia in northern Baghdad, said more than 50 out of 175 fighters had quit."
Last Wednesday there was an attempted arrest of govenrment officials in Baghdad and a shooting spree resulted. For some reason, it took until Sunday for that to be reported.
Sam Dagher's "Gunfight Breaks Out as Iraqi Soldiers Try to Arrest Trade Officials" (New York Times) reported Sunday on the an armed clash Wednesday as al-Maliki's forces attempted to arrest nine people at the country's Ministery of Trade. One person was arrested (Muahmmad Hannoun). Falah al-Sudani is the agency's minister and he was, at that point, in Basra. Where the British recently left. And, like so many the US placed in charge of Iraq, Iraqi al-Sudani holds dual citizenship (British being the second one) and there was fear that he would make it out of the country. Last night Ahmed Rasheed and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) report, "[MP and head of the Integrity Committee, Sabah al-] Saedi said ministry guards prevented forces from entering the building and fired shots in the air to scare them. They responded by also firing in the air, security officials said."
Independent journalist Dahr Jamail has a book coming out in July from Haymarket Books on resistance in the military. Today at Dissident Voice, he tackles the subject of those who destroy their own sciences and betray every ethic of their profession (think Monty McFatty and her 'lovely' sister who lies domestically):
The US military has sent shock troops, which also donned helmets and flak jackets -- anthropologists, sociologists and social psychologists, with their own troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of 2007, American scholars in these fields were embedding with the military in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a Pentagon program called Human Terrain System (HTS), which evolved shortly thereafter into a $40 million program that embedded four or five person groups of scholars in the aforementioned fields in all 26 US combat brigades that were busily occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.
Two years prior to this, the CIA had quietly started recruiting social scientists by advertising in academic journals, offering salaries of up to $400,000. The military's goals for the HTS was to have them gather and disseminate information about Iraqi and Afghani cultures. These embedded scholars, contracted through companies like CACI International, work in the project that is described by CACI as "designed to improve the gathering, understanding, operational application, and sharing of local population knowledge" among combat teams.
This new form of psychological warfare is deeply disturbing. Throughout my five years of reporting on the occupation of Iraq, when I've asked Iraqis what they feel the most damaging aspect of the occupation is, I have been told that the occupation is "shredding the fabric of Iraqi society and culture."
Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to manage the population with pretty words. Alsumaria reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki stressed that timelines of US Forces withdrawal from Iraq are definite and not subject to any amendments. Thus, Al Maliki contradicted all reports evoking the possibility of extending US military presence in Iraq on account of violence spike in Baghdad streets." al-Maliki's hoping to avoid an ouster before the next round of Parliamentary elections (supposed to take place in December but looking like January or February). What he will or will not say after those elections will certainly be interesting. He's facing more pressure in recent days but we'll note this from CNN before we get to that, "Baghdad still expects its security forces to take responsibility for Iraqi cities after U.S. troops leave, and does not plan to request an extension, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said." The popular position in Iraq has always been US troops out. It's a position that Moqtada al-Sadr has always ridden to popularity. The long hidden al-Sadr surfaced in recent days in Turkey. David Blair (Telegraph of London) notes:
Turkey has a vital interest in bringing stability to neighbouring Iraq and curbing Iranian influence. Mr Sadr met both Recep Tayyip Erodgan, the Turkish prime minister, and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara on Friday.
The talks concentrated on "security in Iraq and the promotion of links between the parties", according to Anatolia, a Turkish news agency
Marcia noted Moqtada al-Sadr visit to Turkey Friday night. Today's Zaman reports, "Diplomatic sources said Sadr came to Ankara as part of Turkey's policy of maintaining contact with all groups in Iraq. The United States views the Shiite leader's visit positively, said the sources. Al-Sadr's talks in Ankara focused on the 'political process' as Iraq heads towards general elections in December 2009. The request for the visit came from al-Sadr, according to sources. The Shiite leader is also due to head a meeting of his supporters in İstanbul before he leaves Turkey". The French government notes that Nouri is in France: "This visit is once again representative of the renewal of our political and economic ties with Iraq, initiated by the two visits Bernard Kouchner made to Iraq in August 2007 and June 2008, and endorsed by the French President's visit on February 10.
Since then the frequency of exchanges has increased greatly, characterized by the joint economic commission co-chaired by Christine Lagarde and the Iraqi Oil Minister which was held on March 24 in Paris, the visit by the Iraqi Minister of Defense on March 25 and the official visit by the Iraqi Vice President Adel Abd al-Mahdi on April 13-16.
Prime Minister al-Maliki will be accompanied by a major delegation including, in particular, the Deputy Prime Minister, Barhem Saleh, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Commerce, the Minister of Interior and the government spokesperson.
Discussions will take place with the French President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. These will give new impetus to our political dialogue and bilateral relations, and will provide an opportunity to discuss the major regional challenges."
Jeff Leys (CounterPunch) notes, "President Obama's 2009 supplemental spending request to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is currently before Congress. The House Appropriations Committee will "mark up" (finalize its version) of a war funding bill at a committee hearing on May 7th. The full House will likely vote on the bill the following week. The objective is to have the bill finalized and to Obama for signature by Memorial Day. President Obama is seeking an additional $75.8 billion in war funds for this fiscal year. It is possible that Congress will add to this amount before final passage. If Congress enacts Obama's request, total war spending will come to $144.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2009 (which ends on September 30, with Fiscal Year 2010 beginning on October 1). This compares to the $186 billion war spending in 2008. Obama's proposed war budget for 2010 is $130 billion." Today the costs rose. Reuters reports, "Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will seek passage in coming weeks of $94.2 billion in emergency money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other programs, including $2 billion more to prepare for an influenza pandemic." Liz Peek (wowOwow) analyzes the government pork here.
Like the spending, the violence continued today . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports twin Baghdad car bombings which claimed 4 lives and left seven injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded three oil tanker drivers, a Baghdad grenade attack which claimed the lives of 4 police officers and left three more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded one person,and a Diyala province roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left six more people injured (they were wedding goers).
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul checkpoint shooting in which one police officer was shot dead. Reuters notes 1 "official with the Sunni Arab Islamic Party" was shot (injured, not dead) in Khaldiay and 1 Iraqi soldier was killed, two Iraqi soldiers were injured and an 'insurgent' was injured as well during an armed clash in Ramadi at a military checkpoint.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Mosul.
Saturday the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- Two Multi-National Division -- North Soldiers were killed and three wounded during a small arms fire attack at a combat outpost south of Mosul early this evening. According to initial reports, an individual dressed in an Iraqi Army uniform fired on the Coalition forces and was killed in the incident. The incident is currently under investigation. The names of the deceased and wounded are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brought to 4284 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Lastly, in England the illegal war is back in the news as a claim is put foward that the UK was pulled into an illegal war. Duncan Gardham (Telegraph of London) reports:
The comments, made by Nigel Inkster, who was deputy director of MI6 at the time, make clear there were reservations over the war at a very senior level within the Secret Intelligence Service.
MI6 was blamed for the failure of intelligence that took Britain to war after helping produce a dossier in which Tony Blair claimed that Iraq was ready to use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.
The dossier, said to have been "sexed up" by Downing Street, also mentioned controversial intelligence that Saddam Hussain was seeking uranium from Niger.
In a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Mr Inkster blamed weakness at the Foreign Office for allowing Britain to get dragged into a war over which officials had serious doubts.
"The Foreign Office no longer does foreign policy," Mr Inkster said. "It acts as a platform for a multiplicity of UK departments and the lack of a clearly articulated sense of our strategic location in the world explains how we got dragged into a war with Iraq which was always against our better judgment."