Saturday, January 21, 2012

The White House's favorite terrorist organization

BBC News quotes Rose McMenemy, widow of Alan McMenemy, stating, "We have worried about Alan every single minute of each waking day. We now know that we will shortly have Alan home again, this will allow us to properly grieve for him and we will draw some comfort from the fact that we have him home at last."

From the June 9, 2009 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."

Last month, the League of Righteous announced that they had killed Alan McMenemy and had done so years ago. They offered the body to the British consulate (and finally followed up on that offer by delivering it yesterday). Conal Urquhart (Guardian) quotes the 'excuse' the League of Righteous' leader Qais al-Khazali offered last month for the murders:

The brothers told me that those four bodyguards tried to escape … they took advantage of a negligent moment and took the weapon of one of their guards and the clash ensued and led to this result. We honestly are sorry for that incident.

The League of Righteous announced at the same time that they were rejoining the political process in Iraq and that they planned to disarm in the immediate future. Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) explains:

Khazali was in US custody at the time of the kidnappings but was freed hours before Mr Moore's release.
The decision to free Mr McMenemy appears to be part of a negotiated deal with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Shia prime minister, to bring Asaib al-Haq into the political fold – a move that has caused alarm in Washington.
A splinter faction of the Mahdi Army led by Moqtada al Sadr, the radical Shia cleric, Asaib al-Haq persisted with a campaign of violence long after other insurgent groups laid down their weapons. It carried out a string of deadly rocket attacks on US bases last year and was responsible for the last American military fatality, a soldier killed in a roadside bomb in Baghdad a month before US troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq in December.

Any alarm the White House now feels -- now feels -- should have gone off back in the spring of 2009 when they agreed to make the release. They had the leader, his brother and several others in custody and could have scheduled a trial. They elected not to. Their decision was to ignore the deaths of 5 American soldiers and go with Nouri (again, they've always gone with Nouri) who just knew that four bodyguards would be released -- corpses. So instead of justice, the White House was willing to trade the fallen Americans for British corpses. (Peter Moore was already released prior to the June 2009 deal.) And they were so stupid they couldn't even pull that off. They got three corpses out of the deal and over two years later the League decides to release the fourth.

Justice is what the White House should have pursued instead of that lousy deal that allowed killers to go free (and as late as August 2009, the US military was still releasing League of Righteous members under this deal, even after the League only released three corpses). Maybe in a presidential debate, if the issue of terrorism is raised, someone will ask Barack Obama why he decided to make a deal with terrorists when such a deal had no benefit at all to the United States? Since such a question would have to come from a political opponent onstage with Barack -- due to the press well known and documented refusal to ever ask Barack tough questions -- maybe the follow up could be, "On top of that, how does it feel to be punked by the League which used the last weeks of November and December 2011 to launch attacks on American service members and is said to be responsible for at least one death during that time?"

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