Saturday, May 09, 2009

Abeer makes the NYT finally

Relatives of Abeer al-Janabi, who attracted the fatal attention of Private First Class Steven Green and his comrades as they manned a traffic checkpoint in the so-called triangle of death south of Baghdad, said that the 24-year-old soldier must die.
“We are just waiting for the court to sentence him so he gets justice and the court can change the image of Americans,” Karim Janabi, the uncle of the girl, said.

The above is from James Hider's "US soldier who raped and murdered Iraqi girl, 14, may face death" (Times of London) and it went online after the snapshot was dictated or we would have included it yesterday. In today's New York Times, A4 of the national edition, Campbell Robertson and Atheer Kakan contribute "Ex-G.I. Guilty of Rape and Killings in Iraq." The article could be and should be longer (especially considering the paper's history regarding Abeer, see yesterday's snapshot) but credit to Robertson and Kakan for the article because this really wasn't something that Iraq correspondents had to file. They're in Iraq. The trial took place in the US. The trial should have been covered by the paper, the trial should have been covered from Kentucky.

It needs to be noted, negative criticism, that there's something seriously wrong with a fourteen paragraph article that doesn't mention the name of the 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers until paragraph 13.

Firt paragraph "the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, and the killings of her and three members of her family"

Paragraph three "where the girl and her family lived"

Paragraph nine "moving the girl's parents and her young sister into a back room while two of the soldiers raped her"; "raping the girl and then shooting her repeatedly in the head and trying to set fire to her body"

Pargraph thirteen finally gives her a name. We call her Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and that's what most outlets call her, it is what the FBI called her in their two press releases on Steven D. Green and it's how she was referred to in court.

I keep waiting for someone to pick up some of the trivia aspects of this case.

I guess no read the filings? (I know the prosecution did and they're not rushing to the press the way the defense is.)

Steven D. Green, who just got convicted on Thursday, felt the need to slime General Peter Pace and, get this, The McLaughlin Group in court filings. I'm not joking. The gang-rapist, the murderer wanted to get on a high horse regarding Pace (rightly) calling the crimes "unacceptable." Is it fair to point out that court documents are prepared and typed and should be accurate but the defense credited Pace's comment to "the Las Angeles Times" -- which, I'm guessing, is a cousin of the Los Angeles Times? Did you know criminal Green was a media critic? He is. The McLaughlin Group? It featured, quoting the defense filing, "a political pundit of national, albeit not intellectual , stature". Me-ow.

And yet the defense wanted to rush to the press yesterday to insist that they've always been focused on the sentencing! They, the defense said, never denied Green's guilt (so why did Green enter a not guilty plea?), they were focused on the sentencing. They lost because they were focused on everything but the trial.

Green's guilty. The jury found him guilty and they were always going to find him guilty. You can't have that many eye witnesses plus that many witnesses he bragged to about the War Crimes after, and still not get convicted. But the defense did a poor job and they could have argued the case in such a manner that Green wouldn't have been convicted on all counts. They created no sympathy for him, they didn't do a damn thing about training him on how to behave when the jury's watching you. Hint, when your crimes are being recounted by an eye witness, you don't put your head down on the table as the jury watches you. What the hell is that? You need a nap?

It's not wild enough to get you off as crazy but it's weird enough to make you come off completely uncaring. And that's what the defense allowed. They did a lousy job. They should have trained Green on how to behave in the court room. They should have dressed him better. What was the deal with the sweater vests? Evan Bright reported every day on the trial from inside the court room. Make a point to read his reporting. I wasn't aware until Bright's reporting that Green was wearing sweater vests.

In May?

In Kentucky?

What the hell was the defense thinking?

What's the jury going to be thinking? It's hot in Kentucky. And Green's looking even more 'different' by sitting in court in a sweater vest.

I was aware that he was wearing the wrong colors. That's the first thing I asked on the phone at the end of each day, "What colors was he wearing?"

They let him act like a weirdo and they made him look like a weirdo.

The thing you do is put him a white shirt. It can be a cheap one, but it's a long sleeve white shirt and, for Green, it's one several sizes too big. He's got jug ears and he's very thin. You put him in a shirt way too big for him (as opposed to a 'bodice hugging' sweater vest) and you've got a visual that says weak, that says 'help me.'

He came into court in the wrong clothes, in the wrong colors and looking rough. There was never any of question of guilt. He was always going to be found guilty. The only thing the defense had to play was the sympathy card and that might have gotten Green a pass on some of the counts. He would have gone down for his part in the gang-rape. He would have gone down for murder of all four. But ringleader of the conspiracy? Plotting? These are charges that a jury would have been more willing to consider denying.

Their attitude would have been, "Well we don't know and all we have saying he was the ringleader is the word of a bunch of people who were already convicted of the crimes and might have blamed Green to save their own hides."

That would have been their attitude, if the defense could have gotten their act together.

And presenting Green in court as defenseless and small would have made the jury question whether Green was capable of ring-leading, of even holding his own opposite other soldiers.

It was a mistake not to have put Green on the stand. How do you have a case where a conviction could result in a death sentence and you don't put your client on the witness stand?

That sends a message to the jury. Now had they done their part to make Green appear small and meek in court, the defense could have laid the ground work for the jury to conclude, "He didn't testify because he's so weak."

None of the above, if done, would have stopped the convictions for gang-rape and murder. But on Monday, when the judge sentences Green, he's going to be factoring in that Green wasn't just convicted, the jury convicted Green on every count.

The defense is lying (or majorly stupid) when they insist that they weren't focused on the trial because they were saving it for the sentencing. If they could have mitigated it so that Green was convicted on only eight of the counts, they'd have much better standing going into the sentencing on Monday. Instead, what the jury's saying is the defense shouldn't have even shown up. Green got convicted of every count. The defense did a lousy job.

Green is guilty, I've always thought Green was guilty. I'm not arguing that he's not and I'm not asking for any sympathy for him. I am addressing the defense performance and it was awful. That doesn't mean anyone has to shed a tear.

It should also be noted that prosecution, led by Marisa Ford, did an outstanding job. But even there, that could have been a plus. The defense should have country-bunkined it, made the jury see that precision machinery of the prosecution up against the little guy and his little guy attorneys.

Would have worked?

All they had was sympathy. They didn't have innocence. They were never going to walk out of the court room without Green being convicted of gang-rape and murder. But there were many counts to the charges and they could have blurred the line for the jury.

The thing is, the defense tried to play to sympathy but bungled each time.

They wanted to argue that no one could judge Green because they weren't in Iraq. That's what Andrew Wolfson wrongly reported (yesterday) that they argued.

No, they didn't. The proseuction filed a motion and the judge then ordered that the defense couldn't use that line of argument.

And if they had used it, it wouldn't have created sympathy. You don't tell a jury that they're not smart enough to judge something.

That's just stupidity.

You build up the jury, you stroke their egos, you tell them how much power they hold in their hands. You don't tell them, "You're too dumb to judge Steven D. Green because you weren't in Iraq." You don't insult the jury.

With the judge barring that argument, the defense fell back to context. How Green's actions needed to be placed in context.

The context was a 14-year-old girl was gang-raped while her parents and sister were murdered and then she was murdered.

What context?

The only way the defense could bring in context that worked was to bring in Green's troubled youth.

Instead they wanted sympathy for his adulthood.

No one's sympathetic to a grown man who murders four people, one of whom is a 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped.

Now they might be sympathetic to the child that man once was. So you can argue 'context' in terms of Green's difficult life. But the defense didn't do that. Green had a very troubled life and was in trouble with the law from a very young age, while still a child.

The defense showed up in court wanting to argue that a grown man was failed. You've got a 5-year-old girl that's dead, killed by Green. You've got a 14-year-old girl that's dead, after being gang-raped. The jury's not going to be in the mood for 'context' about Green as an adult.

But they could have gone into his troubled childhood.

An adult was failed by the system? A jury's not going to think that excuses murder and gang-rape. An adult was failed his entire life by one system after another? The jury might be sympathetic.

Again, Ford and everyone else did a wonderful job prosecuting; however, even their wonderful job could have been used against them, could have been used to Green's benefit if the defense had their act together.

And repeating, none of the above is "Poor Steven D. Green." It's offered in part because I am so disgusted with the defense trying to play the 'We meant to lose. We were saving our game for the sentencing." It's also because this aspect of the case really hasn't been gone over and I'll throw out anything, any new way of talking about it, if it will get Abeer even one more day's worth of attention.

What was done to her family was horrible. What was done to her was even worse. Think about the gang-rape. It starts when her parents and sister are led out of the room. Abeer's fighting and screaming. And then she hears the gunshots. She knows her parents and her sister have been shot. She knows the bullets didn't 'bounce off' so they're either bleeding or dead and she heard screams. Who did Steven D. Green shoot first? Her kid sister? So Abeer heard her mother screaming after the first shot? Or maybe Green took out Abeer's father first in which case she heard her mother and her sister screaming?

As she was being gang-raped.

And then Paul Cortez and James Barker are done with the gang-rape as Steven D. Green enters the room. It's his 'turn.' And she's being raped again and by the man she knows has just killed her parents and her sister. Between the physical pain and the emotional pain, hopefully by that point she was in shock. If she wasn't, she knew he was going to kill her. He's killed everyone else in the house. He's raping her, she's been raped by two other men. He's killed her parents and her sister and now he's got to kill her because she's the last witness.

If she's not in shock, she may be praying they kill her quickly. Not just because of the pain she's in but because two of her brothers aren't home yet. She may be thinking that if it drags out any longer, her younger brothers will come home and they'll be the next murdered.

Who knows what was going through her head or if she was in such a state of shock that she wasn't even thinking at that point?

We don't know and none of our outlets have bothered to treat her like the person she was and to consider it from her point of view. They've largely ignored her. I'm glad the Times finally mentions her name today and, considering the paper's record, I won't blame the reporters for waiting until paragraph thirteen to mention her name. That's not what reporters generally do. They generally give a name and then use "she" and "her". They don't open with "she" and "her" and continue to use those for paragraph after paragraph. It's unnatural and it feels like editing. So I'm not going to blame them for it and I will applaud them for getting her name into the paper.

But even today, when she's finally in the paper, someone's made the call that she's not worth naming until pargraph thirteen of a fourteen paragraph story. Even when her name finally makes the New York Times, she's pretty much an unnamed extra in what should be her story.

Okay, community sites updated. First off, I'm editing Ruth's title. I use the f-word (Ruth doesn't). I have no problem with the f-word. We don't use it here. We have to be work-safe for all members. So I've edited Ruth's title (and I love her title). Also you will find that title at every community site. So that's your warning -- it won't be edited. I obviously stand with Ruth and support her. In terms of anything else? Ruth's going to Japan in a few weeks and I'm among those who will be filling in for her. I will probably share my thoughts on what just took place then. I do not mean this as a negative criticism of anyone's post but I do know for a fact that Mike planned to write about the ACLU and torture and Elaine was going to cover Abeer at length. Stan was going to do his movie post. Because of the nonsense pulled, everyone got stuck in response mode. And they set their planned topics aside. To do that here, I would have to do a bonus entry and I don't have time. So we'll do our two Iraq entries and I'll table my own thoughts until I sub for Turh while she's on vacation. But for anyone who wonders, I love Ruth and I stand with her always. Shoulder to shoulder. I also think it's worth noting that while all of us, community wide, have covered Abeer all week an alleged 'news dissector' hasn't even mentioned her. Here are the sites that updated last night and this morning:

Cedric's Big Mix
Same old same old
12 minutes ago

The Daily Jot
12 minutes ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
12 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
The Dumb Ass of the Week: Cherie Welch
12 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
standing with ruth
12 hours ago

Abeer and other items
12 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
Strong words in the Kitchen
12 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
Danny Schecter's sockpuppet hurls insults
12 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
The really-reals
12 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
12 hours ago

The World Today Just Nuts
Bully is . . . being oblivious to everything
12 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Cherie Welch go F**K YOURSELF
14 hours ago

By the way, Marcia's "US House Rep Adam Smith calls Americans paranoid" went up Thursday. I noted posts Friday morning but there was a problem with Marcia's blog and the title of her post wasn't listed (I grab the links from Stan's site, just copy and paste). The e-mail address for this site is

ADDED: C.I. note: My apologies, the f-word was not edited out when this posted. Again, I use it myself. Thank you to community members who e-mailed to point it out and thank you to those who would have had a problem with the word had they been at work on work computers letting me know there was no damage done. That was luck. My mistake, my apologies. The mirror site has no policy on language so it will stay as is there.

evan bright
steven d. green

the new york times
campbell robertson

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends