Thursday, June 22, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

On KPFA's The KPFA Evening News this evening it was noted that Watada's unit had shipped off and now he's probably going to be facing charges for refusing to deploy. If you'd like to do something to show your support for Watada, you can click here for more on Ehren Watada and how you can help.

Moving from Watada to the Senate, Mike forwarded a group e-mail John Kerry sent out (you can sign up at for the e-mails) on the vote that went down in the Senate when they were confronted with a proposal (sponsored by Kerry and Russ Feingold) for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by July, 2007:

Just hours ago, the Senate voted on the Kerry-Feingold proposal to redeploy American combat troops out of Iraq by July 1, 2007. Thirteen Senators voted for it.
It was an important step towards ending the administration's aimless, open-ended course in Iraq and having Iraqis stand up for Iraq.
When Jack Murtha stepped up to the challenge of leadership in the House on Iraq, he was alone. Last week, 140 House members voted to support his leadership.
When we in the Senate began the fight to change course in Iraq, we too were almost alone. Today our numbers grew -- and that is progress you made happen.
First and foremost, Russ and I thank you for your support. Over the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of you have joined our effort to bring our combat troops home. Once again, the community has shown its deep commitment to fighting for a better course for America.
We ask you to join us now in honoring the strength and leadership of the Senators who stood with you:
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA),
co-sponsor Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), co-sponsor
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Please call, write, or email these Senators and acknowledge their leadership on Iraq.
Let me be absolutely clear. Russ Feingold and I would have forced this vote even if the outcome were going to be 98 to 2. Ending the Bush administration's disastrous approach to this war isn't about counting votes. It isn't about legislative strategy or electoral calculation. It's about applying constant pressure to change a broken course.
It's about utterly rejecting the desperate tactics of cowardly political operatives like Karl Rove who, as John Murtha pointed out, have no qualms about telling our soldiers to "stay the course" from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices at the White House.
It's about doing what's right.
Karl Rove may worry about losing votes. It's our job to worry about young Americans losing their lives. It's our job to provide a new vision that offers real security for America while giving the Iraqis their best chance for a stable Iraq.
I will keep doing what's right on Iraq, and I won't stop until our troops are home and the future of Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqi people.

Including the link above was at Mike's request (not the text, we would have included that if I'd been the one to come across it). I don't know if Mike's endorsing Kerry for 2008 (that's where the link tells you) or not. (He is Mike's senator, along with Ted Kennedy). I did support Kerry for 2004. I haven't made any decisions about 2008 and, when I do, I won't note it here. People need to follow the news and issues and make their own minds up. (And if members go for different candidates -- as I'm sure they will -- hopefully, we can all handle that as well.)

Confronted with a dauntless insurgency, the Occupation is still--after three years and an outlay of over $200 billion--unable to assure regular supplies of water and electricity to the people it has subjugated. Factories remain idle. Hospitals and schools barely function. Oil revenues have been looted wholesale by America’s local minions, not to speak of a horde of us contractors on the take. Wretched as living conditions were for the majority of the population under un sanctions, under the Americans they have deteriorated yet further, as sectarian killings multiply and minimal security disappears.
In the midst of these scenes from hell, the morale of the occupiers themselves is showing signs of giving way. Denied the luxury of a casualty-free attack from 30,000 feet, American troops are stalemated: confined to barracks, embarking on missions only with air power or ultra-protective ground cover, but still losing lives almost daily. In a February 2006 Zogby poll of American troops serving in Iraq, 72 per cent thought the us should pull out within a year, and of those 29 per cent thought they should pull out 'immediately'. Less than a quarter--23 per cent--backed the official stance, reiterated by the president and most of the domestic establishment, that the us must 'stay the course'. Military reserves are now so depleted that the Pentagon has announced a waiver on criminal records for army recruits and is increasingly forced to rely on mercenaries bought in the marketplace.
The political cover laboriously constructed for the invasion has not fared much better. A first round of elections for a puppet government was boycotted en bloc by the Sunni community. A Made-in-usa constitution had to be rammed through with a manipulated plebiscite. A second round of elections has led to quarrels between the different American clients, and accompanying parliamentary deadlocks. Vast sums spent on bribes to assorted figures and funding for favoured candidates have yielded scant rewards, with the humiliation of the stipendiaries of both the cia and the Pentagon, Iyad Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi, at the polls. At the time of writing, the American viceroy is using a Kurdish president to oust a Shi’a premier who has become inconvenient. Popular cynicism about the 'Purple Revolution' is general, the credibility of the authorities in Baghdad all but invisible.
Not that the liberation of Iraq is close at hand. The continuation of the Occupation has led to an intensification of the sectarian tensions upon which it has rested. Lethal attacks by Sunni on Shi'a and Shi'a on Sunni have now become a daily occurrence, with tragic loss of life in both communities. The initiative for these came at first from deadly bigots in the Sunni resistance. But the originating responsibility for a disastrous slide into communal warfare, alongside and interwoven with a patriotic struggle against the foreigner, lies with the Shi'a clerics--and above all Ayatollah Sistani--who threw in their lot with the conquerors of the country, fatally exposing their communities to risk of retribution from the resistance, so long as ordinary believers followed the direction of their leaders. The cisterns of sentimentality ladled over the collusion of Sistani with Bremer, Negroponte and Khalilzad rival those once poured over that other taciturn, dignified elder of his country, who in the evening of his years protected his people while keeping his distance from the occupier. But the Pétain of Najaf can expect a better fate. Gratitude for his role in saving the American bacon should assure him of the Nobel Peace Prize for which Thomas Friedman, a swaggering champion of the invasion, has recommended him.

The above is from Tariq Ali's "Mid-Point in the Middle East?" (New Left Review) and Dana noted it with "Hint, hint, it's a great opening." It is and it's the official one for this entry. It's Thursday and we're focusing on Iraq and moving outside the mainstream sources with, hopefully, an emphasis upon independent media.

Though it seemed to pass with not too much attention, we did hit the 2,500 mark last week. Though corporate media (particularly the New York Times -- shocking, isn't it?) may have been silent, people weren't. Seth notes Gary Zimmerman's "Sacramentans Protest the 2,500th U.S. Death in the Iraq Occupation" (San Francisco Indymedia):

For the second consecutive Saturday, Sacramento anti-war protesters rallied at 16th & Broadway. The 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm event on June 17th observed the terrible milestone of 2,500 U. S. deaths in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as the killing of over 150,000 Iraqi men, women and children. The original organizers of the 16th and Broadway demonstrations, Stephen and Virginia Pearcy, were back in the leadership role for this demonstration. In addition to the Pearcys, the demonstration and candlelight vigil were sponsored by George McAdow and Ruth Holbrook, Sacramento for Democracy, Not in Our Name Coalition/Sacramento, Veterans for Peace/Sacramento Chapter, Code Pink/Davis Chapter, Code Pink/Sacramento Chapter, Military Families Speak Out/Capital Region, and many others.
As the Pearcys stated in their call for the demonstration, "It is significant that the U.S. death toll has surpassed 2,500. It is not, as White House Press Secretary Tony Snow says, just 'a number'."

Melanie has a question and a highlight. First her highlight -- Norman Solomon's "Their Barbarism, and Ours" (Common Dreams):

The Baghdad bureau chief of the New York Times could not have been any clearer. "The story really takes us back into the 8th century, a truly barbaric world," John Burns said. He was speaking Tuesday night on the PBS "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," describing what happened to two U.S. soldiers whose bodies had just been found. Evidently they were victims of atrocities, and no one should doubt in the slightest that the words of horror used by Burns to describe the "barbaric murders" were totally appropriate.
The problem is that Burns and his mass-media colleagues don't talk that way when the cruelties are inflicted by the U.S. military -- as if dropping bombs on civilians from thousands of feet in the air is a civilized way to terrorize and kill.
When journalists maintain a flagrant double standard in their language -- allowing themselves appropriate moral outrage when Americans suffer but tiptoeing around what is suffered by victims of the U.S. military -- the media window on the world is tinted a dark red-white-and-blue, and the overall result is more flackery than journalism.
Based on the available evidence from Abu Ghraib to Afghanistan to Guantanamo, anyone who claims that U.S. foreign policy does not include torture is disingenuous or deluded.
Reporters for the New York Times and other big U.S. media outlets would not dream of publicly describing what American firepower does to Iraqi civilians as "barbaric."

Melanie saw this and wondered if it would be highlighted. I believe Norman Solomon's made it into an entry anytime someone's noted him in an e-mail. However, I understand her unspoken question (or think I do, let me know if I'm wrong, Melanie). Tuesday, in a morning post, I made the comment about how I wouldn't engage in speculation and Jess attempted to offer a clarification to it, at the bottom of the same post, because it resulted in "tons" of e-mails.

Two US troops died. We noted that. We noted it was described as "barbaric." After that, and this is for those who missed it, there were various press reports saying it was barbaric because ___ happened, or because ___ happened. I saw those when I was doing Monday's snapshot and chose to leave them out. I wasn't interested in speculation on that.

Ever? No, not ever. But not while the family and friends had just learned the news of the death and the details were contradicted in one report after another. And not when one report conflicted with another. I didn't see the point. (Dexy was happy to run with speculation.) Right wing visitors e-mailed to accuse me (Tuesday) of "covering up for the insurgency" by not noting it. Some members wondered if I was saying, "No conspiracy talk!" I wasn't covering up for anyone (whatever happened happened, that's reality but running with this was done, no this was done, no this was done, didn't strike me as reality). I also wasn't saying "no conspiracy talk." Or no speculation. If a member makes a statement of their opinion, it's their opinion. If it goes up here, it's their opinion. It's not going to be corrected. If I make a mistake in my comments, it will have to be. (Which is why I try to word it "Reuters notes . . ." or something else. That's what they reported. More details may emerge later, even conflicting ones. That only requires a new entry not going back into the old one to correct it because it's presented as that's what was reported at that time.)

I hate going in to add links or anything else. I'm looking for any reason to avoid going back in. It's also true that Tuesday was Rebecca's doctor's visit so I probably wasn't into speculation on any level at that moment. That wasn't an attempt to play gatekeeper on facts or theories, just to say while there were so many conflicting reports and the family and friends were dealing with their grief, I didn't see the point in feeding into a cycle of speculation.

When anyone's killed, it's barbaric. We noted that with death of whomever in the bombing (Zarqawi or "Zarqawi"). Others can do what they want (and should) but I wasn't in the mood to offer that they were killed this way or they were killed that way. Possibly Burns was in the mood because it added to the lurid feel of his "report"? I don't know. Considering how many stories the paper has sat on and how many they continue to sit on, it was surprising to me that he included one such "here is how they were killed." (But I'm sure he had an "official" to quote on that.)

Norman Solomon's column is strong and we could have excerpted it even if I disagreed, but I don't happen to disagree with it. Nor am I, as one member feared the speculation note implied/suggested, about to start accepting only "official news outlets." For the record, AP, AFP and Reuters all carried stories (as did others) and they were all in conflict. If Amy Goodman had noted it, we would have noted it here. (The speculation came out after that morning's Democracy Now!) Just to wrap up questions in the last few days, there was less attention to radio broadcasts in the snapshot because I wasn't listening. I flew out to be with Rebecca for her tests. I wasn't home. I noted "*" with a name by radio reports so that it would be clear that someone other than myself had heard them. We do have members who are part of a couple with someone who is visually impaired so I try to always include at least one audio link so that there's the choice of something they can enjoy together. If you hear something, note it, but if it's going in that day's "snapshot" note what was said and what's your summary. There was a thing on Dahr Jamail one of those days that I wanted to include but couldn't tell what he was saying and what was summary. Most of the time, we're looking at one sentence per source. If Dahr said planes and helicopters were flying over Ramadi, that would be enough to note. You don't have to provide a transcript (or attempt to). Let me know if that's not clear. (Acutally, if any of it after Solomon's excerpt isn't clear. Also note that the e-mail on Dahr may have been clear, my mind was on other things and I may not have understood the e-mail.) In conclusion, the speculation contradicted repeatedly and I didn't think it was worth going into -- though I'm sure war pornographers were giddy with each rumor. (Others were simply trying to report what they were being told happened.)

War is death and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. That doesn't mean "Oh, things happen, live with it." That does mean we shouldn't look away from the realities of war.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American military fatality count had reached 2500. Tonight? Who knows. It says 2510 at ICC. It was 2511 this morning. (Amy Goodman and the AP had noted 2512.) We've had at least ten deaths since last Thursday and since the AP does their own count, I'd be inclinced to believe the 2512. Iraqi death toll? Until the administration releases the figures that they are keeping, we just have press reports.

The AP is offering a rundown of investigations and a summary of each. Ishaqi is concluded so we won't note that. (There are calls for it to be reopened which the AP doesn't note.) Hamdania is the one that led to eight being charged with murder and kidnapping (this is where they reportedly pulled a man from his home, killed him and then planted things on him to make it appear he was an "insurgent"). The two other investigations are:

Haditha: Investigation is ongoing into allegations that two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. Marines in the western town of Haditha on Nov. 19. Iraqi witnesses say after a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb, troops went house-to-house and shot occupants as well as others outside. A lawyer representing families of some of the victims said three or four Marines carried out the shootings while 20 more waited outside the homes. The military is also investigating if there was a cover-up in the incident.
Salahuddin: Four U.S. soldiers have been charged in connection with the May deaths of three Iraqis who were in their custody. The detainees died during an operation near the Thar Thar Canal in northern Salahuddin province on May 9. A noncommissioned officer and two soldiers were charged June 19, and another soldier was charged June 21. All four face charges of premeditated murder. They are in pretrial confinement awaiting an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury investigation.

On Haditha, we have a number of highlights. Before we get to them, let's note a few things. AP reports that Costa Rica, which initially supported the illegal invasion of Iraq, has asked the United States to take it off the list of countries supporting the war. The matter went before Costa Rica's Supreme Court and the verdict was to remove it:

While the U.S. government removed the Central American nation from the list of the so-called "coalition of the willing" in 2004, it still appears in archive documents and on related Internet Web sites that haven't been updated.

Steven R. Hurst reports for the AP that, in Mosul, " At least 25 people have been executed gangland-style in Iraq's third-largest city this week, with residents gunned down in ones and twos and bodies found scattered throughout Mosul." There are also reports of deaths being down at checkpoints (in other articles). Since Giuliana Sgrena is visiting the United States currently, it's likely they might want to say that (and there's no hard data on the claim). (Sgrena's the Italian journalist who was kidnapped in Iraq and then, when released and traveling to the airport, her car was fired on by US troops and Nicola Calipari was killed -- Sgrena herself was wounded. The US has maintained that there was a checkpoint. Others maintain differently.)

From Democracy Now!'s "Kidnapped in Iraq, Shot by U.S. Forces: Italian Journalist Giuliana Sgrena Says U.S. Army Destroyed Shooting Logs; Wants to Meet Soldier that Killed the Man that Saved Her, Italy's No. 2 in Military Intel:"

AMY GOODMAN: And one other question on the issue of what happened that night: Aren't there Army logs, Army diary, that is kept that night, a record of what happened?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. During, of course, all the commands during the -- when there is a patrol, when there is a checkpoint, there is a recording of all what happened during -- all the commands, the communication exchange. And when the -- there was a commission, inquiry commission, made by Americans, and they accepted two Italian inside this commission, but when they asked where are the taping of this communication, they said, "Oh, normally we destroy them, because we can't keep all these recording." But if there is a man killed, it's very strange that the recording of the communication disappeared and there is no sign of this communication, because from that we could know what happened and who was the fail, who was the responsibility.
AMY GOODMAN: They say they destroyed the tapes, everything?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. Because they say, "after" -- when finished the duty -- "we destroyed."
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, this was a massive event, even for the United States. I mean, here was President Bush's -- one of his closest allies, his Prime Minister Blair of England and the prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi. Calipari was very close personally, as well as professionally, to Berlusconi, and Berlusconi for one of the first times was outraged at Bush, and this was immediate that night.
AMY GOODMAN: Yet they say they destroyed the Army logs, the Army diaries of what happened, the record?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. And they destroyed -- when the two Italian named by the Italian government to participate in this commission, they arrived in Baghdad. Also, the place where happened the so-called accident, it was cleaned. No bullet there, nothing at all. And they ask why. Normally, you leave all the place of the crime.
AMY GOODMAN: A crime scene.
GIULIANA SGRENA: They said maybe they can -- all the wheel of the -- all of the --
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, of the car. So it's really -- I don't know. It's something more than hidden the proofs. It’s something that --they think that the Italians, they are stupid, I think.
AMY GOODMAN: Where is the car?
GIULIANA SGRENA: The car now is in Italy.

Now Haditha. We have three views on it. First up, Bonnie steers us to Rahul Mahajan's "Haditha Is Arabic for My Lai" (War Times):

One day in November 2005, Marines in Haditha decided to take revenge for the death of one of their comrades from an IED by deliberately murdering 24 innocent, unarmed men, women, and children. They went into their houses and shot them at close range. Adults begged and pleaded and attempted to save their children by shielding them with their bodies, praying to the same god the soldiers pray to.
Afterward, the Marines lied to cover up their actions. The eight helpless men they slaughtered became "insurgents." The other 15, necessarily "civilians" because of age or sex, they first claimed were also victims of the same IED; later, some were supposed to have been "collateral damage" of a supposed "exchange of gunfire" with said "insurgents."
Unluckily for them, a journalism student had taken video of the bodies in the Haditha morgue, with images that showed victims shot in the head from close range in execution-style killings. According to Rep. John Murtha, speaking last week to the press and on Hardball with Chris Matthews, the military investigation of the incident will uphold the above claims.
Although Murtha was much more interested in making excuses for the Marines because of the stressful nature of the situation they were being put in than in talking about the actual incident, the old militarist deserves credit. When Matthews tried to spin the incident, Murtha calmly corrected him and said, no, there was no battle, no exchange of gunfire, no explosion -- the troops killed 23 people "in cold blood." When Matthews asked him if this was like My Lai, Murtha quite honestly said it was.
Indeed, the parallel to the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam War, where American soldiers slaughtered up to 500 Vietnamese civilians, lining men, women, and children up to be machine-gunned, is inescapable. The scale is smaller and most likely no women were raped this time, but the bestiality of the Haditha massacre is equivalent.
Now is not the time to bleat about our "support" for "the troops." These particular depraved murderers deserve the best of medical care when they get home -- but they should get it in prison.
Although for most Americans My Lai has somehow become a metonym for all American crimes in Vietnam, the truth is that My Lai was simply the tip of the iceberg. Smaller-scale massacres were common; in some areas, the indiscriminate killing of Vietnamese was standard operating procedure.

Patrik notes Claire Schaeffer-Duffy's "Haditha is no anomaly" (National Catholic Reporter):

A number of details about the episode at Haditha are now well-known. From official accounts, we know that on the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, an IED, or improvised explosive device, buried in the road, exploded under the last vehicle of a four Humvee Marine convoy, instantly killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazzo and seriously wounding two others. Within hours of Terrazzo's death Marines raided several houses within the vicinity of the detonation, ultimately killing 24 people, according to Marine officials. Among the dead were pajama-clad women and children shot in the head; an elderly man in a wheelchair shot nine times; a group of girls 1 to 14 years old; and four young men and a driver, who, evidence suggests, were either shot while in their car or executed just outside the vehicle. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating to determine whether criminal wrongdoing occurred.
The coverage of Haditha in the American mainstream media has been curious, full of carefully documented details and questions: How did this happen? Who is responsible? U.S. troops have killed Iraqi civilians many times but what offends us here is the intimate way in which the Marines did their killing, shooting their victims at close range while they slept.
"They actually went into houses and killed women and children," said Representative John Murtha, D-Pa., who said he was briefed by Marine commanders. With an interview with the Washington Post Vaughan Taylor, a former military prosecutor and instructor in criminal law at the Army's school for military lawyers, called the episode at Haditha "My Lai all over again."
This is war all over again and Haditha is no anomaly. It is just one brutal episode among thousands of brutal episodes played out on either side of the battlefield. What happened in Haditha is the inevitable consequence of our choice for war. We may take offense at the deliberate manner in which the Marines did their killing, but the bombs and cluster munitions used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq yield the same results. They crush the heads of sleeping toddlers, shatter the bones of children, generate a heat so severe that sometimes bodies fuse together and you cannot tell which limb belongs to which head.
While news of Haditha broke, the Western mainstream press began reporting other allegations of U.S. attacks on Iraqi civilians: The March shootings of 11 family members in the town of Ishaqi. The April abduction and execution of an Iraqi man in the town of Hamandiyah. Coalition attacks on civilians have become a "regular occurrence" said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a charge Time called "startling."
Here in America, we have this delusion that war is a contained venture, waged primarily by professional soldiers who are trained to thoughtfully snuff out the bad guys while a grateful civilian population cheers them on. Theological arguments help sustain our delusion (Wars can be just, the priests say); so too does our language. Invasions are "operations," weapons are "surgical," dead civilians "collateral damage." No matter how many times civilians are "accidentally" killed by bombs, by checkpoints gone awry, by all the countless catastrophes that inevitably occur when weapons abound, we exempt ourselves from the moral consequences of our warmaking by saying, "We didn't mean to kill the innocent."
In an Ipsos poll taken June 5-7, 63 percent of American adults surveyed said they thought the killing of civilians by U.S. troops only happened in "isolated incidents." Sixty-one percent believed U.S. troops were doing all they could to prevent the targeting of civilians.

And rounding out the Haditha views, Trevor notes Nick Schou's "We Respond to Register Letters!" (OC Weekly):

On June 1, Orange County Register letter writer Steve Gick of Lake Forest responded to the tragedy. "I wonder if the 'rules of engagement' are partly to blame for the killings in Haditha," Gick said. "During the Vietnam war our military was hamstrung by the 'rules of engagement' forced on them by politicians. U.S. servicemen often had to wait until they were under fire before they could attack the enemy. The situation in Haditha sounds similar."
According to Gick, the Marines who went on a killing spree in Haditha can’t be blamed for their actions because the town had obviously been "providing a refuge for terrorists, foreign infiltrators, and enemies of the Iraqi people and coalition forces." Gick acknowledged that it "is altogether possible that our Marines may have reached a breaking point and overreacted," but speculated that most "other governments and military forces would have leveled Haditha months ago"--which might be another way of saying the massacre was too little, too late. He ended his letter with a question that demands serious consideration: "Could it be that the situation in Haditha warranted a harsh response?" he asked.
Since the Register has a policy of not responding to readers, we thought we'd answer Gick's question. First of all, what happened in Haditha is a perfectly predictable consequence of sending heavily armed young soldiers into a hostile country full of insurgents who are often indistinguishable from the innocent civilians we're supposed to be liberating. In Iraq, U.S. firepower has so far resulted in tens of thousands of dead Iraqi non-combatants--some estimates place that figure upwards of 100,000, compared to less than 3,000 U.S. dead. In Vietnam, American planes dropped more bombs on South Vietnam than were used by all sides in World War II. We lost 58,000 troops and left behind 2 million dead Vietnamese civilians.The "rules of engagement" to which Gick refers were mostly non-existent, except on paper. In fact, much of South Vietnam consisted of so-called "free-fire zones," where U.S. soldiers were free to shoot anybody they encountered. This resulted in countless murders of innocent civilians, most of which were covered up by the U.S. military, which simply included them in their increasingly inflated "body counts" of confirmed enemy kills. The most egregious case--one with eerie parallels to the Haditha massacre--concerned an elite U.S. Army outfit called Tiger Force, which committed the largest number of murders during the war. The unit's exploits were covered up by the Army and didn't become public until October 2003, when the Toledo Blade discovered the Army's decades-old investigation of the unit and interviewed numerous Tiger Force veterans and Vietnamese massacre survivors.
Over several months in 1967, the U.S. Army sent the elite Tiger Force into the Song Ve Valley south of Da Nang and a patch of jungle near Tam Ky. Their job was to clear the areas of Viet Cong, and help the South Vietnamese government "resettle" local villagers into "strategic hamlets." The unit didn't see many Viet Cong during their mission, but they did run into lots of villagers who refused to leave. Out of frustration, Tiger Force soldiers began executing villagers, including--as in Haditha--unarmed elderly people, children and infants. While most of the killings were covered up, some soldiers refused to participate and were so sickened by what they saw that they informed their superiors.
But after realizing that hundreds of murders had taken place, the Army buried the Tiger Force's routine massacre of the Vietnamese. Nobody was ever charged with a crime. President Bush recently said he will make sure the Marines who killed people in Haditha will be punished--"if laws were broken."

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is having their national convention in Chicago, August 4-7th. Among the items to be discussed include this highlight Bryan e-mailed to note:

Proposal to Support All War Resisters
Introduction to the Proposal: As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan carry on, with no end in sight, there is a growing solider rebellion spreading throughout the military. With high numbers of soldiers who believe that the war against terrorism is either wrong or misguided, and over 5,500 soliders deserting the military, there is an increasing need for a network of support to continue to grow for all those who resist these and future wars.
Two examples of this rebellion:
Army Specialist Suzanne Swift
Police in Eugene, Oregon have arrested 21-year-old Army Specialist Suzanne Swift for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. Swift served in Iraq for year but decided she could not return and went AWOL. Not only did she feel the war lacked purpose, Swift said her superiors repeatedly sexually harassed her while serving in Iraq."
Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada
On Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. He announced his duty to disobey the illegal order to deploy to Iraq in coordinated press conferences in Tacoma, Washington and Honolulu, Hawaii via a video taped messaged due to a direct military order not to attend the pre-scheduled Tacoma press conference. Regardless, Lt. Watada's public statement was shown on a large monitor for the national press."
Read the rest of 'Proposal to Support All War Resisters' »

Rachel writes that she's not trying to "be like a dog with a bone" regarding her highlight. I don't think she is and at least one other member's also following this issue. I'm sure those that knew Patrick Ryan McCaffrey wish more people would pay attention. If you see something on the case, Rachel is trying to follow it so note it and we'll highlight it. She notes "Soldier was killed by troops he trained" (Palo Alto Online News):

Army Spc. Patrick Ryan McCaffrey gave up his job at a Palo Alto body shop to join the Army out of patriotism, and was killed in action in Iraq on June 22, 2004.
Almost two years to the day later, the government is now reporting that McCaffrey was killed by Iraqi soldiers he and other Americans had helped train, several news outlets reported today. The initial report was that he had been killed by insurgents during a night patrol.

Andre D. Tyson also died in that attack. With more on those two deaths, Mia highlights Marjorie Cohn's "Friendly Fire Ambush" (CounterPunch):

Sergeant Patrick R. McCaffrey, Sr. and First Lieutenant Andre D. Tyson died on this day two years ago in Balad, Iraq. Back then, military officials reported that enemy insurgents ambushed them. The Army subsequently conducted an investigation and learned the men were targeted and killed by Iraqi troops they were training. Although the Army completed its investigation on September 30, 2005, it failed to clarify the initial notification to the families for nine months. It took a May 22 letter from Senator Barbara Boxer's office to force the Army to finally come clean.
A month before he died, Patrick told his father that Iraqi forces they were training had attacked his unit. When he filed a complaint with his chain of command, Patrick "was told to keep his mouth shut," his mother said.
After Patrick died, his parents conducted their own investigations. The Army denied requests to see autopsy reports. The McCaffreys persisted. They talked to soldiers in their son’s unit and managed to learn what really happened.
Bob McCaffrey was informed by members of his son's company that insurgents were offering Iraqi soldiers about $100 for each American they could kill.
"Iraqi troops are turning on their American counterparts," Bob said. "That puts a knock in the spin that the White House is trying to put on this story -- how the Iraqis are being well trained and are getting ready to take over."
Nadia McCaffrey learned that after her son was shot, a US truck arrived. It picked up Lt. Tyson, who was dead, but did not take her son who was still alive. The truck returned later and took him to the base, where he bled to death.
Yesterday, Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman and three other officers visited Patrick's mother to deliver the official report. "It was overwhelming," Nadia told me. I had to live through the whole thing again."

And lastly, Clint notes this from Democracy Now!'s "Kidnapped in Iraq, Shot by U.S. Forces: Italian Journalist Giuliana Sgrena Says U.S. Army Destroyed Shooting Logs; Wants to Meet Soldier that Killed the Man that Saved Her, Italy's No. 2 in Military Intel:"

JUAN GONZALEZ: I'd like to go back to -- obviously, this was one incident in this enormous tragedy that is the invasion and occupation and the war in Iraq, and you were there to try to report on what was happening to the civilians in Iraq. Could you talk a little bit about what you were trying to do in Fallujah and what you found in your reporting before you were kidnapped?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. Usually I was more interested in seeing what was happening behind the fighting, because normally we know the fighting but not what happened behind, and overall about the destruction of Fallujah, as it was really difficult to go to Fallujah at that time. We had the report only of the journalists embedded with the troops. So I was interested to have the stories of people that were in Fallujah or they were refugees but they got the story of other people from there.
So I was going around to look for these people. And before I got some stories in Sadr City by other people that knew, and then they told me that in this mosque, in the campus of the university around the mosque, there were a lot of refugees. And so I went there to get information to interview these people and to get stories. These people were very hostile because they were very against -- after this destruction of the city, they were very -- they didn't want to speak. "How we have to speak? You will help us to reconstruct our city. You are here for what? You are [inaudible]," so I tried to explain to them that I wanted only to know the situation, to let know to the people, to the public opinion.
AMY GOODMAN: This was after the siege of Fallujah of November 2004.
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of thousands of people forced out of the city.
AMY GOODMAN: Not to mention the numbers that were killed inside the city. So these refugees had come to Baghdad and were living around this mosque.
AMY GOODMAN: So how did you get into the area even to talk, into this kind of refugee camp?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, before I had to ask the permission of the sheikh of the mosque, the religious man that was helping these people, because that was an organization of the camp, and they told me that I could speak, and even if it was difficult. After a while, when -- because they asked me, but if you are a spy. I am not a spy, but I can't show you that I am not a spy. So if you believe me. Well, if not, don't speak. And there were a lot of woman that started to speak to me and children and then also men. So they were telling me the story, the stories. Some stories I knew before about the use of this white phosphorus. And another time, in Fallujah always, they told me about the use of napalm. And at the time it seems to be just propaganda of Iraqis, but then the use of napalm was confirmed by the Pentagon.
AMY GOODMAN: Of napalm.
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. Even if in a different formula than the one in Vietnam. And also the white phosphorus, it was confirmed by military, by soldiers, American soldiers that were fighting in Fallujah. So it was true. But at the time it was not so known that this kind of weapons were used in Fallujah. But we have seen the image, you know, the picture of people killed in Fallujah, and it seems to be killed by some kind of weapons that were not normal weapons, because you see that maybe they are burned, but that the dresses, they are still normal, not in touch. So, some elements like that. But, I mean --
AMY GOODMAN: So you were investigating this, and then what happened?
AMY GOODMAN: When were you kidnapped?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Just after these interviews, when I tried to go out from the mosque, from the campus of the university, as there is like a checkpoint --
JUAN GONZALEZ: And you were alone or were you with other journalists?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No. I was alone. I was with my translator and my driver. But before, at a certain moment, I found another journalist, a friend of mine, a photographer, and was the one that gave me the information of this place where I could find the refugees, because he used to go there to take pictures. So I was a little bit -- I felt sure because also the photographer is here, so there is no problem, even if the situation it was not so comfortable.
And then the photographer left just a quarter of an hour before me, because I had to speak to the sheikh, because he gave me the permission to speak to the people, so I wanted for -- it’s normal if some people give you the permission to speak to him and to thanks for this help. And so I spent -- me, I spent some quarter of an hour, 20 minutes more than my friend.
And when I left -- he was with escort, because he was working for an American matters. So me, I was without escort. I was with my car, but I didn't feel insecure. And when we left, there was this block they use for control entering and going out, and they are three block of cement, three blocks. And when we arrived at these blocks, two cars -- two or three cars, I don't remember -- they were blocking the go out.
AMY GOODMAN: The exit.
GIULIANA SGRENA: The way out. Yes, the exit. And so they stopped us, and it was very difficult to go back, because it’s like a place where they control. And so I -- and then I was calling my newspaper to tell them that I did good work and also some friends that were waiting for me, they invited me for lunch in the hotel. And as I was calling, I was a little bit confused when I saw that the driver was escaping and somebody was shooting against him. And then came a very big man and took me from the car and bring me to the other car.
AMY GOODMAN: And that's how you were kidnapped?

Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)

Oops. One more thing. Kat called to note Wally's latest which we'll post in full (he's given permission before and his only request is that his "Recommended" be included in full):


Recommended: "Democracy Now: Giuliana Sgrena"
"NYT: Zernike takes her cab (and readers) for another ride, Burns plays Court TV"
"Other Items (Giuliana Sgrena on Democracy Now! today)"
"Rush post"
"A number of topics"
"Kidnapped in Iraq, Shot by U.S. Forces: Italian Journalist Giuliana Sgrena Says U.S. Army Destroyed Shooting Logs; Wants to Meet Soldier that Killed the Man that Saved Her, Italy's No. 2 in Military Intel"

The e-mail address for this site is