The Iraqi government has released147 prisoners, affiliated to a Shiite insurgent group and charged with abduction of five Britons, following talks between the two sides, Al-Mashrriq newspaper reported on Monday.
Salam al-Maliki, representative of the group called Assaib Al-Haq (Righteousness Leagues) in talks with the government, was quoted as saying that 23 of their members was released on Saturday,87 freed last week and 37 others on Sunday.
Assaib Al-Haq, which had split from Al-Mahdi Army led by the radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, was charged with abducting five Britons in Baghdad more than two years ago.
Salam Al-Maliki, former Transport Minister, representing al-Sadr's bloc in former Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government, said the release is "part of an accord between the group and the current Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Nurial-Maliki."
The above is from Bi Mingxin's "Iraq frees 147 prisoners linked to abduction of 5 Britons :newspaper" (Xinhua). The silence from the US press is astounding and the typical craven behavior we've all grown to expect from what was once a might institution and watchdog and now is nothing but a meek gossip service charting the exploits of the rich and famous. It's not circulation numbers that are destroying the US press, it's the US press that's committing suicide.
Back before they all decided to play dumb, the League of Righteous' actions could garner a little press attention. From the June 9th snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
Those are the Americans the League of Righteous are responsible for killing. They've also claimed credit for a May 29, 2007 action in Baghdad when Alec Maclachlan, Jason Crewswell, Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore and Jason Swindelhurst were kidnapped. All but Alan McMenemy and Peter Moore have been turned over dead. The British government assumes that Alan McMenemy is dead while his loved ones continue to hope otherwise. Peter Moore is considered to be alive at this point by the British government.
When the not-up-for-the-job Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, testified to Congress September 10th, US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee made clear her inability to comprehend how the US could be so silent in the face of the assault on Camp Ashraf (we'll come back to Ashraf later in this entry) and pointed out to Hill that the US lodges complaints against human rights violations if they do nothing else. Hill has lodged no such complaints. Hill?
A friend at the State Dept describes Hill this way: He's the substitute teacher who just wants to get through the day and collect his check. He'll tell the students anything and let them do anything provided they don't make a disturbance which draws attention from the administration. In other words, Hill cozies up to Nouri, coaches him on what to do and say while lying to the administration that he's making it clear that this and that will not be supported by the US. Chris Hill needs to be sacked.
Peter Moore is thought to be alive. That's the only reason I'm sparing the UK government from criticism. (They'll get their criticism in good time.) But there is no excuse for the US administration to act as if the League of Righteous is no big deal. They've killed and they've kidnapped and there Nouri's longterm friends. That's what you get when you install a thug.
The only thing more shameful than the US government's 'response' to these events is the US press refusing to confront the issue. What was once supposed to be a mighty watchdog has instead become a battered co-dependent.
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy writes in "Why U.S. shouldn’t Give Iraq the Blind Eye?" (Inside Iraq):
For all past years I have been against the presence of the U.S. troops in Iraq, and I still am. This war brought nothing but sorrow for families in both countries. But I think the U.S. government and the people of America shouldn’t put Iraq in the dark far corner for good reasons, I believe.
Let the soldiers leave Iraq, let the country restore its national unity. Let it have its problems and solve them internally; let the country find its own way - but don’t let the people down.
Six years after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi civilians are still the biggest casualty of war. Six years after what was supposed to be an easy swift and welcomed liberation, Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers are dying because of that invasion.
It is so very sad that an illegal war the US government and US press wanted now has so fallen off the radar and is judged so unimportant that an Iraqi correspondent must attempt to remind the United States what went down. Sad but so very telling.
Today's must read on the domestic front is T. Christian Miller's "'They are the unappreciated patriots'" (Los Angeles Times):
A nurse rocked him awake as pale dawn light crept into the room. "C'mon now, c'mon," the nurse murmured. "Time to get up."
Reggie Lane was once a hulking man of 260 pounds. Friends called him "Big Dad." Now, he weighed less than 200 pounds and his brain was severely damaged. He groaned angry, wordless cries.
The nurse moved fast. Two bursts of deodorant spray under each useless arm. Then he dressed Lane and used a mechanical arm to hoist him into a wheelchair.
He wheeled Big Dad down a hallway and parked the chair in a beige dining room, in front of a picture window. Outside stretched a green valley of pear trees filled with white blossoms.
Lane's head fell forward, his chin buried in his chest. His legs crossed and uncrossed involuntarily. His left index finger was rigid and pointed, as if frozen in permanent accusation.
In 2004, Lane was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a defense contractor when insurgents attacked his convoy with rocket-propelled grenades. For most of the five years since, Lane, now 60, has spent his days in silence -- a reminder of the hidden costs of relying on civilian contract workers to support the U.S. war effort.
Camp Ashraf is where Iranian dissidents live in Iraq. They have lived in Iraq for decades. Welcomed by Saddam. After the US-invasion, the US government had the US military protect them. They were declared protected persons under the Geneva Conventions by the US government. Nouri al-Maliki swore he would respect their rights. Nouri's a damn liar. 2009 saw the US hand over protection of Camp Ashraf to Nouri who launched an assault on the camp in July. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, for the third time in a row, an Iraqi judge ordered that the 36 Ashraf residents being held (and tortured -- according to the judge) by Iraqi forces be released. Nouri just ordered them moved to another prison. The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents e-mailed the following to the public e-mail account:
The US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents deplores the decision by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to forcibly deport the 36 residents of Camp Ashraf abducted during the deadly attack on the Camp by Iraqi forces in July.
USCCAR also calls on the Obama administration to live up to its legal and moral obligations to the People of Ashraf, and to intervene to secure the immediate release of the 36 hostages.
The administration's continued silence toward the inhuman and unlawful treatment of these individuals has emboldened Mr. al-Maliki to pursue their expulsion in blatant violation of international law, Iraq's own laws and constitution, and written assurances given to the United States.
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that an official in al-Maliki's office said "Iraq is looking for a country to accept 36 detained members of an Iranian opposition group [PMOI/MEK]." Those men remain in detention despite three judicial decrees that they be released.
Mr. al-Maliki is preparing the ground for transferring the 36 to Iran or to a Tehran-friendly country which ultimately would send them to Iran. Either would be in flagrant breach of customary and conventional international law, and the standards of international humanitarian law. If any transfer outside Iraq is indeed contemplated, it must be to an EU country or to the United States, where these hostages have family members.
In an ominous development today, the 36 were transferred to a special prison near Al-Muthana Airport which is mainly operated by al-Maliki's office and notorious for arbitrary and harsh treatment of people held there.
In March 2007, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also warned competent Iraqi authorities and the Multi-National Force-Iraq "to refrain from any action that could endanger the life or the security of these individuals, such as their forcible deportation from Iraq or their forced displacement inside Iraq."
In a letter dated October 15, 2008, to Iraq's Minister for Foreign Affairs, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged that Government to protect Ashraf residents from forcible deportation, expulsion, or repatriation in violation of the non-refoulement principle, and to refrain from any action that would endanger their life or security.
Mr. al-Maliki is responsible for any harm done to the 36 hostages, many of whom are on the brink of death after 69 days of hunger strike and severe beatings in the hands of security forces.
The United States is also responsible for safety and human rights of these individuals. According to Article 45 of Fourth Geneva Convention this responsibly remains in effect even while Ashraf residents are in the custody of the Government of Iraq, to whom they were transferred in exchange for specific assurances given to the United States. The appalling silence and inaction of the Obama administration, which has superficially lamented about the "avoidable tragedy" in Ashraf, could prove deadly for the 36 abductees.
If the organization has a website, I can't find it. For any who missed Sahar Issa's "Iranian dissidents in Iraq transferred to remote prison" (McClatchy Newspapers) yesterday, here's the opening:
Iraqi security officials beat and forcibly transferred 36 members of an Iranian dissident group to a remote southern prison despite an Iraqi judge's orders to free them, the judge and the group's leaders said Monday.
International human rights groups have called for government intervention to protect the Iraq-based camp of the Mujahedeen e Khalq, a militant group that's committed to overthrowing the neighboring Iranian government.
Martha and Shirley are among the many who help with the e-mails (thank you to them and to everyone who does). They prepare a summary of the e-mails they read noting the big topics and their summary for yesterday notes that community members are wondering about post-November and that four visitors e-mailed on the topic also asking if they'd missed the announcement? This site was supposed to go dark in November 2008, after the election. That was announced in the summer of 2005 because I needed an end date. What happened was that many members of the community with sites wanted it to continue and Stan wanted to start his own site but didn't want to do that if we were all going to shut down just as he was starting. I'm tired. This is a day to day thing and it's gone on long enough for me. I will most likely extend another six months (I'm only agreeing to six month periods) but I haven't so far. You didn't miss that, I haven't made a decision. Last night, I dreamed repeatedly in music notation and, if I could do what I wanted today, I'd find a grand piano and hole up for seven to eight hours. That's not on today's agenda so it won't be happening. We'll speak about Iraq, I'll work on the snapshot during lunch and finish dictating it this evening. And then we'll go back to speaking about Iraq and then I'll fall asleep in another hotel room and start the same day all over again. Translation, in my mood this morning, you don't want an answer from me. The last extension took us through the end of November. After that? I'll decide that in November but I will most likely tack on six more months. And, back to the original extension, that was actually also Ava and my fault. There was a show we had serious issues with and were going to slam. Friends with the show (the show was Fringe, for anyone interested) told us about some changes they were making and we agreed, in the fall of 2008, that we'd review it mid-season or later. We weren't thinking (that all the sites were to go dark in November) and we even wrote that we were holding off until mid-season. At which point, I believe Jim noticed what we'd written and pointed out we'd just done an extension. But we could have quickly done a Fringe review in January and ended then. The reason for the original six-month extension was so that Stan could get his site up and running.
We reviewed Fringe here. The second item on Martha and Shirley's list is a skit and visitors e-mailing asking how Ava and I could have missed it? We didn't miss it. We could have reviewed it Sunday but we were far more interested in reviewing the response to it which we plan to do on Sunday. The response? A lot of faux outrage and some big time lies. Including that the US withdrew from the country of Iraq. Yes, a disciple of the Cult of St. Barack, so quick to defend his devoted, lied that the US had withdrawn from Iraq. Not pulled back from cities, withdrew from the country. The idiot doesn't publish at a 'minor' outlet. That's what Ava and I were interested in, not in the skit itself. We didn't miss the skit, we had a heads up to it and a request that we weigh in. We saw the skit and we decided that more interesting than the skit itself would be the reaction to it. So we'll be covering that on Sunday. (In a review of The Good Wife or along with a review of The Good Wife. The Good Wife airs on CBS tonight, during the last hour of prime time. We've already hailed it at Third as the best new drama of the season. It stars the always amazing Julianna Margulies who should be Emmy nominated as Best Actress in a Drama this year for the performance she's giving. If you doubt that assessment, you should tune in tonight.)
Sherwood Ross has a new column entitled "Obama efforts to placate the right wing backfire," click on the link to read it at Free State. No excerpt because I'm not big on tea leaf reading by amateurs. In other words, at some point maybe it's time for people to stop fooling themselves into thinking Barack Obama is anything other than how he self-presents. I've noted before -- and this is unrelated to Sherwood Ross -- that the meme of Barack being a Socialist was started by Baby Boom Socialists and Communists who live in a political closet -- and started back in 2007. I know that because I know many of them who repeatedly e-mailed that stupid, stupid e-mail where they recounted Barack's mother's interest in various political theories and noted Barack's mentors and blah, blah, blah. It was stupid then and it's stupid now. And Barack's a Corporatist War Hawk. He's not a Socialist, he's not a Communist. So many of the radical left deluded themselves. That's how it's related to the man Ross is writing about who is convinced that Barack's just misjudging the right-wing. No, Barack is comfortable with the right-wing. (Did they miss his appalling praise of Ronald Reagan?) Quit treating him like he's an idiot or he's a push over. He's a grown adult, fully functioning, who does what he wants to do. It's amazing that we're probably the left wing community that holds him accountable the harshest (too harsh according to all the members of The Cult of St. Barack) and yet we're always the ones to point out that it is if offensive to imply he's not responsible for his own actions. It is offensive and it needs to stop. People look like foolish adolescents when they invent their conspiracy theories of someone having blackmail on Barack. (Danny Schechter floats that loony tune.) It also may have racial overtones for some who insist that he's being forced to do this or that -- as if you're saying that a bi-racial man (seen as "Black" by many gas bags) cannot take charge. For those who struggle with comprehension, it infantalizes Barack, an adult, to imply that he's not responsible for his actions. It also implies he's too stupid to know what he's doing. Will his defenders on the 'left' resort to 'noble savage' stereotypes next? They need to get a grip. Barack is the President of the United States. It's a powerful position. He'll do what he wants in that position. People need to stop insulting him by implying he's not able to do what he wants. He's always made very clear -- ask anyone who served in the Illinois legislature with him -- that he'll do exactly what he wants. Stop treating him like he's the village idiot or Joan of Arc. He does what he wants to do.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
the los angeles times
t. christian miller
the good wife