Friday, June 05, 2009

The US military announces 2 deaths

RELEASE No. 20090605-04

June 5, 2009

MNF -- W Marine dies in non-combat related incident

Multi National Force -- West

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- A Multi National Force --- West Marine died as the result of a non-combat related incident June 5.

The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member’s primary next of kin.

The US military issued the above this morning and they announced today:

June 5, 2009

MNC-I Soldier dies of combat related injuries

Multi-National Corps – IraqCAMP VICTORY, BAGHDADA Multi-National Corps – Iraq Soldier died late last night of injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Diyala province of northern Iraq, June 4.
The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.
The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member’s primary next of kin.

These 2 announcements bring to 4311 the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War since it began in March 2003.

The light is fading from the dusty Baghdad sky as Hassan Mahsan re-enacts what happened to his family last summer. We're standing in the courtyard of his concrete-block house, his children are watching us quietly and his wife is twirling large circles of dough and slapping them against the inside walls of a roaring oven. He walks over to his three-foot-tall daughter and grabs her head like a melon. As she stands there, he gestures wildly behind her, pretending to tie up her hands, then pretending to point a rifle at her head. "They took the blindfold off me, pointed the gun at her head and cocked it, saying, 'Either you tell us where al-Zaydawi is, or we kill your daughter.'"
"They just marched into our house and took whatever they wanted," Hassan's mother says, peeking out the kitchen door. "I've never seen anyone act like this."
As Hassan tells it, it was a quiet night on June 10, 2008, in Sadr City, Baghdad's poor Shiite district of more than 2 million people, when the helicopter appeared over his house and the front door exploded, nearly burning his sleeping youngest son. Before Hassan knew it, he was on the ground, hands bound and a bag over his head, with eight men pointing rifles at him, locked and loaded.
At first he couldn't tell whether the men were Iraqis or Americans. He says he identified himself as a police sergeant, offering his ID before they took his pistol and knocked him to the ground. The men didn't move like any Iraqi forces he'd ever seen. They looked and spoke like his countrymen, but they were wearing American-style uniforms and carrying American weapons with night-vision scopes. They accused him of being a commander in the local militia, the Mahdi Army, before they dragged him off, telling his wife he was "finished." But before they left, they identified themselves. "We are the Special Forces. The dirty brigade," Hassan recalls them saying.
The Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF) is probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States, and it is free of many of the controls that most governments employ to rein in such lethal forces. The project started in the deserts of Jordan just after the Americans took Baghdad in April 2003. There, the US Army's Special Forces, or Green Berets, trained mostly 18-year-old Iraqis with no prior military experience. The resulting brigade was a Green Beret's dream come true: a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, that would operate for years under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process.

The above is the opening to Shane Bauer's "Iraq’s New Death Squad" (New American Media). It's sad but not surprising that readers of daily newspapers in the US can't find articles like the above in the newspapers they pay for, the newspapers which allegedly inform them. It's even sadder that they can rarely find Iraq in the paper, the site of a six-years-and-counting war. At the New York Times' Iraq blog, readers can find Campbell Robertson's "Iraqi Reaction to President Obama’s Speech:"

But most people in Iraq, a country that has been exhaustively condemned, extolled, grieved over and celebrated by a succession of American presidents, seemed unimpressed.
As the president was making what the Western media described as an historic speech in Cairo, it was the sweltering lunchtime hour here in Iraq. The televisions in almost all the cafes were turned to sports or movies, or the usual background din of Arab music videos. When a man at a restaurant in Mosul tried to change the channel to the speech, diners shouted at him angrily: "What a stupid speech!"
Before the speech, Iraqi politicians expressed opinions ranging from skepticism to resentment.
"Obama's visit to Egypt is just like his other visits, with the ringing speeches," said Fawzi Akrem, a parliament member who belongs to the party of the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. "His desperate and miserable speeches will not change the Islamic and Arab world's way of dealing with Israel and America, and it will not help to turn a new page."

That's the opening and it's more powerful than the two brief paragraphs in Michael Slackman's article which does make the paper (see previous entry). Some important subjects the New York Times refuses to cover, others they hide on their website and refuse to publish in their papers.

Kimberley Hefling (AP) reports on Chris Scheuerman whose son Jason died in Iraq. August 1, 2005, the DoD announced: "Pfc. Jason D. Scheuerman, 20, of Lynchburg, Va., died July 30 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries. Scheuerman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga." In December of 2007, AP reported that it took "well over a year" for his family to be informed Jason had left a note which read, "Maybe finaly I can get some peace." Hefling reports today that Chris Scheuerman is upset because the "Army Medical Command's inspector general's investigation, completed in November" states no policies were violated by the military use of "unlicensed psychologists in Iraq". Scheuerman should be upset and the country should be outraged.

Unlicense psychologists are not psychologists. You're five-year-old son or daughter is an unlicensed psychologist and about as qualified as any other unlicensed psychologist. The license serves a purpose, without the license, there's really no point in calling yourself a psychologist.

The military yet again played it on the cheap and did so in the combat zone where no one could afford to 'play doctor'. They didn't take it seriously, they never did. Just like they still don't take PTSD seriously today -- though they know to give it lip service due to public outrage.

Chris Scheuerman is right to be outraged. Everyone should be outraged. The military brass should be hauled in front of Congress to explain who okayed that policy and to assure that it's no longer in place as well as to outline the punishments that will fall should it happen again. It's too late for Jason Scheuerman and his father knows that. This isn't about bringing his son back, it's about justice and accountability in order to protect other service members.

Turning to PBS, Bill Moyers Journal features Jeremy Scahill and that's all we'll note (we won't waste our time on an 'analyst' who never thought to raise the issue of the sexism in the 2008 campaign so the idea that she'll 'search behind' the headlines is laughable). Bill Moyers latest installment begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings) as does NOW on PBS:

Americans have a longstanding love affair with food—the modern supermarket has, on average, 47,000 products. But do we really know what goes into making the products we so eagerly consume?
This week, David Brancaccio talks with filmmaker Robert Kenner, the director of "Food, Inc.," which takes a hard look at the secretive and surprising journey food takes on the way from processing plants to our dinner tables. The two discuss why contemporary food processing secrets are so closely guarded, their impact on our health, and another surprising fact: how consumers are actually empowered to make a difference.
Find out why you'll never look at dinner the same way.

I really have to wonder about the above summary. It is not one that will make most say, "Honey, let's watch NOW!" The same topic with a 'find out what foods you should be serving' would be seen as instructive. The promo appears to have been written by someone whose responsibility for a meal never went beyond ordering at the drive through.

Gwen sits around the table for Washington Week (which begins airing on most PBS stations tonight) with New York Times' Helene Cooper, The Economist's Greg Ip and Gebe Martinez of the publication that should not speak its name. Yes, you read that right. Two female guests to one male guest. It's usually the other way around or three male guests to one woman. Also tonight on most PBS stations, Bonnie Erbe sits down with Heather Boushey, Amanda Carpenter, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Star Parker to discuss the week's news on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Chairman
In a rare interview with a sitting Federal Reserve chairman – the first in 20 years – Ben Bernanke tells Scott Pelley what went wrong with America's financial system, how it caused the current economic crisis, what the Fed's doing to help fix it and when he expects the crippling recession to end. (This is a double length segment.) | Watch Video

Dolly Parton, the oh-so-country music superstar with the city-slicker sense of show business talks to Morley Safer about her childhood, her career and the Broadway production of her film, "9 to 5." | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 7, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Public radio. NPR's Diane Rehm Show features Juan Williams (NPR, Fox), Byron York (Washington Examiner) and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) for the first hour (domestic) and Moises Naim (Foreign Policy), Michael Shear (Washington Post) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) for the second hour (international). This is Youssef's first appearance on Rehm's show since publishing her report that Nouri al-Maliki went ballistic over the torture photos so that may come up during the broadcast (or not but it let us work in another link, didn't it?). The Diane Rehm Show begins broadcasting on most NPR stations at 10:00 a.m. EST (check local stations) and it begins streaming at that time online.

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