Monday, March 04, 2013

They can advertise their wares but they can't cover Iraq

Hamid al-Sweady is an Iraqi who was killed in May of 2004.  He was 19-years old.  How did he die?  That's the subject of an inquiry.  Huffington Post UK reports, "The Al-Sweady Inquiry is examining claims that UK soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis and tortured detainees after the 'Battle of Danny Boy' in Maysan Province, southern Iraq, in May 2004."  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains, "Nine Iraqis say they were tortured after being taken to a detention centre at Shaibah base near Basra and held there for four months. They say they were taken, along with the 20 murdered Iraqis, to a British base, Camp Abu Naji, after a fierce firefight in what became known as the battle of Danny Boy, a British military checkpoint near Majar al-Kabir, on 14 May 2004."

Allstair Bunkall (Sky News) notes:

The incident was initially investigated by the Royal Military Police and latterly the Iraq Historic Allegations Team.
But the independence and objectivity of that was brought into question by lawyers who successfully argued that some of the investigators might have conflicting motives. And so the Al Sweady Inquiry was commissioned by the former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth.
More than 50 Iraqis will give evidence, some in London but the majority in Beirut later in the year. Around 200 British military witnesses will also be questioned.

Cecilia French, the Secretary for the Inquiry, tells Caroline Hawley (BBC News),  "In most public inquiries, you know what has happened and you are trying to find out why - and how you can avoid it in the future. But this public inquiry is more like a criminal trial because you have two completely different accounts of what happened and we're trying to find out the truth, which makes this very unusual." You can find profiles of the various members of the Inquiry here.   We'll note the Chair of the Inquiry:

Sir Thayne Forbes was called to the bar in 1966 and appointed Queen's Counsel in 1984. He was made Official Referee in 1990 and in 1993 he became a High Court Judge assigned to the Queen's Bench Division. As Presiding Judge of the Northern Circuit he conducted the trial of Dr Harold Shipman on 15 separate counts of murder. From 2001 to 2004 he was the Judge in charge of the Technology and Construction Court. He then chaired a working group on Judicial Welfare and Support and, from 2006, chaired the Judges' Council's Standing Committee on the same subject. He retired as a High Court Judge in January 2009 but at the Lord Chief Justice's request he continued to chair the Standing Committee with particular responsibility for judicial welfare in England and Wales. He retired from this position in December 2009. Sir Thayne was appointed to chair the Al-Sweady Inquiry by the Secretary of State for Defence on 25 November 2009. points out, "The Al-Sweady inquiry is the second public inquiry into allegations of abuse by British troops in Iraq, following one that examined the death of Baha Mousa in 2003, and has been described as 'unprecedented' in its scope."

And in the US?  We can't even get a basic inquiry going, we can't even aknowledge the damage done.  That's because there's no pressure to do so.  The so-called peace or anti-war groups packed up long ago and so called 'independent' media is useless.  Find the Pacifica Radio program addressing Iraq.  Today, Law and Disorder offers two New York Jews going after the Catholic Church.  I'm sure that'll play well.  I'm sure that'll bring in listeners and pull people to your side, right?  Because everyone loves it when one religion attacks another, right?  And everyone loves New Yorkers, right?  Especially if they're attorneys?  What's more loveable than a defense attorney, right?

So I'm sure no one will see it as out of bounds for a supposed human rights program to repeatedly ignore issues like War Crimes to repeatedly go after the Catholic Church?

Law and Disorder of course did extensive coverage of the trial of Steven D. Green, the ringleader in charge of the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old  Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the murders of her parents and five-year-old sister, right?  And before that they covered the trials of US soldiers Paul Cortez and James Baker for their participation in those crimes, right?


Oh, no, they didn't.  It's a program of lawyers, supposedly concerned with human rights, supposedly alarmed by War Crimes but they've never covered what was done to Abeer.  Week after week, year after year.

People shouldn't think they never cover Iraq adjacent topics.  They cover Julian Assange.  And how lucky he is.  Most people who hire an attorney have to drum up media coverage.  Hire Michael Ratner and he'll give his show over to you.  Problem being, that show's on public radio, on the public airwaves and there are ethical issues involved -- ones which don't go away even on those rare times when you disclose on air that you're representing Assange.

Especially when today's attack on the Catholic Church -- and, yes, that is how it plays -- involves promoting clients represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights.  That's president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner.  That's CCR members Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian.  All three being hosts of a program played over the public airwaves.   It must be nice to have a weekly, hour long infomercial for you and your clients that the public foots the bill for.  An hour long advertisement for their services masquerading as a public affairs show.

Remember that the next time you wonder why Iraq can't be covered on Law and Disorder.  CCR has a lot of overhead and a lot of bills to pay. 

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Keystone Barack" went up yesterday.

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