Monday, January 09, 2012

Iraqis say suffering has increased, refugees and more

Gallup has a new poll out today. It's a survey of Iraqis. Stafford Nichols explains, "The percentage of Iraqis who rate their lives poorly enough to be considered 'suffering' rose from 14% in in October 2010 to 25% in September 2011." So isn't great that NPR and others shut down their Iraq offices and went home? 'We don't really care about Iraqis,' their actions say. 'We were just here as hand maidens to the US government because if we hadn't been here to attempt to control the narrative, less friendly to the US government outlets might have gotten control of the narrative.' It's a big F.U. to the Iraqi people.

And while we're on the press distortions, we were repeatedly attacked in angry e-mails (including from some 'name' reporters in the MSM who were claiming at their outlets that violence was down and had been going down steadily) for asserting that violence wasn't going down. Iraq Body Count's analysis was noted by a number of outlets last week. I waited for the one that would emphasize this: "The number of civilian deaths in Iraq in 2011 was almost at the same level as in 2010 -- there has now been no noticeable downward trend since mid-2009. As observed in IBC's previous annual report, recent trends indicate a persistent low-level conflict in Iraq that will continue to kill civilians at a similar rate for years to come." No one ever did make that their main emphasis. It went against the lies the US military spokespersons were serving up in Iraq and at the Pentagon and trained doggies know not to bark if it displeases their masters.

Trudy Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer) has spent the last years reporting what she saw with her focus on the truth. A strong argument could be made that her columns have documented the steps that led to the current political crisis. Her focus for some time has been on the Iraqis who helped the US as translators and have now been forgotten. Her most recent column on that topic is "Shame On US: allies betrayed." Excerpt:

Last week, I spoke on the PBS NewsHour about Iraqis who worked for our civilians and military before we left the country - and who now face death threats because we betrayed them.

I've received a slew of e-mail from Iraqi interpreters who are in hiding because Shiite militias have pledged to kill the "traitors" who aided the Americans. I've also received e-mail from U.S. military officers desperately trying to get their "terps" out of the country. And I've heard from ordinary, concerned Americans.

All ask the same question: How can we get the U.S. government to issue the visas it promised to Iraqis who risked their lives to help us?

I'm ashamed to admit that the U.S. government has abandoned these people. No one seems eager to bring more Iraqis into this country in an election year.

President Obama has failed to keep his 2007 campaign pledge to rescue these Iraqis. A group of concerned senators, mostly Democrats, including Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, has made inquiries, but gotten no answers from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta or Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Nor has a peep been heard on behalf of the "terps" from Republican senators who backed our war in Iraq.

Good for Trudy Rubin. And her voice is especially needed since no one has taken up the megaphone Kenneth Bacon had as president of Refugees International (he passed away in 2009). In addition to the stories she shares in her column, she also has a blog post entitled "More Iraq visa horror stories" dealing with stories shared by a US military officer and Refugees International. Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) writes of a visit to Disneyland with a group of Iraqi refugees who were among the small number able to get into the US:

Since my husband arrived in the U.S. in 2009 after months of red tape, I've heard him remark on numerous occasions how youthful everyone looks here — and how relaxed. In Iraq, a life of fear and anxiety has taken a toll. Forty-year-old Iraqis look 10 years older. And there's an exhaustion, a sadness, that seems to permanently cloud their eyes.
That was part of the culture shock of Disneyland, so much joy all packed into one place.
"Once I entered inside, I felt like I was transferred into a whole different world of fantasy," my husband said. "Everybody's happy and everybody's nice — like it's not a real world."
The uncertainty and the violence that still grips their country is what drove them to leave, even if it meant starting over.

And Andrew Lam (New American Media) focuses on the Iraqis forced out of their country due to the violence:

Each time Uncle Sam ventures abroad he leaves an unfinished story, and nowhere is it most unfinished than the story of Iraq, where despite flowery speeches regarding freedom and sovereignty by the Obama administration, despite assurances that tyranny has been “cast aside,” the tragedy caused by the United States invasion, occupation and inevitable abandonment is on an epic proportion.

Never mind that sectarian violence continues unabated and much of the populace remains mired in poverty, and that there’s a distinct possibility that the country is on its way to becoming a failed state if the Sunnis and Shiites cannot find a way to collectively govern.

The most unfinished story, however, is the population that the war has displaced. Whether tyranny has been cast aside is questionable, but certainly cast aside are the people of Iraq. They have been displaced both internally and internationally and are now imperiled by the sin of our omission.

Stephen Lendman (OpEd News) explores journalism in Iraq and emphasizes this remark by Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh to RT News: "[Press freedom] is not protected by the government. [. . .] and you can see that there are people in the Ministry of the Interior for example, they are misusing their power against citizens and against journalists. They keep accounts and some of them have been fired."

In the US, Dar Addustour notes, Fort Lewis spokesperson Chris Ophardt has announced approximately 100 soldiers are on lockdown as a result of an "apparent theft of sensitive military equipment." Reuters reports on it here. Dar Addustour identifies the soldiers as having recently returned from Iraq, Reuters makes no mention of that.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Here's Nouri" went up last night. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- topics explored include an update on Guantanamo by Michael Ratner on the tenth anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison, attorney Roger Wareham discusses the January 12th International People's Tribunal on War Crimes and Other Violations of International Law, California State University professor David Klein on the plan to build the Cornell and The Technion of Israel in NYC and CCR attorneyy Darius Charney on NYC's stop and frisk policies.

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