Sunday, January 09, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

Saturday Moqtada al-Sadr gave his big speech in Najaf. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports he declared, "Repeat after Me: No, no, to the occupier. Let's have all the world hear that the Iraqi people reject the occupier." Apparently the crowd had their own chant of choice because instead of repeating "No, no, to the occupier," they went with "Down, down America!" He went on to note that only his Promised Day Brigade was "permitted to conduct operations and only against US forces." There's a great deal -- as usual -- in Jansen's report and it would be smart to bookmark it and come back to it in August. And if that confuses you, maybe you're a Martin Chulov working for the Guardian. Chulov would do well to read Jansen's article and try to learn the post-invasion history. Meaning? He's reporting on al-Sadr's threats to leave Maliki's government should the US stay beyond 2011. Guess what, Chulov, al-Sadr left Maliki's government in 2007 for just that reason. It didn't topple then either. We'll address that and Rebecca Santana's conclusions for AP and Gulf News' opinions in a snapshot this week (hopefully tomorrow) Today Chulov notes:

There have, however, been calls for an ongoing US military training and mentoring role in Iraq from influential players, such as the chief of staff of the Iraqi Military, Lieutenant General Babakir Zebari who said that some US troops may be needed for at least another decade.
"I said that [last year] and I still say it," he told the Guardian. "This is my opinion as a military man. It is not advice for the government. At the end of the day it is their decision."
A significant issue for both sides is who will control the air space over Iraq. At the moment, Iraq has limited control and is considered unlikely to have the capacity to manage all its air space at the time of the scheduled US pullout.
For now, neither Washington, nor the US embassy in Baghdad are willing to talk about a new deal.

Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) focuses on the people and finds a number of Shi'ites aren't thrilled with al-Sadr's return. We'll note this section of the article:

For Abu Muhanned, 47, a resident of Maysan province, it was as if the clock had been set back to 2006, when Sadr's militia controlled neighborhoods and even some cities, with residents living at the mercy of pro-Sadr street commanders.
Already, Abu Muhanned, who did not give his full name out of fear of the fundamentalist religious movement, says he has seen Sadr's supporters again exert their will in Maysan's capital, Amarah. Now as part of the deal that brought Maliki, a Shiite, back for a second term, the prime minister has handed the province's governorship back to the Sadr movement.
"We feel that Maliki sold us out by appointing a governor from them," Abu Muhanned says, remembering how Maliki ordered troops to fight the group less than three years ago.

On today's Weekend Edition (NPR), Kelly McEvers gave a report that has to be heard to be believed. It was so damn laughable. She left out who is allowed to attack US soldiers, she left out so very much. She's becoming a huge embarrassment and cobbling Lebanon onto your report? Doesn't show that you know what you're talking about. In fact, quite the obvious. it demonstrates that Iraq is beyond your grasp but you know Lebanon, so you head to your comfort zone and pretend like you've offered something of value. It's only in the last 26 seconds that McEvers finds anything other than fan club bulletins (his beard! and his robe! and their colors!) to pass on. (Can we get Joan and Melissa to next review the total ensemble and call that reporting as well?) And, excuse me, exactly when the hell did we decide Iraq's LGBT community didn't matter? Why the hell has the return of the man who issued an order for his followers to 'cleanse' the community of gays and lesbians resulted in not one word on Iraq's LGBT community?

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 Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4433. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4435.

Reuters notes
a Baghdad roadside bombing injured one police officer and that 1 member of the Badr organization was shot dead outside his home.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes this on Bradley Manning:

US tortures its own soldier over Wikileaks

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A still from the video of a US massacre of civilians in Baghdad, which it is alleged Bradley Manning passed over to Wikileaks

A still from the video of a US massacre of civilians in Baghdad, which it is alleged Bradley Manning passed over to Wikileaks

by Simon Basketter

Bradley Manning, a 22-year old US army private, is being tortured by the US state.

He is accused of leaking classified documents to the Wikileaks website. Manning has been held at the US Marine jail in Quantico, Virginia, for five months—and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait.

The US is torturing Manning to get him to say that he gave secret files to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This will make it easier to prosecute Assange for espionage.

Assange is on bail in Britain as the Swedish government attempts to extradite him on charges of rape, which he strongly denies.

There were protests in defence of him and Wikileaks outside the court in London at the end of last year.

Manning is held as a “maximum custody detainee”, which is the most repressive level of US military detention.

According to his lawyer, “He is being held in intensive solitary confinement.

“For 23 out of 24 hours every day—for seven straight months—he sits completely alone in his cell.

“Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred from exercising and is restrained if he attempts to exercise.

“He’s being denied a pillow or sheets for his bed and access to news reports in any form.

“He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

“If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

“He does receive one hour of ‘exercise’ outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk.

“Private First Class (PFC) Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

“When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards.

“His clothing is returned to him the next morning.”

Manning is sleep deprived and is now taking anti-depressants.

He was arrested after allegedly confessing in an online chatroom to leaking a video of a US air raid in Iraq.


The graphic and disturbing video shows the events of 12 July 2007.

As a group of men stroll down a Baghdad street, two US army helicopters open fire, repeatedly shooting at them and gunning one down as he tries to flee.

They killed 12 people, including two journalists who worked for the Reuters news agency. Two children were wounded.

One shooter says, “Ha, ha, ha, I hit ‘em.” Another comments, “Look at those dead bastards.”

“Nice,” another responds.

Later a van comes past and Iraqis stop to try to help one of the wounded.

The helicopter opens fire again. Two children inside the van were wounded and their father was killed.

When US ground troops arrive they discover the children.

One of the crew says, “Well it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle.”

The army claimed the dead were all insurgents and that they had been killed in battle.

But a supposed rocket-propelled grenade was in reality a camera lens. What the US claimed was an AK47 was in fact a camera.

This is just one example of the violence of US imperialism.

The US has committed countless atrocities during its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But getting the information out has led to Bradley Manning being jailed.

The other information Manning is accused of leaking includes a video of a 2009 US airstrike in Granai, Afghanistan, which killed as many as 140 civilians.

The US suspects he leaked a cache of nearly 100,000 field reports from Afghanistan, about 260,000 diplomatic cables and as many as half a million documents relating to the Iraq war.

Politicians globally professed gradations of outrage at the publication of the material.

Some in the US even called for Wikileaks to be treated as a terrorist organisation.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Wikileaks reveals British government trained death squad

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