Monday, June 14, 2010

The Beat of Black Wings

Danny Fitzsimons continues to await trial in Iraq. He served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as Iraq. He returned to Iraq last fall as a British contractor, or mercenary, accused of being the shooter in a Sunday, August 9th Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. His family has explained that he suffers from PTSD and have asked that the trial be moved to England. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons (his father and step-mother) spoke to the BBC (link has video):

Liz Fitzsimons: You see, when he came out of the army because the army had always been his life, it was then at a real crossroads in his life and where some people might be able to cope, unfortunately, Daniel didn't cope well because he did enjoy army life. It was all he ever wanted, he loved it. And you come out and you live Middleton, which is where he ended up, and he couldn't find a path that suited him, he couldn't find a job although he tried very hard. And a testament to Daniel is that he joined a gym and kept himself -- Daniel likes routine. Daniel goes to the gym every day almost, I would suggest, every day, goes jogging he's a very clean young man. You know, he's not sort of gone wayward and just gone to the dogs kind of thing. And he met a girl, like you want your children to do, but then he wanted the normal life and he wanted the money that would go with a normal life. How does he do that when he can't find a job? And unfortunately becoming a security --
Eric Fitzsimons: He went back into doing security.
Liz Fitzimons: -- person in Iraq. [. . .] Oh, awful. Awful. The situation in Iraq isn't good, is it? We all know it's not good. But he would be out in convoys I believe their main job is to escort to --
Eric Fitzsimons: Oil [workers? Second word isn't clear.]
Liz Fitzsimons : Yes but they do escort people to jobs. And they do ride shotgun basically. They ride around --
Eric Fitzsimons: He's told us quite a lot of --
Liz Fitzsimons: Yeah.
Eric Fitsimons: -- tales
Liz Fitzsimons: He saw some awful things. The person in the cab next to him was blown up.
Eric Fitzsimons: Yeah.
Liz Fitzsimons: Next to him. At the same he had a bullet in his foot.
Eric Fitzsimons: Bullet in his foot, yeah, he's seen all sorts of IEDs you know, sorts of explosions at the side of the road. Loads and loads of them. And seen lots and lots of his friends killed.

In an article published today by Fleetwood Weekly News, Liz Fitzsimons states, "It's a nightmare. By August it will be virtually a year since the incident happened. We are quite worried about Danny now. It's a struggle for him. We already know that he's suffering from PTSD. He's on medication but it must be very difficult for him. The case has been adjourned so many times now but we hope on August 4 they'll actually start the trial. Even when it starts, it'll still be a long time..." He was supposed to go on trial last January. It was pushed back. Today it was pushed back again. BBC News reports the trial is now set for August 4th. Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) adds that this is true barring any "further medical reports which contradict the assessment" that Danny's fit to stand trial.

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em.
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

Iraq War veteran and police officer Timothy E. Carson faces charges in the US for a January 6th bank robbery attempt. Sarah Lemagie (Minneapolis Star Tribune) reports his attorney, Andrea George, told the court Friday that Carson "was under severe stress from financial problems, a deceptive wife, a sick child and nightmares about his military service in Iraq". Hart Van Denburg (Minneapolis City Pages) adds he "was evidently hoping for a suicide-by-cop confrontation the day he robbed a bank". AP notes that Carson entered a plea of guilty back in March and that current court proceedings are over the sentencing with the prosecution wanting at least nine years prison time and George arguing for less prison time for her client (seven years) and for psychological treatment.

Meanwhile Hal Bernton (Seattle Times)reports, "Seattle researchers, with the aid of sophisticated scanning technology, have found long-term changes in brain functions of Iraq veterans exposed to blast shock waves."

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported Friday that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Mike Gogulski has started a website entitled Help Bradley Manning. Dave Lindorff (This Can't Be Happening) notes the US government's dragnet for Julian Assange:

How is it (mainstream journalists ought to be asking but aren't), that the Pentagon can unleash its vast intelligence resources to hunt down the Australian-born Assange, but cannot bring itself to devote those same resources and commitment to hunting down Osama Bin Laden, the man they claim is behind not only the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon itself, but also the resistance to US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?
I'm not sure which is the bigger scandal here: the Pentagon's grotesque misallocation of resources, or the media’s unwillingness to point it out.
There is no indication or claim by the government that Wikileaks has paid anyone anything to reveal US secrets -- in fact the government claims it isn’t even interested in arresting Asange, just in "trying to convince him" not to release those cables. (Yeah, sure. I believe that like I believe the government wants fair hearings at its secret military tribunals in Guantanamo.) The secrets he has disclosed have been volunteered to Wikileaks by government and military whistleblowers, one of whom, Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning, is now under arrest in Kuwait, a US client state where there are no protections against torture. Note that even what Manning did should not be considered a crime in any just, open society. He didn't endanger US security as claimed; rather, he revealed a possible crime -- the killing of civilians by US forces -- that the government itself was covering up and refusing to investigate. (He says he tried to pursue justice within the military chain of command and was ignored, which is why he turned to Wikileaks.) The man is not criminal or traitor. He's a hero.

We note Dave DeGraw (Amped Status) from time to time and he has a new site here. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not A Clue" went up last night.
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