Monday, June 19, 2006

A few things

First, the last post was begun on Friday night and posted Saturday morning. I didn't realize the time stamp was when you started. There was a time in Blogger/Blogspot where you could see the time at the bottom of your post when you were writing it. You still can but you have to click on "Post and Comment Options." There was an e-mail from someone who "could swear" he'd checked this site Friday. The post didn't go up until Saturday morning. Sorry if that confused anyone. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Pentagon Report Reveals New Iraqi Detainee Abuse" (Democracy Now!):
A newly released Pentagon study reveals that U.S. forces held Iraqi detainees for up to seven days at a time in cells so tiny that they could neither stand nor lie down. The cells measured four feet high, four feet long and twenty inches wide. One Iraqi detainee alleged his captors duct-taped his mouth and nose before placing him in the box-like cell. The Pentagon investigation also determined some Iraqi detainees were fed only bread and water for up to seventeen days during which time they were chained to the floor of their cells. Other Iraqis were stripped naked, deprived of sleep and assailed with loud music. The Pentagon report was completed in November 2004 but only made public last week in response to a Freedom of Information request from the American Civil Liberties Union. The report's author, Army Brigadier General Richard Formica, determined the troops used unauthorized interrogation methods that violated the Geneva Conventions. But he recommended that no U.S. troops be disciplined for abusing Iraqis.

Has the ACLU posted this report yet? I'm not seeing it at the website. On Saturday, I was having serious blogger problems (as was Mike). C.I. and I were on the phone and I was interested to see how the post that morning ("NYT: 'Crackdown' exploding"), on the Times' coverage of the report would read. C.I. had told me about this report and we were both waiting for it to come out. As told by the Times, it was bad but not as bad as we'd both expected. So did various people get it wrong or did the paper of record miss key details? To know that, we'd have to read the report. I'm not seeing it on the ACLU website.

I may or may not blog tomorrow, by the way. A friend's going to the doctor's and I'm going with her. If everyone seems a little off in their blogging, at the community sites, it has to do with that. If I don't blog tomorrow night, it doesn't mean that the friend got bad news. It may be good news and we'll just laugh and enjoy the evening. But that's just a head's up. (I've also cancelled appointments for tomorrow.)

"Thousands of U.S. Troops Surround Ramadi" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops have completely surrounded the Sunni city of Ramadi. New checkpoints were established on Saturday. The United Nations is reporting that nearly ten thousand residents of Ramadi have already fled the city fearing a Fallujah-like assault.

This is what we need to watching especially in Iraq. Falluja was portrayed by most corporate outlets, in real time, as a "success" -- an story of inspiration and grit. Rah! Rah! That's not reality. It was a slaughter of civilians. All the steps taken in the lead up to the attack on Falluja in November 2004 are happening in Ramadi now.

I think the work of the independent media in getting the story out on Falluja is why the corporate coverage of Ramadi right now feels the need to mention Falluja and not in the "Rah! Rah!" sense. Even the military spokespeople feel the need to tone down their remarks. For example . . .

"Other Items (Law and Disorder airs today on WBAI)" (The Common Ills):
Back to
Oppel's article, which mentions Ramadi and notes, among other things, the following:
Some Sunni Arab leaders have said they fear American forces are preparing to begin an offensive in Ramadi in an effort to wipe out insurgent groups that have taken control of much of the city, similar to the November 2004 assault on Falluja by the Marines.An American military official in Baghdad said on Sunday that no such offensive was planned. "We're trying to separate the insurgents from the rest of the people," the official said. "There are a lot of rumors flying around that people think it's another Falluja. It's not."
It's interesting that even the official spokespeople have to rush in to say it's not Falluja (I think it is). Falluja, many will remember, was something many news outlets (including the Times) pushed as a rah-rah uplifting story. (Dexy won an award for his rah-rah reporting.) What changed? Maybe awareness of what actually went on there and among the ones to thank for that are Amy Goodman and
Democracy Now! which have never let up on that story and Dahr Jamail. ("Among." There are others as well.) So remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

Yes, those are just two and there are many more. I'd add C.I. to that list (I know C.I. wouldn't). Falluja has been stressed repeatedly at The Common Ills.

Why do we need to pay attention? Now that the gung-ho sheen has been tarnished on this illegal war, maybe they know Americans are watching? The world was watching with Falluja, but the United States, largely ignored it -- or the reality of it. The generals, up to Rumsfeld, up to Bully Boy have to know they won't have free reign to plan a slaughter again. With Falluja, what happened was it was postponed until AFTER the election in 2004. They'd tried an attack in April of 2004 that didn't go quite the way they'd planned. So they planned and waited for the elections to be over and while Bully Boy was crying "MANDATE!" -- a slaughter took place in Falluja. So it's very likely that if we have any effect at all, it will just be to make them cautious and wait until after the November 2006 elections. I don't want to encourage false hopes. But right now, we can pay attention. We can let them know we are paying attention.

That's it for me. I'll note C.I.'s Iraq coverage (always excellent and I'm just really not into blogging tonight).

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Carol Williams, David Rose and Paul Krugman," The Common Ills):
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
In Baghdad, Reuters notes two bombings, a "car bomb" at "a police checkpoint" resulted in three deaths and three wounded and a "sucicide car bomber" who killed at least four others and wounded at least ten. CBS and the AP note "[a] parked car bomb" that killed five and wounded nine.
The BBC notes: "Violence is continuing in Baghdad despite the introduction of stringent new security measures last week that have seen more than 40,000 Iraqi and US forces deployed in the city." Dahr Jamail reports on the days since Bully Boy's photo-op in the Green Zone and concludes: "Each passing day only brings the people of Iraq and soldiers serving in the US military deeper into the quagmire that the brutal, despicable, tortured occupation has become."
Bombings also took place outside of Baghdad. The AP notes that three people were killed in Fallujah when a roadside bomb exploded while another roadside bomb, in Hillah, killed at least person and wounded at least four others. Reuters notes that, in Najaf, one person died from a bombing while at least five were wounded.
Reuters also reports an attack in Karbala where "a senior police officer" was shot to death and two of his bodyguards were wounded. AP identifies the man as Abdel-Shahid Saleh and notes that Saadoun Abdul-Hussein Radi, electrician, was shot to death in Amarah.
Kidnappings? Reuters reports that the Mujahideen Shura Council, which most recently claimed credit for four of the seven Saturday bombings in Baghdad, is now claiming to be holding four Russian diplomats which, Reuters notes, appears to be a reference to the June 3rd attack. The attack resulted in the death of Russian diplomat Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov and the four who were kidnapped were identified by the Russian embassy as: Feodor Zaycev, Rinat Agliulin, Anatolii Smirnov and Oleg Feodosiev. AFP reports that the Mujahideen Shura Council is also claiming that it has the two US soldiers reported to have been taken by "masked gunmen" on Friday. AFP describes it as a body that "groups eight armed factions led by Al-Qaeda."
The US military has not confirmed the abduction of the two soldiers. AFP reports that their names have been released: "Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Thomas L. Tucker, 25."
Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported that "more than 8,000" US and Iraqis are searching for Menchaca and Tucker and the AFP notes that seven US troops have been wounded since the search began Friday.
Meanwhile, CBS and AP quote Christina Menchaca, wife of Kristian, saying, "We're basically just watching the news because no one else knows anything about it, no one has heard anything about it."
On the American, Keith Maupin, who has been MIA since April 8, 2004, the AFP reports: "The Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera aired a video a week later that showed the American seated on the floor surrounded by masked gunmen. A month later it aired what it said was the execution of an American soldier, but the images were unclear and the army said it was inconclusive."
Al Jazeera is reporting that Iraq forces will be responsible for Muthanna relieving the British forces. This is the area that Japanese troops were also responsible for possibly adding creedence to the press coverage of the rumors that Japan will be announcing, prior to June 29th, that it is withdrawing all of its troops from Iraq. CBS and the AP note that Japan, England and Australia will "continue moving to "support role." The AP notes: "The decision, announced after [Nouri] al-Maliki met with Japan's ambassador, does not necessarily mean that any U.S.-led coalition forces will be withdrawn from Muthana province."
Ramadi? As noted by Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show, "major military operations" continue as "helicopters and airplanes are flying over the town." Reuters reports that "seven tanks moved along Maarif Street and July 17 Street. Two explosions were heard but the cause was not clear." Ali Hussein Mohammed is quoted as saying: "The water is totally cut off. We have to go to the river to get water. There has been no water for 24 hours and we have no gas to boil the river water to drink it."
Meanwhile, in Italy, the AFP reports that prosecutors are saying that the US marine who shot Nicola Calipari should be put on trial. Calipari had been sent to Iraq by the Italian government to rescue kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena. Though he and Sgrena made it safely to the car, while traveling to the airport to leave Iraq, their car (or "caravan" in some reports at the time) was shot at by US forces. In the attack, Calipari was killed. Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columiba University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)
Finally, Bully Boy is due to visit Vienna this week (Tuesday and Wednesday) and a group is attempting to organize a loud, if not welcoming, reception for him. "Bush Go Home" organizer Michael Proebsting tells the AAP: "The name George Bush, the name of the American president, has become a symbol for war crimes, for Abu Ghraib, for Guantanamo, for Jenin."