Saturday, June 03, 2006

Saturday post

Good morning. Going to kick things off with Democracy Now!

New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi
New evidence has emerged in the case of another alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of US troops. The BBC has obtained video footage bolstering accusations first made by Iraqi police that US troops murdered eleven civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon has insisted only four civilians died in the incident and that they were killed when their home collapsed during a gun battle. But according to the BBC, the new video shows a number of dead adults and children with visible gunshot wounds. Democracy Now covered this story in March. We spoke with Knight Ridder reporter Matthew Schofield in Baghdad. He first obtained the Iraqi police report that accused US troops of the civilian killings.
Matthew Schofield: "We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women. Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A number of -- you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The doctor said it's very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round, the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble, so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in, they came across the blankets. They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been handcuffed and shot."

Guess what? Nothing. Nothing's going to be done. US military investigated and they say, "Nothing wrong here." The BBC just uncovered new evidence, a videotape, but the whitewash must be pushed through.

Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis "Daily Phenomenon"
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

Gee, why would anyone think that? Could it be because something like emerging evidence is meaningless in the rush to whitewash?

My buddy Wally asked me if I'd highlight something for him? He didn't see it when he did his entry Friday ("THIS JUST IN! CONDI RICE SAYS TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR IRAN!") and he just posts Monday through Friday. This is from Helen Thomas' "Congress Legislating Our Rights Away:"

Hypocrisy is alive and well on Capitol Hill. An FBI raid on a congressman's office has caused a ruckus between his irate colleagues and the Justice Department over congressional prerogatives.
If only those same members of Congress had been more sensitive about individual rights when they passed the Patriot Act, a law invades all Americans' privacy.
They are the same lawmakers who were complicit with President Bush's unprecedented order to secretly eavesdrop on millions of Americans without a warrant.
Where was the outrage from those lawmakers when faced with the shame of the administration's practice of sending prisoners to secret jails abroad where they could be tortured during interrogation?
Why was Congress silent when Bush wrote his own military law to designate individuals as "enemy combatants," and deny them due process, before sending them into limbo?
For too long, Congress has ignored the imperial outreach of the executive branch on the theory that anything Bush wants to do post-9/11 is just fine. But now those angry House members suddenly have discovered the U.S. Constitution and the historic separation of powers after FBI agents raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., seizing documents and a computer hard drive.

Everybody loves Helen Thomas so I'm happy to put this up for my buddy. But another reason is because Dad read Rebecca's "kpfa's sunday salon features a discuss on conscientious objectors this sunday!" last week and had a few points I wanted to include. Congress is suddenly worried about the way THEY are treated. Dad's point was, think about how they'd feel if they were living in the real world?

Like if they had to deal with what most people deal with? You or me get pulled over for speeding and it's not going to be pretty. (Worse if your non-White.) You in Congress, well you'll get all the breaks. Dad thinks they, and judges too, hear about something the police might do and they think, "Oh good! The criminals will be caught!" But they've got no idea how it translates in terms of the way the average citizen will be treated under the law. He thinks they're far too insulated and that they should have to live a few days like the rest of us before passing a single law. He also thinks they should all lose the Congressional health plan because as long as they have that, they're not dealing with what the citizens deal with. Either give that plan to every citizen or pull it away from Congress. I think that's a pretty good idea.

Now, speaking of buds, my buds Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and of The Third Estate Sunday Review, and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix worked their butts off last night and early this morning doing a roundtable. It's pretty cool. I'm still reading parts of it. But you can read it by clicking on the following:
"roundtable with cedric, betty, c.i. and myself participating"
"news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts"
"A conversation in three parts"
"Focusing on the paper to avoid my husband"

C.I. called me this morning to tell me I'd had a large number of readers since my blog had lopped off the first half of my last post. When that happens, you have to republish. So I had a lot of people interested in "My interview with Kat" which is really cool. (Even anyone who disagreed with it, cause they read it.)

Hope everyone has a great weekend. And get your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Iraq snapshot. Chaos and violence.
There are at least three alleged incidents in Iraq that are under some form of investigation. (Remember that The Christian Science Monitor asked mid-week whether or not the military could investigation itself.) For two who were confused by the new ones noted last night, there is Haditha. Haditha took place November 19, 2005 and resulted in the deaths of twenty-four civilians. This is the one Rep. John Murtha has spoken of and that has had the most attention and media focus. Next, there is Ishaqi which took place in March 15th of this year. For background refer to Democracy Now!'s March report as well as the BBC's report on a tape that has turned up which appears to refute the US military claims. In that incident, the official version is that "four people died during a military operation" when a building that was on fire collapsed on them while the version put foward by Iraqi police is that "US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people." The third incident under attention currently took place on April 26th of this year in Hamandiya this is where one man died and US troops are accused of planting a shovel and gun on him while insisting that he was attempting to plant a roadside bomb. This is the incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman" for. Kidnapping? When Jim Miklaszewski reported it for NBC Sunday, he noted that the allegations included taking the man from his home, murdering him and then attempting to hide their own actions by planting the shovel and gun on him.
Those are the three incidents currently under some form of investigation and media light.
On the middle item, Jonathan Karl of ABC News (ABC, United States) is reporting that with regards to the events in Ishaqi, "military officials have completed their investigation and have concluded U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement." Which one is that? This is the one that BBC only recently reported having a tape of. One might argue far too recently for "military officials" to have "completed" anything that could pass for a full investigation. Or, as Australia's ABC puts it, "But a video obtained by the BBC shows evidence that the people were shot." Among the dead so-called insurgents in this incident that alleged followed "the rules of engagement," Australia's ABC reports were "a 65 year old grandmother and a six-month old baby." The Independent of London summarizes thusly: "But the BBC said its tape, which comes in the wake of the alleged massacre in Haditha in November, showed a number of dead adults and children at the site with gunshot wounds."
Pressure on the Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, Nuri al-Maliki, has led to his announcing that Iraq will launch their own investigation. As Ferry Biedermann notes in the Financial Times of London, this investigation is supposed to "look into other allegations of misconduct by the US-led forces in Iraq and the way troops behave toward the civilian population after they have come under attack." The Guardian of London reports that al-Maliki informed US ambassador to Iraq (and puppet master) Zalmay Khalilzad of this decision "during a visit to a power station."
Meanwhile, the AFP reports on a Friday lunch between Tony Blair (prime minister of England, lap dog of the Bully Boy) and Romano Prodi (newly elected prime minister of Italy). During the lunch, "Prodi stressed there was no going back on his decision to pull troops out" of Iraq. Presumably Tony Blair choked only on hard feelings since there's no report of a Heimlich being performed.
The AFP reports that at least four people were killed and fifty wounded "in twin blasts targeting a Friday morning animal market in downtown Baghdad." Reuters reports two other roadside bombs, one that wounded two police officers and the other that killed two people and injured four.
Pay attention to what Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Donald Rumsfeld said "Things that shouldn't happen, do happen in combat."Finally, CBS and the AP report that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, wounded in Iraq, has been taken "off her respirator and [is] breathing on her own" as of this morning.