Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Iraq's LBGT community

What is clear, and confirmed by separate evidence from various human rights groups, is that some gay men have been subjected to appalling violent abuse.
One young Iraqi, Amil (not his real name) recalled the death of a friend: "They found out he was gay and they killed him and they chopped him like a lamb, it was awful."
Another man (who wished to remain anonymous) revealed to Scott Long from the New York-based Human Rights Watch, how his partner was kidnapped and killed.
"It was late one night when four armed men came to take my boyfriend from his parents' house.
"They were masked and dressed in black.
"We found his body the next day dumped in the garbage, his throat cut out, his genitals cut off."

The above is from Ashley Byrne's "Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis" (BBC News) and we'll address the topic more in today's snapshot. Meanwhile Alsumaria reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki refused any foreign interference in Iraqi affairs; two days after the United States cautioned that it might disengage in Iraq if the country fails to reach national reconciliation. In a meeting with tribal sheikhs, security chiefs and local officials in Anbar, Al Maliki reiterated that he won’t allow anyone to meddle in Iraqi affairs and oversee the political process and national reconciliation." Yes, it's intended as a slap in the face to US Vice President Joe Biden, even Alsumaria reads it that way.

In England, the Iraq inquiry continues to be in the news. Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) reports that Sir John Chilcot, who will head the inquiry, has declared that Margaret Aldred would be "the secretary to the inquiry -- ie the official who actually runs it."

The Cabinet Office released the following press statement yesterday:

The head of the Secretariat for Sir John Chilcot’s committee of inquiry into Iraq has been named today.
Margaret Aldred CB CBE, who’s currently Director General and Deputy Head of the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, is to become the Secretary to the Inquiry. She will begin her duties shortly.
Ms Aldred joined the Civil Service as a graduate trainee in 1975. She spent 25 years in the Ministry of Defence, where she worked in a wide range of areas, including three years as the Principal Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary. Her last post in the MoD was Director General Management and Organisation. She has also worked in HM Treasury and the Home Office, and took up her current post in the Cabinet Office in November 2004.
Ms Aldred was appointed CBE in the 1991 Gulf Honours list, and CB in the 2009 New Years Honours list.
Note for news editors
On 15th of June 2009 the Prime Minister announced to the House of Commons the establishment of an independent Committee of Inquiry into Iraq. It will consider the period from summer 2001 (before military operations began in March 2003) and the UK’s subsequent involvement in Iraq until the end of July 2009.
Sir John Chilcot is the chair of the Committee. The other members will be Baroness Usha Prashar, Sir Lawrence Freedman, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Roderick Lyne.
Sir John Chilcot has asked the Cabinet Office’s chief press officer Rae Stewart to head up the communications team for the Iraq Inquiry. He will be attached to the Secretariat for the duration of the inquiry.
Arrangements for a news conference to introduce the inquiry team and explain its remit will be revealed in due course. Sir John and the other members of the inquiry team will not be available for interview, comment or briefing until then.
For more information contact;
NDS Enquiries

Dropping back to Friday's snapshot:

Yesterday the US Defense Dept identified the four soldiers killed in Baghdad June 29th: "They were assigned to the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, Wilmington, N.C. Killed were: Sgt. 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, 39, of Wilmington, N.C. [;] Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr., 36, of Jacksonville, N.C. [;] Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport, N.C. [and] Spc. Robert L. Bittiker, 39, of Jacksonville, N.C." Jennifer McLogan (WCBS) speaks with Baldeosingh's sisters Jennyfer and Diana Baldeosingh. Jennyfer states, "At first it's anger. Why did he go? Why him?" Diana states, "Some of them have done two or three tours, they have families and kids, they need to be with them -- not over there. We did our time there. It's time to come home, please." John Valenti and Sophia Chang (Newsday -- link has text and video) also speak with the two sisters and they note: "He also leaves behind his wife, Rebecca, and three young daughters -- Emily, 2, and 5-year-old twins, Isabella and Kylie." ENCToday speaks with Brian Wheat, the stepfather of Robert Bittiker and explains, "Bittiker leaves behind his wife Tami, and two sons Cameron, 14, and Ronnie, 18, who just graduated from Southwest High School". The Salisbury Post notes Edward Kramer's wife Vicki issued a statement explaining, "He loved us very much and he did this for his children [Erica, age nine, and Megan, age seven] so they wouldn't have to". Catherine M. Welch (WHQR) reports a Sunday event to remember Kramer, "A memorial walk is planned for Sunday at 6:00 p.m. It will start at the Wilmington Fire Department Headquarters on Marketstreet in downtown Wilmington and end at the National Guard Armory."

Ashley White (News 14, text and video) reports on Ed Kramer's friends and family gathering to mourn him and quotes his friend Mike Bannon stating, "I am just going to miss a lot of times you could hang out with your buddy." Jannette Pippin (Jacksonville Daily News) reports on Carlos Baldeosingh being remembered at a memorial service held at Carteret General Hospital where he had worked prior to going to Iraq. John Lee ("director of the hospital's Department of Risk Management, Safety and Security") states, "There was just something about him. He was such a positive energetic person and a huge asset to the hospital. He was very passionate about the job and committed to doing the best job that he could." Smitha Rao (News 14, link has text and video) also notes the memorial yesterday at the hospital and also quotes John Lee, this time saying, "He went out of his way to make sure everybody who came into the hospital, if they had any needs, they were met. Anything he could do for them, he would do." And we'll note the opening of Mark Berman's "Fulfilling a Dream of Service: Army Private Killed in Iraq Had Long Wanted to Be in the Military" (Washington Post, ran Sunday):

Thursday was supposed to be Kelly Youngblood's 22nd birthday. Instead, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Army Private First Class Youngblood, of Mesa, Ariz., was killed by sniper fire Feb. 18, 2007, near Ramadi, a central Iraqi city about 60 miles west of Baghdad. He was shot after stepping out of his vehicle. He died a little more than two weeks into his deployment and during one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq War, which began in 2003.
Dozens of mourners accompanied a small box containing Youngblood's remains to Arlington. The service was brief but emotional, punctuated with a folded flag given to his mother, Kristen Chacon, as loved ones snapped digital photos and filmed the moment.

Meanwhile Shannon Delcambre (NBC13) reports that Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing from Montgomery heads to Iraq and that they have a sent off ceremony scheduled for this morning. And idiots like George Berkin want to pretend the Iraq War has ended. It's not over and you can bet the service members and their families are aware of that fact even if a few deluded reporters can't grasp reality.

Today on Democracy Now!, Marilyn Young, Jonathen Schell and Howard Zinn will discuss War Criminal McNamara. Schell lost his credibility years ago and 2008 and early 2009 have been one long embarrassment for Zinn (maybe he'll turn that around today) so that really only leaves Young as anyone you can count on for reality based on their most recent histories. And that's airing right now. Jonathan Schell is an embarrassment and an apologist. Zinn is stronger than expected but Schell is a huge embarrassment. Again, he lost his credibility a long, long time ago. (And it's cute how showing up in Central Park for a nuclear freeze rally makes Barack deeply committed to the idea of a nuclear freeze. I was at that same rally -- millions of people were. It was the event to be at. A college student who went to college in NYC attending that event means nothing, especially when they have nothing else to show for it. Jonathan Schell plays mind reader and he's been pulling that crap forever which is why he's a joke to the mainstream he hails from. He speaks like a raving lunatic and "Mister Peace" has done nothing, NOTHING, on the Iraq War for over six years now. He's a joke. He made himself one.)

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