Starting in England where BBC reports, "A public inquiry into whether UK soldiers unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians in 2004 has heard their relatives no longer believe there is enough evidence to back the claims." This is the Al-Sweady Inquiry. This is not the British's Iraq Inquiry -- whose results have still not been released -- or the British inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa. We covered those at length in multiple snapshots. We only noted the Al-Sweady Inquiry March 4, 2013 and September 2013. From the first one:
The Metro reports, "British troops killed, mutilated and tortured civilians following a battle in Iraq, the start of an inquiry heard. Graphic images were shown of missing eyes and genitals among the bodies of unarmed men who were taken to an army base." What's going on? An inquiry known as the Al-Sweady Inquiry, named after Iraqi Hamid al-Sweady, a 19-year-old killed in May of 2004. 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."
We covered the other two, utilizing the public transcripts (much more utilized for the Iraq Inquiry) because they had strong merit. We didn't cover Al-Sweady because the case seemed weak. Not false, but weak. If we're going to focus on a trial or inquiry here and do multiple snapshots on it, I have to feel it has a chance to go somewhere. 'They'll never win this,' isn't the concern so much as, 'They don't have the evidence to make the case they're charging.' With Al-Sweady, the evidence didn't seem strong enough to support the claims -- to me, my opinion and I could be wrong and often am. But we have enough to cover without me wasting my time on something I don't believe in. I didn't feel a US trial that's just wrapped up in a plea bargain was worth covering because the evidence seemed questionable. That's not a judgment by me on whether or not it's 'worthy' for the attorneys to pursue or whether it's an important issue. It is me looking at my time and asking if it's worth covering? In the Al-Sweady case the answer was "no."
So we didn't pay attention to this 42 week inquiry. Today ITV News leads with, "Lawyers representing families of dead Iraqis admitted there was 'insufficient evidence' to back their claims British soldiers unlawfully killed civilians nearly a decade ago." The Al-Sweady Inquiry notes today:
Public Interest Lawyers who act for the Iraqi Core Participants in the Inquiry have today (Thursday 20 March 2014) made a statement that they will not submit that, on the balance of probabilities, live Iraqis captured during the course of the battle on 14 May 2004 died or were killed at Camp Abu Naji. Following the conclusion of the majority of the military evidence and current state of disclosure of MoD material, they contend that there is insufficient material to establish that Iraqi civilians were unlawfully killed whilst in the custody of British troops at Camp Abu Naji. The allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi civilians in British custody remain.
It is for the Chairman to reach all conclusions and he will detail findings of fact in his report. In so doing he will draw on all the evidence he has seen and heard, including the statement made today by the legal representatives for the Iraqi Core Participants.
The Inquiry continues and will hear closing submissions from Core Participants on 16 April 2014.
Thereafter, the Chairman will write his report.
The admission does not mean the inquiry was a waste or that other things weren't established during it. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:
The bodies of the dead were taken to an Iraqi hospital the day after the battle – in which weapons ranging from high-velocity rifles to fixed bayonets, were used – the inquiry heard. Many of them were in a horrific state, so horrific that the inquiry has said it will not publish photographs of them.
Some of the relatives of the dead have alleged that they had been killed in the British camp. O'Connor also conceded on Thursday that the detained Iraqis were not mistreated in the British camp.
The inquiry has also heard mounting evidence that some Iraqis captured after the battle were mistreated by British troops. Some soldiers admitted abusing their prisoners, some changed their evidence. The inquiry also heard that commanders of the 1 Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment obstructed attempts by the military police to conduct its own inquiry.
So there was some abuse and that's now part of the public record. At present, there is no proof that anyone was unlawfully killed. Both are important. When abuses take place, they need to be noted. When abuses don't take place but are charged, if the record doesn't back them up, that needs to be noted as well.
Public Interest Lawyers issued the following statement today:
Public Interest Lawyers act for a number of Iraqi citizens who have long been concerned about the circumstances in which family members were killed or mistreated by British troops in May 2004 at Camp Abu Naji and Shaibah Logistics Base.
In November 2009 the setting up of a wide ranging Inquiry was announced to examine those allegations of unlawful killing and mistreatment.
Following the conclusion of the military evidence and current state of disclosure by the MoD it is our view there is insufficient material to establish that Iraqi civilians were unlawfully killed whilst in the custody of British troops at Camp Abu Naji and we have advised the Inquiry of this conclusion.
There remain numerous allegations of violent and other ill-treatment of Iraqi Civilians in British custody which the Inquiry will have to consider. John Dickinson of Public Interest Lawyers said that:
“From the outset the families have had the simple objective of discovering the extent of any wrongdoing and if so how it came about and who was responsible. It is accepted that on the material which has been disclosed to date there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of unlawful killing in Camp Abu Naji”
For more information please contact John Dickinson at Public Interest Lawyers:
Tel: 0121 515 5069
The Associated Press notes, "Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rallied against the U.S.-led war in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the conflict." 964 Eagle adds, "179 British servicemen and women died during operations there." The number of US service members and military personnel the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning]: 4489. Iraq Coalition Casualty Count lists 139 for "Other" countries who sent troops into Iraq. The number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war?
That's a tough one. For one thing, efforts were made to discredit the accepted social science model when it was used for a study The Lancet carried which reported a million deaths. Information Clearing House notes, "Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq '1,455,590'."
But the main problem with a body count? The war hasn't stopped in Iraq.
For example, these events today:
AFP notes, "Late night bombings at a Baghdad cafe left 13 people dead, officials said Thursday." National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing left two police members injured in Mosul, and an Alshallalat car bombing left 1 Peshmerga dead. All Iraq News reports a Ramadi sticky bombing left 1 police officer dead.
National Iraqi News Agency reports an assassination attempt on Colonel Khaled Kinnear in Eshaqi left two of his bodyguards injured, 1 member of the police shot dead in Baquba, assailants in Iraqi military uniforms kidnapped Mayor Salah Sabhan and his son from their homes and killed them outside Hawija, a roadside bombing left two police members injured in Mosul, an armed clash in Jurf al-Sakar left 5 rebels dead and one police member injured, Joint Operations Command announced 8 suspects were killed on the "outskirts of Fallujah," Diyala Police announced they killed 6 suspects "in villages south of Buhriz" and an Alshallalat car bombing left 1 Peshmerga dead, and 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul ("signs of torture").
National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul ("signs of torture"). Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that "five bodies that were found shot dead in the heads and chests in al-Shirqat, a community about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Baghdad."
Today, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:
U.S. Embassy Baghdad
Office of the SpokespersonFor Immediate Release
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad strongly denounces the most recent series of reprehensible acts of terrorism victimizing innocent Iraqi citizens throughout country, including particularly brutal attacks in Hilla, Karbala, Wasit, Mosul, Tuz Khormato, Baghdad, and Anbar. In recent weeks hundreds of Iraqis, including women and children, have been killed or injured by terrorists who pursue their goals through the senseless slaughter of the innocent.
We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured. The United States stands with the Iraqi people and will continue its robust support of the Government of Iraq in its fight against terrorism.
They condemned terrorism. But not Nouri's terrorism. Still they addressed Iraq which is far more than the US State Dept and the lazy ass journalists attending today's State Dept press briefing bothered to do.
Apparently, they couldn't think of a question. NINA reports the military shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left ten civilians ("including three children") injured. Maybe the reporters present could have asked just how many civilians are going to be killed or wounded by Nouri with weapons the US provides?
Maybe they could have asked spokesperson Jen Psaki exactly how long the administration intends to pretend that Nouri's actions aren't War Crimes?
Today, the Council on Foreign Relation's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon quotes former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker declaring, "What we have got is a country that is facing huge internal as well as external challenges and needs the engagement that we effectively promised them through these (Strategic Framework) agreements, through our actions, through our efforts to create for them institutions that are not yet ready to function completely on their own. We have decided we are out, goodbye and good luck. Well, that may not have a happy ending."
If only, Ryan Crocker, if only.
Walking away and washing hands of Iraq would be more humane than arming Nouri with weapons to use against the Iraqi people."
Each day brings injuries and deaths to the citizens in Falluja and Ramadi whose 'crime' is having a home there. It's a War Crime to use Collective Punishment (in this case suspecting terrorists are in Falluja -- a populated city -- or Ramadi -- also a populated city -- so bombing the whole cities to 'get' the terrorists).
Silence is endorsing the War Crimes, silence on the part of the Americans, silence on the part of the world.
The US government arms Nouri -- US President Barack Obama strong-armed Congress to go along -- and he uses those weapons to terrorize and kill the Iraqi people.
Maybe the reporters could have asked for a response to the important report from Ned Parker, Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters):
The video shows a male corpse lying in the dirt, one end of a rope tied around his legs, the other fastened to the back of an armoured Humvee.
Men in Iraqi military uniforms mingle by the vehicle. Someone warns there might be a bomb on the body. One hands another his smartphone. Then he stands over the body, smiles, and offers a thumbs-up as his comrade takes a photo. The Humvee starts to move, dragging the dead man behind it into the desert.
The short video was shown to Reuters last week by an Iraqi national police officer. It captures what appear to be Iraqi soldiers desecrating the corpse of a fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), a group reconstituted from an earlier incarnation of al Qaeda in Iraq.
And that video is only one example of many more. They've been surfacing for some time. The one from the January 31st snapshot continues to haunt me:
On YouTube video has surfaced of Nouri's forces today . . . next to a man being burned alive. Did they set the Sunni male on fire? It appears they're not concerned with putting out the fire so it's fair to conclude they started it. It's the sort of government cruelty that's led Iraqis to protest in the first place.
It continues to haunt me but apparently not those who attend the State Dept press briefings since no one's bothered to ask about it.
Instead, they melt into the US government, meld with it, and pretend that crazy Nouri al-Maliki -- pedophile, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq (installed by Bully Boy Bush in 2006, Barack violated the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term in 2010 after Nouri lost the election to Ayad Allawi) -- isn't crazy and that he's not the terrorist.
In the real world, Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:
The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechervan Barzani, has expressed surprise at comments made earlier this month by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, in which he accused Saudi Arabia of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Erbil on Tuesday, Barzani said: “What are the reasons behind the accusations at this specific time? . . . We have not seen evidence of Saudi sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq before, and we have not seen any evidence proving Saudi responsibility for recruiting or assisting terrorist organizations or groups there.”
Where are those reasons behind the accusations? Nouri was supposed to provide proof.
Last Thursday, Nouri wrapped up his failed, two-day security conference. And did so without proof.
He made the accusations against Saudi Arabia and Qatar in an interview to France24.
Last week, Anadolu Agency reported that Qassem Atta was telling the press, "Iraq will present evidence [of countries supporting terrorism] to conference participants, with lawsuits being a possibility." Poor Atta, head of the committee that did the prep work for the failed conference and now Nouri's also made him a public liar.
No proof was offered.
Arab News reported earlier this week, "Saudi Arabia on Monday denounced Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for accusing the Kingdom of being involved in terrorism, and said the embattled leader was only trying to cover up for his government’s failures and support for terrorist operations in his own country."
As Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi observed, the conference probably cost $100 million -- and he points out:
Some of the Arabs, including those from the Gulf, participated in the conference despite calls for a boycott. This is unfortunate, as well as surprising, after Al-Maliki made an unprecedented and explicit accusation against Saudi Arabia and Qatar regarding their alleged involvement in terrorism in Iraq. These participants have lost a lot and have angered their Arab brothers who are being persecuted by Al-Maliki and who had hoped for them to take a position that reinforces their perseverance and gives them hope. This is especially true of the Sunni Arabs from the Anbar tribes in Ramadi and Fallujah who are being targeted by Al-Maliki's weapons and war planes day and night. In the case of such countries, fear drove them to attend the conference and please Al-Maliki instead of sympathising with the tribes and people who are being exposed to his discriminatory and sectarian policies.
The conference, in terms of appearance and content, did not present anything new; even its final recommendations were merely a regurgitation of exhausted proposals and ideas. As such, it can be said that the get-together was just a public relations exercise with specific objectives, beginning with whitewashing Al-Maliki and his fascist regime's criminal record, but he was unable to achieve this. The second objective was to gather as much international support as possible in order to back him in his failed military campaign in Anbar. Thirdly, it was intended to silence the opposition abroad because any opposition to Nouri Al-Maliki is classified as "terrorism" by him. Finally, it was intended to create some hope that he will not be prosecuted for the crimes he has committed in the past and continues to commit, including crimes against humanity. There are increasing complaints from international human rights organisations and the EU about his actions.
$100 million for a conference when Iraqis live in poverty. $100 million and it was completely wasted because the conference was a failure. As we observed when it came to end last week:
Let's pause on Nouri's embarrassing failures and note what the conference came up with on their last day. NINA explains, "Baghdad first international anti-terrorism conference [. . .] recommended the conclusion of its works on Thursday to promote international cooperation, exchange of information, to respond to the demands of countries to handover of criminals, cooperation and take necessary measures to dying terrorism resources."
A two-day conference and all they can come up with is: Exchange phone numbers?
Most people can accomplish that within ten minutes of entering a bar.
Two days to get digits on a cocktail napkin?
Even when you look for a Nouri success, you still come up with failure.
$100 million to exchange phone numbers.
Chair Bernie Sanders: I've been Chairman of the Senate Committee for a little over a year and the one thing that I've learned is that the cost of war is a lot higher than I think most Americans understand: the people who return come back with a host of issues. Their families have problems that I think many of our fellow Americans don't understand. So let me just touch on some of the things we have done in the past and where we want to go in the future. There was, as you know, an effort to take away a COLA from military retirees. Congress dealt with most of that -- retracted that error. But there still is a problem that for those people in the military now, they will not get the COLA that the veterans -- other veterans -- are getting. We are working to make sure that we address a problem that I know is particularly of concern to the paralyzed veterans, but to all veterans, and that is that some of you will recall that a couple of years ago, Congress did the right thing by passing a Caregivers Act. All of you familair with that? Very significant step. But what we did not do, is we passed that for the post-9/11 veterans -- a good step forward -- but not for the veterans of all generations. And what that means now is that today sitting in California or New York or any place else, there is a 70-year-old woman taking care of a Vietnam vet who was injured in that war. She deserves support. She doesn't get it now and we want to address that issue by expanding the Caregivers Act -- something we heard from many of the organizations. One of the issues that, uhm, I feel strongly about and I know many of the veterans organizations feel strongly about is the issue of understanding that dental care is part of health care. And for many, many years, as a nation -- and within the VA -- we said, 'This is health care, this is dental care, we're going to cover health care not cover dental care.' I think the time is now to begin to address that issue and -- at least in a pilot program -- make dental care accessible to veterans other than those who just have service connected problems. All of us have been concerned about the benefits backlogs. We're going to stay on that, put more demands on the VA so that they fulfill their goal of ending the backlog by the end of 2015. [. . .] One of the great disgraces that we have experienced as a nation in recent years is the issue of sexual assault in the military. We are all ashamed about that. We want the DoD to address it as boldly as they can but we also want to make sure that when women and men leave the service, they get the kind of compassionate care for sexual assault that they need in the VA. Another issue that is out there, from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans some 2,300 men and women were wounded in war in ways that make it impossible for them to have children. They are entitled to have families through in vitro fertilization or adoption or other approaches.
That's Senator Bernie Sanders from last Wednesday's joint hearing held by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee. Sanders comments note some of the issues effecting those the US government deployed to Iraq (and to Afghanistan). The government quickly sent them but it hasn't quickly addressed their issues, has it?
Senator Johnny Isakson was at the hearing and he noted that Post-Traumatic Stress and TBI are the "bad legacies of the Iraqi and Afghanistan Wars" for veterans. He noted other things as wll.
Ranking Member Johnny Isakson: Secondly, several of you have written about the incredible need to for better access to effective mental treatment for veterans. 8,000 veterans a year are taking their life, 22 a day. The Chairman was kind enough to grant me the right to hold a field hearing in Atlanta last August and we had a two-and-one-half-hour meeting with about 300 people present talking about the problems with suicide. The IG's report on the Atlanta VA tied mismanagement at the VA to three of the particular suicides at the VA in Atlanta and that's intolerable. The new director, Leslie Wiggins, is doing a great job of holding the VA accountable in Atlanta and we need to learn from that experience because that's not a problem that's just related to Atlanta, Georgia -- it's related to the entire VA delivery system.
While it's great that veterans needs are noted (be great if their needs were addressed and not just noted), it's amazing how no one wants to champion the war resister.
They're not veterans, they've been stripped of that status. If they're thrown in prison, they're actually under the Armed Services Committees in the House and Senate. So where's the investigation and concern?
Kim Rivera served in Iraq, came back to the US, decided to self-check out while in Texas and went to Canada with her husband and their children. She was seeking asylum. She did not receive it. Instead, Canada forced her out, while she was pregnant and she was thrown behind bars in a US prison. At this point, some people reading will be cheering. I support war resisters but not everyone who reads the snapshot does.
So my challenge to those who don't is, do you think it's okay for Kim or anyone else to be mistreated by the military while they're behind bars? That is what happened.
Bob Meola and Michael McKee (Courage to Resist) reported on Kim
Later in her pregnancy, Kimberly challenged her jailers for violating their own SOPs, refusing her the option of lying down, eating more healthful foods, occasionally removing her heavy outer uniform and avoiding work that would make her nauseated or dizzy.
“In the last month of my pregnancy, they finally put a restriction on my medical order that allowed me to lay down two hours a day. I wrote a big long complaint to the C.O. and the commander came to see me. He was ready for a fight.”
Kimberly’s commander told her he had the power to pick and choose which pregnancy SOPs to follow because she was not having any serious complications. When Kimberly countered that those SOPs were in place to avoid a complicated pregnancy, the commander said he would talk to the medical department, but nothing improved.
The Riveras’ ordeal only tightened when Kimberly went into labor. A female staff sergeant insisted she remain in the room to supervise her prisoner during the birth, despite Kimberly’s requests for privacy.
“She had three meals brought to her and ate in my room,” recalls Kimberly. “It was very disrespectful and unprofessional. If you are undergoing any treatment, other people do not need to be there.”
The sergeant’s presence—and refusal to let Kimberly close her bed curtain—made it difficult for Kimberly to push for her husband to be allowed to be present for the birth, as per the approval of the commander.
“They wouldn’t let me in the room to see Kim or the baby,” says Mario. “I heard the Staff Sgt. talking to one of the lieutenants and some hospital staff about making me leave the premises and trying to figure out how to give Kim more of a hard time.”
Chuck Hagel should hang his head in shame. He's the US Secretary of Defense, this was published over a week ago, he should have been aware of it and had a public response by now.
But he's offered nothing.
And I'm sorry to break it to you, but rules are supposed to be sacred in the military. The fact that this administration and the previous one bred and encouraged contempt for those who took an ethical stand against an illegal war does not allow the rules to be broken.
People should be punished for what they did to Kim.
The military should be embarrassed. Not just because it was harmful to Kim but also because you have people in the military who are not following the rules and think they can do whatever they want. That's insubordination.
Hagel should be alarmed that it happened and launching an investigation to find out how high it went.
Those who want to say war resisters deserve to be tossed in prison because they broke the law by walking away? Well you can make that case but it doesn't let you excuse what was done to Kim?
There is no excuse. And Hagel should be very concerned about what this says about the health of the military today. And Barack should stop posturing and pretending he gives a damn about women. He so obviously doesn't [see "Whose hands are clean in The War On Women (Ava and C.I."]. And the treatment of Kim, made public March 10th, didn't result in one word from him or his spokesperson Jay Carney .
Kim Rivera was not the only Iraq war resister. Others who went public include James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman.
Rodney Watson continues to resist. In Canada, Iraq War veteran Rodney continues to hope for asylum. Yolande Cole (Georgia Straight -- link has text and video) reported in 2011 that it was a little over two years since the US war resister, on the verge of being deported (September 2009), sought refuge at First United Church in Vancouver with his wife and son. He states, "I've been through a lot in my life, and this has been one of the hardest things I've been through, being stuck in these walls. The hardest thing about being stuck here is waving to my wife and son . . . every time they got to the store, or to family dinners, outings, to the park . . . the hardest part for me is saying good-bye." Derrick O'Keefe (Vancouver Observer) reports on Rodney today:
“I saw fellow soldiers depressed or suicidal because they didn’t want to be there, so I felt like there was no way for me to get out, except to go AWOL. I would have stayed in the military if there was a real reason for me to be there, but I felt in my heart and soul that it was not worth me killing or dying for lies.”
That’s why he came to Canada. Here, Rodney found work, got married and had a son. Then, in 2009, he got a letter ordering him to leave Canada -- no later than September 11.
“September 11th was [one of the main] reasons I’d signed up,” Rodney explains. “So when I got the letter in the mail telling me they wanted me to leave my wife and my son, it just felt like a giant slap in the face -- my son [was] a newborn and I love my family and I don’t want to leave them.” The raw emotion of that moment is still evident on his face and in his voice.
That’s when he made the choice to claim sanctuary at First United, so as to avoid removal by Canadian authorities. Four and a half years later, he hasn’t moved. But neither have the politicians in Ottawa.
asharq alawsat newspaper
national iraq news agency
all iraq news