Friday, June 30, 2006

Hard Promises (that's a Tom Petty CD)

Sorry. Elaine and I are both starting late. On the plus side, that's due to the fact that we really need a roundtable in the coming edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. We were discussing a number of reasons why and outlining some features (we is everyone, I'll copy and paste from The Third Estate Sunday Review: "The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot."]. Second, I need to plug Polly's Brew. I always mention Gina & Krista and their round-robin because I know them pretty well. But I had an e-mail from Eddie this week and ended up doing as he was doing. I got the results today and I e-mailed Polly, outlining her what was going on, saying I was writing a column about it, and asking her if she wanted it for her newsletter. She wrote back the sweetest e-mail. So Sunday, when you read Polly's Brew, look for my column too.

What's it on? C.I. covered Nancy Youssef's article that broke the news that the US government was keeping body counts on Iraqis. That should have been big news. Eddie made a point to get the word out on Youssef's article with no success. Thursday, I got an e-mail from him where he talked about the lack of response (some didn't just not cover it, they didn't even respond to his e-mails -- which he forwarded to me and they were nice e-mails). So I wanted to try a few places and did.

Mainly I wanted to try the site that always wants links from The Common Ills. Jess and Ava hate going through the public account because that site always want links. E-mail, e-mail, e-mail. They did a thing not long ago on how Republicans hated the troops because they wouldn't support a proposal condemning amnesty for Iraqis. Actually, to end the war, there will have to be some sort of amnesty. But it was more important to trash Republicans than to get it right.
I have no problem trashing Republicans. But if Dems propose something stupid, I'm not going to trash some Republicans who know it is stupid. But that's how that site works and why I don't link to it. It's a big site. It used to link to The Common Ills. (Last time was in July of 2005.) Though it doesn't link anymore (ask them why) it can't stop plugging anything they do, over and over (ask Jess and Ava). C.I. used to plug it frequently but people got sick of it and kept complaining (in e-mails and in the round-robins). Mainly they were sick of the fact that the site was averaging two or three plugs a week when it hadn't linked to The Common Ills in forever. (They also know that when C.I. stood up for not-yet-a-member-then West, the site went cowardly and wouldn't touch The Common Ills for that reason. Members tried to get things linked repeatedly and would get no response. These are members who used to buy stuff from that site. If that site has problems paying its bills now, if, it might want to think about why a number of people who bought from it stopped buying.) So I was most interested in that site.

I wrote a brief e-mail. Just asking why the body count story by Youssef hadn't been noted. I got a reply this morning saying to write it as a letter. I didn't. I don't like the site, I think it's chicken shit. I always have. I made a point not to link to it when I started the site. (And C.I. was helping me do my links over the phone and even mentioned it to me and I said, "Nope. Don't like that site.") So I didn't write a letter. I just sent links to the story via C.I.'s summary on Monday about it.

And? It's now Friday night. They replied at Friday before noon EST with "Thanks." And? They don't have a word about it. I just checked the site (first time I've gone there in over a year and last time). So you can read about that and the responses from others in my column in Sunday's Polly's Brew. You'll have the usual wonderful stuff in it (and Goldie's got a column too). So make sure to read it and let me say Polly's really nice. (Gina and Krista told me she was and have twice suggested that I should pass something to Polly before. They are very supportive of Polly and Polly's Brew. I am now too.)

The point of my column is that we all assumed (Eddie, Nora, Joan, Carl and others trying to get traction for Nancy Youssef's story) that people didn't know about it, that they somehow missed it. Truth is, they knew. They just didn't cover it. I'm listing every site they tried in the column so you can get how many people could have covered it but didn't. Some of it may make you sad (one in particular made me very sad). But it's not that they don't know, it's that they don't care.

The US government has lied repeatedly and stated they are not keeping figures on Iraqi civilian deaths. Monday, Nancy Youssef found out from a general that this was not true. (She probably found out before Monday, the story ran Monday.) And no one gives a damn apparently. We give a damn in this community. And I think it's only right that we know who will and who will not acknowledge. Outside of this community, it's apparently not news. Well it hasn't been much of a "news week" has it? From Democracy Now!:

Supreme Court Rebukes White House Over Guantanamo Tribunals
In a landmark decision the Supreme Court has rebuked the Bush administration for forming military tribunals to try prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. In a five to three ruling, the court said the military tribunals violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention.

They put it off and they put it off. Finally they rule. And the administration doesn't appear to give a damn.

Justices Say U.S. Must Follow Geneva Conventions
The impact of the case is expected to go well beyond Guantanamo as the justices ruled that the so-called war on terror must be fought under international rules. Legal experts say the ruling challenges the Bush administration's legal defense of harsh interrogation methods, the CIA's secret prisons and the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. The court ruled that the Geneva Convention must apply to detainees captured in the war on terror. [The Los Angeles Times reported "The real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court's holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda -- a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act."] In Thursday's ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote “the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction."

Again, this is the whole point that I think Sandra O'Connor was talking about when she rejected the notion of a "blank check" for the administration. So what changed? Stories about Guantanamo. Continued horrors coming from the prison and the fact that the administration is clearly out of bounds (NSA warrantless spying, financial spying, Pentagon spying on Quakers, peace activists, gays and lesbians, etc.). I think all that combined plus one more element resulted in the Court finally making the decision they indicated they could a while back.

Elaine asked me to put a link in, "Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror:"

DR. STEVEN MILES: Yeah, one of my favorites was, Schlesinger was assigned by the Defense Department -- he was a former Secretary of Defense -- to go investigate human rights abuse there. And he said, ‘Well, of course, America only tortures in the ticking time bomb scenario.’ And so, he said, ‘Here is a great case.’ And he talks about this lieutenant colonel who, after a prisoner was beaten in order to get information about an attack on his unit, stuffed his head in a barrel and then discharged his gun next to the guy's head. Well, this guy was actually working with us and was betrayed, as many of the prisoners were, on a tip by jealous other players. In fact --
AMY GOODMAN: The prisoner was working with the U.S. forces?
DR. STEVEN MILES: Yeah, he was not a prisoner. He was actually a U.S. employee, and somebody else said that he was getting ready to attack our unit. And, in fact, around 85% of the prisoners in Iraq and 60% in Guantanamo are innocent of any insurgency or al-Qaeda activity by the Military Intelligence's own estimate. In this case, we picked up one of our own employees. So Schlesinger said -- well, the guy blurted out a bunch of names after they fired a gun next to his head, and Schlesinger said, “This is a great example of a ticking time bomb case.” But the problem was --
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the ticking time bomb case is what?
DR. STEVEN MILES: Well, you torture a person, and then you get immediate information to protect your unit, okay?
AMY GOODMAN: Because there might be a ticking time bomb.
DR. STEVEN MILES: Right, and in this case they said that this guy knew about an impending attack on this unit. Okay, but the guy gave out names of people who were innocent, just because he was scared. We alienated him as an informant, and none of these names panned out. But here's the follow-up to the story: what they did then was they let this lieutenant colonel off very lightly and they allowed him discharge with a pension, okay? And about a hundred congressmen gave him dinners across the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: This is the man who put this prisoner's head in a barrel, put a gun next to his head in the barrel and shot it off, the prisoner thinking his head was going to be blown off?
DR. STEVEN MILES: Exactly. After torturing him for about an hour. And then what happened was, when they let him off, they had these other soldiers who were beating up prisoners on the mistaken belief that these prisoners were involved in the rape of Jessica Lynch. Jessica Lynch, I don't believe, was raped. But these guys had nothing to do with it, even if she was. They were miles away from this. And what happened was they tied these guys down on the ground or held them down on the ground, while the soldiers kicked them between their legs. Well, since they had just let this current lieutenant colonel off for shooting a gun next to this other guy’s head, they decided to let these soldiers off with very minor sanctions, despite the recommendations of the commanders in the field.
And then what happened was that this same unit was the unit that was sent over to Abu Ghraib and essentially had been given a green light for abuse of prisoners, so that instead of a ticking time bomb being prevented by torture in the case of Schlesinger’s anecdote, what really happened was a green light was given for abuses of prisoners.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Steven Miles, Professor of Medicine at University of Minnesota, a faculty member of its Center for Bioethics, and a practicing physician. His book is called Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror. Can you talk about another horrifying, but famous image of an Iraqi prisoner, and that was the dead prisoner on ice?

So that's pretty interesting, right? Who gets rewarded and who doesn't. What makes a "noble" person to the administration. Have you checked out Tom Hayden's "Shifting Winds on Iraq"? You should. He's covering what's going on with Iraq in terms of this country and the Democratic Party. It's a pretty amazing piece and one of the few things I feel like praising tonight.

I'm pretty tired. Bet everyone else is exhausted. (Elaine's posting and Rebecca's planning on posting too.)

C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. So much so that Jeffrey Snow (US "Army Col.") tells Reuters the obvious, "I think since we have started Operation Together Forward, you'll find that the number of attacks are going up." He's referring to the "crackdown" in Baghdad. As other news emerged, the latest allegations of crimes committed by US forces, Snow began making noise that "bad" media coverage could "lose" the war. Considering bad media sold the war it would be poetic if "bad" media could end it -- poetic but not likely.
Also continuing is the confusion regarding Romania.
AP leads with the withdrawal is now a dead issue which isn't correct. The Supreme Defence Council said no to "withdrawal." Kind of, sort of. What they're doing (today, at this moment) is dropping the number of troops from 890 to 628. That's today's comprise with an emphasis on "today." Why? The council's decision is meaningless if parliament doesn't back it up. (A point Edward Wong failed to grasp in the Times this morning.) For that reason as well as the fact that it will be parliament who will make the decision whether or not the Romanian troops mission is extended at the end of the year (six months away), Calin Popescu Tariceanu (Romania's prime minister) stated: "The decision was only delayed today."
AFP reports: "In a new blow to the coalition, Poland said it will pull its troops out of Iraq by the middle of next year."
Noting the indifference to Iraq (which I would place with the media),
Danny Schechter wonders if we need a "War Clock" to bring the economic costs home since "[t]he drama of human beings dying and a country like Iraq being devastated doesn't seem to register"?
We need something. Iraq's not registering. We'll probably hear some of it even though it's the 4th Weekend so everyone's rushing off to their vacations. What will we hear?
Ryan Lenz (Associated Press) reports: "Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq" in Mahmoudiyah. The alleged crimes are said to have taken place in March and the five are alleged to have burned the body of the rape victim.
CNN is reporting that it was a "deadly" day for children, noting that a clash "between gunmen and Iraqi soldiers left a teenage girl dead" in Latifiya and that one of six corpses discovered in Baghdad was "a boy believed to be between 4 and 6. . . . shot . . . signs of torture." Corpses? AFP reports that four corpses were discovered in Al-Rashaad, near Kirkuk ("bullet-riddled"). That's ten corpses total reported thus far.
CBS and AP report that, in Abu Saida, Sunni Sheik Hatam Mitaab al-Khazraji was gunned down. RTE News notes that three are dead and at least seven wounded from a roadside bomb that went off Kirkuk.
AFP is currently estimating that "at least 14 people" died in violent attacks today (Iraiqi civilians) and the AP notes that Kyle Miller, member of 682nd Engineer Battalion, has been identified by Dean Johnson ("Guard Brig. Gen.") as the National Guardsman who died today in Iraq (a bomb "detonated near his convoy").