Friday, September 30, 2011

Facts don't matter apparently

In this morning's New York Times, AP reports on yesterday's US military death in Iraq and declares "making him the first combat death since July, the United States military said." Really? I don't know which section of "the United States military said" that. But I do know the Pentagon puts out their official count and they break it down (as we discussed last night) into "KIA" (Killed In Action -- combat) and "Non Hostile."

So there hasn't been a combat death since July?

We're going to September 11th for a screen snap. In PDF format, the Pentagon publishes their war count -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- here. Our focus is Iraq so I crop the screen snap to feature only the Iraq War deaths. There are two listings. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" covers the start of the war through August 31, 2010. "Operation New Dawn" covers the Iraq War from September 1, 2010 to present. The administration renamed the Iraq War "Operation New Dawn." In the screen snaps right now, we're only focused on Operation New Dawn figures. And we're zooming in on KIA.

1 death toll

So in that count (which has the time on it from the Pentagon), updated last on September 9th, there were 35 KIAs in Operation New Dawn. Let's now go to September 15th:

1 dod

Did you see it? Did you catch it? 35 increased by one to 36 from September 9th to September 15th.

So, according to the Pentagon's own figures, yesterday's announced death was not the first combat death since July.

Somewhere on or before September 15th, a US service member died and was classified "KIA."

New topic, file it under, The Contractor Stays Out Of The Picture. Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) interviews Ted Wright who is the chief executive and president of Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) about Iraq as an Xe market. Hodge quotes Wright in the midst of a self-interview, "Would I like to go back into Iraq? Certainly. Would the Iraqi government accept us in Iraq? That's really the question." As Hodge reminds, Blackwater/Xe is banned from Iraq as a result of "a deadly shootout in Baghdad in 2007 that claimed the lives of 17 Iraqi civilians."

I don't know that "a deadly shootout" really conveys what took place. A shootout? If I was reading a script and came across that term, "a shootout ensues," I'd expect to see gunfire exchanged from a minimum of two different sides. The only one shooting in that incident was from Blackwater. Dropping back to the snapshot for Monday, September 17, 2007:

Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad. CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory." The news was addressed today on Democracy Now!:
AMY GOODMAN: We have this breaking news out of Iraq today: The Iraqi government says it's pulling the license of the US security company Blackwater over its involvement in a fatal shooting in Baghdad on Sunday. Interior Ministry spokesperson Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and thirteen wounded, when security contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. Khalaf said, "We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities." It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater is intended to be temporary or permanent. Naomi Klein, take it from there.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, that's an extraordinary piece of news. I mean, this is really the first time that one of these mercenary firms may actually be held accountable. You know, as Jeremy Scahill has written in his incredible book Blackwater: The Rise of the [World's] Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the real problem is, there haven't been prosecutions. These companies work in this absolute gray zone, and, you know, they're either boy scouts and nothing has going wrong, which completely doesn't mesh with what we know about the way they're behaving in Iraq and all of the sort of videos that we've seen online of just target practice on Iraqi civilians, or the lawlessness and the immunity in which they work has protected them. So, you know, if this is -- if the Iraqi government is actually going to kick Blackwater out of Iraq, it could really be a turning point in terms of pulling these companies into the law and questioning the whole premise of why this level of privatization and lawlessness has been allowed to take place.
The mercenary corporation Blackwater has not only made a lot of money in Iraq, it's had a lot of friends in the US White House (and members of Congress who looked the other way). So it's little surprise that Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice plans a firm phone call to puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki in which she will "make it clear" that the US is "investigating this incident" -- no doubt in the usual look-the-other-way manner the US government has "investigated" other incidents. No word on whether she plans to use haul her favorite false line out of mothballs, "No one could have guessed . . ."

The death toll would rise to 17. Condi, by the way, did ensure that the State Dept was 'investigating' -- she ensured that the State Dept deliberately botched the investigation and that immunity was offered when it shouldn't have been thereby allowing the killers to walk free. (So far anyway. It's still in the legal system.) Again, "shooting"? Sure. "Shootout"? Not so much.

Defenseless Iraqi civilians were killed for the 'crime' of being on their own streets in their country's capital. In addition to being shot, they also had water bottles and other things thrown at them by Blackwater.

The following community sites -- plus -- updated last night:

And we'll close with this from Cindy Sheehan's "Show a Little Mercy; Free the Cuban Five!" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):

To me, the guilt or innocence of a person is not what’s important in the issue of capital punishment—what’s important is that the use of this state murder is barbaric and needs to end. Troy Anthony Davis was not shown mercy by the State of Georgia, or by the Barbaric State of America. Kelly Thomas and Kenneth Harding were tragically not shown mercy by members of the police sate, but the cops will be shown plenty of that elusive virtue because it's usually only reserved for the wealthy or members of this police state.

The day that the Hikers were released, the Prez of this country said, “I am thrilled. They never should have been in prison in the first place.” Well, I would like to tell you about FIVE men currently languishing in US Federal Prison who never should be there, "in the first place," either. It’s the little known case of the Cuban Five, or the “Five Heroes” as they are referred to in Cuba.

Many acts of terrorism against Cuba have been planned from the right-wing Cuban exile community in Miami. These terrorists have killed thousands of Cubans and so the Cuban Five, as they would come to be known, were sent to the US to infiltrate this terrorist cell based in South Florida so as to be able to transmit messages back to Cuba to save lives in their homeland.

René González, Ramón Labaniño, Fernando González, Antonío Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández left their families to go to the US.

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