Saturday, July 08, 2006

War as an after thought

Good morning. Covering a few things in this entry. C.I.'s holding entries to note some stuff from me and others so let me get started and move quick. First off, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Chaos and violence continue.
Iraq was rocked with bombings today. As Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show, "As many as 17 are dead and at least 50 wounded following attacks on mosques." The BBC reports that the bombs went off "in Baghdad and Baquba following Friday prayers." Al Jazeera notes that, in Baghdad, a car bomb went off near one Sunni mosque and a mortar round landed on another. In addition to the mortar attack on the mosque, Reuters reports another one in Baghdad that took the lieves of at least three people and wounded at least 30. Reuters also notes a car bomb exploding near a mosque in Tal Banat ("killed six and wounded 46") and that three people were gunned down in Mosul. The Associated Press reports that, in Sinjar, at least eight died and 48 were wounded when "a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque".
Along with the above, the
AFP reports that two sheikhs may have been kidnapped. Sheikh Said Mohammed Taha al-Samarrai of Mahmudiyah is reported kidnapped and killed according to Sunni members of Parliament. The second sheikh believed to be kidnapped is Sheikh Alaa Mohammed Abbas al-Rikabi -- and that's according to Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Sammarai who also states "that 181 Sunni clerics have been killed since February."
Mahmudiyah was the hometown of Abeer Qasim Hamza, the 15-year-old who was allegedly rape before being killed (along with three of her family members) by US military forces. Steven D. Green is the only one charged so far. In court Thursday, his attorney Scott Wendelsdorf "entered a plea of 'not guilty on all counts,'"
Reuters reports.
In peace news,
Bay Area Code Pink is fasting and picketing . . . outside the home of War Hawk Di Fi (the home warbucks is building): " Senator Diane Feinstein recently voted against John Kerry's amendment calling for the troops to come home. Let's make sure she doesn't disappoint her constituents again. Gather with us, as we encourage her to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S. CON. RES 93) -- no permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq; no attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006 - which ever comes first."
CODEPINK also continues their fast in DC and elsewhere as people across the country continue fasting or begin to show their support. Kris Wise (Daily Mail) writes of West Virginians taking part in the fast and quotes Janie Poe: "I'll go for as long as my body can hold out or until my group tells me to stop. It's probably detrimental for us on our bodies, but it's us screaming out to people to wake up."
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning (info on tonight's event below) on the subject of Iraq. On the issue of the alleged rape and the murders, Dahr Jamail said, "This type of thing is happening on a regular basis in Iraq . . . [rapes during house raids] even in the capital city of Baghdad." Mark Manning pointed out that the legal immunity given to contractors and the military has created "a huge problem" and that the Iraqis have seen too many incidents being wiped away without investigation.
Event tonight:
An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822)

Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

The event was last night. You should check out Manning's movie and know who Nadia McCaffrey is so I'm leaving it in.

So how are you doing? I'm doing better, a lot better. Nina told me last night she wanted to scream "Get over it!" at me a couple of times this week. :D I'm glad I didn't.

Last night was the group meeting where we get together to talk about the war. A few hours before, C.I. called to ask me how my speech was going? I was going to speak for ten minutes and then we were going to have the usual discussion. C.I. listened to me whine again (for about what see Polly's Brew last week for my column). C.I.'s listened all week. (Thanks for that.) I know Elaine would have said, "Work your way through it, Mike, don't stuff it in." I was thinking C.I. was trying to fill in for Elaine since she was on vacation. That still may be true but twenty minutes into my long whine, I answered a question (don't even remember now what it is) and I go, "I just don't think you treat the war like an after thought." C.I. goes, "Mike, that's your real speech."

For about a minute I was all, "Hey, I've been memorizing the speech I'm giving tonight and" all this stuff and then it hit me, that is my speech. C.I. goes, "Call me back in thirty." And I wrote that speech in link ten minutes. I then gave it to my parents to make sure I wasn't crazy about it being a good speech. The loved it and then I called back C.I. and after I finished giving it, C.I. goes, "See, if you hadn't gone through all you did, you couldn't have written that speech." That's true.

So "War As An After Thought" was my speech and people really seemed to like it. Usually, if I have to speak in front of a class, I'm so nervous and just wanting it to be over. I wasn't nervous last night. And everybody really liked the topic and it led to this really good discussion that lasted about two and a half hours with everybody providing their own examples. Since Polly was kind enough to run my column last Sunday, I offered it to her for this weeks' newsletter and she really loves it too. She passed it over to Gareth and Pru because they both e-mailed me and they really liked it. You can judge for yourself tomorrow when Polly's Brew comes out.

I don't know that it's all that but it really was an important topic and that probably helped. And people all wanted to share their own examples last night. Nina goes if I had to mope all the way through the week to get that it was worth it. :D

If you read it tomorrow, add your own examples (there are plenty, I heard lots of them last night) and then stop downing the peace movement which is working hard even if others aren't. It was really amazing to hear all the obstacles we were up against and really makes you appreciate all the work that groups and individuals are doing and have done.

C.I. asked me if I'd add something here (which I think is just C.I.'s way of trying to help me blog): someone e-mailed John Dean's recent column in for a highlight. C.I.'s not linking to it. How come? John Dean writes of someone who has never stood trial, someone who John Dean knows no evidence about (only what the Bully Boy's administration has said), that the guy's "a bad guy." C.I. says: "A lawyer doesn't right that. A lawyer knows better. John Dean's a wonderful commentator but under no circumstances will his 'verdicts' on Guantanamo detainees be linked to by The Common Ills when so many have been fighting not just for their right to trial but also for their very lives. Hopefully, that was Dean's attempt to move on to the 'bigger point' but the thing is, as a lawyer, he should grasp that innocence until proved guilty is a very 'big point.' You don't just tread over it in your rush to make another point."

Which is the perfect set up to my segment of this week's broadcast of Law and Disorder which I catch via WBAI. Rachel Meeropol with the Center for Constitutional Rights was the guest for the second segment. She talked about the roundups that took place after 9/11.

Think about that. Like right now, picture it's October 2001. You haven't seen your dad since the morning of September 11 and so you and everybody in your family is thinking he died in the attacks. That happened to some people because their fathers or husbands got rounded up in secret. They weren't guilty of terrorism, they were 'guilty' of being Muslim. And that's all the government needed to go after them. It continued to happen after 9/11 and that's what Meeropol works for, or one of the issues, at the Center for Constitutional Rights. I knew from the show and from C.I. that this was an issue Dalia Hashad had put in lots of time on. But if you didn't know that before the segment, you knew it during. I like it when she just puts it out there. There's no attempt to sweeten it up. You can tell she's pissed off and I love that.

I think too much time is spent trying to act above it all. What happened was outrageous and when you're talking about something like that, you should be outraged. People were rounded up in secret, the Muslim community was targeted, there was no need for the government to explain itself because they acted in secret. This is horrible that it happened anywhere but it shows you just how bad things were and are under the Bully Boy that it could happen here.

All it took was a little fear and then a lot of fear mongering and we were all like, "Do whatever! Just make us safe! Take away the monster from under our beds!"

So a lot of innocent people got targeted and then treated like dogs. They weren't treated like human beings and I honestly think if we'd treated dogs like this, people would have complained. But we were all being chicken littles running around screaming. If we'd had a real leader, we would have responded differently.

They talked about, Meeropol, Dalia, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith, how people were just taken away. Some of them, if they were American citizens didn't get deported. But they got rounded up too. I hope they'll do a segement on that soon. (I'm pretty sure they have before but I think it's starting to sink in how awful that was.)

People lost their lives. I'd be interested in hearing from family members because there's no way you can go on with your life if that happens to your father or your brother or your husband. The people rounded up were in this black hole, they couldn't have any contact with anyone. If you somehow found out that someone was rounded up, you couldn't talk to them. I know that some people tried to visit the places they were held in and they'd get there and find out, "Oh they were moved last night." They kept doing that, moving them around in the middle of the night. And imagine what that's like. Probably the first day, you're thinking, "Okay, this is a huge mistake. They're going to realize that and let me go." Then it goes on and you have to lose hope and start feeling like you're really all alone and no one can help you.

So listen to the segment and get outraged. I think we've spent too many times being calm about everything. Being calm about what was done to our Muslim-Americans and our Muslim visitors (there's probably a better word for it but I think "visitor" works because we encourage people to visit this country, to come to it and for a better life and we proved that if you're a guest in this country, you're not welcome with our actions on this). Being calm about the war.

We hear about Abu Ghraib and we kind of shurg our shoulders. It's wrong, we'll say but we're not supposed to get too outraged or too upset. We're supposed to say, "These things happen." I think it's past time we got outraged.

Ex soldado se declara inocente de violacion y asesinato de iraquies

Francisco: Hola mi amigos y amigas. Aqui estan 10 noticias de "Democracy Now!". Buen fin de semana.

Ex soldado se declara inocente de violación y asesinato de iraquíes
El ex soldado estadounidense acusado de violar y asesinar a una joven mujer iraquí y a tres integrantes de su familia, se declaró inocente. El ex soldado raso Steven Green, compareció ante un tribunal de Kentucky el jueves. Green es acusado de violar y asesinar a Abeer Qasim Hamza y luego quemar su cuerpo, en un intento por cubrir el crimen. Es posible que Hamza sólo tuviera 15 años de edad. Green también es acusado de asesinar a la madre de Hamza, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen, a su padre, Kasim Hamza Rasheed y a su hermana de 5 años de edad, Hadel. Otros cuatro soldados también están siendo investigados y siguen surgiendo nuevos detalles sobre el caso. El primo de Hamza, Abu Firas Janabi, dijo al periódico "Los Angeles Times" que él fue la primera persona en ingresar a la vivienda tras el ataque. Janabi dice que la cabeza del padre de Hamza estaba "destrozada" y que la hermana menor tenía un brazo visiblemente quebrado. Janabi dijo que Abeer Qasim Hamza yacía en el suelo desnuda y quemada, y que su cabeza estaba aplastada "por un bloque de concreto o un pedazo de hierro". Según Janabi, los dos hermanos pequeños de la víctima se encontraron con su casa en llamas y su familia quemándose adentro al llegar de la escuela. Janabi también sostiene que tres días antes del ataque, la madre de Abeer Qasim Hamza le había dicho que los soldados estaban constantemente registrando su casa y que creía que su hija era el blanco. Janabi dice que sugirió que la familia se mudara a una casa vacía al lado de la suya, pero que los padres insistieron en que estarían a salvo. Janabi explicó que los dos niños ahora se encuentran con su tío en una aldea cercana. Janabi dijo: "Perdieron a su padre y a su madre. Perdieron su casa y a sus hermanas. Su familia era muy pobre y no heredaron nada. Su vida es deplorable". Mientras tanto, las Fuerzas Armadas ahora investigan si el reciente secuestro y decapitación de dos soldados estadounidenses en una localidad cercana, tiene relación con el caso. Los soldados rasos asesinados, Kristian Menchaca y Thomas Tucker, pertenecían a la misma unidad militar que Steven Green y los otros cuatro soldados. Los investigadores creen que los soldados pueden haber sido asesinados en un acto de venganza por la violación y los asesinatos.

Informe: Pentágono admite a neo-nazis y extremistas en las Fuerzas Armadas
En materia militar, el Centro de Leyes para la Pobreza en el Sur advierte que las dificultades de reclutamiento del Pentágono han provocado que se permita que "un gran número de neo-nazis y extremistas radicales violentos" se unan a las Fuerzas Armadas. El Centro afirma que este número podría ascender a varios miles de personas. El investigador del Pentágono Scott Barfield, dice que aparecieron graffitis en defensa de las Naciones Arias, en Bagdad. Barfield dijo que los comandantes no están tomando medidas, incluso tras ser notificados de la presencia de extremistas o miembros de pandillas dentro de sus tropas. Barfield agregó: "No quieren causar una nueva conmoción por el hecho de que haya neo-nazis en las Fuerzas Armadas, porque los padres que ya están preocupados por que sus hijos se enlisten y mueran en Irak, rechazarán aún más la idea de que sus hijos se enlisten si sienten que estarán expuestos a pandillas y personas que creen en la supremacía de la raza blanca".

Infante de marina condecorado devolverá una medalla como símbolo de protesta
Mientras tanto, un infante de marina condecorado anunció que devolverá una de sus seis medallas como símbolo de protesta contra la guerra en Irak. El infante de marina, Sargento Matthew Bee de Akron, Ohio, afirma que considera que el presidente Bush utilizó la medalla de la Guerra contra el Terrorismo con fines políticos. Bee y otros infantes de marina viajarán a Washington, donde intentarán entregar sus medallas a Bush o a miembros del Congreso.

Estados Unidos demolerá partes del centro de Ramadi
En otras noticias de Irak, el "New York Times" informa que las fuerzas estadounidenses planean demoler varios edificios del centro de la ciudad de Ramadi para convertir el área en una nueva "Zona Verde", similar al área de comando estadounidense en Bagdad. El Teniente Coronel Stephen Neary dijo que en alguna de las áreas demolidas se construirá un parque. Y agregó: "Estéticamente será una mejora". Las Fuerzas Armadas están llevando a cabo una operación de gran escala en Ramadi que ya ha provocado la huida de miles de residentes y ha sido comparada con el ataque perpetrado contra Fallujah dos años atrás. Según el "New York Times", un cartel colocado en la base estadounidense local dice: “Sea amable, sea profesional y tenga un plan para asesinar a todas las personas que conoce”. Otro cartel que se refiere al nombre de una unidad militar dice: "Compañía Kilo: Mató a más personas que el cáncer".

Asesinatos en Bagdad aumentan un 16 por ciento
Mientras tanto, funcionarios de la morgue central de Bagdad dicen que los asesinatos se incrementaron abruptamente desde la muerte de Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Durante el mes pasado recibieron más de 1.500 cadáveres, lo cual representa un aumento del 16 por ciento con respecto al mes anterior. Mientras tanto, el periódico "United Press International" informa que son tantos los cadáveres que arriban a la morgue que ya no hay lugar para colocarlos. El sábado, 66 personas murieron y más de 100 resultaron heridas cuando un camión con explosivos detonó en un concurrido mercado de Bagdad. Este fue el ataque más letal desde que el nuevo gobierno iraquí asumió el poder en mayo.

Arrestan a funcionarios de inteligencia italiana por secuestro de la CIA
En Italia, dos oficiales de inteligencia de alto rango fueron arrestados por colaborar con agentes de la CIA en el secuestro de un clérigo musulmán en las calles de Milán, tres años atrás. Mauro Mancini, el subdirector del servicio de inteligencia militar de Italia, fue encarcelado. Su predecesor, Gustavo Pignero, se encuentra bajo arresto domiciliario. Esta es la primera vez que funcionarios italianos son vinculados al secuestro de Hassan Osama Nasr, también conocido como Abu Omar. Nasr fue secuestrado mientras caminaba desde su casa hasta una mezquita local. Nasr fue trasladado a una base conjunta estadounidense-italiana y finalmente a Egipto. Allí, Nasr asegura haber sido golpeado y haber recibido descargas eléctricas en sus genitales. Nunca fue acusado de ningún crimen y nunca fue enjuiciado. Mientras tanto, los fiscales dicen que obtuvieron nuevas órdenes de arresto en contra de tres agentes de la CIA y un empleado de la base aérea estadounidense local. Con estas nuevas órdenes, el número de estadounidenses acusados en relación a este caso desde el año pasado, asciende a 26.

Francisco: Good evening, my friends. In English, here are six news headlines for the week from Democracy Now!

Ex-Soldier Pleads Not Guilty to Rape, Killings of Iraqis
The former US soldier charged with raping a young Iraqi woman and killing her and three family members has pleaded not guilty. Former private Steven Green appeared in a Kentucky courtroom Thursday. Green is accused of raping and murdering Abeer Qasim Hamza, and then burning her body in an attempt to hide the crime. Hamza may have been as young as fifteen years old. Green is also accused of murdering Hamza's mother, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen; her father, Kasim Hamza Rasheed; and her five-year old sister Hadel. Four other soldiers are also under investigation. New details continue to emerge about the case. Family cousin Abu Firas Janabi told the Los Angeles Times he was the first person to enter the house after the attack. Janabi says the father's head had been "smashed into pieces" and the young sister's arm visibly broken. He said Abeer Qasim Hamza lay naked and burned, her head smashed in "by a concrete block or a piece of iron." And according to Janabi, the family's two young sons returned from school to see their home on fire and their family members burning inside. Janabi also says that three days before the attack, Abeer Qasim Hamza's mother had complained to him that US soldiers were constantly searching her house and that she believed her daughter was the target. Janabi says he suggested that the family move into a vacant home beside his but the parents insisted they'd be safe. Janabi says the family's two sons are now with their uncle in a nearby village. Meanwhile, the military is investigating whether the recent abduction and beheading of two US troops in a nearby town is linked to the case. The dead Privates -- Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker -- were from the same military unit as Steven Green and the four other soldiers. Investigators now believe the two soldiers may have been slain as an act of revenge for the rape and killings.

Pentagon Allowing Neo-Nazis, Extremists in Armed Forces
In military news, the Southern Poverty Law Center is warning the Pentagon's recruiting difficulties have allowed "large numbers of violent neo-Nazis and skinheads extremists" to join the armed forces. The Center says the numbers could reach into the thousands. Pentagon investigator Scott Barfield said graffiti advocating the Aryan Nations has appeared in Baghdad. He said commanders are not taking action even after being notified of the presence of extremists or gang members amidst their ranks. Barfield added: "They don't want to make a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

Decorated Marine To Return Medal in Act of Protest
Meanwhile, a decorated Marine has announced he will return one of his six medals in protest of the Iraq war. The marine, Sgt. Matthew Bee of Akron, Ohio, says he believes President Bush has used the War on Terrorism service medal for political purposes. Bee and other Marines will travel to Washington where they will try to return their medals to Bush or to members of Congress.

US To Bulldoze Parts of Central Ramadi
In other news from Iraq, the New York Times is reporting US forces plan to bulldoze several blocks in the middle of the city of Ramadi and convert them into a new "Green Zone" similar to the US command area in Baghdad. Lt. Col. Stephen Neary said some of the razed land will be turned into a park. He added: "Aesthetically it will be an improvement." The military is engaged in a large scale operation in Ramadi that has already led to the flight of thousands of residents. According to the New York Times, one poster displayed in the local US base reads: "Be polite, be professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet." Another poster refers to the name of the military unit and says: "Kilo Company: Killed more people than cancer."

Baghdad Killings Up 16%
Meanwhile, officials at Baghdad's central morgue say killings have sharply increased since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. More than fifteen hundred bodies were delivered last month -- a sixteen percent increase over the month before. Meanwhile, United Press International is reporting delivery of dead bodies is so high the morgue has run out of adequate space to store them. On Saturday, sixty-six people were killed and more than one hundred injured when a truck bomb hit a crowded market in Baghdad. It was the deadliest attack since Iraq's new government took office in May.

Italy Intel Officials Arrested Over CIA Abduction
In Italy, two high-ranking intelligence officers have been arrested on charges they helped CIA agents abduct a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan three years ago. Mauro Mancini, the deputy head of Italy's military intelligence service, has been jailed. His predecessor, Gustavo Pignero, is under house arrest. The arrests marked the first time Italian officials have been linked to the abduction of Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Nasr was seized as he walked from his home to a local mosque. He was taken to joint U.S.-Italian base and eventually flown to Egypt. There, Nasr says he was beaten and given electrical shocks on his genitals. He was never charged with a crime and has never appeared in a court of law. Meanwhile, prosecutors say they've obtained new warrants for three CIA agents and one employee of the local US air base. The new warrants bring to twenty-six the number of Americans charged in the case since last year.