Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Iraq's LGBT community still under assault

United States officials have been aware of the gay killings in Iraq for several months and have raised questions about the Iraqi government's role in the rise in violence and its response to the purges. But the Iraqis sometimes express repulsion at gay people, sources familiar with American diplomatic efforts say. And there is only so far Americans can push the Iraqi government without inadvertently causing a backlash on gay Iraqis. The U.S. State Department says it is working to accept as many Iraqi refugees as it can into the country, but Scott Long insists not enough is being done. "Only in the past year has the U.S. really started meeting its obligations to endangered Iraqis by ramping up the numbers it’s willing to accept. But it's critical for authorities to commit to recognizing LGBT Iraqis as among those endangered, and as fitting into the U.S. numbers. We’re waiting for a public commitment."

The above is from Matt McAllester's "The Hunted" (New York Magazine) and Scott Long is correct, the State Dept is doing nothing and, not noted by McAllester, the State Dept spent most of 2009 denying the assault on Iraq's LGBT community was even taking place. Monday, McAllester was one of Neal Conan's guests on NPR's Talk of the Nation (here for audio and transcript links) and they discussed the targeting:

CONAN: One of the creepiest thing you described is, in fact, this man Nuri and others being tortured for information for names of other gay men who presumably would then suffer the same fate.

Mr. McALLESTER: Yes. And supposedly, there were - many of the people, many of the gay Iraqis said there were lists. I mean, they were actually stopped at Mahdi Army --apparently, Mahdi Army roadblocks. And they had lists in their hands, these militia members, of gay men. And they had compiled these lists, essentially, through -- the first thing they would do when they captured a gay man would be to torture him for every name that he would give. And many of the names came through cell phones. So they would take the cell phone of the man that they had taken and then say, you know, who is this person? Who is that person? Or they would call that person, and -- and then there were other ways of doing it. There's a very popular gay personal site called and, indeed, some of the Mahdi Army people or militia members were posing as gay men and entrapping, you know, the genuinely gay men that way.

Yesterday a truck bombing in Amiriya claimed multiple lives. Nawaf Jabbar and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report this morning that the death toll rose from 9 to 11 and they note:

After the bombing in Amiriya, Sheik Lawrence Mutib Hasan, a tribal leader in Anbar, warned that the police and army in the province were infiltrated by armed groups and needed to be purged. "We need time to clean up the security apparatus," he said.
Taxi driver Jasim Mohammed Ali, who was wounded in the blast, said, "I don't know what they want from these bombings. We are civilians. We are not politicians. Why all of this? Is Al Qaeda behind it or is it the disputes between political parties?"

Meanwhile Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports this morning on a September 28th Green Zone incident involving four contractors of DynCorp International and Iraq's Baghdad Brigade in which a scuffle allegedly took place when the Iraqis stopped the Americans, shots were allegedly fired, "security contractors refused to get out of their Suburban, and the [Iraqi] colonel ordered a tank to run over the vehicle," at which point the contractors allegedly exited their vhicle and they were allegedly "cuffed and beaten." The US military and Embassy quickly worked for their release and got the contractors out of the country. (See, they could do a lot more for Iraq's LGBT community.) It should be noted that the line drawn in the US between the military and the contractors is considered arbitrary in the countries they're stationed in. The incident's a reflection of the climate Nouri's remarks have created and may be a portent as well.

Iran's Press TV notes that the illegal wars continue to drain the US coffers:

The US Senate has passed a massive $636 billion defense bill for fiscal year 2010, as disparities increase in Washington over the unpopular war in Afghanistan.
Almost $130 billion of the defense spending bill is to be assigned to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The measure will bring the total tab for the US-led wars in the two volatile countries to more than $1 trillion.

A visitor notes Robert A. George's "The Left's 'General' Hypocrisy" (NBC Miami) and says I won't quote it because it calls out Katrina vanden Heuvel. No, I won't quote that section because it's far too lengthy. Katrina's been caught (yet again) with her situational ethics. The e-mailer states that "all of you serve Katrina." I'm not sure who "all of you" are but I've never served Katrina. I have put in a good word for her over the years (such as to Roone at ABC long, long ago). But serve her? No. She's stunted and immature. Her magazine falters for exactly the situational ethics Robert George has identified. It now bleeds subscribers and is in danger of going under (sh, no one's supposed to know) and, as I said back in 2007, the mag's biggest supporter would be gone (and now is).

A friend notes this. And Keesha notes Tom Moriaty's piece at the Baltimore Sun about how elected Republicans used cries of "patriotism" in an attempt to silence dissent and elected Democrats use cries of "racism" in an attempt to silence dissent.

We'll close with Sherwood Ross' "Journalists Says Use of 'Embeds' In War Slants True Persepective" (Veteran's Today):

Television reporters embedded with the U.S. forces that invaded Iraq "didn't actually report" the news but provided "color commentary" instead, a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent says.

Even though some 650 journalists were embedded with U.S. troops, "we actually learned less because there was less reporting and because these people, in essence, saw their role as providing color commentary," says Christopher Hedges, formerly a war correspondent for The New York Times.

"They said, 'Okay, we see that tank going over there. Oh, look, there’s a puff of smoke,'" is how Hedges described their role. They "did precisely the same thing that (sports) commentators do when they broadcast a football game."

Hedges said that he is not against using embeds but "when you rely exclusively on embeds for your vision of the war, you see, as we have in Iraq, the occupation exclusively through the lens of the occupier, and this gives a very distorted vision of the conflict."

The war correspondent's remarks appear in the just issued "News Media In Crisis," (Doukathsan) from the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. The work is the ver batim transcript of a conference held there last March on the changing profession of journalism.

Hedges went on to say that he does not allow himself to cover wars as an embed because "if you cannot report from among the vast majority of the powerless in a war zone (civilians) you end up unwittingly becoming a tool, however critical you may try and be of the occupation."

This happens, Hedges went on to say, "Because you humanize the occupiers and because you don’t have any contact with those being occupied, you invariably stereotype or dehumanize those who are bearing the brunt of the violence."

Hedges said in the days preceding the U.S. invasion of Iraq, French intelligence experts tried unsuccessfully to get the New York Times to publish their findings "that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein was not reconstituting a nuclear weapons program, and that he had no links with Al-Qaeda."

The views of John Louis Brugier of French intelligence and Mohamed El-Baradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, "were dismissed because they were not Americans," Hedges said, adding that at the time he was "intimately involved" with his paper’s coverage of Iraq.

Even in the newsroom of the New York Times, "when I would come back from Paris…people would make jokes about the French, about their identity, their culture," Hedges said. "I think the New York Times was particularly susceptible to this because (the paper) looks at itself as a quasi-official organization, one which because of its power and influence, has been given the mandate to articulate the views of the elite."

Robert Rosenthal, director of Project Censored, and managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in the days preceding the Iraq invasion, said he did not believe the articles on Iraq written by reporter Judith Miller of The New York Times because "many of them were single-sourced, and it was just too carefully being put together." Miller, essentially, reflected the Bush administration’s views about the military menace Hussein allegedly posed to the U.S.

Conference attendees in general agreed that the Knight Ridder Washington bureau -- which was skeptical of the government’s charges -- did the best job of reporting on Iraq.

Transcripts of the conference at the law school are published in the book "News Media In Crisis" (Doukathsan) and are available by emailing

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a 21-year-old law school whose pioneering mission is to inexpensively provide rigorous legal education, a pathway into the legal profession, and social mobility to members of the working class, minorities, people in midlife, and immigrants.

Through its television shows, videotaped conferences, an intellectual magazine, and internet postings, MSL - - uniquely for a law school - - also seeks to provide the public with information about crucial legal and non legal subjects facing the country.

The Massachusetts School of Law is an independent, non-profit law school purposefully dedicated to the education of minority students and those from low-income and immigrant backgrounds who would otherwise not be able to afford a legal education.

(For further information contact Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL at

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