Friday, August 11, 2006

Iraq happens -- with or without the attention of independent media

I'm exhausted and took forever just copying and pasting the snapshot. One of the biggest stories of the day was Ricky Clousing.

"Army war objector returns to base" (Melanthia Mitchell, Associated Press)
Clousing, who was trained as an interrogator with the 82nd Airborne Division, deployed to Baghdad in December 2004 and was in Mosul when he said he witnessed the killing of a young Iraqi man.
His convoy had stopped to help another unit when the man came up in a vehicle, Clousing said.
"He slowed his car down, took his hands off the steering wheel and braked immediately," Clousing recalled. As the man started turning the vehicle around, another soldier "fired off four to five rounds into the side of the vehicle."
Clousing rested his head in his hands as he described helping a medic pull the injured man from the vehicle, then watching as soldiers tried to stanch his bleeding.
"The boy, looking up at me, was literally dying in front of my eyes as I looked down at him," he said.
Clousing said he approached unit leaders about the shooting but was treated as an inexperienced soldier who "needed to shut up."
Upon returning to Fort Bragg in April 2005, Clousing said he talked with military chaplains and counselors, stressing that although he did not want to be discharged from the service, he felt he could no longer support the Iraq war.

Clousing became the latest to publicly announce, "I'm not continuing this illegal war." There will be more and the pace and amount will depend upon the coverage and how serious independent media does their part. The peace movement trying to bring the troops home shouldn't have to work with little to no assistance but that's what has happened week after week. With little to no support of late, the peace movement depends upon some sort of game of telephone to communicate. I am really disgusted with the choice made, repeatedly, not to cover Iraq for the last few weeks. This story got some traction (but don't make the mistake of think independent media led on, big media broke the story and provided real coverage).

When you read the snapshot, think of all the stories this week that didn't. The point C.I. made yesterday, about how, on June 15th, the Pentagon announced that 2500 US soldiers had died in Iraq and that, yesterday, we were three away from 2600. We're now at 2599. We're one away from 2600. Has the (lack) of coverage indicated that? The only messages independent media has sent is that (a) Iraq's not important, (b)nothing's happened in Iraq or about Iraq, and (c) you need to do what we are doing: devote your sole attention to the actions of Israel.

It was a pack mentality among indymedia as everyone rushed in to make it all about one story and ignore everything else. It wasn't a pretty or shining moment for independent media and it wasn't just this week. Last weekend, Tom Hayden, Cindy Sheehan, Diane Wilson, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Jodi Evans and others traveled to Jordan and met with Iraqis to discuss Iraq and peace. Did Democracy Now! provide a report on that? Did they bring on Sheehan or anyone to talk about those meetings? No. That didn't happen. All week, we saw independent media too busy to cover Camp Casey. Too busy. I was outraged before C.I. told me what big media was saying, the story is dead. I wasn't surprised by Friday's Washington Post and expect more stories of a similar nature (some very mean spirited). Indpendent media could have gone down there. They could have reported on it. But they weren't interested. With every story on Iraq this week, they showed no interest.

It hurt. It hurt Camp Casey, it hurt the movement and it hurt news consumers because independent media did not provide an alternative to the story of a hearing into Abeer and her family's deaths. If you heard about the story, more than likely what you heard was "poor guys, they were stressed." I wasn't impressed with the Ricky Clousing coverage on Democracy Now! and I think, in the snapshot, C.I. makes the point that was bothering me. I remember Ehren Watada being covered. And then, nothing. The show didn't cover the lead up to the protests or the protests. When Watada was charged there was, "We only have a few minutes" which followed lengthy discussions on other topics with other guests. A message is sent by that of what is important and what isn't. We saw it with Suzanne Swift. The weekend of the protests to show support for Swift, Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now!) taped interviews with Swift's mother and grandfather. The interview with the mother aired. We were told the interview with the grandfather would air shortly. But then came other topics and Swift was forgotten.

Today (Friday) Clousing was news and big media made him news with independent media trailing after, forced to return to the topic of Iraq (briefly) because big media was covering it. Think about that while you read the snapshot.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Friday, August 11, 2006 with
two police officers dead from a roadside bomb in Kirkuk, another police officer shot dead in Mosul and a man on his way to work in Baiji shot dead. In the United States Ricky Clousing says no to war; in a sotto voice US military flacks give statements about the two US soliders who died in Tuesday helicopter crash and while recruiters struggle to meet their lowered targets, some applicants remain unwelcome.
Starting with the last item, the
AP reports on Haven Herrin who would like to serve in the military but she is a lesbian and wink-wink-nudge-nudge no gays or lesbians have ever served in the US military. Reading the report which begins and ends with the Clinton era "Don't Ask Don't Tell," news consumers are probably left unaware that an openly gay man has served in the US military.
While some can't get in, others refuse to serve in an illegal war based on lies.
Writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mike Barber broke the news today that Ricky Clousing would turn himself in. Ricky Clousing, 24-years-old, checked himself out of the military after serving in Iraq. Speaking to the AP, Clousing stated, "My experience in Iraq really made me second-guess my ability to perform as a soldier and also forced me to question my beliefs in associating myself". Clousing's announcement comes on day two of the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle (which concludes Sunday the 13th). Clousing questions the legality of the illegal war and "I came to the conlusion that I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom." Barber notes that Clousing went AWOL from "Fort Bragg in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division."
Barber broke the news, the AP is all over it. And gold stars for others? They'll have to demonstrate that they're going to cover it. Not, "Look how much I care, today I'll make time for this issue and then next week . . . Back to Israel non-stop!" (or whatever the topic is). Too much isn't being covered.
Clousing is one of many war resisters. This week,
Meredith May (San Francisco Chronicle) took a look at some who had decided to do a self-check out and go to Candada -- mentioned were Ryan Johnson, Patrick Hart, Christian Kjar, Brandon Hughey, Darryl Anderson. Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman will learn shortly whether they're appeal will allow them to remain in Canada or not. Other war resisters include Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Kevin Benderman. Katherine Jashinski. Camilo Mejia is generally considered to the the "first Iraqi War Resister." Benderman is attempting to appeal the Court-Martial and has been designated a "Prisoner of Conscience" by Amnesty International. Benderman's case hasn't vanished, just any coverage of it. That's true of Hinzman and Hughey as well. Let's be really honest, that's true of the independent media attention on all things having to do with Iraq. (And remember it was Mike Barber who broke the story.)
Two names more recently in the news are
Suzanne Swift and Ehren Watada. Their cases haven't vanished just because, for example, an announced and filmed interview with Swift's grandfather never aired as Iraq fell off the radar. Watada faces an article 32 hearing on August 17th which is next Thursday. Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th. Writing of Watada, Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) noted Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq was a "no" and that: "When we say 'no' the war ends.Ehren is saying 'no.' He can make a difference. He is making a difference but it will be a huge difference with quick impact if we show our support." Noting the work of his parents, Courage to Resist and, Cedric wondered where the coverage was?
Attending the conference in Seattle was Cindy Sheehan who is offering
Camp Casey III "as a refuge for U.S. troops who desert to resist the war in Iraq." As The State News notes on Bully Boy's low approval numbers, "Clearly, Sheehan is not alone in her position. But while a large population within the United States disapproves of Bush and the war in Iraq, it seems only a small population is doing something about it." Sheehan does her part and then some but it "seems" others aren't because of the lack of media attention. Watada and Swift are 'doing something.' Across the country, across the world, people are engaged in attempting to end this war, day in and day out. It's the media that can make it appear nothing is happening or report what's actually going on. Credit to Barber, AP, May and others in big media who've been covering these issues (especially the press in Hawaii) while others had other things to emphasize (non-stop). Or, as Molly Ivins points out: "The more surprising development is how completely one story drives out another. At other times, the collapse of Iraq would have been news." A collapse that has included, as Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) wrote, "There are no laws that say we have to wear a hijab (yet), but there are men in head-to-toe black and the turbans, the extremists and fanatics who were libearted by the occupation, and at some point, you tire of the defiance. You no longer want to be seen. I feel like the black or white scarf I fling haphazardly on my head as I walk out the door makes me invisible to a certain degree -- it's easier to blend in with the masses shrouded in black. If you're a femal, you don't want the attention -- you don't want it from Iraqi police, you don't want it from the black clad militia man, you don't want it from the American soldier. You don't want to be noticed or seen."
Reuters notes six corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("bound and blindfolded") Of the six, AP notes that they had all ben shot execution style. This was the week that, as the BBC noted, the body count at Baghdad's central morgue for July only had been 1,855. AP noted Dr. Sabah al-Husseini's declaration that "two-thirds of the deaths reported in Baghdad since January were due to violence."
This was the week of the Article 32 hearing to determine whether or not to file rape, murder and arson charges against US soldiers James Baker, Jesse V. Spielman, Bryan L. Howard and Paul Cortez. (Steven D. Green, who is also accused in the incident will stand trial in US federal court because he was discharged before the incident was uncovered. Anthony W. Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident.) The incident?
Abeer Qasim Hamza. Presenting his closing argument in the hearing, Captain Alex Pickands stated, "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable." The defense (and the New York Times) offered stress of combat and fatigue. Pickands response? "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."
It was the story that should have gotten intense coverage.
Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) has argued Abeer's story is the story of the illegal occupation boiled down to one person. Instead, as Mike (Mikey Likes It!) has pointed out, you had the New York Times offering the defense's argument and Abeer? Silence. She wasn't even named.
This was also the week of yet another poll finding where respondents echoed earlier polls by standing strongly against the illegal war.
CNN found that 60% of Americans responding in their poll were against the war -- the highest opposition since the war began in March 2003.
Those were among the Iraq related stories that should have received coverage, discussion and exploration.
Another, in Australia, would be the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad.
Belinda Tasker (Herald Sun) reports on Solider 1's testimony which resulted in tears for Shelley Kovco (widow of Jake Kovco) and Judy Kovco (mother of Jake Kovco). While the family of Kovco has every reason to well up when their lost one is spoken, the press has no excuse to go soft and mushy but, apparently, despite repeated testimony to the contrary, the nonsense of the 'buddy system' is back. Soldier 1 tossed off a few words (via video-link) and then used Jake Kovco to argue that they'd reworked the "buddy system" since his death. The press runs with it, failing to note that there witnesses' testimony (as opposed to the statements the military wrote and submitted in their name) that there was no "buddy system" in place. Ian McPhedran (Courier-Mail) offers a less sentimental view as he weighs in on Jake Kovco's death and Australia's involvement with Iraq: "We're being kept in the dark."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Be a pest

Warning, I'm rushing like never before. Why? I've got fifteen minutes to finish this and post it. Blogger/Blogspot is going down. Provided it comes back up, others will be posting. Guess what? I can't pull up any community sites for links. Why? "Internal error" is the Google message. Thank goodness for The Common Ills mirror site.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Today, Wednesday, August 9, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq with
Allister Bull (Reuters) noting that the central morgue in Baghdad received nearly 2,000 bodies in July while Centcom's announced that a US helicopter crashed Tuesday in the Anbar province ("60 Blackhawk helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircrwaft Wing") which had six crew members of which two are still missing.
Elsa McLaren (Times of London) reports: "A desperate hunt is under way in Iraq today for two American servicemen whose helicopter crashed inside the 'triangle of death' west of Baghdad." As the search goes on, an Article 32 hearing concludes into the murders of Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members with military prosecutor Captain Alex Pickands arguing of the four US troops accused of rape, murder and arson, "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
Speaking with Andrea Lewis today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, John Stauber discussed the results of a recent Harris Poll which found 50% of all respondents wrongly believed that Iraq had WMD which is "an increase from 36 prercent in February 2005." Stauber noted the pre-war coverage (unquestioning) and pre-war propaganda (which never panned out.) "If voices of authority repeat a huge lie [. . .] that gets people supporting a war [ . . .] then that lie sticks. And this war was sold to the American public on two huge lies: that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and that he was behind 9-11."
"What is going on here?" wondered Andrea Lewis. Which is a good question. Stauber pointed to Rick Santorum falsely claiming that WMDs were found and Fox "News" and the right-wing echo chamber running with the lie. Because, not stated, the right-wing will continue to sell this war and peddle lies. While the coverage of Iraq vanishes from the media (in all its forms) it doesn't vanish from the right-wing echo chamber.
Note this finding from the poll: "
Seventy-two percent believe that the Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein (slightly down from February 2004 when 76 percent said this was true)." Why would poll respondents think that when the UN estimates 100 Iraqis die each day from violent attacks? Don't they know the reality and status of the 'reconstruction' projects? No. They generally don't and when the media decides they need to ALL pick up and go after another story, when the coverage of Iraq is a one-story-a-day thing (New York Times) or one topic a week (radio, magazines, etc -- once a week when we're lucky -- we're supposed to be grateful for the once a week treatment of an illegal war launched by the US administration) then the problem really isn't the people -- the problem's the media. One quite proud to pat themselves on the back in every venue and forum but not too interested in focusing on Iraq.
People care about this topic (now more than ever as
a CNN poll demonstrates most recently), it's the media that either is bored or just doesn't give a damn. Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) reported yesterday on the surprise of a returning Iraqi vet who spoke to a group of young adults -- his surprise that they were interested in the topic and interested in his injuries and all the injuries that the press doesn't have time to cover.
Al Jazeera reports on a mortar attack in Baghdad which "collapsed a three-storey building" and left some worried that "some people were still trapped in the rubble." Five people are known to have died. Reuters reports three Iraqi police officers dead in Habaniya from a roadside bomb; the death of a civilian in Kirkuk from a roadside bomb; the death of a civilian by a roadside bomb in Baghdad; three civilians wounded by a roadside bomb in Ramadi; and, in Kirkuk, a roadside bomb wounded three Iraqi soldiers. Also CBS and AP note that, in Samarra, a police officer died on Tuesday while attempting "to defuse a roadside bomb" and another police officer was injured in the blast. Associated Press reports that a US solider was wounded by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad
Pay attention here because you know
the New York Times doesn't bother to include shooting fatalities in their 'rounded' daily undercount these days. Reuters reports the death of "Army Colonel Qasim Abdul Qadir" in Basra ("on his way to work"). CBS and AP report that Abedl-Qadir was attacked by "gunmen on two motorcycles". Reuters notes that, in western Baghdad, five civilians were shot dead.
Reuters reports that, in Baghdad, nine corpses were discovered ("killed by gunshots"), two corpses ("shot in the head and chest") were found in Dour. and, in al-Zab, a behaded corpse was discovered.
In the case of
Abeer Qasim Hamza? From CNN: "Iraqi authorities have identified the girl who was raped and shot to death as Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Her father, mother and 5-year-old sister were also killed, and the 14-year-old's body was set on fire after she was killed." The Article 32 hearing has concluded. CNN reports Alex Pickands (military prosecutor) making his closing argument with the following: "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." As the BBC notes, the Article 32 hearing was to determine whether or not should be charged with rape, murder and arson. CNN notes that the deterimination will be made by "investigating officer, Col. Dwight Warren" and that' "Warren's report will likely be at least a few days in coming".
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer serving in the US military to have refused to deploy to Iraq.
Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports: "The army has rejected 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's offer to resign instead of facing a possible court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq." The concludes: "[i]t's looking more likely that Honolulu Army Lt. Ehren Watada will be court martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq." Hoyt Zia (publisher of Hawaii Business Magazine) addresses the case of Ehren Watada with "Having the Courage of Your Convictions."
Kakesako notes: "Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is scheduled to face an Article 32 pretrial hearing at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Aug. 17. That hearing is equivalent to a preliminary hearing in a civilian criminal court, and is expected to last a few days."
The 17th is when the hearing is scheduled to begin. Remember
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
Cindy Sheehan is in Crawford, TX with Camp Casey. Why? As
Missy Comley Beattie (OpEdNews) writes: "Thousands of Iraqis are dying each month. Coalition troops are perceived not as liberators of grateful Iraqis free at last from the grip of a tyrant. Instead, we are occupiers and our incursion has unleashed sectarian violence that shows no sign of abating. Life is so bad in Iraq that its citizens long for the days when Saddam Hussein was in power." For those reasons and many more, Camp Casey III matters. Alison Sterling Nichols tells Chris Durant (The Times-Standard) that, "There are more people here than there were in the first few days last year."
Today is day 37 of the
Troops Home Fast action which will continue until September 21st. Today, 4, 549 people are taking part from across the world. Remember you can do a one-day fast, a one-day-a-week fast or longer. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.
CNN reporting the results of their latest poll -- "Sixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq, the highest number since polling on the subject began with the commencement of the war in March 2003" -- the sea of change on the Iraq war is obvious to all but the Bully Boys and Joe Liebermans.

Rebecca's back as of last night (to blogging) and her first post is entitled "raped and murdered, 14 year old abeer can't defend herself, who's going to step up to the plate?" She had wanted to grab the topic of Abeer (I mentioned that last night but didn't say who -- it was a surprise). Please visit Mikey Likes It! later tonight for Mike's thoughts.

Yesterday, I wrote about a friend speaking to students about his experiences in Iraq (to be sure they were fully awake to what was going on). I mentioned that I hadn't offered to help to his wife and was surprised to learn that she had gone on food stamps (they have several children) due to the fact that the payment (from the military) wasn't enough.

She called last night and wanted to clear something up because she felt it might help others. By her count, I said something to the effect of "Do you need anything because I can help" five times.
She swears it was five times because each time she said no but went on to think about it.

They got through. They made it through. But the point she wanted to make was that she felt embarrassed about being on food stamps and it wasn't the sort of topic she could bring up easily. She told herself after the fifth time, "When she asks again, I'm going to say yes."

I never asked again. If someone's used to making ends meet, it can be very hard to reveal that they suddenly can't. She feels it is twice as hard when they can't because the government has sent a partner overseas. Her point is that if you know someone whose spouse is serving ("or lover or whatever"), even if they say "no" or "we're fine," don't stop asking. The worst that will happen is someone will keep repeating they don't need help.

But if they do need help but are having difficulty admitting it, someone asking regularly will make it easier for them "to finally open up." There was a school play for the oldest and she was hoping I would ask before the play or when I was at the play. I didn't. That's my bad and I regret it. But the costume broke their already stretched budget for the month. She said she couldn't bring up the issue at the play but if I had, she would have said she could use a little help due to the cost of the costume.

Do not make the mistake I made. I don't feel good about it but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I apologized last night on the phone and she said that was silly. It won't feel silly if it happens to you so don't let it.

Ask and ask again. You may be wasting your time and wasting their time but the worst that can happen is that they'll sigh and say, "One more time, I don't need help."

If I had kept asking or even asked one more time, she would have been comfortable accepting some help that was needed.

If you're reading this and thinking, "I don't have money to spare" -- well, that's not the end of it. I comfort myself that I at least invited her and the kids over to dinner repeatedly (take out, I'm not big on cooking). Maybe you cook and we're talking a few extra portions need to be made (or ordered)? Maybe you can help out by watching the kids?

After it's over and you find out that help was needed, you'll feel bad if you accepted the "We're fine" line. You'll feel a lot worse if, like me, you stopped offering because you felt you were being a pest on the topic. Be a pest.

Better to over-offer and never have it accepted than to find out if you had continued to offer, it would have been accepted. That's it, I've got exactly one minute to get this posted.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Another day where Iraq vanishes from the coverage. Unless, possibly, you think the most important coverage of Iraq is who wins the Democratic primary in Conn. If that's Iraq coverage for you, then maybe you got a taste of it today. If you think that's the weakest nonsense in the world and you're disgusted that independent media has given up on Iraq, then you probably aren't very pleased with the coverage. I'm not. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Tuesday, August 8, 2006. Bombings, a bank robery . . . all part of what the
AFP term "Bloody Day in Baghdad." And while people continue to dicker in the United States with games of "Is it or isn't it a civil war," Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) reports on Iraqi politicians who "way that the country is in civil war already." This as the so-called 'crackdown' (in beefed up form) appears to . . . crack apart.
Strongest dose of
reality comes from Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch): "The vast city of seven million people, almost the size of London, is breaking up into a dozen cities, each one of which is becoming a heavily armed Shia or Sunni stronghold. Every morning brings its terrible harvest of bodies. Many lie in the streets for hours, bloating in the 120F heat, while others are found floating in the Tigris river."
In the captial,
ITV notes "three near-simulaneous bomb explosins near the Interior Ministry building." Police officer Bilal Ali Majid tells the AP that at least 10 are dead and at least 8 wounded from the three bombs. Al Jazeera puts the toll at nine and notes "[t]wo roadside bombs exploded in the main Shurja market in central Bagdad within minutes of each other, killing 10 civilians and injuring 50". CBS and AP place the death toll at 10 for each bombing (20 total). AFP notes that ths market blast "set fire to several shops."
This is the AP in case anyone's confused (some early reports lumped the two attacks together): "Three bombs exploded simultaneously near the Interior Ministry buildings in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said. A couple of hours later, two roadside bombs ripped through the main Shurja market, also in central Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and wounding 50, police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun said."
Reuters notes a police officer was wounded by a roadside bomb "in the eastern Zayouna district of Baghdad"; in Iskandariya, two people were wounded by a roadside bomb; and, in Tikrit, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb (eight people wounded "including a child").
Reuters notes two civilians were shot to death in Rashad, "a police lieutenant colonel" was shot dead in Falluja (his brother was wounded), and two were shot dead in Mosul.
CNN reports that, in Muqdadiya, three people were shot dead (including a teacher) and that drive-by shootings claimed two lives in Baquba. AP notes "two Sunni brothers . . . slain in their car repair shop in southwestern Baghdad:.
In addition to the above, the
BBC notes the death of "three security guards and two bank officials" during a bank robbery in Baghdad today. AFP notes that the robbery of the al-Rasheed Bank utilized three cars and that the interior ministry is saying it only netted "seven million dinars (less than $5,000)". The AP states it was two cars.
CBS and AP note the discovery of nine "bullet-riddled" corpses in Kut. AFP notes that at least seven were "Iraqi border guards." Reuters notes that seven corpses were found "south of Baghdad" and that they were "wearing military uniforms". And the AP notes two corpses found in Baghdad ("shot in the head").
In addition, the
BBC reports: "Also on Tuesday, a US soldier died of wounds sustained in fighting, the US military said"; while CBS and AP report: "Two Iraqi journalists were killed in separate incidents in Baghdad, police said Tuesday. Mohammed Abbas Hamad, 28, a journalist for the Shiite-owned newspaper Al-Bayinnah Al-Jadida, was shot by gunmen at he left his home Monday in western Baghdad, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said. Late Monday, police found the bullet-riddled body of freelance journalist Ismail Amin Ali, 30, about a half mile from where he was abducted two weeks ago in northeast Baghdad, Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said. The body showed sign of torture, he added." The AP reminds that the two are "among more than 100 Iraqi and foreign media workers slain here since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003."
Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) notes that Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and puppet of the occupation) no longer pushes the "reconcilation project" and that Abdullah Aliawayi (Iraqi parliamentary member) describes it as "failed." Nouri al-Maliki's criticism of the "U.S.-Iraqi attack on Mahdi Army's stronghold in Baghdad's Sadr City" continues. Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) writes of the attack: "Families sleeping on rooftops to escape the summer heat were startled early Monday by helicoprters and gunfire" and that the action "killed three people, destroyed three homes and sent families scurrying for cover." (For those who wonder about the heat, a friend says it is 110 degrees in Baghdad right now). As AFP noted yesterday: "An AFP journalist in Sadr City reported that the raid on the area, a stronghold of the firebrand cleric, was accompanied by air strikes." Today AFP notes: "Coalition aircraft were called into action after the Iraqi army snatch squad came under fire, and at least three civilians were killed." Coalition aircraft would most likely mean US military aircraft. Elsa McLaren (Times of London) notes Times' colleague James Hider's observation that "This security plan is basically the last chance to save the country from civil war. It seems like he [al-Maliki] is trying to distance himself. There is a very fine line between sending your troops out to attack militia that are linked to a government party." Hider himself writes that "a clear rift" has opened between puppet al-Maliki "and the American military" which leads to "doubts about whether the security forces would have the political backing required to tackle powerful militias beholden to parties in the governing coalition."
In Baghdad, the trial into the murder of
Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members continue (as well as into the alleged rape of Abeer). This is the case that yesterday, as Reuters notes: "A US military court heard graphic testimony about how US soldiers took turns to hold down and rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murderer her and her family." Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that the attornies for the four troops currently serving (James Barker, Paul E. Cortez, Jesse V. Spielman and Bryan L. Howard; Steven D. Green is no longer in the military) accused of rape, murder and arson are calling for "a new hearing, accusing Yrbie's counsel of deliberately asking incriminating questions. A ruling was expected later in the day." Anthony Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for alleged failure to report the incident, he is not accused of rape, murder or arson. Also, CNN reports that a witness testified of "colleagues who drank whiskey and cough syrup and swallowed painkillers to cope with their jobs." The witness, Justin Cross, was asked if Steven D. Green could have done the crimes by himself and Cross responded, "Green does nothing by himself."
In the United States, peace activist Cindy Sheehan and others continue their protests in Crawford, TX.
Sheehan is quoted as saying of the Bully Boy, "He can shorten his vacations or not show up at all, but he's not hiding from the truth." Camp Casey III is up and going again this summer. Writing of Sheehan and the first Camp Casey last year, Tom Hayden noted: "Cindy Sheehan inhabits an alternative world of meaning that more Americans need to experience before this war can end. She represents the survivors' need to define a meaning in her son's death -- and her life -- that is counter to the meaning offered by President Bush. That is why she refuses any condolences, and why she continues to ask the President what was the 'noble purpose' for which Casey Sheehan died."
an interview with Dan Bacher (Toward Freedom), Sheehan spoke of the Troops Home Fast action and noted, "We hope the fast will galvanize public attention, invigorate the peace movement, build pressure on elected officials, and get our troops back home." Troops Home Fast continues with at least 4,549 people taking part today from around the world.
In other peace news,
Edwin Tanji (The Maui News) reports that Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, is getting the word out on his son (first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq) and will appear at Maui Bookseller (Wailuku) today at four p.m. as well as on the TV program Crossroads tonight at 7:00 p.m. Maui Democratic Party leader Lance Holter says of Ehren Watada: "I'm awe-struck by this man's bravery. He has taken on the entire American military machine and standing up for principles of honor and justice and American patriotism. There is no more patriotic man than this person."
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
In Australia,
AAP reports "Soldier 14" will be the next to testify into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad. In addition to Soldier 14 testifying in person, AAP reports: "The inquiry is also this week expected to hear more evidence about the bungled repatriation of Pte Kovco's body from witnesses appearing on a video link from the Middle East." Last week, one of Kovco's former roommates testified that the repatriation was contracted out and done on the cheap, tying that into the mix up that led to the body of Bosnian capenter Juso Sinanovic being sent to Australia instead of Jake Kovco. Those remembering how the scene of Jake Kovco's death was cleaned up before the investigation into what happened began won't be surprised by Ian McPhedran (Australia's Courier-Mail) report that it's happened again -- in this instance David Nary ("father-of-five SAS Warrant Officer") died in Kuwait last November and the military board's finding include "criticism for the lack of procedures to preserve an incident site."
In election news in the United States, as Ned Lamont challenges Joe Lieberman (polls close at 8:00 pm EST) for the Senate seat currently occupied by Lieberman, commentators sees the race as a sign post.
Stephen Schlesinger (Huffington Post) draws comparison to Eugene McCarthy and LBJ in 1968 and offers that: "A Lamont triumph or near success will make (and is already making) Democrats like Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden shift progressively more in favor of withdrawal from Iraq and is certainly going to alter the entire spectrum of political views over the issue of Iraq, not only for Democrats, but for Republicans, too. In short, this is likely to be the turning point". Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) takes a look at Lieberman's "strategy" noting: "Anxious to move Iraq to the backburner, Lieberma dug deep into his long history in the Senate to find a reason why Connecticut voters shouldn't send him packing tomorrow. The biggest selling point he came up with? 'I don't hate Republicans,' he said while arguing that he wasn't President Bush's 'best friend and enabler.' Talking points for the ages."

Are we the United States of Israel (some might argue we are and I could see their point based upon the weapons and other support we provide)? Last time I checked we were officially the United States of America. My point is that a war the US declares, an illegal war, that continues, that drags on, seems like a story that independent media would be interested in. But they aren't.

I was going to write about Abeer tonight but I got a call and someone else wants to grab that. I'll highlight the post tomorrow and my lips are sealed other than that. I was happy to say, "Grab it" because I actually had something else I wanted to write about as well.

A friend who served in Iraq (not a patient, he's a friend and I referred him to others when he got back because I didn't think it would help him to have me as a therapist) gave his first speech today. I had blocked out my schedule so I could go this afternoon. Sunny wanted to go as well (and I should have thought to invite her ahead of time, my bad) so we went ahead and closed the office.

This was the first time he was going to be speaking to anyone that wasn't his therapist, a friend or a support group of fellow vets and he was nervous. Do you know what he was most nervous about?

That no one would care. That no one would be interested. What gave him that idea?

Sunny and I weren't surprised when he said, "Well it's not really a topic these days."

We assured him it was a topic. It's not one the media cares about but people do. I have never seen him as nervous as he was before the speech and I attended his wedding. He is a very shy person. Happy to blend in with a group, never one to attempt to grab the spotlight.

He was speaking to a group of kids that will likely be increasingly targeted by recruiters this year (they were all high school students, with parents who live paycheck to paycheck in an econmy that provides less and less of a safety net).

For about the first two minutes, his voice was shaking. Then he got into the speech and by the time he was taking questions, he was completely over his fear. (But he told us after, he thought he would be as nervous if he spoke again. He has a thing next week that's been lined up by someone at his church, high school kids again, and he's already nervous about that.)

The kids loved it. They loved that he didn't pull punches. He went over all the empty promises they'll hear and the reality. He spoke of how while he was over there, all those empty promises didn't help a bit and his wife had to go on food stamps. (Which I hadn't known. She and I get together about once a month. After the speech, I asked about that and he said she was too embarrassed and he was as well. So if you know someone who has a husband or wife serving in Iraq, don't be an idiot like I was an assume that if they need something they will ask. Offer. Offer repeatedly. It may not be needed. But better to offer something that's not needed than to assume there is no need.)

He was injured over there and he talked about that and the kids had a lot of questions about injuries in general. One young man said that, more than anything else, that's what he feels the media doesn't cover "unless there are just like five people injured a year, you know?" His point was he can usually find coverage of that, five injuries, a year. He wondered what it was like in the hospital and how many people were there. He was the one who asked the question but you could just feel the room lean collectively forward as the question was answered at length.

The young man had a follow up question (putting him miles ahead of most 'reporters') which was why that wasn't covered? My friend responded that if it were covered, it would hurt recruitment. There was a lot of physical nodding to that and verbal was well (example, shouts of "Word" and "I hear that").

A young woman, and there weren't that many young women attending which surprised me because they are targets for recruiters, talked about how the calls were already coming, she's going into her senior year this year, and that they'd only picked up over the summer. So my friend asked for a show of hands for who had a been called at their home by a recruiter and every hand in the room went up. There was one young man who didn't look very old to me and I did ask him after how old he was? He was fifteen-years-old and he's already been called twice -- once by the Army, once by the Navy.

I do a group, volunteer, with young women and we decided to take the summer off but when that starts back up, my friend's already agreed to speak to them. (I told him we'd all be sitting in a circle and that eased the pressure. He hates the focus that standing in front of a group brings.)

He did a wonderful job speaking. I'll be at the second engagement and report how that goes. He's going to bring some photos of when he was wounded and during his recovery because he was surprised the kids were interested in that. (Why was he surprised? Because no one talks about it -- I mean the media.)

The other big question that he was asked was if he knew why the US was over there? He was shipped over early on and he talked about how the reasons had changed and, that by the time he left, most people had stopped wondering or citing any reason because "they'd all fallen through and you're over there just trying to stay alive, just trying to make it through each day, counting them down."

He brought up the 172nd Stryker Brigade (which was supposed to be home this month but Donald Rumsfeld extended their year of duty by a year) and how that just "freaks with your mind because you've been telling yourself '30 more days, 20 more days' and the end is in sight when all the sudden the count starts all over."

Please check out Wally's "JOE LIEBERMAN SUDDENLY CARES ABOUT THE DISENFRANCHISED!" and Kat's "I love KPFA but I can't take any more of this 'THE ONLY STORY IS ISRAEL!'."

Monday, August 07, 2006

In the wall to wall coverage of Israel, Iraq falls off the map again

First, I did get Roger Water's The Wall: Live in Berlin this weekend. Susan was right, Joni Mitchell's "Goodbye Blue Skies" is a wonderful version of that song. I'm not crazy about all the performances (the Scorpians for instance), but I also like Sinead O'Connor's take on "Mother" and Waters and Van Morrison teaming up for "Comfortably Numb." I'd recommend it. If you like Pink Floyd's The Wall, you'll be interested in how others interpret the songs. I don't know that you'll be thrilled with all the interpretations but I think you'll find your own favorites. (You might even like The Scorpians's take of "In The Flesh.") Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Monday, August 7, 2006 -- even if the "world's eyes" (media) elect to focus elsewhere.
While the failed "crackdown" attempts to beef up Baghdad and
George Casey ("Top U.S. commander in Iraq") holds a press conference to proclaim the military equivalent of "Check's in the mail!" (Casey claims things will be okey-dokey by the end of September) reality suggests otherwise with the AFP reports at least 26 Iraqis dead on Monday and BBC correspondent Paul Wood noting "of John Abizaid ("head of US Central Command") "that this is the first time the generals are talking openly about the possibility of a civil war." And more details emerge into the death of Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family as a US military investigator testifies before the Article 32 hearing.
Before turning to today's violence, we'll note the latest peace news.
On Sunday, Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas for Camp Casey III. Last summer, the first Camp Casey's were set up to honor her son Casey Sheehan who died April 4, 2004 as well as the other lost lives of this illegal war.
W. Leon Smith (Lonestar Iconoclast) reports on (and from) the new location for Camp Casey (several acres owned by Sheehan) and notes Sheehan's belief that the new location "will be safer than where we were before, and we won't be in the way as much as we were before. We are good neighbors. . . . If they can't put up with our presence for a few weeks, when our soldiers and the people of Iraq are suffering constantly because of what our other neighbor George Bush did, then I think they need to learn to relax a little bit and learn to live with us because, I promise you, I love Crawford and we will be good neighbors."
As The Lonestar Iconclast notes "
Bush Is Back . . . But So Is Sheehan" which reports this is Bully Buy's "59th" trip to the ranch and that "[a]s of Saturday, he had spent all or part of 384 days (more than a year of his presidency) in the area, which has drawn considerable criticism among those who believe that presidential vacations should be limited, especially when catastrophes abound throught the world."
This August, Bully Boy cuts his vacation short because he's a "
Bully on the Run" ("Bully on the Run") with Sheehan back in Crawford. Angela K. Brown (AP) reports that, on Sunday, "Sheehan and more than 50 demonstrators again marched a mile and a half toward Bush's ranch, stopping at a roadblock" and that the activists began a chant of "This is what democracy looks like! This is what democracy sounds like!"
As the
AFP notes, Cindy Sheehan's return to Camp Crawford follows her trip to Jordan with other activists (including Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson and others) where ""We met with Iraqi parliamentarians, elected officials, who have peace plans and goals that they want to accomplish in Iraq, and all of them said the occupation is the cause of the problem and the occupation has to end."
For the Bully Boy, the only thing ending is his retreat to Crawford since he will now spend precious few days at his ranchette but
will weekend in Maine this month and hang out at Camp David. Clayton Hallmark (North Texas Indymedia) reports on the Bully Boy's ranchette, which used to be a hog farm (and still house a pig -- at least during vacations), noting that "[t]he new main house is built like a motel but with porch on the back instead of the front"; that the "style is that of an office factory" and that it "was built by a religious commune from nearby Elm Mott, TX (the FBI-decimated Branch Davidians were from Elk, also nearby), out of yellow-beige native limestone".
While Bully Boy is planning on pulling a disappearance stunt (shades of his releationship with the National Guard),
Richard Benedetto (USA Today) reports that Sheehan intends to stay in Crawford until September 3rd.
When Sheehan returned to Camp Casey, others on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan are hoping to arrive in Lebanon today -- those include Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright. Australia's Sunday Times reports:
"Medea said the group wanted to press congress, ahead of November elections, to support calls for 'a fixed timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and a commitment not to have permanent US bases in Iraq'." (
Marjorie Cohn noted on WBAI's Law and Disorder this morning that "we are now building six to fourteen permanent military bases" in Iraq.)
Jodie Evans reports on the first meeting in Jordan and notes some of the statements made by Iraqis including: "We witnessed with our own experience how American tanks used to break Universities and asked people to loot them. These people who started looting in the beginning were not from Iraq but other countries, Kuwait was involved." CODEPINK's Evans also notes the large number of Iraqis fleeing their country as the illegal war wages on and estimates that the city of Amman contains "about 500,000 Iraqis seeking safe harbor." Along with Evans, Hayden, Wright, Wilson and Benjamin, others on the trip to Jordan were: Dal LaMagna, Franciscan priest Louie Vitale, Gael Murphy, Jeeni Criscenzo, Raed Jarrar, Geoffrey Millard and Barbara Briggs-Letson.
The meeting in Amman is thought to have come about from the
Troops Home Fast actions. The fast continues and it is on day 35 with 4,549 people from around the world participating. The action started July 4th and continues through September 21st. If you're interested in participating, it is an ongoing fast and you can join at any time for a one-day strike, a one-day-a-week strike, or whatever works best for you. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Rawya Rageh (AP) reports on a "suicide truck bomber" in Samarra whose actions have resulted in the death of nine Iraqi troops as well as ten civilians wounded. CBS and AP report two bombs in Baghdad, on Palestine Street ("major shopping area of Baghdad"), resulted in ten people being injured. Reuters reports a roadside bomb near Khalis killed four civilians and wounded at least seven; a bomb in Khan Bani Saad killed two (police officer and a civilians) and left seven more wounded; and, in Faulluja, a roadside bomb claimed the lives of six civilians leaving two more wounded.
Reuters reports that an attack by armed assailants in Baquba resulted in the death of six Iraqi soldiers and fifteen more wounded. The Associated Press notes fighting going on in Iraq, cites Col. Hassan Chaloub (police chief of Sadr City -- a district in Baghdad) noting that three people have died "including a woman and a 3-year-old girl" while "three cars and three houses also were destroyed."
AP also notes that two cars did a drive-by aimed at a barbershop in Baghdad and resulting in the death of "the owner and four customers"; while in Mosul, two police officers in a taxi were shot to death.
I believe the above incidents add up to 35 reported dead in Iraq (and that's not touching on US military claims of "insurgents" killed). Corpses?
AP notes that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("hancuffed . . . shot in the head").
From corpses to courts . . . New reports are coming out of the military inquiry into the death and alleged rape of
Abeer Qasim Hamza, the fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl who was killed along with three family members reported by US troops. Reuters reports that the "U.S. military court heard graphic testimony on Monday on how U.S. soldiers took turns holding down and raping" Abeer Sasim Hamza. Elsa McLaren "and agencies" (Times of London) reports that Benjamin Bierce testified on what James Barker told him when he (Bierce) began investigating the incident: " Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl, but said he was not sure if he had done so, Special Agent Bierce told the hearing." After this, Bierce testifies, Steven Green came into the room "put down an AK-47 assault rifle and raped the girl while Cortez held her down". CBS and AP report that: "U.S. soldiers accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in the town of Mahmoudiya last March drank alcohol and hit golf balls before the attack, and one of them grilled chicken wings afterward, an investigator told a U.S. military hearing Monday, citing a soldier's sworn statement."
In peace news,
Caroline Aoygi-Stom (New America Media) notes that the national JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) has taken a non-stand on Ehren Watada (sitting out another issue they could be impacting) despite the fact that "the Honolulu JACL has come out in full support of Watada, backing his decision to refuse deployment to Iraq." Watada is the first commissioned US officer known to have refused deployment in Iraq. Aoygi-Stom notes the latter's statement: "'The JACL Hawai'i, Honolulu chapter supports Lt. Ehren Watada's thoughtful and deliberate act of conscience. We believe Lt. Watada's refusal to participate in a war that violates the U.S. Constitution and international law is a principled act of patriotism,' the chapter said in their statement. 'We believe a staunch defense of the Constitution is in keeping with JACL Hawai'i's primary mission of protecting the civil and human rights of all'."
To read the national JACL's statement you
can click here (PDF format).
Remember that
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
Meredith May (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the war resistance movement and notes that attorneys in "Toronto and Vancouver . . . compared numbers" and estimate they've advised 200 Americans soldiers who've gone AWOL. War resister Brandon Hughey is quoted saying: "I've always believed if you need to defend yourself or your family from killing, then killing could be justified, but I can't kill someone without a good reason." May also speaks to Patrick Hart, Ryan Johnson, Darryl Anderson and others and May's report is also available as a podcast.

I'm glad C.I. led with Cindy Sheenan. There was a time when Camp Casey would mean independent media would be all over this. Sunny searched in vain for some reporting on it to listen to or a discussion. She gave up and ended up listening to NPR. There's only one topic for independent media now and it's nonstop. I can't imagine that's it's drawing an audience.

I care about the topic and I'm not even interested in listening to independent media because I know it's all I will here. In "And the war drags on," C.I. compared this sort of coverage to an O.J. Simpson car chase. Remember that? Remember how that one story (whether you think it was newsworthy or not -- I didn't) dominated everything? That's how it is now. I'm not pulling out the credit card during the upcoming fundraising. I have no interest in supporting this type of coverage. This one story and one story only, over and over, is why I don't watch cable news. It bores beyond belief.

There's also the fact that, as Jimmy Breslin pointed out with "In Case We All Forgot, Americans Are Still Dying in Iraq" (Newsday via Common Dreams), that Iraq's not getting any coverage. I told Sunny to try listening to Randi Rhodes tomorrow. She'll probably have something on Camp Casey. I racked my brain for something and Rhodes was the only one I could think of who wouldn't be dropping Iraq to go wall to wall. As my hate mail will attest, I think Israel's out of control, I think other countries need to convey that this needs to stop. "Other countries"? Bully Boy's signed off on all of this. He's not going to listen. He'll make noises but only after they've done whatever Bully Boy okayed will it end. Israel bombed a UN station. They knew it was one, it had been there for decades, they were in contact with it. They didn't bomb it once, they bombed it repeatedly, hour after hour. You don't do that unless your key ally (the US) has signed off on your actions.

Is this a story? Yes, it is. But it's not the only story, despite independent media's attempts to portray it as such. Everyone has to jump on the bandwagon. It's like one cable news network covers something and the others glom on it.

I have no interest in listening in my spare time to that. I don't need to hear it over and over and I can't imagine that many do. It's not the only story but it's treated like it was. So Iraq falls off the radar. I've heard the speeches during the fund drives, how only independent media can bring you the coverage you need on Iraq. I guess that won't be part of the pitch this time. But I won't be supporting it. I won't give a dime because I do vote with my pocketbook and I won't endorse this kind of wall to wall coverage that lets Iraq and other important stories take a back seat. It's not even impressive coverage. It's "and now we're playing a clip from a documentary . . ."

I'm tired of it. I was tired of the wall to wall on Mexico before Israel decided that laws don't apply to them. It's ten days until Ehren Watada goes into the Article 32 proceeding but that's not an important story and the people dying in Iraq aren't "newsworthy." It's all such nonsense.
Sunny said she's not even going to try to listen to the independent media tomorrow. She's going to bring CDs and she's going to try to catch Randi Rhodes.

C.I.'s right that it is way past the point where independent media should have provided a program devoted to Iraq. It hasn't. So week after week, there's some new 'hot' story and Iraq never gets the coverage it needs. I support United for Peace and Justice. I have nothing against other organizations working to end the war but that is the organization that spoke to me most clearly in the lead up to the illegal war with Iraq and continues to do so. (I love the women of CODEPINK, for the record.) They don't get the coverage they need.

Sunny's issue about the morning radio programs was don't they check or anything? Don't they say, "Oh, this show's covering Israel, so I'll offer another topic"? They don't appear to. They appear to want wall to wall.

That Camp Casey's re-opening didn't lead to huge coverage demonstrates how out of touch independent media is (or maybe how it just doesn't care). Camp Casey ignited the peace movement. Now, it's reduced to a few seconds if it gets that.

I was on the phone with C.I. during the entry last night (or during part of it) and C.I. said the f-word was going to start popping up so the entry was going up before it did. I understand that. I understand and share the feeling that independent media is a failure right now. All they've demonstrated is that they can do wall to wall the same as any cable network and that they can chase after one story over and over at the expense of everything else.

I didn't even listen to Cat Radio Cafe today. I love the show but was afraid Janet Coleman might be doing the same thing everyone else was. That would have been too depressing. Sunny was already depressed, pointing out that a hundred Iraqis die every day (according to the UN) and that for this month, just for this month of which today is the 7th day, 14 American troops have died. Do you grasp that? I don't think independent media does.

The hate mail didn't make me stop covering the topic. But what made me (Mike and I discussed this today) decide to stop covering Israel's actions is that everyone else is. I don't control independent media. I can (and will) withhold my money. But what I do control is what goes up at this site. So this week, you won't find links on Israel or discussions of it.

14 American troops dead. On the seventh day of August, 14 troops have died so far this month.
Ramadi? Off the radar. Big media wasn't interested in. Now independent media isn't. "Crackdown" II is going on in Baghdad. You think we don't need to know what's going on? You think that's not important?

It's very important. It may not be important to independent media and that's fine. Just don't hit me up for money. Don't expect me to listen to you.

With "Other Items" this morning, C.I. opened with Riverbend's "Summer of Goodbyes..." (Baghdad Burning):

I've said goodbye this last month to more people than I can count. Some of the 'goodbyes' were hurried and furtive- the sort you say at night to the neighbor who got a death threat and is leaving at the break of dawn, quietly.
Some of the 'goodbyes' were emotional and long-drawn, to the relatives and friends who can no longer bear to live in a country coming apart at the seams.
Many of the 'goodbyes' were said stoically -- almost casually -- with a fake smile plastered on the face and the words, "See you soon"... Only to walk out the door and want to collapse with the burden of parting with yet another loved one.
During times like these I remember a speech Bush made in 2003: One of the big achievements he claimed was the return of jubilant 'exiled' Iraqis to their country after the fall of Saddam. I'd like to see some numbers about the Iraqis currently outside of the country you are occupying... Not to mention internally displaced Iraqis abandoning their homes and cities.
I sometimes wonder if we'll ever know just how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis left the country this bleak summer. I wonder how many of them will actually return. Where will they go? What will they do with themselves? Is it time to follow? Is it time to wash our hands of the country and try to find a stable life somewhere else?

I read that and thought of the independent media coverage of the last few weeks and told Mike I didn't want to cover any radio program, I didn't want to provide any links to Israel's actions. I read that and thought, "Riverbend has to go through this every day and no one seems to care right now." I don't know Riverbend but, through her writing, I feel like I do. I won't abandon her to chase after some 'hot' topic. When I was writing of it, it seemed like others weren't addressing seriously. Now it's all that's talked about and that was never my intent.

I read Riverbend's latest post and read her writing about how she can't even drive anymore because of the conditions in Baghdad which no longer is an area safe for women to drive in. They can be killed for that. It's as though Baghdad is now Saudi Arabia. That's the fault of the US. Iraq and Baghdad were modern societies with a recognition of the rights of women. During Mad Maddy Albright's sanctions, women suffered but it was still more advanced than any of its neighbors. That's no longer the case and Riverbend has to live with that -- even if no one seems to care.

I do care. It breaks my heart. She has always had the most personable writing style, you feel like she's talking to you in her posts. They are very conversational, informative but conversational. So it does break my heart to read of the continued decay and how it is impacts Riverbend.

"How the US Army Failed to Notice a Killer: The Legacy of a Drop in Standards" (Trevor Royle,
Scotland's Sunday Herald via Common Dreams):
That didn't happen in Green’s case and when he was shipped out to Iraq in the summer of 2005 he was that dangerous beast: a man with no self-discipline in charge of a gun. The experience of war unnerved him. He found that it was not a computer game but a hellish business in which people literally get blown to pieces and died not like heroes but screaming in agony. One night, he had had enough and the demons in his head took him out of camp and into the house of a blameless Iraqi family in Al Mahmudiyah, slap bang in the heart of the Sunni Triangle.
It's now clear that Green had slipped through the net during basic training and that his instructors failed to pick up on the fact that he was grotesquely unsuited to being a soldier. But here’s the rub: such is the demand for recruits at a time when the US armed forces are over-stretched that the system has been subtly re-focused. Instead of insisting on checks to weed out the misfits, the emphasis has been changed to make sure that as many recruits as possible get through basic training. At a time when Iraq hovers on the brink of civil war, the deaths in Al Mahmudiyah may be just another set of statistics but that they exist at all begs the age-old question. When lives are at stake, who guards the guardians?

Sunny saw that and wanted me to comment on it and pair it with a better highlight. C.I. addressed this on Saturday and we'll get to that in a moment. The part not excerpted is under some impression that only Steven Green allegedly raped Abeer Qasim Hamza. That is not correct. Four of the five others were charged with rape, arson and murder. I agree that Green got into an institution he should have never been allowed into. But that goes to what they were looking for? What were they looking for with Abu Ghraib? They appear to have found exactly what they were looking for in that instance. With Green, it may be something as simple as a recruiter needing to make that quota but he should never been inducted.

Now on Saturday, C.I. addressed some of the nonsense in the New York Times' coverage of the case (such as being unable to name Abeer Qasim Hamza -- a condition/code of silence that continues in print today, see C.I.'s "NYT: Continuing render Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible").

"NYT: Rendering Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible again" (The Common Ills):
If [Robert F.] Worth and [Carolyn] Marshall want to chart the decay of the military company, might they take a moment to wonder what sort of leadership existed that adult males sent by the US to Iraq were able to leer at (and comment on?) a fourteen-year-old girl? So much so that she and others noticed it. Who didn't notice it? And why didn't they notice it?
This nonsense of the leadership was under pressure and one of them needed to leave his command to get his head together isn't cutting it. But as long as the story is driven by the "pressure" (rape as an outlet for pressure? murder as an outlet for pressure?), a lot of questions about leadership (and training and who gets admitted) aren't being answered.
With Green it's already been reported that he had run ins with the law. When he was under age (which I'm not interested in -- others can be, that's their business) but also right before the military took him. Green's one person alleged to have been involved. Worth and Marshall report that there are now doubts that he was the "ringleader" as the press has billed him.
So who got in and how? And what was the training? What was the supervision?
Someone's quoted (anonymous) saying "none of that would have happened if he was around" -- John Goodwin ("commander of Company B"). None of what? The murders, the rape? What about the days where Abeer Qasim Hamza was the object of attention that grown men know better of? At one point, the press (I don't believe the Times did this) made a big deal out of the age (I think it was when they'd finally downgraded to 16) and how in 'that culture' the girl is a woman. Adult males raised in the United States damn well know they don't have sex with a 14-year-old. Long before they raped her, Abeer Qasim Hamza was aware of enough going on to know that they were making her uncomfortable. Her family was aware of that as well -- which is why they were attempting to send her to another home for her own protection.
Now Worth and Marshall can quote a whiner about how everyone in Iraq hates them and you don't know who your friends are or who they aren't. They can quote that until the paper it's printed on decays to dust. That's not the issue. This isn't just murder or just rape (bad enough), this is a sexual assault on a child.
Had it been consensual (which it wasn't), it would have landed them behind bars in the United States. They know that. They knew that growing up.
All the crap in the world about how everybody hates them and they act like they're your friend to your face but the whole time they're plotting against you, is just crap. It's nothing more than crap.
Abeer Qasim Hamza was fourteen-years-old and she was raped. By US adult males. Someone shooting the wrong person because they thought they were under attack -- tragic but it happens. Someone raping a fourteen-year-old girl? Pressure is offered throughout the article. The pressure they were under.
Is the insanity defense going to be used because they'd have to be at least temporarily insane to think rape was okay (one they plotted for some time allegedly). And the rape victim was a fourteen-year-old girl. That's disgusting and the fact that the paper of record can't name her, can't try to report on her story from her angle is disgusting.
Iraqis are rendered invisible day after day in the press reports. Apparently, we have time to track down anonymice who can tell us about the pressure but that pressure never will include what it was like for a fourteen-year-old girl, in her own neighborhood, to be made uncomfortable by what was obvious sexual attention from adult males supposedly their for her neighborhood's protecticion.

People are acting, including Scotland's Sunday Herald, as though the US troops just snapped. That's now what's been reported. They were "eyeing" Abeer. Fourteen-years-old and she's got to deal with the disgusting ogling of adult males, adult males with guns, adult males who are part of the foreign forces occupying her country. Do you think the press has given much thought to what that must have been like for Abeer?

To be so nervous, so bothered by the unwanted attention that she complained to her parents who quickly decided that, for her own protection, they needed to have her go live with neighbors. Abeer never got to do that. She was murdered. She was allegedly raped. Fourteen-years-old. I don't think the press gets how disgusting this is. I think they see it as a murder and nothing more. Certainly, the New York Times in their early coverage emphasized the murder and treated the rape in a secondary manner.

C.I. asked (in "NYT: Continuing render Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible") where the watchdogs were on the press treatment of Abeer? No where to be found. Independent media could address that but that would mean dropping the wall to wall.

As I said earlier, I understood when C.I. said last night that it was post the entry or start dropping the f-word. I feel that way now so let me wind down. Trina's "Jess' Summer Vegetable Blend in the Kitchen" is a recipe I intended to attempt but Trina ended up making it for everyone Sunday afternoon. (I left Sunday evening.) (Thank you to everyone for having me as a guest.)