Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ramadi -- the next Falluja? (What do you mean "the next"?)

I had two typos in this morning's post. I'm surprised it's not more. Check the time of the entry, I started that at 6:29 am my time. I was out of the shower, attempting to read the paper, put on my make up, fix my hair (yes, I went with a pony tail, I couldn't blog and also do something with it) and, early on, I was on the phone with C.I. I've seen C.I. do all of this and more in the morning while still getting two entries completed. Seeing it at Thanskgiving was one thing, attempting to do something similar (on a smaller level -- the minute C.I.'s up, it seems all the phones are ringing and C.I.'s going from phone to phone) really drove home that I am not a morning blogger.

The main reason I phoned C.I. was because I didn't think I had a post in me at all. I was advised to write about Bel Kaufman since that's why I wanted to do the entry, then find things that caught my attention and put those in where I thought they should go. On my end, a yawn popped up at least every sentence. C.I., in a different time zone, was fully awake. Also feeling sick which I think had to due with the primaries. Please read "NYT: 'Minor Figure in Iraqi Kidnapping Gets a Life Sentence' (Sabrina Tavernise)" which is the entry C.I. chose to focus on due to feeling so sick this morning. Also please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Bush Pushes Same Sex Marriage Ban Again" (Democracy Now!):
In Washington, President Bush called on Monday for Congress to ban same sex marriage.
President Bush: "An amendment to the Constitution is necessary because activist courts have left our nation with no other choice. When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution, the only law a court cannot overturn."
President Bush spoke before lawmakers and members of several groups from the religious right, including Exodus International which promotes what it calls "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." The group claims it has helped hundreds of thousands of ex-gay men and lesbians become straight.

When you have no plans to end an illegal war (that you started), no plans to fix the economy, no plans to do anything that will actually help most people, what do you do? Create a scapegoat. I heard immigration discussed on the radio today as well so I guess he's gone back to his two favorite scapegoats: immigrants and gays & lesbians. Now that Mary Cheney's once again official out, and since she's trying to sell that hideous book she put her name to, shouldn't be speaking out against this? Or does she, like her father, think she's exempt from laws?

"Hundreds Flee Ramadi Fearing U.S. Attack" (Democracy Now!):
In Iraq concern is growing that U.S.-backed forces may soon launch a major offensive in the Sunni city of Ramadi. On Monday, U.S. forces fired artillery at the city's train station. Hospital officials said five civilians died and 15 others were wounded. The Red Crescent reports over 100 families have recently fled the city fearing that a large-scale military operation is imminent. Last week U.S. military officials announced it was moving 1,500 soldiers from Kuwait into the region surrounding the city. One Pentagon spokesperson declared Ramadi had become the most contentious city in Iraq. On Monday the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars warned the Iraqi government not to support any U.S. attacks on the city.

We're both including this (Mike and I) because we think people need to pay attention to what happens. I would write "Hopefully nothing will happen"; however, it's already happening and you'll see that in the "Iraq snapshot" later in this entry.

"Jose Padilla Attorneys Ask Court to Throw Out Evidence" (Democracy Now!):
There is an update on the case of Jose Padilla -- the U.S. born man who was held in solitary confinement for three years before being charged with a crime. His lawyers are now alleging that the government's case against their client relied in part on statements made by a government witness who was tortured. Padilla's defense team has a filed a motion to suppress evidence and statements connected to a man who says that while in detention he was whipped, hung from the ceiling of his cell with leather straps and tortured with razors.

Padilla's main attorney, whose name I forget, it wasn't one to play. She's very no nonsense and very by the book. His case might have gotten more attention earlier (it did get attention) had she been more flamboyant or more eager to go the chat circuit and discuss the details of his case.
If you've fogotten the details, Collen Rowley was getting attention in Congress for her whistle blowing testimony (9-11 failures at the FBI) when John Ashcroft, from Russia no less, decides to hold a press conference and list all these charges against Padilla -- list them as fact. (Padilla was not charged, when he was finally charged years after, with any of the 'crimes' Ashcroft stated he was involved with.) If the government's dubious case is based on testimony that was secured via torture, will the courts rule it admissable? A few years ago, I would have said "no" and felt very secure in that opinion but these days you never know.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Cindy Sheehan, Noam Chomsky, John Bonifaz, Marcy Winograd, Jonathan Tasini," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.
Does the lack of accountability as well?
Two weeks ago,
May 25th, we noted: "Meanwhile the BBC reports that, James Cook has been determined to be not guilty ("by a jury panel of seven senior officers in Cochester") in the death of Ahmed Jabber Kareem [Ali] -- three remain on trial." Today, the BBC reports that those three have now "been found not guilty of the manslaughter of an Iraqi boy, at a Colchester court martial." Ahmed Jabber Kareen Ali died, at the age of 15, in May 2003. The prosecution described the Basra drowning as resulting from the efforts of British troops to "teach him a lesson." Carle Selman, Joseph McCleary and Martin McGing have been found not guilty.
AFP is reporting that the Iraqi Islamic Party (the party of Iraq's vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi) has "accused US forces of murdering more than two dozen Iraqis in a series of incidents across the country in May." Omar al-Juburi, party spokesperson, alleged that 29 were murdered and cited two events on May 13: "US forces launched an air assualt on a civilian car in Latifiyah and killed six people inside the car" and "US forces attacked with aircraft the house of a civilian, Saadun Mohsen Hassan, and killed seven of his family members."
This after
Sunday's admission that in Hibhib on Friday, an "accident" resulted in the death of three, the wounding of three and six damaged homes from a "US artillery round" and the death of two women, Naibha Nisaif Jassim and Saliha Mohammad Hassan, at an American checkpoint last week. (Jassim was pregnant and the women, along with Jassim's brother, were headed to the hospital.) Free Speech Radio News covered the issue of accidental deaths yesterday with Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib taking a look at the culture of the illegal occupation.
Reporting for CNN, Jamie McIntyre follows the Hamdaniya incident and notes a source who states that "some of the Marines in pretrial confinement have admitted the circumstances of the man's death was staged." This is the April 26th incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported last week "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman." McIntyre's report notes the unidentified officer stating, "They went after someone, not necessarily this person, but they set out to get someone."
Writing for Knight Ridder,
Nancy A. Youssef notes that the family's account of what happened to Hashim Ibrahim Awad is that "U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist."
CBS and AP note that "Pentagon officials tell CBS News that several Marines under investigation" in this incident "have made statements admitting they set out that night to kill an Iraqi."
noted by Amy Goodman today, concerns abound over Ramadi. Brian Conley reports for IPS that there are allegations "of civilians killed by snipers, and homes occupied with American snipers on their roof, while families were detained downstairs." One resident of Ramadi is quoted saying: "On the side of the main street you will find destroyed buildings, and military tents on the buildings for snipers. Be careful, if you hear any sound of fighting, hide in the side roads, park your car there and get in any house and hide, because snipers will kill anyone moves, even if the fighting is in another area." While another echoes that "American snipers don't make any distinction between civilians or fighters, anything that moves, he shoots immediately. This is a very dirty thing, they are killing lots of civilians who are not fighters."
As noted by Sandra Lupien on
KPFA's The Morning Show and by the AP, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation) has announced the release of 2,500 Iraqis imprisoned in US and Iraqi-run jails with the first 500 to be released tomorrow. Today, al-Maliki also vowed to 'curb' the violence. This as "nine severed heads" were found "in fruit boxes by the side of a road" (Telegraph of London). The AFP reports that "some of the heads are blindfolded and already decomposing, indicating the killings took place a few days ago." CNN notes Saturday's discovery of eight severed heads, in Hadid, which "also had been stuffed into fruit boxes." The Associated Press reports that, in Aziziyah today, a "decapitated body" was discovered. AFP reports the discovery of a corpse in Baghdad: "25-year-old woman, wearing an Islamic headscarf, who had been shot in the head."
AFP reports that Shaaban Abdel Kadhim was murdered in Baghdad "along with his two bodyguards." No word on the fifty-plus people kidnapped in Baghdad yesterday at bus stations; however, bus stations continued to be a key location for violence. In Nadha, CNN notes at least two civilians were killed and seven more wounded at an attack on a "bus facility." This as the AP notes that a woman died and three more people were wounded when a roadside bomb went off "near a busy bus station" in Baghdad. Also in Baghad, Reuters notes, that a woman and her husband were shot dead as was Thoaban Abdul Kathim, his aide and driver. Reuters also notes five people were killed at a funeral with twelve more wounded when a car bomb exploded.
In refugee news,
Brian Conley reports on Ruweishid, a camp between Jordan and Iraq where "[p]oisonous insects are rampant, while water and electricity are a scarce commodity."
Lastly, as
noted in the New York Times, Deidre Fitzsimons, sister of the late Margaret Hassan, spoke to the BBC on Monday. Not noted is the fact that Fitzsimons told the BBC that she "begged" Great Britain's Foreign Office for UK officials to interview the three men who were apprehended in her sister's death. Fitzsimons believes the men know where the body of her sister is: "These men know where my sister is buried and all we have left, all we want to do now, is to bring her home."

What follows are two items regarding Kevin and Monica Benderman. Please note that Kevin was led to believe one thing and then, following what he thought was approved, the military tried to snare him on trumped on charges (which were tossed out) and then tried again. Now he's behind bars.

"Statement of Monica Benderman" (Congressional Briefing for Conscientious Objection, Longworth House of Representatives Office Building, Washington, D.C.May 16, 2006):
I will address my comments to the Members of Congress:
Each one of you is in office having been elected on the basis of promises you made. In taking that office, each one of you took an oath to honor the Constitution of this country, and you did so by swearing to your God.
An American soldier, a volunteer, takes the same oath. His commitment to that oath is based on the promises of our elected leaders. But a true leader is not someone who blindly follows laws written by men. A true leader is someone who leads with adherence to his own obligation to humanity.
If you, during your tenure and contract to serve as Congressional leaders, were asked to participate in an action that violated your own conscience and your own principles of humanity, would you take a stand against that action?
If you were to step down, no longer willing to participate in an immoral, illegal action, would you have charges brought against you?
Would you be sent to jail for your beliefs? Would you go willingly?
Would you allow this to happen to any member who serves with you who also acted on their conscience?

I'll also note this:

Kevin to Appeal Court-Martial, Seeks Funds for Expert Attorney
An Appeal for Assistance, Sgt. Kevin Benderman Legal Defense Fund, May 25, 2006.

Now, I agreed with very little in a Ruth Conniff column last week and was hoping I would find more in the next one to agree with. This week, I find much more to agree with; however, a qualifier after the excerpt.

"The Trouble with Trendspotting" (Ruth Conniff, Ruth Conniff's Online Column, The Progressive):
In the current issue of
The New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg--who has done courageous and fascinating reporting from Islamic fundamentalist schools and terrorist training centers--goes to Washington to take up the question, "What is the Democrats' Best Way to Win?" The answer, disappointingly, is more of the same "third way," focus-group-driven politics that sent voters fleeing from John Kerry and, to a lesser degree, Al Gore.
Goldberg stacks the deck with this tediously inside-the-Party-leadership piece of analysis. He writes about a disastrous meeting between Missouri farmers and Teresa Heinz Kerry, and the would-be-first-lady's out-of-touch insistence on telling the farmers they should consider going organic. It's a telling anecdote, but the lesson Goldberg draws--that the whole package of left-to-liberal politics is an impossible sell for white, rural voters--is simply wrong. These hog farmers are already Democrats. An economic populist like Tom Harkin--who was to the left of Kerry--had no trouble connecting with them. Of course a rich Northeastern candidate is a fool to come in and tell them to consider producing organic yogurt. But the more leftwing Democrats--Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, to name just a couple--would have no trouble. As we all found out, Kerry putting on a NASCAR jacket was not the answer.
Goldberg goes on to describe Howard Dean as a madman, delivering a speech with his face turning purple and the veins sticking out on his neck (will that hackneyed caricature ever die?). He writes, dismissively, of Dean's plan to funnel money to state party leaders instead of focusing all of the DNC's funds on the next round of Congressional races as if it were corrupt. State party leaders were big supporters of Dean in the past, Goldberg writes, implying that the money to rebuild the party's infrastructure is personal payback.

Love the title, love the section above. However, in the first half, she addresses Newsweek's 'correction'/'apology.' I don't see Newsweek doing an apology. They weren't honest about anything in their "Woops! Made a mistake." Ava and C.I. covered this in detail awhile back.

"About that women"( Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review)
By the way, please don't think we're under any delusions that males were the only ones not noting it. There are plenty of women as well. They didn't bother to note it either.

Take one site which actually blogged on Iraq this week (for a change). They did it about an Abu Ghraib trial and only because a female carried a book to the trial with a one word title that rhymes with "runt," but hey, they're doing their part, right? No comments on Iraq or even Abu Ghraib but that book title, gotta' love it!
Why they're so on top of things they also noted the 'clarification' Newsweek offered last week for creating a "fact" about a woman being more likely to be killed by a terrorist than married after a certain age. They even noted that Susan Faludi revealed (in 1991) that the claim wasn't true. After that, it got a little confusing for them. They started wondering if now Newsweek would apologize to Susan Faludi?
For what exactly? They ran a story in 1986 and she debunked it in 1991 (in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women). Why does the magazine owe her an apology? They may owe everyone, male and female, who read the article in 1986 an apology, but why would they owe Faludi an apology? It makes no sense (neither does ignoring the war). But for the sake of argument, let's defy logic and just nod and say, "Newsweek owes Susan Faludi an apology!" Well it's a shame they waited so long, a little while ago and they could have just written "I'm sorry" on her paycheck. (The screamers for an apology to Faludi from Newsweek are aware that Newsweek hired Faludi as a contributing editor in the late nineties and that she worked for the publication until recently, right?)
While Backlash was a wonderful book (and Faludi's a great writer) some seem to be under the impression that Backlash came out and the mainstream media said "NO!" Time put Gloria Steinem and Susan Faludi on the cover together. Faludi's debunking of the myth was well noted. Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle refers to the book with Meg Ryan's character saying that the terrorist figure isn't true and that there's a whole book written to refute that myth. A male character asks, "Did anyone read the book?" We did.But we wonder if all the finger pointers on the web did? Why? How about this from Newsweek's "Twenty Years Later: It turns out that getting married after age 40 wasn't quite as difficult as we once believed" (no link, we don't link to trash):
Much of the ire focused on a single, now infamous line: that a single 40-year-old woman is "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry, the odds of which the researchers put at 2.6 percent. The terrorist comparison wasn't in the study, and it wasn't actually true (though it apparently didn't sound as inappropriate then as it does today, post 9/11).
No, it wasn't true and, as Faludi reported (page 100 of Backlash), a Newsweek intern explained that the lie started as a joke reporters kidded each other about "and next thing we knew, one of the writers in New York took it seriously and it ended up print." Newsweek doesn't tell you that. They just tell that you that it wasn't true -- fifteen years after Faludi already did and, if you think about it, twenty years after people at Newsweek knew it wasn't true. (They knew when the story ran.) And guess what else? Readers of Backlash know this, Newsweek went with a faulty study for the rest of that story. And "months later" they had actual census data that disproved their cover story. That got "a two-paragraph item buried in the 'Update' column." The current article doesn't tell you that either. Newsweek's new story really admitted nothing. A real admission didn't require an apology to Susan Faludi, it did require that they admit to knowing the figure was false when they ran it and, that when they had census data months later that refuted the Harvard-Yale study (on which they based their cover story), they didn't issue a correction but instead buried the real data in the magazine.
Another great Susan (Sontag) had an excellent suggestion (that was vilified when she made it) encouraging us not to all be stupid together. We think it applies today as much as it did then.

Two things. First, if parts of the above seemed familiar to you because you read a certain paper at the start of this week, it was familiar to me as well when I read that certain paper's Sunday edition. (However, Ava and C.I. published their piece two Sundays ago. C.I. has said before, "Well, it's nice to be read." Others wouldn't be so kind about it.) Second, Conniff goes into the study very strongly and deserves praise for that. But in terms of the apology, readers shouldn't think Newsweek apologized. The figure was made up and people involved with the article knew that before it was printed. That's not acknowledged in the article. Nor is it acknowledged that Newsweek staff created the figure (more likely to be killed by a terrorist . . .). Readers of the 'correction' are left with it wasn't in the study but nothing to inform them that it was an office joke that made it into a story as fact. Second, the 'correction' does not note that they had census data refuting the study, not this year, not last year, but months after they ran that toxic article and they buried it in the magazine. What they ran wasn't a correction. It didn't address any of the real problems or how they occurred. Nor did it inform readers that some knew at the time the 'figure' was invented by Newsweek or that they could have disproven their infamous cover story months after it ran but instead elected to bury the census resuls in a tiny piece.