Tuesday, May 26, 2009
More US civilians die in Iraq
Erika Slife (Chicago Tribune) reports that 56-year-old Terry Barnich was killed in a roadside bombing yesterday and that he "was serving as deputy director for the Iraq Transition Assistance Office for the State Department". In January 2008, Cara Sievers wrote about Barnich:
In his current post, for which he volunteered, Terry wears a variety of hats, including acting as general counsel to the electricity section of the State Department's reconstruction office, which means he reviews contracts, certain protocols and directives. He also serves as a legal advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, helping develop a new modern electricity law and some regulatory protocols that will be necessary for attracting private investment money down the road. The ministry will need more than $25 billion over the next 10 years for network improvements, he explains.
Terry also plays a role in articulating policy to ranking policy-makers in Iraq’s U.S. Embassy and in Washington, D.C. He even briefed the president, the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the chair of the National Security Council and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Terry has been in Baghdad since mid-January 2007 and lives in a 150-foot trailer in the Green Zone, a heavily guarded area of closed-off streets in central Baghdad where U.S. authorities live and work. Terry travels frequently through the Red Zone -- less safe areas of the city where the risk of a roadside bomb or kidnapping always is present. However, he says traveling with the State Department security teams makes him feel very safe. While attacks in the Green Zone have subsided since he arrived, Terry had one close call; he missed being hit by two rockets by 44 paces and about eight seconds.
Photo is from his Facebook page.
The US military announced today: "BAGHDAD -- Three people were killed and two were wounded May 25, when an improvised explosive device detonated during a visit of construction sites near Fallujah. The IED struck a vehicle traveling as part of a convoy that included Coalition Forces and U.S. Government civilians and contractors. The two wounded personnel were medically evacuated to a hospital for treatment. The names of the deceased and injured are being withheld pending next of kin notification." The announcement apparently covers Barnich's death. Civilians died over the weekend as well with a corpse discovered Friday in the Green Zone which Ernesto Londono and Steve Fainaru (Washington Post) identified the corpse found as Jim Kitterman who had been "president of Janus Construction" and they note, "Another American working for a contractor was killed Friday in a suspected rocket attack near the U.S. Embassy, U.S. officials said. It appeared to be the first fatal rocket attack in the Green Zone in more than a year."
Yesterday was Memorial Day -- in Iraq as well, at least at the US Embassy. In the photo above, you can see US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill in the background (to the right). Neither the US Embassy in Iraq nor the State Department has issued a statement at this point.
In other deaths, AP reports 97-year-old Maria Amelia Lopez passed away. If you visit her blog, you will see the announcement AP's summarizing. She died at six in the morning on May 20th. The family advises that there is no need to be sad and that life is to be lived "and she lived it with intensity always." She was a blogger against the Iraq War. December 23, 2006, she posted for the first time noting it was her 95th birthday and her grandson had gifted her with the blog. She wrote that she planned "to write a lot". AP notes, "Lopez's notoriety even earned her a meeting last year with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who she supported enthusiastically."
Gareth notes this from Willem Buiter's "Obushma-Biney in the Home of the Frightened" (Financial Times of London):
The spinelessness and moral cowardice of the Obama administration know no bounds. The Bush-Cheney team ordered the torture and abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and assorted other locations abroad -- offshore detention without trial as well as torture by US officials or persons acting under their instructions being permitted by Article VIII of the United States Constitution, as confirmed in the XXVIIIth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Candidate Obama declares he abhors torture and deplores what went on in Gitmo and in secret detention centres around the world, but President Obama decides that the Camp may have to remain open for another year, as he doesn't seem to know what to do with the prisoners. The right thing to do would have been to send a plane to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the day of his inauguration, to move all the prisoners to the US.
President Obama then also decides not to prosecute those who committed the crimes of torture or abuse of prisoners or were responsible for these crimes. The president's excuse was was that he sought to turn the page on "a dark and painful chapter". It was a "time for reflection, not for retribution", he said.
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