Monday came news of the Justice Dept secretly spying on the 167 year-old news organization Associated Press by seizing their phone records for April and May of 2012. Earlier this month, May 5th, US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft observed:
Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s proclamation of World Press Freedom Day, an occasion for the international community, governments, media organizations, civil society, and average citizens to promote press freedom around the world, to recommit to defend the media from attacks on its independence, and to pay tribute to the journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. Freedom of speech and expression is a cornerstone of all our democratic rights, for an uninformed citizenry cannot be a democratic citizenry. In the United States, our Founding Fathers saw this right as so crucial that they placed it first in our Bill of Rights, decreeing that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”
World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity for us all to oppose repression of the media, to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression, to protect journalists, and to tolerate opinions with which we may disagree. As democracy has increasingly replaced dictatorship around the world, the right of free expression has become a vital mechanism to maintain those hard-won freedoms. Journalists and bloggers keep citizens informed, keep governments honest, and often reveal uncomfortable truths. We must work to ensure that journalists are not persecuted, threatened, attacked, or killed for seeking to inform and educate citizens; we must prevent newer online technologies – sophisticated media tools, networking groups and bloggers reaching millions – from being censored, firewalled, or closed.
It's a message the Justice Dept apparently missed. In its 167 years this month, the Associated Press has won 51 Pulitzer Prizes, has lost over 30 journalists who died while practicing journalism and witnessed the changing technology: "AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years. In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire. A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994. In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world." The Economist observes, "All manner of people who might have wanted to keep their contact with the press secret will have been caught in this dragnet; others might now hesitate to speak to reporters. That concern is not far-fetched: under Barack Obama’s watch, the government has indicted six officials for leaking secrets under a law called the Espionage Act, which had only previously been invoked against government officials three times since it became law in 1917."
Based on Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, this report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo from May 2012 is what has angered the government. It opens with, "The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press has learned."
Today on his radio program The News Dissector (Progressive Radio Network, airs Thursdays at 5:00 pm EST), host Danny Schechter observed that the Justice Dept's actions have "outraged people left, right and center." On parts of the left, sure, parts. As Danny quickly found out when he spoke to his guests. Cult of St. Barack member Al Gioradano (who will never live down his disgraces in 2008) declared it a "big yawn." Hobbyist Gioradano then referred to it as "pout rage."
Pouting is accurate -- in terms of describing certain elements of the left. For everyone decrying, you have a large number of pouters. Chris Hedges pouted yesterday on Democracy Now!, whining that his personal stories of choice (no, not his October 2001 front page New York Times article falsely linking Iraq to the 9-11 attacks) of choice didn't get coverage by the AP so what did it matter, the AP was silent, so what does it matter? Well the AP isn't silent on Bradley Manning. They do file repeatedly on Bradley Manning. That was one of his two stories. On Julian Assange? AP doesn't do feature writing. Julian Assange is yesterday's news. It's really not breaking news. AP is a wire service that covers breaking news. Some would journalist Chris Hedges would understand but those people probably missed his October 2001 front page effort to sell the war on Iraq. Before there was Judith Miller, there was Chris Hedges.
On Danny's radio program, it was said who could name a reporter at AP? Who can name a reporter anywhere these days other than TV? Most people can't. I can name a ton of AP reporters off the top of my head including Sameer N. Yacoub, Adam Schreck who are among the reporters covering Iraq. I can name former AP reporters such as Chelsea J. Carter but I'm someone who pays attention. I can track the career trajectories of the last ten years, for example, of Liz Sly and Sam Dahger -- two reporters who have changed outlets repeatedly.
AP stood alone in its coverage of the March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi by US soldiers stationed in Iraq. Brett Barrouquere owned that story. And though he wrote very important reports and would probably have emerged as the best in a crowded field, the reality is others ignored it after the initial revelations. There were court-martials of the soldiers still in the service and there was the trial of the ringleader who had already left the military. Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now!, The Nation, go down the list, didn't give a damn. In fact, Katha Pollitt only covered (half a sentence in a column) one of the most outrageous War Crimes of the Iraq War because she was shamed into doing so by the fact that non-feminist Alexander Cockburn had called it out and she hadn't. When readers and critics began noting that, she finally did a half sentence on a 14-year-old Iraqi girl at home with her family when US soldiers broke into her home, took her parents and her five-year-old sister into another room as they started gang-raping Abeer. As the gang-rape took place, Abeer could hear the gun shots and the screams as her parents and her sister were killed. Then Steven D. Green came back into the living room, took his part in the gang-rape and then shot and killed Abeer which was followed by an attempt to set her body on fire.
This wasn't news to The Nation magazine. This wasn't worthy of a column for feminist Katha Pollitt. When Green's trial started, the AP had a little competition -- local media in Kentucky and Arianna Huffington who, to her credit, saw this as a story worth paying for and The Huffington Post had regular coverage as a result. The trial kicked off April 27, 2009 in Paducah, Kentucky. Apparently, although I thought it was a nine hour drive from DC, it's actually all the way around the world and unreachable by our so-called 'independent media' who couldn't be bothered to cover it. By the same token, AP's the only US news organization filing regularly from Iraq now. Every day they're filing, several times a day.
The pouters on the left who can't be bothered by AP are joined by the Cult of St. Barack which will make you eat lead paint and tell you it's broccoli. Yesterday, Jason Linkins (Huffington Post) exposed Media Matters for America which was working a list of talking points about how the Justice Dept's seizure of records was no big deal:
Finally, the most obvious thing needs to be said: I'm pretty sure that if this probe of the Associated Press had been conducted by a Republican administration, you would not be doing all of this "Let's give the snoopers the benefit of the doubt."
I am pretty sure that your anger over the breach of these journalists' privacy would be epic and righteous and uncowed.
ThinkProgress! You guys need to check yourselves as well!
There are some deeds, I'm afraid, for which having the favored party identification is not an affirmative defense. It is not OK that the DoJ did this because the DoJ is being run by the guys who you perceive to be wearing the white hats. Snooping through the phone records of reporters doesn't become OK because Democrats are doing it, and it doesn't become evil by dint of the fact that Republicans are doing it. IT IS EITHER ALWAYS RIGHT, OR ALWAYS WRONG.
The thing is, Media Matters, you have painted yourselves into a corner here. Someday, in America, there is going to be a Republican in the White House. They will run the DoJ. They will contend with leaks of their own. They will face a choice as to whether to abridge the rights of the press to hunt that source down. They might even choose to do something very much like the DoJ did in this instance.
Linkins is kind enough to add a statement from Media Matters where they insist it wasn't them, it was Message Matters. Here is Message Matters -- above their name at the top of the screen is "Media Matters Action Network." Message Matters is a division of Media Matters. Yesterday evening Michael Isikoff (NBC News) filed a report that even put into question the supposed reason for the investigation:
Within hours after the AP published its May 7, 2012 story, then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, currently the director of the CIA, held a background conference call in which he assured television network commentators that the bomb plot was never a threat to the American public or aviation safety.
The reason, he said, is because intelligence officials had “inside control” over it.
Stephen Walt (Foreign Policy) observes, "The greater but more subtle danger, however, is that our society gradually acclimates to ever-increasing levels of secrecy and escalating levels of government monitoring, all of it justified by the need to 'keep us safe.' Instead of accepting that a (very small) amount of risk is inevitable in the modern world, our desire for total safety allows government officials to simultaneously shrink the circle of individual freedoms and to place more and more of what they are doing beyond our purview." On the first hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show, Diane's topics were the IRS and AP scandals. Her guests were (all men -- how sadly normal for Diane's pathetic show) attorney Scott Fredericksen, NPR gadfly David Folkenflick and the ACLU's Gabe Rottman. We'll note Rottman on the AP scandal.
Gabe Rottman: Absolutely. And it's important to realize here that the First Amendment and the freedom of the press that it protects is not protecting the press. It's protecting the public. It's protecting our ability and our right to know what the government is doing in our name. And that's all the more important when it comes to national security cases like this where the government has vast authority to make secret its activities. And this particular subpoena is so chilling because of two reasons. First, it's extremely broad. It covered 20 phone lines in offices where more than 100 reporters work. And then in addition to that and perhaps more troubling, the Department of Justice elected to delay notifying the Associated Press that it had issued the subpoena for these telephone records. What that means is the Associated Press was robbed of the ability to go to court to challenge the subpoena.
Danny Schechter announced he has an article tomorrow. By that we'll be able to determine whether he was trying to offer provocative radio or agrees with the nonsense and crap Al Gioradano was spewing. This included that the IRS targeting of right wing groups was no big deal. We're ignoring Cindy Sheehan's appearance on The Mike Malloy Show for the reason that Malloy also pimped this lie. For Cultist Al it's not a surprise and if they really were going after people on the right, the IRS would have gone after Karl Rove's groups. [And Kim Barker's Pro Publica report would appear to indicate that the IRS was quite happy to break the law with regards to Rove's group by sending out documents that they weren't legally allowed to distribute.]
Really? I don't consider Al a reporter, nor does anyone I respect, but he does in work in Mexico and presumably, he's aware that when people are targeted, the first targets are the small ones. You go after the most vulnerable when you target. That's how it starts -- in any country around the world. So, no, Karl Rove wouldn't be the first target, Rove's groups would be one of the last. If she hadn't gotten so nuts, Naomi Wolf could explain that to Al in terms of open and closing societies.
As for his claim that it's not surprising, assassinations don't surprise me anymore but that doesn't make them any less outrageous. Al needs to take his Too-Cool-For-The-Golden-Rule ass back to Mexico and write up some more of that reporting no one will ever read.
It is The Golden Rule. If you wouldn't want to be treated by the government as they are treating someone else, then the actions are wrong. It's been amazing to notice who stayed silent. Law and Disorder Radio hasn't said a word (they weren't on WBAI Monday but they did have a weekly program for the other stations that broadcast them). Three attorneys -- representing the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights and they couldn't say a word. Not about AP and not about the IRS scandal. US Socialist Worker's avoiding the topic too. (But I do see an article I will link to -- first time in years -- Sharon Smith has an important article. We've been too busy with other topics to weigh in here and since I know the subject, as disclosed before, it's been a 'am I enraged just because it's a friend being attacked, someone I've known she was a little girl, or is it also because of the offensive nonsense?' That quandry hasn't stopped me from ensuring that the screenwriter who wrote the offensive nonsense about my friend has no American career. I have contacted various friends at various studios and will continue to do so. That screenwriter would be smart to return to England.)
On the IRS scandal, Zachary A. Goldfarb (Washington Post) reports, "This week, President Obama demanded the resignation of acting IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller, replacing him Thursday with budget official Daniel Werfel, a veteran of Republican and Democratic administrations. Also on Thursday, Joseph Grant, commissioner of the agency’s tax exempt/government entities divisions, announced that he would soon retire." Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) offered the radio commentary "Obama's Bad Nixon Impersonation" yesterday -- from that:
He also needs to clean house at the IRS and fire the people responsible for the odious political witch hunt that was under way there against the Patriot groups, the underlying problem here is a lack of respect for Civil Liberties. To reaffirm his respect for all our civil liberties, President Obama needs to come clean on the spying on Occupy protesters and not let Fusion Centers become centers for harassing political activists of all stripes.
That link is audio only; however, his "Runaway Executive Branch" radio commentary is also up in text here. For the record, he is also calling out the targeting of the AP in those commentaries. We covered yesterday's House Judiciary Committee hearing in yesterday's snapshot and "Eric Holder's childish tantrum," Marcia covered it with "The shameful Eric Holder," Kat with "Outstanding participant in the House Judiciary hearing?," Wally with "Competency tests for Congress? (Wally)" and Ava with "Biggest embarrassment at House Judiciary hearing." From the hearing, this is a key exchange:
US House Rep David Scott: On the Internal Revenue situation, I think we can all agree that the published reports which suggest that IRS agents were denying people their proper consideration based on politics, that's the allegation. I assume you haven't completed your investigation but I think there's bi-partisan agreement that you shouldn't be able to do that. Now you've publicly said that you're having a criminal investigation. There are obviously criminal laws against denial of Civil Rights under 1983. There's also a specific IRS code that's says, "Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States who with the intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title files to perform any of the duties of his office or employment" -- and then goes on to show that's -- if you violate that -- that's a five year felony. Are there any gaps in the criminal code that would make it difficult for you to pursue criminal sanctions if you find that IRS agents were denying benefits under the Internal Revenue Code based on politics?
Attorney General Eric Holder: That actually is a good question and I'm not sure what the answer is. I think the provisions that you have noted are the ones that we are looking at. There are Civil Rights provisions, IRS provisions, potentially The Hatch Act. And I think we're going to have to get into the investigation before I can answer that question more intelligently. But to the extent that there are enforcement gaps that we find, we will let this Committee know and hopefully work with this Committee to make sure that what happened and was outrageous -- as I've said -- and if we have to bring criminal actions so that that kind of action that kind of activity doesn't happen again.
US House Rep David Scott: I understand that certain individuals in the IRS have apologized. Does an apology immunize you from criminal prosecution?
Attorney General Eric Holder: Uh, no.
An apology doesn't immunize you nor does being fired or quitting. There's needs to be criminal prosecution for what took place. A simple slap on the wrist makes it that much easier for an IRS employee in the future to think he or she can get away with it. There needs to be criminal prosecution because there are laws on the books and they are enforced for private citizens, they should be enforced for government workers.
Today on The Diane Rehm Show (first hour, NPR) Diane again mangled the discussion and declared, "But apparently, Republicans are not satisfied yet. They feel as though at least one of them said someone ought to go to jail." US House Rep David Scott is a Democrat. Diane really needs to research her topics and her guests need to stop being kind and correct her when she's wrong. We don't make a point to note state or party i.d. here (in what I report) on Congressional hearings because we try to address the points and there's enough partisanship already out there. How sad that Diane cannot speak to any issue without offering some idiotic, simplistic frame where everyone is either Democrat or Republican and all beliefs and statements must stem from that.
Free Speech Radio News reported on the issue yesterday.
Dorian Merina: A newly released Inspector General report from the Internal Revenue Service reveals the agency used “inappropriate criteria” when reviewing applications from political organizations applying to receive tax-exempt status. Both lawmakers and administration officials are condemning the revelations, but political watchdog organizations say many entities along the political spectrum do abuse their non-profit status and deserve scrutiny from the IRS. They’re calling on Congress to enact clearer laws regulating these so-called social welfare organizations, which are currently allowed to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections while keeping their donors’ identities secret. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.
Alice Ollstein: An Inspector General's investigation into the innerworkings of the federal tax enforcement agency says IRS staff flagged groups with Tea Party or Patriots in their name for additional questioning which delayed the process of their request for tax exempt status. The report released Tuesday said the requests for information from many of these groups were burdsome and unnecessary and based in part on their criticisms of the government. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden who recently introduced a bill to reform fiscal spending said the revelations showed the IRS has too much discrection when it comes to enforcing tax laws.
Radio was where disgraced former US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill could be found today. Over 16 minutes on NPR's Talk of the Nation. If you thought Chris offered any 'talk of Iraq,' you don't know the idiot moron who did more to destroy Iraq -- and the Obama administration's goals -- than probably any American since 2009. A complete and utter disaster, Hill spent his time worrying that Gen Ray Odierno might be getting more media attention than he was. He stomped his feet and had the White House order Odierno to stop talking to reporters.
Hill's pimping a bad column called "How To Talk To Monsters" -- hide under you desk? That is what Hill did. Chris Hill's fate in Iraq was sealed when he couldn't stop playing footsie with Nouri al-Maliki. Odierno thought there was a chance the March 2010 elections would result in Nouri's State of Law losing the elections (which did happen) and therefore Nouri would not be the one named prime minister-designate by the Parliament. He feared that if this happened, Nouri would refuse to step down (Odierno's near psychic!) and so he was arguing that a transitional government be put in place. Hill assured the White House that he, a diplomat with a long history (and a really bad employment file), knew better than some general about politics. Everything Odierno feared came to be. And when that was unavoidable, that's when the White House began looking into Chris Hill's actions in Iraq (which, don't forget, included mocking the assassination of JFK by going to a Halloween party dressed as a Secret Service agent with a woman dressed as a bloodied Jackie Kennedy). Hill's ignorance was evident at his March 25, 2009 confirmation hearing (see the March 25, 2009 and March 26, 2009 snapshots for coverage of that hearing).
That Chris Hill who left Iraq in disgrace, removed from his post by the administration, can be seen as an expert today on any topic is a puzzler. Maybe we should all be grateful that the man who did so much damage to Iraq didn't speak about the country, maybe his silence was an actual blessing.
The Iraqi people see very little improvement in their daily lives from the Iraq War. In most cases, things are worse. Ten years after the illegal invasion, daily violence still haunts the country. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 256 violent deaths in Iraq through yesterday -- 38 deaths yesterday alone with Dar Addustour counting 12 bombings in Baghad. Al Rafidayn reports that, as usual, Nouri immediately blamed the violence on 'Ba'athists.' National Iraqi News Agency reports that Iraqiya MP Nada al-Jubouri is calling for an emergency session of Parliament to address yesterday's bombings, "These repeated security breaches came as a result of the lack of a way to detect car bombs, which claim the lives of people, in addition to the weakness of the intelligence information."
Today National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, 2 Mosul car bombings have left six people injured, the brother of Iraqiya MP Ahmed Msari was shot dead in Baghdad, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left a third injured, a Mosul car bombing injured two police officers, another Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left three injured, Mosul security forces shot dead 1 suspect, 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja, and a car bomb went off in the Sadr City section of Baghdad. On the last one, Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that the Sadr City bombing resulted in 9 deaths ("including a 7-year old child") and sixteen injured while another Baghdad car bombing claimed the lives of 3 people with fourteen injured. Prensa Latina adds, "Sources of the Ministry of the Interior reported two car bombs exploded almost at the same time near outdoor vegetable sale premises."
Alsumaria reports a bombing targeting a Kirkuk funeral has claimed 4 lives and left twenty-five people injured. Zhu Ningzhu (Xinhua) explains, "The suicide bomber entered the Al Zahraa mosque in Kirkuk, some 250 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and then blew himself up, the police sources told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." Al Jazeera adds, "Relatives of victims from violence the day earlier had come to the husseiniyah to receive condolences. Bombings had killed 10 people and wounded 17 in the city on Wednesday." Kareem Raheem, Mustafa Mahmoud, Suadad al-Salhy, Patrick Markey and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) note, "A Reuters witness said pieces of flesh and torn clothing lay scattered among pools of blood on the mosque floor." In addition, Alsumaria report 1 corpse (shot dead) was found in Kirkuk.
The violence and other issues were raised today in the State Dept press briefing by State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki.
QUESTION: Jennifer, I wondered if I could ask a question on Iraq.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Okay, if you would comment on the deteriorating situation, the spike in violence, the entry of PKK fighters in the north, and in fact, the very hostile rhetoric towards your guest, Erdogan, from Prime Minister Maliki.
MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, the risk of sectarian conflict is always a concern given Iraq’s history. We’ve seen, of course, the recent reports and we condemn the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. This deliberate targeting of innocent people and particular sects in an effort to sow instability and division is reprehensible and our condolences go out to the victims of these attacks and their families. More broadly speaking, we remain, of course, committed to supporting Iraq’s democratic system. We know that in this pivotal time, it’s going to take some time, but we’re always concerned about acts of violence and those reports that we’ve seen in recent days.
QUESTION: Okay. Mr. Maliki accused Mr. Erdogan of being party to – in aiding and abetting this sectarian schism that has taken place in Iraq. Is that something – an issue that the Secretary of State Kerry is likely to discuss --
MS. PSAKI: I have not seen --
QUESTION: -- with Mr. Erdogan?
MS. PSAKI: -- that specific report. I actually have to go shortly to go to this – to go to this bilateral meeting. More to say, I’m sure, on it tomorrow. So let me just take one more.
Moving to the topic of Kirkuk, Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) interviews Kirkuk Governor Najm al-Din Karim. Excerpt.
NIQASH: You’re the governor of one of the most disputed territories in Iraq. By rights, Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution should have solved that dispute by now. But in fact, nothing has been done about it. What are your own thoughts on Article 140 now? Do you believe its dead in the water, so to speak?
Najm al-Din Karim: Article 140 is part of the Constitution and it will never die. The reason nothing has happened is because the Iraqi central government have not conducted a census or a referendum. And the Iraqi Kurdish are also partly at fault. I don’t think Iraqi Kurdish politicians in Baghdad are doing their best – they should be pushing for the implementation of Article 140.
Before any of that happens though we should certainly meet with all parties and explain what’s happening – after all, Arabs and Turkmen make up about half of Kirkuk’s population. If it turns out that Kirkuk is to become part of [the semi-autonomous state of] Iraqi Kurdistan, and such a large number of its inhabitants are opposed to that annexation, then life in the city may never be normal.
Also, I think that setting a time limit for Article 140 was a mistake. The Iraqi Constitution was written in 2005 but it wasn’t logical to think that we would be able to normalize the situation in these areas within just two years. However that doesn’t mean we would give up on Article 140 altogether.
Hawiji is in Kirkuk so let's turn to protests which have been taking place in Iraq since December 21st. Nouri's response to demands for public services, an end to government corruption, releasing the innocent from prisons, etc. has mainly been to have his forces kill a protester here and a protester there. He upped that last month with a mass killing. The April 23rd massacre by Nouri's forces storming a sit-in in Hawija resulted in massive deaths and injuries. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that MP Kamal Saadi (with Nouri's State of Law political slate) has lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission accusing the investigation of the massacre of being biased. Meanwhile NINA reports Iraqiya MP Haider al-Mulla states that they have filed complaints about the massacre with the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Commission and the United Nations. Ali Abel Sadah (Al-Monitor) reports:
Nearly a month following the bloody events that took place in the town of Hawija, the Iraqi judiciary has decided to investigate the circumstances surrounding the events, just as it has adopted the Iraqi Council of Representatives’ report on the circumstances of the Iraqi army’s attack on the protest square in the city.
The Iraqi general prosecution, which is a body of the Iraqi judicial authority, announced on May 13, 2013, the formation of an independent inquiry commission to look into the events of Hawija, and the transfer of the case to the Kirkuk province.
In the US, four years and five days after a man killed 5 US service members -- Commander Charles K. Springle, Major Matthew P. Houseal, Staff Sergeant Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, Spc Jacob D. Barton and Pfc Micheal E. Yates Jr. -- in Iraq, he is sentenced. Monday, Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times) reported US Sgt John Russell had been declared guilty. Dropping back to the May 11, 2009 snapshot:
Today the US military announced a Camp Liberty shooting at 2:00 p.m. Iraq time in which five US service members were shot dead. In a second announcement, they added, "A U.S. Soldier suspected of being involved with the shootings is currently in custody." Luis Martinez and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) encourage people to watch ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson this evening for a report on the shooting. Tom Leonard (Telegraph of London) states three more US soldiers were wounded in the shooting as does CNN; however, Jenny Booth (Times of London) goes with "at least two others were wounded" and she quotes Lt Tom Garnett (military spokesperson) stating, "The shooter is a US soldier and he is in custody." CNN states the shooting took place at a clinic for US service members seeking assistance with stress. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) cites a US military official: "The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident shook up soldiers, many of whom are in their third and even fourth tours. Some broke down in tears, he said." Yochi J. Drezen (Wall St. Journal) draws the conclusion that many are drawing (and they may be right or they may be wrong) which is that it was likely fratricide, "Such crimes were more common during the Vietnam War, but have occurred only sporadically in Iraq. In 2003, Sgt. Hasan Akbar killed two soldiers and wounded 14 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait; he was convicted and sentenced to death. In 2006, Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was charged with murdering two officers in a suspicious explosion in Tikrit, though he was later acquitted. And last year, an American soldier was arrested in the shooting deaths of a pair of other soldiers at a base near the Iraqi city of Iskandariya."
Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) reports Russell has received a life sentence: "As part of the sentence, Russell was reduced in rank to a private and ordered dishonorably discharged from the Army, Maj. Barbara Junius, a military spokeswoman, said." Eric M. Johnson (Reuters) quotes military Judge Col David Conn telling Russell today:
You are not a monster. But you have knowingly and deliberately done incredibly monstrous things.
Sgt. Russell, you have forced many to drink from a bitter cup. That cup is now before you.
Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the judge found the killings were premeditated.
Yesterday, Mike noted the wrongful distortions on ABC News' Jonathan Karl's earlier reporting and Mike noted a new report Karl and Chris Goode did yesterday on the e-mails the White House released:
The emails confirm the ABC News report that the so-called "talking points" written by the CIA on the attack underwent extensive revisions – 12 versions – and that substantial changes were made after the State Department expressed concerns.
The early versions of the talking points, drafted entirely by the CIA, included references to the al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia and to previous CIA warnings about terror threats in Benghazi. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland expressed concerns about including those references in the talking points.
In one email, previously reported by ABC News, Nuland said that including the CIA warnings "could be used by Members [of Congress] to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that? Concerned …"
After some changes were made, Nuland was still not satisfied.
"These don't resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership," Nuland wrote.
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national iraqi news agency
the associated press
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