Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WikiLeaks revelations lead to calls for an investigation

Late Friday, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. There are many more revelations to be found in the documents. Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post) reports, "National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday to investigate actions by the American military in Iraq that may constitute war crimes as alleged by the WikiLeaks website." Hoffman quotes from Ben-Ari's letter, "The latest revelation of US military documents regarding the war in Iraq detailing torture, summary executions, rape and war crimes by US and US lead security forces in Iraq, paint a terrifying portrait of US abuse and contempt of international treaties. [. . .] That the Pentagon is looking to cover up these crimes from the world shows the US government has much more to hide." BBC News notes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, calls for the US and Iraq to conduct an investigation and quotes her stating, "The US and Iraqi authorities should take necessary measures to investigate all allegations made in these reports and to bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses," she said in a statement." AFP adds, "Pillay, based in Geneva, said the United States and Iraq should investigate all allegations in the Wikileak documents and 'bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses.' She said documents released by the whistleblowing website added to her concerns that serious human rights breaches had occurred in Iraq, including 'summary executions of a large number of civilians and torture and ill-treatment of detainees'."

In the US, when the left should be 'flooding the zone,' many stay silent because spinning doesn't really change the fact that this continues under Barack. (That doesn't mean some don't try to whore it and pretend it's in the past or pretend that the WikiLeaks release covers the period only up until Barack was sworn in). Mahir Ali (DAWN) notes, "Even Barack Obama, whose opposition to the war bolstered his presidential candidacy, has suggested that Iraq is better off for having been invaded. Never mind the fact that, nearly nine months after parliamentary elections, Iraq has lately edged closer to the formation of a government on account of Iranian, rather than American, diplomacy."

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty days and still counting.

Alsumaria TV is covering the lateswt developments. They report, "During his meeting with Kurdistan leader Massoud Barazani in Arbil, head of Al Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi cautioned that the government formation has grew into a serious and critical issue." And that: "Iraqi National Alliance announced after a meeting held at the house of Ibrahim Al Jaafari that it will send a delegation to take part in the meeting between the political blocs expected to be held on Wednesday in order to activate the initiative of the head of Kurdistan region Massoud Barazani who called for dialogue between the different political parties."

Alsumaria TV also reports an Abu Ghraib bombing which left two Iraqi soldiers injured. Reuters notes a civilian was also wounded in that bombing and that a Baghdad bombing -- possibly targeting the Sunni Endowment -- injured two guards of the Endowment and four by-standers and, dropping back to last night, a Kirkuk bombing which injured three people.

WikiLeaks current Iraq War release isn't their first one this year. Earlier this year, the military charged Bradley Manning with releasing footage of a US assault in which civilians were killed. (Charged doesn't mean guilt. Guilt or even involvement have yet to be demonstrated in court.) 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. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. We'll close with this from "Ethan McCord: From Atrocities in Iraq to Resisting U.S. Wars" (Revolution magazine via World Can't Wait) and Ethan McCord is discussing the earlier WikiLeaks release:

Revolution: In the attack shown in the WikiLeaks video, you were part of the unit that was at the scene, on the ground. Give us a picture of what happened that day.

Ethan McCord: Prior to the Apaches engaging the civilians on the ground. I was with my unit, my company, and I was about five blocks away. And we were engaged in our own skirmish, a firefight if you will, and that's when I heard the Apaches open fire. It's a very distinct sound—it almost cuts the sky open. And we were told we needed to move to that position immediately. So me being one of the only dismounts that day—soldiers on foot, the rest were in vehicles—there were about six more of us, we ran to that location.

When I came up on the scene, the first thing I remember seeing is a group of three men on the corner who had been completely disemboweled. One of the guys, the top of his head was completely off. I remember looking at this and it not seeming real. Maybe it was my own way of shutting it out, but it didn't seem real, looking at the bodies, they didn't seem human.

I remember I heard a scream, like a child crying. It was a cry not of pain, but like my own child waking up from a horrible nightmare, of fear. I noticed that it was coming from the minivan, and I ran to the minivan. Another private was with me, and he looked inside the van and turned around and vomited and ran away. I looked in the van, and what I saw was a little girl about four years old, sitting in the passenger seat. She had a wound to her stomach and she had glass in her hair and eyes. Next to her was a boy, about seven or eight, he was laying half on the floorboard, with his head resting on the bench seat of the van. Next to him on the driver's seat was who I presumed to be the father. He was leaned over, kind of in a protective manner over the children. Immediately, I knew that he was dead. He had taken a couple of those rounds to the chest.

The little boy looked dead—he had a severe wound to the right side of his head and wasn't moving. So I grabbed the little girl and I ran to the house behind the van where it had crashed. I took the little girl in there. I yelled for a medic, and the medic came. I took off my gloves and was pulling glass out of her eyes till she could blink. I was dressing the wounds and cleaning her up so that she could be taken care of. That's when the medic ran the little girl to the Bradley [an infantry fighting vehicle].

Then I went back outside to the van, and the boy made like a labored breathing move. So I started screaming out, "The boy's alive, the boy's alive!" I reached him and grabbed him and cradled him in my arms, started running towards the Bradley. He looked up at me for maybe two seconds at the very most. I told him, "It's okay, I have you, I have you," and I squeezed him tighter. And his eyes rolled back into his head, and my heart sank. I remember feeling like this boy just died in my arms. I squeezed him and was like, "Don't die, don't die, don't die." And I put him in the Bradley.

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