Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 3, 2021.  LaVena Johnon's murder remains covered up all these years later and the United Nations notes the reality of Mustafa's Iraq: No real justice system and lots of torture.


Starting with LaVena Johnson who was most likely murdered while serving in Iraq.  It's strange, isn't it?, that what would pass for evidence in most trials was dismissed and ignored by the US military which ruled the death a suicide.  The parents have always felt differently and they are most likely right.  Andrea Cavallier (NBC NEWS) reports:

Army Private LaVena Johnson called home every day while she was deployed in Iraq. Her last conversation with her parents was on July 17, 2005. She excitedly told them she would probably be able to come home for Christmas.

“She told us not to decorate the tree until she got home,” LaVena’s mother, Linda Johnson, told Dateline. “We said we’d wait for her, of course. She was so happy to be coming home.”

But she would never make it home.

It was around 7 a.m. on the morning of July 19, 2005, when the doorbell rang at the Johnson home in Florissant, Missouri.

“There was a soldier on our front porch,” Linda told Dateline. “He told us LaVena was dead. And he said, well, he said she had killed herself.”

In April of 2009, Cindy Sheehan spoke with Sara Rich (peace activist, activist to end assault and mother of Suzanne Swift) and with retired State Dept diplomat Ann wright on CINDY SHEEHAN'S SOAPBOX.   
Sara Rich: Well I've always been a human rights activist -- even before she [her daughter Suzanne Swift] joined the military.  And when she joined the military she was told by the recruiter that she -- if she signed up for five years, that she wouldn't be deployed to a combat zone. 
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Sara Rich: And basically she was sent to a combat zone.   Neither of us had any idea about military sexual assault or that there was a term called military sexual trauma -- MST -- or anything about command rape.  Suzanne was more than just harassed, she was actually raped  by her commanding officer in Iraq and we didn't understand quite what was going on but it was she was harassed by one of her commanding officers, raped by another and then harassed by another.  So it was three different men, all who had direct authority over her in a combat zone because she did see combat.  It wasn't  that she was stationed somewhere safe.  She was shot at, she was doing combat patrol.  She was the driver of a Humvee doing combat patrol in Karbala '04 - '05.  And the whole time she was there I kept thinking this isn't right, something's wrong, what can I do and then finally when she got out of Iraq I said "Now can we say something?  Can we do something?" Because she was too scared for me to say something while she was in Iraq because you know we have cases like LaVena Johnson.
Cindy: Absolutely

Sara Rich: Where, you know, women speak out and they're murdered.  So she was too scared to say anything and finally she was being redeployed to Iraq for a second time and her PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma just exploded and she went AWOL instead of returning which was a huge turning point in our whole family.  She refused to go back.  She went AWOL.  We got an attorney and a psychologist and that's when we finally started coming out about the sexual assault and the rape and all of the trauma that she experienced while in Iraq because up until that point it was just too raw for her to talk about.  So she was seeing a psychologist, we had an attorney, we were trying to work with the army to get her so that she could turn herself in and get the help she needed but nobody would work with us so finally the AWOL Apprehension Team called their good buddies down here in Eugene [Oregon] at Eugene police department and they sent people to our home at ten-thirty on a Sunday night and took her in handcuffs.  You know here we have this -- by then she's  how old was she about 22 by then.  A 22-year-old who had been raped, who had Combat Trauma and they put her in handcuffs and threw her in jail.
Cindy Sheehan: She had been raped, she had been the victim of a crime actually while she was stationed in another profound crime -- a crime against humanity, an international crime, the occupation of Iraq.  Were her assaulters, were her rapists and harassers, were they hauled off in handcuffs at any time?
Sara Rich:  No.   [. . .]  They just stripped her of her rank and sent her to prison.
Cindy Sheehan:  And ultimately nothing has happened to the people who raped her?
Sara Rich:  No.  No.  The one, the man who raped her, his wife ended up calling us about a year ago saying she was divorcing him.   I always called him the molester because his name is Mark Lester
Cindy Sheehan: Uh-huh
Sara Rich: And she told me that he had been hired as a police officer in Kent, Washington and so I put a blast to my friends saying, you know, call the mayor, call the police chief and by the end of the week he was fired.
Cindy Sheehan: Well at least he had a little bit of accountability but you know there was Mark Lester that raped Suzanne but actually the entire system raped Suzanne.
Sara Rich: You better believe it.
Cindy Sheehan: And this is an absolute tragedy.  I have read statistics where at least 30% of females are sexually harassed or raped in the military and of course that's probably a much higher number and we read and are still hearing about cases where female soldiers have died of dehydration in Iraq because they don't drink water because they don't want to get up to use the latrine in the middle of the night because they don't want to be raped so here Suzanne was in a war zone battling the resistance -- the Iraqi resistance -- but she also had to battle her own, her fellow soldiers -- her colleagues.  You know, to me, if this isn't a reason to not join the military, I don't know what could be the reason.  So thank you, Sara, we'll come back to you in a second.  Ann, Sara talked about the case of LaVena Johnson and I know you have worked with the family and you know about the case.  Can you tell my listeners about the case of LaVena Johnson?
Ann Wright: Sure I -- I will tell them about it.  Let me just mention though that on the statistics on sexual harassment well over 90% of the women who are in the military say that they have been sexually harassed.  Sexual assault and rape, the crimes of sexual assault and rape, that's where one-in-three soldiers, service members, are saying that they have been sexually assaulted or raped while they've been in the military and these are figures, statistics, that are given by the Veterans Administration
Cindy Sheehan: So but sexual harassment -- sexual harassment is almost 100%?
Ann Wright: That's right.  That's right.  Yes, it is.  The case of LaVena Johnson, a young woman, twenty-one-years-old who had -- or pardon me, nineteen-years-old.  Nineteen-years-old who had gone to Iraq.  Within two weeks of her having been there, she ended up being found in a tent, a burning tent, she had been shot in the head and uh when her parents uh were notified of her uh death uhm they were told she was dead of a noncombat related incident.  [. . .] 104 have been killed in Iraq and 43 have been killed in what they call noncombat related incidents and of that 43, there are 15 of them that when you look at the cases you think, "Mmm, there's something really strange."  And one of them is LaVena Johnson who was found shot in a tent.  When her body came back to her home in Missouri and they had the body at the funeral home, her mom and dad touched their daughter's body.  The mother tried to rub her [LaVena's} hand and the gloves the military had put on her hands would not move and they looked at the gloves and they had been glued on.  And so they went to the mortuary guy and said, "What's going on here?  We want to see why these things were glued on."  And when they cut those off they saw that her hand had been burned and indeed her whole body, one side of her body, had been burned. So how was this noncombat related incident?  Why was she burned? Well over a period of two and a half years as the family kept begging the military for information -- first to get the autopsy, then, later on, to try to find documents about the death.  Try to get information that is held by the military but they won't give it to the families  unless you file a Freedom of Information Act on it.  Well ultimately, after two and a half years they finally got the CD that contained the photographs of her body as her body was undressed in Iraq before it was shipped back to the United States and the -- the body showed that she had been beaten in the face that her nose had been broken, that there were -- the father says that it appears that there were bite marks on her body, that one of her arms had been distended and dislocated  that there were -- that her vaginal area looked as though she had been sexually assaulted and then a caustic acid poured in her genital area.  So, um, the Johnson family has been demanding that the US military review thsi case.  That they do not believe that um, well, the military has said that she committed suicide.  that on one killed her, that she commited suicide. With all of those injuries, she committed suicide.  So I've been assisting the family to try to get a hearing before the army to make the army reopen that case.  And we've gone to Congress to try to get Congress men and women involved in this and it's a real slow process of making the army reopen cases.  You know, the Pat Tillman case, here after three Congressional hearings on his death in Afghanistan  we now know that he was shot by friendly fire, he was shot in the head, it looks like he was assassinated and yet after three Congressional hearings, the parents of Pat Tillman don't know who among that small unit that Pat Tilman was a part of, who killed Pat Tillman and why?  So for a family like LaVena Johnson's who have no political pull, there daughter was not an NFL star, she was just one of hundreds of thousands of young men and women who decide to join the military and then terrible things happen to them.  The family is still pushing very, very hard on the military to try to get more answers on what happened to their daughter. But one thing for sure, they do not believe that she comitted suicide nor do I.  
[. . .]
Sara Rich: It's interesting when I -- when I found out about LaVena's case, it just sent absolute shivers up my spine, thinking this is what would have happened to my daughter if she had told about what was going on to her to her superior officers in Iraq.  This is what would have happened, she would have been murdered, they would have said it was a suicide.  Their birthdays are very close to each other, there a few years apart, but their birthdays are within a couple of days of each other.  And it just, it made me feel so -- so thankful for my -- that my daughter was -- you know, still with us.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Sara Rich: LaVena is not.  And it made me feel the Johnsons and I have a real heart connection.  They're very protective of Suzanne and I think about LaVena every day.  It's just, we have a very deep, very deep connection about that.  And when Ann and the Johnsons and I were going to Congress men and Congress women and senators, trying to talk to them about reopening LaVena's case and showing them that it was not a suicide, it was a murder, they were treated in a way that just infuriated me.  I mean here they have a fallen soldier who is obviously raped and murdered and they were seeing -- taken to these little teeny rooms with junior staffers and weren't even given the respect and care that we as military parents of combat veterans should be absolutely demanding from people that say that they run our country.

Failed by the US military, failed by the US Congress.  Remember that the next time someone hops a high horse and tries to pretend they care about eliminating assault.  Or when they pretend that crimes can be left to military 'justice.'

May 22nd we noted Lavena Johnson who died while serving Iraq and whose parents do not buy the official 'explanation' of Lavena's death.  As KMOV reported (link has text and video) last year, "Lavena was apparently abused" and it was impossible for her to have used the gun she's said to have killed herself with.  Veterans For Peace notes "After viewing the black and white copies of crime scene photos, viewing multiple bruises on her body, and speaking to different military personnel as they prepared for her burial, her father and uncles realized that LeVena had been murdered.  Eight days before her twenthieth birthday, LaVena was beaten, raped, set on fire, shot, and left in a contractor's tent in Iraq.  Her family has been fighting for justice for LaVena for over two years now."  They are asking you to help Dr. John Johnson (LaVena's father) find out what really happened to his daughter in Iraq by calling 202.225.2876 which is Ike Skelton's number, Skelton is the chair of the House Armed Service Committee. This will be picked up tomorrow and be a regular part of the snapshots.

The very people that sent LaVena to Iraq failed her.  They did not protect her in life and they did not protect her in death.  They were happy to send her to Iraq with lies and they were happy to send her body home with lies.

There are many other women who died in the military and it was not suicide despite the military classifying the deaths as suicide.  From December 3, 2009:

 We'll note this from yesterday's snapshot:

In the US, Colleen Murphy searches for answers to her daughter's death. Staff Sgt Amy Tirador was serving in Iraq when she was killed at the start of last month, shot in the back of her head. Russell Goldman (ABC News) reports Murphy has many questions including, "How could this have happened on a secure American base? I don't know why they can't rule some things out. This can't be a suicide. But there are so many probabilities and prospects and guessing games. They've given me no hints, and I can't stop thinking about all the different scenarios. Am I aggravated? Absolutely. Thursday will be a month. I want the truth. I will be patient and I will wait. But I want the truth."

Lavena Johnson was murdered in Iraq. It was not a suicide and the military's suicide 'finding' does not hold up. That finding should have resulted in Congressional hearings. Just as Lavena Johnson was not a suicide it is not likely Amy Tirador would commit suicide by shooting herself in the back of the head.

Amy Tirador, LaVena Johnson and many more.  Their deaths are hidden, their murders are covered up with the false classification "suicide."  

From NBC's report:

While Dr. Johnson has fought for answers in his daughter’s death for 16 years, it has slowed this year due to his recent hospitalization.

But his wife told Dateline that he refuses to give up and continues to fight. While in the hospital, he never misses a chance to tell someone, a nurse, a doctor, about LaVena.

“After a 16-year-long nightmare, now we’re going through this,” Linda said. “Her death has really taken a toll on her father.”

They are hoping someone will come forward with information that will push the CID to reopen the investigation.

Dr. Johnson spoke about his daughter at Protect Our Defenders.

Two weeks ago, INTERSEXUAL MEDIA offered this report.

In other news, Louisa Loveluck (WASHINGTON POST) reports this morning:

Iraqi authorities are routinely denying prisoners of their rights from the point of arrest through prosecution, according to the United Nations, leaving tens of thousands vulnerable to violence and other forms of abuse while in custody.

The report, released Tuesday by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, details a labyrinth of unfairness with detainees often denied due process at every turn. Confessions frequently come through torture. Few detainees see a lawyer until they appear in court. In some cases, they do not even know which authority is holding them.

Four years after the U.S.-backed defeat of the Islamic State group here, more than 40,000 prisoners are packed across prisons in Iraq’s federal and Kurdish regions. Judicial records and court visits suggest that roughly half were arrested on terrorism charges, then tried in a system that affords little effort to weight specific evidence against them.

The U.N. report is based on 235 interviews with current or former detainees, as well as discussions with prison staff, judges, lawyers, families of the detainees and other relevant parties.

At least half the detainees said that they had been tortured during interrogations aimed at eliciting some form of confession. Human rights groups have criticized the practice, saying that detainees frequently end up agreeing to sign documentation saying they have committed crimes that they had no part in.

Remember the above the next time someone shows up pimping current prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi as a success and someone who deserves a second term.

Winding down.  An e-mail asks that we address Glenn Greenwald.  Here's the Tweet:

Robin D'Angelo said today that

-- now the Moral Conscience of our Nation -- has long used the excuse of comedy to justify and spread his white racism to millions of Americans with "Family Guy." See the next tweet as she explains how his racism infected many.

I don't know Robin D'Angelo or her work.  I don't have time to study it.  But, first off, yes, Seth's work is racist.  And Glenn wouldn't know that because he's part of the frat boy mentality.  He was in a pass with a certain crowd of men and adopted their mindsets.  That's always at the heart of any problem I have with Glenn.  I know his kind very well.  The beta gay who wishes he were an alpha.  So he poses and struts.  And refuses to note anything that might be seen as weakness, instead laugh at the jokes at the expense of people of color, of women . . .  

ADDED -- all in bold added at 1:25 pm EST due to an e-mail from someone close to Glenn.  Beta? Yes.  He refuses to break with the pack.  A true alpha would.  What Glenn can do in his professional life, he can't do in his personal.  And that's a real shame for someone with two beautiful children  -- children  who would easily be mocked and made fun of FAMILY GUY.  I haven't called for FAMILY GUY to be banned -- nor would I -- but I'm not going to pretend it's not a racist program -- sexist as well.  To ignore the racism is to be an idiot.  In the early days, they flaunted it constantly.  Back then, it was 'funny,' for example, that Brian was a racist.  The show repeatedly punches down, not up.  If Glenn can't admit that, he's either not very observant or not very honest.  It would be great if he could, as an exercise, try putting himself in the place of any of the groups mocked -- African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, all women -- and see if he could get how offensive the show can actually be.

I would've thought that, by now, as he grew older, he'd have aged out of it.  He hasn't.  FAMILY GUY is a very racist show and that goes beyond the refusal to hire people of color for voice work.  Time and again  the fact that Peter is challenged is used as a cover to get in very racist jokes.  It's reflective of what a certain mindset of  some White men in terms of what they think about people of color.  Is it a funny show, it's a derivative show (thanks, Seth, for turning our years of critiques into an episode -- it was the best episode of the show but still not a great episode) but it's not really a stand out.  (AMERICAN DAD is consistently a better show than FAMILY GUY.)  

Instead of rushing to attack Robin, maybe Glenn could take a moment to consider the actual episodes and the things that are said and done with regards to people of color on the show.

Seth's an embarrassment who can't get a live action hit to save his ass and who imploded as a host on the Academy Awards.  He's also not very bright.  Glenn reTweeted this from Seth:

Tucker Carlson’s latest opinion piece once again makes me wish Family Guy was on any other network. Look, Fox, we both know this marriage isn’t working anymore. The sex is only once a year, I don’t get along with your mother, and well… I’ve been having an affair with NBC.

Tucker Carlson is on FOX NEWS.  FOX and FOX NEWS are no longer linked.  ABC owns former 20th CENTURY FOX in all its variations.  Rupert Murdoch and his family continue with FOX NEWS, they sold the entertainment division to ABC-DISNEY.

And Seth knows that.  But he also know that he could get more money from another network so instead of being honest, he lies in Tweets to try to create some sort of uproar that might force a renegotiation of his current contract or even a cancellation.

He probably thinks, "Hey, David Chappelle got COMEDY CENTRAL to give him more money."  Yes, Seth, he did.  But David is a genius talent.  You're not.  And you never have been.  David's an artist.  On a good day, Seth's a crowd pleaser.  On a good day.

Okay, let's do THIRD.  Last night, Ava and I posted our piece "TV: Xenophobia and racism alive and thriving thanks to PBS and Norman Lear."  We had warned, before we wrote it, that we considered it timely and if we were going to write it, it would need to be posted no later than Monday.  When we wrote it, we worked forever on it and that did not just include pulling out my journals and going through letters Marlon Brando wrote me.  We struggled over many things that could have been included.  Whoopi Goldberg shouldn't have been included in the documentary but she's a Norman Lear groupie and a partisan so they make room for her and let her lie.  She goes on and on about EGOT as though she did something.  She says of herself and Rita, "when we . . ."  No.  No.  No.  Rita had won The Emmy, The Grammy, The Tony and the Academy Award by the mid-70s.  Whoopi doesn't become an EGOT until the '00s.  And this notion that everyone's angling for it, based on what?  That bad episode of 30 ROCK that Whoopi appeared in?  Where she calls someone "colored man"?    Whoopi's a liar.  Lies are told about Rita and the EGOT all the time.  Her Emmy for THE MUPPETS is often called a daytime Emmy.  No, it was not.  THE MUPPETS?  A syndicated show and it was in competition in the primetime Emmys.  Equally true, Rita won a Grammy in the 60s but no one ever notes that.  WEST SIDE STORY won the Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album: Original Cast in 1962.  Rita was part of that film.  Some would argue we're splitting hairs and maybe we are.  That's why we pulled that section and the EGOT section and many more sections that dealt with reality as opposed to the nonsense offered in a film that was supposed to be about Rita Moreno but had Rita take a back seat so that they could make a partisan push instead.   And to glorify Norman Lear as well.  ONE DAY AT A TIME, the reboot, was a show that should have had more seasons, yes.  It was not, however, on the level of WEST SIDE STORY yet it takes up just as much time in the documentary -- because Norman produced ONE DAY AT A TIME and he produced the 'documentary.'  It was an amusing sitcom.  Let's stop pretending it was on the level of a classic.  We praised the show, Ava and I, at THIRD and stand by that praise but this was not one of the huge accomplishments in Rita's career and yet it was treated as such while many other moments were ignored.  Her real life was ignored pretty much throughout.  We noted the documentary never details why her mother divorced her father or the impact of that in the 1930s (he had a series of affairs, that's why he divorced her mother).  They don't deal with her young life in the US -- including, when she couldn't speak English, being taken to an infectious-disease war of a NYC hospital with no idea what was going on.  

They ignore everything.  They might try to argue, "We were trying to get to her career."  Okay, well her career beginning include a lengthy hitch on a radio program but that's not noted.  Her career includes making her Broadway debut at the age of 13 but the documentary doesn't tell you that.  

It has no time for Rita because it keeps working back to its agenda (if Norman Lear wants to make a documentary on Brett Kavanaugh, he should do so and stop trying to use Rita to sneak one in).

After writing it, we pruned and pruned and spent easily ten hours on this.  

And the deal was it would be posted Sunday -- with other items -- and if not we would post our piece on Monday.  They have various pieces.  Monday evening, Jim asked us to do another piece.  On Jimmy Dore.  We were half-way through writing it (it's noting the stupidity of the attacks on Jimmy and the attackers in their glass houses) when we looked at each other and said "No."  We'll do it for next edition.  Finish the piece.  But, no, we're not spending Monday night writing another piece.  I was exhausted Sunday night.  That's why I stopped posting here.  I just fell on the bed around eight or so and put on music.  I was too tired to move.  And now, on Monday, we're going through it all again?

Sorry, no.

The well is dry.  

As for why we didn't post the other pieces that were finished?  The editorial was not done.  So what was the point in posting the other pieces.  They can all go up next week and, as a result, maybe THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW will actually once again publish on a Sunday?  

The following sites updated: