Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Prosecution rests in War Crimes trial

The prosecution concluded their case today. Green appeared a little bit more light hearted during today's proceedings. Before I forget: yellow button down. He also appeared to have shaved…on Friday, the U.S. Marshall service allegedly refused to give Green his razor for reasons unknown.
The second to last witness for the prosecution was Blake Huggins. Huggins became friends with Green in 2004 after meeting him through Green’s brother Doug. Huggins testified of talking to Green via cell phone, stating that he "seemed really negative… he seemed like he'd been through a lot." Huggins was by far the most "spacey" witness to have testified thus far. Green reportedly compared what he'd seen to the Michael J Fox/Sean Penn war drama Casualties of War. Huggins said Green did mention the murder/rape to him, occurring in the Triangle of Death. Cross? Nuffin'.

The above is from Evan Bright's "On Edge and Angry." 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. 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. Steven Dale Green is on trial at the US District Court Western District of Kentucky for his part in the War Crimes. Green says 'not guilty' while his attorneys say his actions (that he's not guilty of?) need to be placed in 'context.' The four who appeared in military courts did so because they were still serving when the truth came out. Green, who has been fingered in court over and over as the ringleader and the one who shot the four Iraqis dead, had already been discharged from the US military when the War Crimes came to light. For that reason, he is being tried in a federal court.

Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who is in the courtroom each day covering the trial. The AP's Brett Barrouquere is the only other one who can make that claim (and Barrouquere has been covering the crimes for nearly three years and doing an excellent job of it). Bright notes that Noah Galloway was the last witness for the prosecution which rested their case before noon. At 1:30, the defense began presenting its side and Lt Col Karen Marrs took the stand to offer testimony as the psychiatric nurse practioner familiar with Green. She described him as "On edge and angry." Bright notes, "The defense MAY have one witness tomorrow before resting and moving on to closing statements. Expect a guilty/not guilty verdict by Wednesday, before moving to opening statements."

Meanwhile, in Iraq, AFP reports that the Kurdistan Regional Government has announced they will hold their parliamentary elections July 25th. The KRG announces:

President Barzani meets newly appointed US Ambassador Hill

» President Barzani and Ambassador Christopher Hill

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG.org) – Newly appointed US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill made his first trip to the Kurdistan Region, where he met Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and other top officials.

President Barzani said, “I am delighted to welcome distinguished Ambassador Christopher Hill to the Kurdistan Region, and I look forward to working closely with him as we consider key issues in Iraq.” He added, “We are thankful to the US people, government and military for their contributions and sacrifices, and are pleased with our strengthened relations with the United States.”

President Barzani congratulated the Ambassador on taking up this new post and wished him great success, explaining that his diplomatic experience would be of great value. He pledged his continued cooperation with the US Embassy in Baghdad. He also briefed the Ambassador on the history of the Region, including the chemical gassing during the Anfal campaign of the former regime, the resistance of the people, and the contribution of the Kurdistan Region to democracy, federalism and pluralism in Iraq. President Barzani said that the Kurdistan Region has always promoted tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and would spare no effort in pursuing solutions through dialogue.

Ambassador Hill expressed his pleasure at meeting with President Barzani, and conveyed the warm wishes of President Obama. He emphasised the Obama Administration’s desire to enhance mutual cooperation and strengthen relations between the United States and the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq. Mr Hill stressed the spirit of partnership and that he had come to the Region to hear from President Barzani directly.

Ambassador Hill is welcomed by Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein and Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir

The Ambassador explained that he has taken this position with a solemn duty, and hopes that outstanding issues will be addressed so that the sacrifices of soldiers will not have been in vain. He also articulated the importance of the positive developments between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey.

Both sides acknowledged that this was a critical time that presented a variety of challenges that must be faced together. Topics of discussion included relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government on key issues, such as the hydrocarbons law and the implementation of Article 140, the delicate situation in Mosul and Kirkuk, the recent UNAMI report, and recent and upcoming elections.

Ambassador Hill arrived with a delegation that included US Ambassador Robert Ford and other officials. Kurdistan Region Parliament Speaker Adnan Mufti, President Barzani’s special envoy to Baghdad Dr Roj Nouri Shaways, President Barzani’s Chief of Staff Dr Fuad Hussein, and Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir were also present. Ambassador Hill, who replaced former Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Baghdad, has vast experience in political negotiation in North Korea and the Balkans.

He met with the KRG on May 3rd. Alsumaria reports today that Hill just met with Adel Abdul Mehdi, the Shi'ite Vice President of Iraq. Iraq's Foreign Ministry announces:

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met on May 5th in Paris with his French counterpart Mr. Bernard Kouchner and the French ambassador in Baghdad. The two sides discussed the program of the Iraqi delegation's visit headed by the Prime Minister with the leaders of France. Foreign Minister reviewed the security, political and regional developments and the increased confidence of the world in the new Iraq and its ability to face challenges .
The two sides exchanged views on Iraq's regional relations, and the need for Iraq to conduct a review the UN resolutions imposed on Iraq since 1990 to remove it completely from Chapter VII. Foreign Minister Zebari requested the support of France in the next review process between Iraq and the United Nations with respect to the legitimate decisions. They also discussed the coming visits of officials in both countries and the French minister expressed France's desire to expand its diplomatic representation and to begin to open the technical attaché and a consulate in Basra, after opening a consulate general in Erbil recently.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Nouri al-Maliki was also on a diplomatic trip to France. The Dept of Defense released the following yesterday:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died from wounds sustained after they were shot by enemy forces in Mosul, Iraq on May 2. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Killed were:

Spc. Jeremiah P. McCleery, 24, of Portola, Calif.; and

Spc. Jake R. Velloza, 22, of Inverness, Calif.

We noted Jake Velloza yesterday morning. From Michael Taylor's "Soldier from Inverness is killed in Iraq" (San Francisco Chronicle):

Velloza's parents flew to Delaware Sunday night, Richard Velloza said, to be at Dover Air Force Base when the casket bearing their son is returned to the United States, possibly Tuesday.
Velloza was a graduate of Tomales High School, where he excelled as a football player. After graduation, he told his grandfather he wanted to serve in the armed forces because "he liked to help people out," Richard Velloza said.
He joined the Army three years ago, his grandfather said, and was schooled in armored warfare at Fort Knox, Ky. He served a tour in Iraq for about a year, then was reassigned to Fort Hood, Texas. Last fall, he returned to Iraq, Richard Velloza said.

Tim King (Salem-News) notes the two deaths. When the press covers Jeremiah McCleery we'll note it. AFMAO/PA released the following:

The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center Public Affairs Office (AFMAO/PA) has received confirmation of consent from the primary next of kin to authorize media coverage of their fallen military loved ones' return. A dignified transfer for Specialist Jake R. Velloza and Specialist Jeremiah P. McCleery will be conducted at Dover AFB, Del., today.

Name: Jake R. Velloza
Hometown: Inverness, Calif.
Rank: Specialist
Service: U.S. Army
Location of death: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Name: Jeremiah P. McCleery
Hometown: Portola, Calif.
Rank: Specialist
Service: U.S. Army
Location of death: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Additional information related to this release will be provided via press release on www.defenselink.mil once we have verified that all secondary next of kin have been notified.
Media who have registered to cover the dignified transfer must send an RSVP to the AFMAO/PA organizational e-mail inbox (AFMAO.PA@dover.af.mil) by 12:45 p.m. EST with the name of the individual who will represent the outlet. Late submissions may not be considered for access to the installation.
Media will be required to sign the DoD Dignified Transfer ground rules before being authorized access to cover this event. Of note, no flash photography will be permitted. Upon conclusion of the dignified transfer, media will be escorted from the base to their vehicles.
The meeting time is expected to be about 5:25 p.m. EST. AFMAO/PA will send out a confirmation e-mail by 1:45 p.m. EST notifying media of exact meeting time and location and whether any pool coverage will be required.
Please contact the AFMAO Public Affairs office at (302) 677-2275/2187/2186, e-mail at AFMAO.PA@dover.af.mil or visit www.mortuary.af.mil/ if you have additional questions about today's dignified transfer.

An e-mailer to the public account asks why Uprising didn't get mentioned yesterday. Why should it have? The Iraq death toll for US soldiers was not 18, it was 19. If you can't even get the basics right, forget the fact that the host is destroying her own reputation daily, why would be interesting in noting it? (Yes, I'm aware one of those deaths took place in the US. The person was sent out of Iraq for treatment and died in the US. The number is 19.)

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evan bright
brett barrouquere