Good evening. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now! and get this "Monday, Monday" (can't trust that day) over with.
U.S. Clears Troops in Ishaqi Killings
The Pentagon's decision to officially ignore parts of the Geneva Conventions comes at a time that the military’s actions in Iraq are coming under increasing scrutiny. Over the weekend, top officials in Iraq demanded the U.S. do more to investigate two different alleged massacres at the hands of U.S. troops: the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha last November and the killing of 13 in the town of Ishaqi outside of Balad in March. On Saturday Major General William Caldwell announced that the Pentagon had cleared U.S. troops of any wrongdoing in the killings in Ishaqi.
Major General William Caldwell: "In response to claims that as many as 13 civilians were killed in a March 15 air strike in the vicinity of Ishaqi, an investigation was launched into that incident the very next day. The investigation revealed the ground force commander while capturing and killing terrorists at that location operated in accordance with the rules of engagement governing our combat forces in Iraq."
Military gave themselves a clean bill of health in a kind of "Physician, heal thy self" way. Guess it all comes out white in the wash? (The "investigation" is a white wash.)
Iraqi Government to Conduct Own Probe of Ishaki Killings
However the Iraqi government has rejected the Pentagon’s findings. On Saturday an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said that the Iraqi government would open its own investigation into the deaths of Iraq civilians in Ishaqi. The Iraqi Human Rights Minister said a commission would be sent to the town to investigate the deaths in the next few days. Relatives of the Iraqi family killed in Ishaqi accused the U.S. of slaughtering innocent civilians.
Ibrahim A'Rad Khalaf: "The US forces raided my brother's house in March 15. They started shooting into the air before entering the house, this process lasted for about 20 minutes and after that they entered the house and started shooting inside it. They gathered all the family members inside one room and executed all of them."
I'd like to be excited by that, but how deeply can a puppet government investigate the government that pulls their strings? Not only did we put Maliki in as prime minister, we also "flexed" our muscle on the cabinet appointments.
Report: Record Number Killed in Baghdad in May
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that government records show that more Baghdad residents died in shootings, stabbings and other violence in May than in any other month since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Just under 1,400 bodies were brought to the city’s central morgue during the month The actual number of people killed in Baghdad was even higher because the count doesn't include soldiers or civilian victims of explosions.
As the illegal war drags on, the illegal occupation just gets worse and worse for Iraqis. We're not supposed to notice though and a lot of people don't. They just look the other way. You think most people even bother to notice how many Iraqis are dying day after day or wonder why that is?
If you haven't already, read "TV: TESR Investigates" which Tony's father called me Sunday evening to say "captures that show to the nose." It's funny. They're deconstructing the show (Ava and C.I.) the way the show deconstructs the crime scene. Tony's father said he liked best the part where Ava and C.I. are "kind of talking about the case, kind of talking about a personal moment because the show always has that every episode." He loves it. (I do too.)
Now let's talk WBAI's Law and Disorder which airs every Monday (and if you missed it you can hear it at the archives at WBAI or at the Law and Disorder home page). Anthony Arnove was on and he was a great guest (and I liked his pick from Neil Young's CD to play at the end of the show, "Let's Impeach the President). I'll talk about Neil McGaraghan who is an attorney representing two Muslims who were held in Guantanamo Bay even though they were innocent.
After they were cleared by a military tribunal, they were not released. They were kept and kept and kept. Their attornies filed a lawsuit to force their release and a federal court decided that yes, they should be released but a federal court has no power over the White House. (You read that right.) So the case was being appealed and in a move that renders the appeal null and void (or that the administration hopes does that), the two men were rushed to Albania.
Are they Albanian? No, they are not. And Albania has economic problems (that's a mild version). They're in a country where it's not known if anyone else even speaks their native language. They don't move around freely because they're detained. As soon as they landed, they were presented with papers to sign to be granted asylum. Their families remain in China (and they each have a child they've never seen because it was born while they were being held at Guantanamo). China wants them back and would probably punish them as dissidents if they get their hands on them. Their attorney noted that he wasn't sure how strong Albania would be in rejecting China's requests for extradition.
Why rush them out of the country? Because Rumsfeld continues to lie that Guantanamo holds the "worst of the worst." But these two men were held there and they were innocent -- even a military tribunal found that. Could they have been granted asylum in this country? Possibly, but to do so would mean the American people might have to rethink the idea that Guantanamo holds the "worst of the worst."
It was really disgusting. Not the attorney or the hosts. I remember Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner participating in this interview, I'm sure Heidi Boghosian did as well; I don't think Michael Smith participated in the first two segments, but he was there for the interview with Anthony Arnove. I always note Dalia because she sounds just like one of my sisters. (And I've learned to tell the two Michaels apart. Want to know what the world needs? More Michaels. Take it from me, a Michael. :D) The hosts and the attorney did a great job discussing the case but the facts of the case are just so disgusting. A really strong example of just how far Bully Boy will go to avoid admitting he was wrong and to avoid letting Americans know what's really going on in the shadows. I think it was the first segment, where a sister spoke of the torture of her brother that resulted in a false confession, where Dalia noted that this is all the reality that Bully Boy hides. She had a really good point that I'll condense down to "America needs to wake up." (She's better at making points than me, so she was more elequent.) And we do need to wake up and get real about what has happened and what continues to happen.
We need to get our heads out of the sand (or out of our asses) and get real. People are suffering huge abuse and, guess what, we can't just blame it on other governments. (The first segment, where the guy was repeatedly tortured, he was tortured in Saudi Arabia, which the American government damn well knew.) Cedric's blogging tomorrow night and we talked on the phone today. He's going to grab the first segment, so I grabbed the second. Ruth's going to write about the third segment, Anthony Arnove's interview, when she does her Ruth's Public Radio Report. Ruth can write about any of the first two segments, in length or just in brief, and that's cool.
But Cedric and me are covering Law and Disorder so that when she does her report, she's not left covering everything. It's a great show and you should listen to it if you aren't already.
By the way, like I said, Michael Smith wasn't in the first two segments. (I don't think he was, maybe I missed him.) That made me think about how Dalia had to travel in one morning to do the show. I hope everyone who listens realizes that not only are all four lawyers, they're working lawyers. What I mean is, they're busy. This isn't like some gasbag that just shows up at the CNN studio to spout their opinions and that's their gig. They have busy professional lives (and probably personal ones as well -- I know Michael Ratner has at least two kids, a son who turned 18 and is starting college named Jake and a daughter whose name I forget, Michael Smith has mentioned both on the show). They're doing this show (and making time for it) because it's important to them. They really care about these issues and they could just address them in court and go on about their lives. Instead, they're doing a weekly show so if they're making time for this, you should too. It's a really good show. Probably my favorite after Democracy Now!
We all care about stuff in this community too and that's why we all work on The Third Estate Sunday Review. That doesn't mean it always is fun or that it goes well. Elaine's writing about putting together the latest edition so be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz. And check out Ma's "Potatoes Anna in the Kitchen." Is Bully Boy pushing a ban on gay marriage because he wants to get a big turnout for the 2006 elections? Think again! Bully Boy Press has the scoop in
"THIS JUST IN! MTV SNUB LEADS TO PROPOSED BAN!" (That's Wally's site and it's this is a humor entry. You need to laugh, especially the uptight guy who keeps whining to me about his prof that he thinks I was so mean to, so go read it.) Correction. Elaine just lost her entire post. She says if she can't recover it, nothing tonight. She's not in the mood and I don't blame her. Hope she can recover it but if not, that's life and not her fault.
Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
As Amy Goodman noted, more than 85 people died from violence in Iraq over the weekend. In Baghdad today, 'commandos' raided bus stations kidnapping "at least 50 people," the Associated Press reports. The AFP notes that Major General Rashid Fulayah "contradicted earlier reports that the operation was officially sanctioned." The assailants wore "commando uniforms" and were originally thought to be part of the police commandos (militias) -- Rashid Fulayah is the "commander of the police commandos in Baghdad." Both Sandra Lupien (on KPFA's The Morning Show) and Reuters noted that 'commando' initiated kidnappings were seen as coordinated.
Also in Baghdad, the AFP reports that eleven students were killed by assailants who stopped their bus and "riddled it with bullets." Two brothers traveling to college were also gunned down in a separate attack reports CBS and AP. In a separate report, AP notes the two Sunni brothers' names were Ahmed and Arkan Sarhan and that they "were in their early 20s." Reuters reports that "the head of the local municipal council" Ghalib Ali Abdullah and his driver were killed by assailants in Baghdad. And the Associated Press notes that assailants "in two cars" killed Kadim Falhi Hussein al-Saedi "near his home in western Baghdad."
In Ramadi, CBS and the AP report, artillery was fired by "U.S.-led forces" and the "the U.S.-Iraqi Joint Operations Center" states the targets were "four military-aged males unloading a weapons cache" while Dr. Omar al-Duleimi notes that "five civilians were killed and 15 wounded."
Speaking to the hosts of Law and Disorder on WBAI this morning, Anthony Arnove (author of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) noted of the illegal occupation, "The longer the US stays the worse things will get . . . The United States has no right to be in Iraq. They used a series of lie [to wage an illegal war]. . . All those lies have now been exposed. . . . Every day the occupation is engaging in collective punishment of the Iraqi people."*
Throughout Iraq, corpses were found. In Suwayra, Reuters reports, four corpses ("stab wounds") were discovered "in the Tigris River." The AFP notes that seven corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes two of the corpses and that one "had been shot in the head" and the other was also shot in the head as well as the chest and was blindfolded.
Margaret Hassan was kidnapped in October of 2004 and assumed dead in November of 2004 (her body was never found -- her husband remains in Iraq until her body is found). Today, the BBC reports, Mustafa Salman al-Jubouri "has been jailed for life for his role in the abudction and murder of aid worker Margaret Hassan." Reuters notes that "[t]wo other defendents in the case were freed" and that "[m]ore than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003" and that "[m]ore than 40" of tose kidnapped were killed. Hassan, who had "British, Iraqi and Irish nationality," had been the "head of the Iraqi operation of the CARE International charity." In January of 2003, Hassan went to the United Nations and spoke with a number of people including UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette -- a visit she summarized on CNN as, "My message to the United Nations was . . . this is an impoverished nation over 12 years. They have not got what it takes to withstand a further crisis." Margaret Hassan met her husband Tahseen Ali Hassan in England and then moved to Iraq in 1972.
Though CARE played down her political stance, as her family notes, she "was vocally opposed to the war in Iraq." Speaking to Daniel McGrory (Times of London), her family blames the British government for Hassan's death noting "the refusal by the British Government to open a dialogue with the kidnappers." Her brother and three sisters revealed that the kidnappers had contacted Tahseen Ali Hassan repeatedly using his wife's cell phone, each time demanding a dialogue with the British Embassy for her relase; however, the British Embassy, according to Tahseen Ali Hassan, refused to contact the kidnappers (repeatedly refused, there were at least four calls and each one was passed on the British Embassy according to Hassan, the Times confirms the first call was passed on).
In the United States, CNN notes that Joe Biden called for Donald Rumsfeld (sec. of Defense, US) to step down as a rsult of the incidents in Haditha and the cover up. The senator appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and stated: "When you make serious mistakes, you step forward and you acknowledge them and you walk away. . . . [Rumsfeld] should be gone; he shouldn't be in his office tomorrow morning."
And Rumsfeld wasn't in his office Monday morning. Rumsfeld is in Vietnam. Sunday began a three day visit where he's meeting with "his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Van Tra."
CBS and the AP report that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier will not be returning to the United States on Tuesday as had been expected. On May 29th, a roadside bomb in Baghdad injured Dozier and took the lives of Paul Douglas and James Brolan. In their joint story, CBS and the AP note: "Scores of journalists -- nearly 75 percent of them Iraqis -- have been injured, killed or kidnapped in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion." Many are also missing including French cameraman Frederic Nerac who has been missing since March 22, 2003 and German cameraman Isam Hadi Muhsin Al-Shumary who has been missince August 15, 2004. Reporters Without Borders' places the figure for journalists and media assistants killed since the illegal 2003 invasion at 97. In addition Iraqi reporter Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal, who were kidnapped Feb. 1, 2006 remain missing as does Agence France-Presse's accountant Salah Jali al-Gharrawi who was kidnapped April 4, 2006. (All three kidnappings took place in Baghdad.) Reporters Without Borders has an online petition that they intend to deliver "to Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to encourage him to do everything necessary to find them."
*Ruth read the Arnove quote used over the phone and will be covering Arnove's appearance in her next Ruth's Public Radio Report. (Thank you, Ruth.)
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