Tuesday, October 26, 2010. Chaos and violence contiue, another US soldier dies in Iraq, WikiLeaks gets media attention (from some), The Whoring of America, and more.
Sunday another US soldier died while serving in Iraq. Neither DoD nor USF has issued a statement on the death on his death but his family has gone public. WTEN reports, "21-year old Pvt. David Jones joined the Army less than one year ago, and was serving his first tour of duty in Iraq as a prison guard. The 2008 St. Johnsville High School graduate was in good spirits when he spoke to his mother last week, but his girlfriend received a cryptic message from him minutes before his death." Theresa Bennett explains her son (biological nephew but she raised him) would have been back in the US "on leave next week. He had bought tickets to a New York Giants football game and planned to propose to his girlfriend at halftime." In Iraq, David Jones was a prison guard. The Albany Times Union reports that his body was discovered "with a gunshot wound to his head. His girlfriend, Brittany Winton, said that shortly before he was found, he sent her a Facebook message that said 'By the time you get this I'll probably be gone'." Stephanie Sorrell-White (Observer-Dispatch) quotes his baseball coach Jason Brundage stating, "David was a good kid. He was outgoing, had a lot of energy, always talking but never saying anything bad about anyone." Julie Tremmel (Fox 23 News) speaks with the family and his brother Bernie Bennett states, "I talked to him the other day and he was gonna be back for my birthday and we were going to celebrate together." Theresa Bennet adds, "He sent Brittany an engagement ring and gave it to her mother to hold on to. And he sent us tickets to the Dallas Cowboys and Giants game on November 8th and he was gonna propose to her at half time."
The family wants answers about David Jones' death and they deserve them. A much more minor issue, but still an issue, is why USF is unable to issue announcements on deaths. Issuing announcements is their job. Of course, to do so, would be to draw attention to a death and everyone's working overtime to pretend that there are no US soldiers in Iraq anymore and Barack uttered a few words on August 31st and 'peace' prevailed. It's a disservice to those stationed there, it's a disservice to those like David Jones who are losing their lives.
Today on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), professional liar Paul Pillar told more lies than anyone could possibly ever fact check. While it might appear that Pillar should be an expert on dumps, we're referring to the releasing of documents -- called a "document dump" by the Pentagon and its supporters -- and that's really not Pillar's expertise. He should stick to things that, like him, float around a toilet. And suggestion for NPR, stop booking guests who snicker. It's childish and it needs to stop. Late Friday, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. Today Diane was joined by Stephen Walt and Daniel Ellsberg after Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell spoke (he handed off to Pillar who spun for the Pentagon throughout). Excerpt:
Stephen Walt: They suggest that some parts of the story we were told over the last few years weren't entirely correct and may have actually been misrepresented. And given that the American tax payer is paying for this and the Americans are going to be held responsible for this and Americans are going to have to judge how others see us based on what they know about what our own government is doing I think the net effect of some of this is acutally positive and we have to be very careful in trying to squelch it. If I may make one other point, if I thought that the Congress and the press were doing an energetic job of investigating what our past behavior has been and holding people accountable then I would think there was less value in having an organization like WikiLeaks spreading this kind of information.
Diane Rehm: Stephen --
Stephen Walt: Given that I haven't seen very much of that in recent years, I guess the net effect, this may actually be positive for the sort of longterm understanding of American foreign and defense policy.
Diane Rehm: Stephen Walt. He's professor of international affairs at Harvard University. And turning to you now, Daniel Ellsberg, first of all, I know you're in London. Why?
Daniel Ellsberg: I was here to stand with WikiLeaks in this release which I think serves a very definite public interest here --
Diane Rehm: You say -- You say you've been waiting a long time for information that actually makes a difference. Yet, you've heard Stephen Walt say, Paul Pillar say, what's been released really does not amount to all that much.
Daniel Ellsberg: Well that does not -- First of all, I do agree with what Stephen Walt has said and I thought, Diane, your question was very prudent, probing and appropriate. I have to say I have been waiting a long time for someone to take risks of acting at risk as the source of this has done. Anyone who released this information had to know that they were risking being where Bradley Manning is sitting right now: Accused -- whether rightly or not -- and facing life imprisonment [. . .] or be executed in order to share this information with the American public I recognize the same state of mind I had 40 years ago and which did not then represent the feelings of a disgrunteled individual with an axe to grind other than I thought it was in the interest of my country to stop killing Vietnamese and to end the Vietnamese war. And I have a feeling, very strongly, of identification with whoever this source was. If it was Bradley Manning, if that's proved to be the case, I admire him. But I have to say, Diane, that I'm feeling more emotion than I expected to feel in this. I recognize by that my still feelings of identification with the executive branch that I served for quite awhile and my feelings of shame and disgust at hearing current officials like [Pentagon spokesperson Geoff] Morrell blow smoke about matters of human life here and war and peace in the way that he did --
Diane Rehm: Daniel Ellsberg, tell me what you believe these documents reveal --
Daniel Ellsberg: Yes, well --
Diane Rehm: -- that the American public needs to know?
Daniel Ellsberg: It's, it's a matter of simply reading the documents. Morrell said the other night on The Larry King Show I was on that he saw no War Crimes in these documents, these 400,000, he saw no evidence of War Crimes. I was -- I found myself just disgusted at that statement. If he wants better information on that, he can find it within his own building, he can go to his Judge Advocate's General of the --
Diane Rehm: Tell me what War Crimes you believe have been committed?
Daniel Ellsberg: Yes. You don't have to be a lawyer to know that drilling with electric drills, pulling out finger nails and cutting fingers, this is consensually understood to be torture which is to say a crime under international and domestic law -- as is the failure to investigate or to stop the practice of this by allies --
Diane Rehm: Alright.
Daniel Ellsberg: -- and to refuse to hand over suspects as these clearly reveal. They're just as much crimes of torture itself.
Diane Rehm: Stephen Walt --
Daniel Ellsberg: And to make that very clear, he could get that from Colin Powell who as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs -- and former Secretary of State at the time in the Bush administration when this was going on strongly objected to the redefinition of these as not being torture --
Diane Rehm: Alright.
Daniel Ellsberg: -- and that these were illegal.
As noted, Morrell joined the show early on. The Morrell media moment in the last days remains Good Morning America Saturday when co-anchor Dan Harris attempted to get Morrell to answer the question of whether or not US service members were asked not to investigate torture and Morrell repeatedly danced around the issue leading Harris to conclude after the third dance, "Sounds like: Yes, perhaps they were told not to investigate." (Ava and I covered that Sunday and, as noted, did so at the request of friends with ABC News.) The documents reveal that the US soldiers were reporting reports and evidence of abuse by Iraqi forces, they were reporting them up the chain of command; however, nothing was done about it and the US soldiers were under orders not to do anything other than report it. Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) notes:
The biggest US security breach in our history, carried off by WikiLeaks, reveals a wealth of information – hundreds of thousands of field reports, the raw material collected by the US military on the ground in Iraq. It will be quite a while before the "gems" are mined from this treasure trove, but initially the one that stands out as the jewel in the crown is the revelation of "Frago 242" – an order from high up in the US military command instructing officers not to investigate reports of torture and other human rights violations by their Iraqi allies. As the Guardian, one of the media outlets given privileged access to the database prior to its general release, reports:
"A frago is a 'fragmentary order' which summarizes a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, 'only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ.'"
Yesterday on The Takeaway, Celeste Headlee and John Hockenberry spoke with the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak.
Celeste Headlee: First of all, can you tell me -- you probably haven't read 400,000 pages -- but can you tell me what in the documents strike you the most? There were reportings that Iraq's officers and soldiers were beating prisoners, burning them, lashing them -- in one case Americans suspected that a prisoner was burnt with acid. What in there is perhaps surprising to you?
Manfred Nowak: It is that the amount and the brutality of the torture methods that have been used but, in principle, these new documents do confirm all the various allegations that we have heard about torture and ill treatment by Iraqi security forces and militias during all those years.
Celeste Headless: So the United Nations has been receiving reports or accusations of torture, for years now, at the hands of Iraqi soldiers?
Manfred Nowak: Yes, we have.
Celeste Headlee: And this confirms them so what is the next step here and what is the United States' legal responsibility? If it is in fact the case that the United States was aware that this torture was going on or suspected it and still handed prisoners over, is the United States legally responsible?
Manfred Nowak: I mean, first of all, of course, it's the responsibility of the Iraqi government. They have to investigate what happened and bring the perpetrators to justice. But secondly, the United States is responsible under the Convention Against Torture not to hand over any detainees to Iraqi security forces when they know that there's a serious risk of being subjected to torture. So also this practice should be investigated by the United States.
Nowak goes on to reveal that he attempted a fact-finding mission in Iraq in 2006; however, despite Iraq inviting him in and the British agreeing and saying he could have access to their prisons in Iraq however the US refused and that was the end of any possible mission.
In another Takeaway segment on Monday, John F. Burns told Celeste and John that he examined the documents to see (a) what the paper might have missed (he didn't feel they'd missed anything) and (b) that following his profile of Julian Assange, he has gotten nasty responses. In other words, John F. Burns used his seven minutes of time to pat himself on the back and to the whine about response to his writing. (For any wondering, we ignored John's article -- didn't link to it, didn't comment on it.) As usual, he made it all about him and then he got to the most laughable or offensive (depending upon your view) when he attacked "bloggers" who were "anti-war" and their response declaring, "I find it very unamerican," Burns is British. What a moron. And he did a lousy job in Iraq. Burns was one of the go-go boys -- he and Dexy held each other's penises while typing and playing apparently (Dexy ended up divorced, Burnsie got lucky) -- and, as such, he did more than any other NYT-er to render Iraqi women invisible in print. He wants to talk about what his paper covered under his lead? It didn't cover women. Iraqi women were not sought out, were not quoted. It took the ones came after Burnsie and Dexy to do the mop up. And Burnsie, for the record, has been unable or unwilling to report on the British response to the revelations. Nor did he remark on them on The Takeaway -- despite being on the phone from London. For those who need a reminder, back in 2005, Lloyd Groves' "Times' Iraq bureau grief" (New York Daily News) reported:
The Gray Lady's management has just fired Sachs, a widely respected and experienced journalist who has tangled bitterly with Burns and Filkins, over allegations that she sent anonymous letters and an E-mail to their wives alleging bad behavior with women in the war zone. Sachs - who didn't respond to a message left for her in France yesterday - has stoutly denied the charges, and the Newspaper Guild is defending her in arbitration proceedings against The Times. [. . .] According to my sources, Filkins' wife, novelist Ana Menendez, and Burns' wife, Jane Scott-Long, received the mystery missives in the past few months, purporting to rat out their husbands' alleged infidelities. I hear that The Times conducted an investigation and linked postmarks on the envelopes to Sachs' purported whereabouts on the dates the letters were apparently sent - and also claimed to have linked an E-mail to Sachs.
Susan Sachs denied any involvement. Dexy's ex made sure the little cheater paid (as she should have) and went on to a wonderful life. Dexy's . . . left being Dexy which is its own hell. And for those who don't know, despite refusing to speak on the topic, the go-go boys have gone on to paint every US female correspondent as 'loose' (to put it mildly) and, when they were scooped (as they so often were), respond that the woman was sleeping with Gen David Petreaus. (To be very clear, those were unfounded charges. There is not now nor has there ever been any indication that Petraeus had any affairs with reporters. I don't care for him but I'm not interested in falsely smearing him, I'll leave that to the go-go boys, and the women reporting from Iraq earned their scoops the hard way, by doing the work required.) What John Burns couldn't talk about on The Takeaway? Rachael Brown (Australia's ABC) reports that British Prime Minister David Cameron has "promised to investigate" the torture allegations in the WikiLeaks release.AFP quotes Cameron's spokesperson stating yesterday, "Clearly our position is that there is no place for mistreatment of detainees and we do as a matter of course investigate allegations." Staying on England a second more, the Daily Mail reports that the Iraq Inquiry will be calling War Hawk, Poodle and former prime minister Tony Brown back before the committee to address "gaps" in his testimony. Meanwhile UPI reports European Parliament VP Alejo Vidal Quadras states that "WikiLeaks indicate the Iraqi regime is guilty of war crimes." And Daily Nation reports that Lars Loekke Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, has called for an investigation into his troops actions in Iraq. Sami Moubayed (Gulf News) outlines some of the the documented violence and abuse:
Another document shows that an eight-year-old Iraqi girl was killed at a checkpoint in Baghdad. Throughout the new documents, which are being described as the largest governmental leak in history, page after page shows that the US troops knew exactly what kind of malpractices were taking place in Iraqi prisons; turning a blind eye to all of them. In one log, documents reveal that the Americans suspected Iraqis cutting off the fingers of Iraqi prisoners, and burning them with acid. One of the most notorious documents says that 17 men in uniform were confronted by troops from the Iraqi Army in October 2006. When asked to identify themselves, they said they were a special unit reporting directly to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. That special unit, Iraqis are now saying in retrospect, might have been one of the numerous death squads that mushroomed in the Iraqi capital that winter, striking at mosques, neighbourhoods, and individuals within the Sunni community.
American troops in Iraq handed over captives to an infamous torture squad, according to newly-released files from the WikiLeaks war logs. The documents appear to show that United States commanders passed detainees over to the Wolf Brigade, a feared unit controlled by the Ministry of the Interior. In files seen by The New York Times, a US interrogator told the prisoner that: "He would be subject to all the pain and agony that the Wolf battalion is known to exact upon its detainees." New York Times writer Peter Maass, who was in Samarra in 2004 and 2005, told The Guardian that "US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing," while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and nineteen days and still counting.
Sunday the country's highest court ordered the Parliament to resume session. The Ventura County Star editorial board offers their take including revealing that despite not meeting (they had one parliamentary session on June 14th which lasted less than 20 minutes) the MPs are each receiving $22,500 in salary a month as well as a housing per diem and they note that if the Court's ruling is ignored, "the court could theoretically order new elections." Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) reports, "The Islamic Supreme Council for Iraq (ISCI), Al Fadila party and the Badr Brigade, all of whom are a part of the INC, have all become closer to Al Iraqiya List. Another sensational happening took place when the Al Iraqiya List said it was willing to support the candidature of ISCI's Adel Abdul Mehdi. This move may well give way to the formation of an alliance, including Al Iraqiya, the ISCI, Al Fadila party and other smaller blocs, to weaken the position of outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki's chance for a second term as premier. Nevertheless, even this alliance will not be able to gain a majority in the parliament to form a government." Meanwhile Nouri and his defenders have gone so far to claim that the WikiLeak documents were Photoshopped. Kelly McEvers (NPR's All Things Considered, link has audio and text) covered that yesterday and also reported:
The truth is something many Iraqis are still searching for: the wife who went missing; the son whose body was never found. These new documents might hold some answers. For now, WikiLeaks has redacted all names from the sigact database that's available online. But news outlets were given the full database, and some names are beginning to trickle out. Saad Eskandar heads the Iraqi National Archive. He's trying to convince the U.S. government to release another trove of documents. These detail atrocities during the Saddam Hussein era. Eskandar says much of this database would be accessible to Iraqi academics and lawyers, but not to average people. He says while people have the right to know what happened to their relatives, how they might act on information from the Saddam data or the WikiLeaks data could be dangerous.
Turning now to The Whoring Of America. The WikiLeaks release is huge, it is a story that is far reaching. But take a moment to look around. The MSM? Diane Rehm's covered it, Larry King, Good Morning America, The NewsHour, the three commerical broadcast evening news programs, the New York Times, etc, have covered it. Who's whoring? Our so-called left. The Progressive? Matty Rothschild did one audio on it this week -- finally. Can't write about it. Can't be bothered with that. But those little 60 second spots he does twice a week? He did one on WikiLeaks. Oh, how he must have tired himself. He can write -- and has repeatedly -- since the release but he's focused on elections. We'll come back to elections in a moment. Baby Cum Pants Amitabh Pal. The little liar, you may remember, made such a whorish judgment, his ass honestly should have been canned. 'Examing' the landscape after England elected their new prime minister, Pal said the Iraq War didn't do in Labour and that England was "keen to forget" the Iraq War. Rebecca called the lying bag of s**t out here. Rebecca and I both knew better because we had access to Labour's polling throughout the lead up to the election (and Rebecca went to London to help with the p.r.). Baby Cum Pants Pal wanted to forget. As we saw after Baby Cum Pants made his ridiculous statements, the fight for prime minister came down to where did you stand on Iraq. One brother triumphed over another (Ed Miliband over David -- I know both Miliband brothers) as a result of where they stood on Iraq. Not only that, Iraq's continued importance in England was addressed last Friday on The Diane Rehm Show:
James Kitfield: Diane, can I just make a point? I just came back from London, working on this story. The-the fact is Britain no longer wants to be that ally to us. You know the Iraq War has really soured them on being America's, you know, ally of first resort. It's an aftermath, blowback from the Iraq War.
Baby Cum Pants has never, ever issued an apology or correction. Though he can't write about WikiLeaks, Baby Cum Pants showed up at The Progressive yesterday to cup and fondle Bob Herbert. Why, oh, why didn't Herbert get more attention? He means media attention and, as usual, Baby Cum Pants doesn't know what he's talking about. While jerking off to Herbert, he fails to grasp that African-Americans in any staff position on a TV public affairs show tend to object to Herbert as a guest. Why? They know how he leap frogged from the New York Daily News to the New York Times (on the backs of young African-American males whom he portrayed as criminals in one of NYC's most sensationalistic crimes, Herbert tried and covicted them in his columns -- history has proven him wrong). So if you want to know why you're hero doesn't get more attention, Baby Cum Pants, you need to know what your hero did. When his name is raised, African-American staffers will regularly recommend Clarence Page, Colbert King, William Raspberry and a host of others. Your ignorance is not an excuse, Baby Cum Pants.
Friday we were calling out Bob Herbert's dreadful on campus speech. In it, you may remember, Herbert had the nerve to blame the American people for not focusing on the Iraq War when the media is the one not focusing -- like Pal, the media wants to "forget" -- and when Herbert's grandstanding was undercut by the fact that you had to drop back 15 columns to find Herbert even writing about the wars (he wrote about Afghanistan in a column published on the day Barack gave his big nothing August 31st speech). In addition, he wrote about Afghanistan August 17th, and then again June 26th . . . No, that's not regularly for a person with a twice-a-week column. And you have to go way, way back to find a column by him on the Iraq War. Baby Cum Pants is waxing on Herbert's dreadful speech with claims of it being anti-war and political. It wasn't. It was The Best Years Of Our Lives. It was let Bob Herbert hide behind wounded veterans and pretend to be brave. It is impossible to believe that any sane American -- regardless of right or left or inbetween or don't care about politics -- takes joy or gladness in the wounded of US service members. It's not a political issue. It's something everyone can agree on. And that was the basis of Herbert bad and non-brave speech. It was not "an eloquent anti-war oration" and that anyone at The Progressive wants to whore it as such goes a long way to explaining why that tepid magazine just gets more and more deadly dull. Pal wrote about his sexual desire but he didn't have time for WikiLeaks.
Over at The Nation, they've posted a video of Jerry Scahill talking about WikiLeaks . . . on MSNBC. Did Jerry write about WikiLeaks for The Nation? Woops! No, he didn't. In fact, other than Greg Mitchell's slight and sleight dispatches (newly fashioned as the Liz Smith of the faux political set by The Nation magazine), the only writing on WikiLeaks was to allow an Iranian dissident on the US payroll to distort a field report (we addressed that Saturday and I'm being very kind and not putting it into a snapshot). Greg contributes his free-form prose stylings which include 5 'sentences' in his most recent dispatch on WikiLeaks if by sentences you mean words tossed together (if you mean subject-verb-direct object, they don't pass muster but Greg's discovered ellipses in his gossip maven phase). Now it's not that The Nation has stopped posted online. They just have more 'important' things to talk about. Plugging Katrina vanden Heuvel's media appearances, for example or what Matty Damon wants for his birthday (besides a hit film which continues to elude him), ESPN, Juan Williams, Ziggy Marley and pot, and always and always elections.
Point of fact, we're now back to elections, people not in Nevada are not strongly invested in Nevada's Senate election. People not in Delaware? The same. Political junkies devoted to races, a small section of the public, may need their fix, but that's really not what The Nation or The Progressive is supposed to be about. The coverage is bulls**t and instantly disposable after next Tuesday. They've wasted everyone's time in attempts to up the vote for the Democratic Party. That's whoring. And America can't afford it. The Progressive has served up a whopping sixty seconds on WikiLeaks. Except for Gushing Greg's Breathless Bulletins and outsourcing a report to an Iranian dissident, The Nation can't even claim to have done that.
Oh all around the marketplace
The buzzing of the flies
The buzzing and the stinging
And wickedly wise
The killer nails are ringing
Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
Who're you gonna get
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
-- "Passion Play," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Night Ride Home
What of In These Times? You mean In These Turn Out The Vote For The Democratic Party Times? This magazine is so far from its roots that its eventual demise will be no cause for sadness. All they're doing is whoring. The left and so-called left outlets are whoring for the Democratic Party with fan club bulletings while ignoring WikiLeaks' revelations. It tells you a great deal about how the nation's been dumbed down and about The Whoring of America. Once upon a time, these same outlets liked to hector the MSM and pretend they were better than the MSM. Their own actions have demonstrated that they're not in the MSM because they couldn't hold down a job there. Their hilarious excuse for their lack of Iraq coverage has been "it's too violent" blah, blah, blah. Here they have to do nothing but sit at their computers and read over documents -- and judging by their ass size, they're very good at sitting at their computers -- but even that's too much for them. Anything more than gossip is apparently too much for them.
They've shamed themselves and those who refuse to call them out are endorsing The Whoring of America. Mid-term elections are Tuesday -- many Americans that will vote have already voted -- most Americans are interested in their own races if they are interested at all. But each day we can count on our so-called 'independent' 'news' outlets to ignore WikiLeaks but churn out more get-out-the-vote pieces. It's shameful and whores need to come with a sell-by-date. Forced retirement would cut a lot of this crap out.
Amy Goodman's done her whoring in headlines thus far this week and made time for WikiLeaks on Monday and on Tuesday. If she had any real guts, WikiLeaks would be a story -- not a headline -- every day on Democracy Now! this week. I doubt she has the fortitude to do that. (I could be wrong -- and would love to be.) Today she spoke with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange (link has text, audio and video). Excerpt:
Julian Assange: Well, these documents cover the periods of 2004 to the beginning of 2010. It is the most accurate description of a war to have ever been released. Within them, we can see 285,000 casualties. That's added up, report by report. That's each casualty, where it happened, when it happened, and who was involved, according to internal US military reporting. Now, looking at particular groups of casualties, we can see, for example, over 600 civilians killed at checkpoint killings, including thirty children, previously -- mostly previously unreported, that three-quarters of those killed at checkpoint killings, according to the United States military itself, were civilians, and only one-quarter, according to the US military internal reporting, were insurgents. We see 284 reports covering torture or other forms of prisoner abuse by coalition forces, covering 300 different people. We see over a thousand reports of torture and other prisoner abuse by the Iraqi state itself, many or most of those receiving no meaningful investigation. I heard in your introduction that the Pentagon claims that the Iraqi government is responsible for this, but in international law, it is the person or government or organization that has effective control that is responsible. And certainly, before the technical legal handover from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqi government, it is clear that the United States and other coalition forces were the effective, legally responsible group for those. We see in the United Kingdom, Phil Shiner and his group Public Interest Lawyers, Amnesty International, and in New York, Human Rights Watch, calling for investigation and, in some cases, lawsuits against coalition forces for wrongful death. There's other aspects, as well. We can see the involvement of Iran in Iraq with various forms of support given to Shia groups. We can see the corruption present in the Maliki government, including what appears to be a special forces -- Iraqi special forces -- squad personally responsible to Maliki and not tasked by the Iraqi army itself that has been going around and strong-arming and possibly assassinating opponents.
Petraeus's spokesman, Gen. Kevin Bergner, later accused Iran of having directed the Karbala attack though it control of networks of "Special Groups" armed and trained by Iran. Petraeus maintained consistently that Iran was backing "rogue" units that had left the Mahdi Army.
The WikiLeaks documents show, however, that Petraeus and his command in Iraq were well aware that al-Dulaimi was a Mahdi Army commander in charge of secret operations. The Petraeus "Special Groups" line was aimed at hiding the fact that the U.S. command was determined to destroy as much of the Mahdi Army as possible by claiming that it was actually attacking rogue Shi'ite militias.
The New York Times story on Iran-related WikiLeaks documents by Michael Gordon, which portrays the documents as reconfirming the Petraeus line on Iran-backed "Special Groups," highlighted the intelligence report on Dulaimi but omitted the central fact that it clearly identifies him as a Mahdi Army commander.
The evidence also indicates that the Mahdi Army Karbala operation was done with the full knowledge of the Maliki government.
The reports read like nightmares. In January 2005, a human head was thrown from an Opel Omega into the Mufrek traffic circle in the city of Baquba. The next month, 47 workers from a brick factory were found murdered north of Baghdad. One report noted that a discovery of six bodies at a sewage treatment plant in Baghdad was the third such episode at the same plant in recent weeks. Later during that month, there were also two more similar discoveries there. All the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head. Read the Document »
The Pentagon was slow to acknowledge what had become abundantly clear on the ground -- that Iraq had sunk into sectarian war. The military began to release partial civilian casualty figures in 2005 under pressure from Congress. The word "sect" appears only 12 times in the archive in 2005, the year that systematic cleansing began. Corpses that were surfacing in garbage dumps, rivers and empty lots were blandly categorized as a "criminal event" and seem to have been given about as much importance as traffic accidents. Read the Document »
Reuters notes a Tal Afar roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left five family members injured, a Tal Afar roadside bombing which claimed 1 life, a Khalis roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 6 Iraqi soldiers, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured one person, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 1 life, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two bodyguards for Deputy Planning Minister Mehdi al-Alak, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one person and a Kirkuk assault and robbery (on the goldsmith market) in which 10 people were killed.
The recent Wikileaks release--The Iraq War Logs--has shed important light on the high rate of civilian death and widespread atrocities, including torture, that are endemic to the war in Iraq. As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are outraged that the U.S. government sought to hide this information from the U.S. public, instead presenting a sanitized and deceptive version of war, and we think it is vital for this and further information to get out. Members of IVAW have experienced firsthand the realities of war on the ground, and since our inception we have spoken out about similar atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are asking the U.S. public to join us in calling on our government to end the occupations and bring our brothers and sisters home.
The U.S. government has been claiming for years that they do not keep count of civilian death tolls, yet the recent releases show that they do, in fact, keep count. Between 2004 and 2009, according to these newly disclosed records, at least 109,032 Iraqis died, 66,081 of whom were civilians. The Guardian reports that the Iraq War Logs show that the U.S. military and government gave de facto approval for hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape, and murder by Iraqi soldiers and police officers. These recent revelations, along with the Afghan War Diaries and Collateral Murder footage, weave a picture of wars in which the rules of engagement allow for excessive violence, woven into the fabric of daily life with the U.S. military presence acting as a destabilizing and brutalizing force. The Iraq War Logs, while crucial, are reports produced in real time and themselves may be slanted to minimize the culpability of U.S. forces. Still, they represent an important part of evidence in assessing the reality of the Iraq war, evidence that can only be improved by the further release of documents and information and corroboration by individuals involved. To this end, our members are reviewing both Wikileaks' Afghanistan War Diaries and the Iraq War Logs to identify incidents we were part of and to shed more light on what really happened.
IVAW has been speaking out about these atrocities and abuses since our inception. Our organization is comprised of over 2,000 veterans and active duty troops who have served since September 11, 2001. We demand immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for the people of those countries, and full benefits for returning veterans, including mental healthcare. At our March 2008 Winter Soldier hearings in Maryland, more than fifty veterans and active-duty service members publicly testified about the orders they were told to carry out in these countries, sharing stories of excessive violence, trauma, and abuse.
Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, two IVAW members who were in the unit captured in the Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video, have spoken out about how the incidents caught on film are not isolated cases of 'a few bad soldiers' but rather, part of the nature of these wars. "There has been little accountability in the wars that my friends and I once thought represented everything that was noble about our country," wrote Stieber in anticipation of the Iraq War Logs. In an open letter, Stieber calls for policy makers to "take accountability for these wars and the full truth about them."
As veterans, we know that the violence documented in the Iraq War Logs traumatizes the people living under occupation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also have been marked by staggering rates of military trauma and suicide among the troops tasked with carrying out these orders. Last year, 239 soldiers killed themselves and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts; 146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug overdoses. A third of returning troops report mental health problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members are battling either Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. Our Operation Recovery campaign, launched on October 7, seeks to end the cruel and inhumane practice of redeploying troops suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other mental and physical wounds--a practice that underlies the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Critics attacking Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's character are attempting to use ad hominem arguments to detract from the real issues and divert public attention from the content of the Iraq War Logs. We urge honest and thorough discussion of the content of these documents, and we think this discussion must not be sidelined. Furthermore, with past Wikileaks revelations, U.S. administration and military authorities were quick to vilify Army Specialist Bradley Manning who is being accused of leaking these documents to the public. Yet we insist that it is the right of the U.S. public to have accurate information about wars that are being fought in our name and funded by our tax dollars, and we support the public sharing of this information. Exposing war crimes is not a crime.
Government deception is inexcusable. Authorities have kept this information secret in the name of 'national security,' but what they really are afraid of is public opinion, which they know will turn against them if the truth about these wars gets out in the mainstream. An accurate count of Iraqi dead, acknowledgment of torture, and full disclosure of the role of private contractors are facts that should be made public in a democracy. We believe that real national security is created where government transparency and accountability, free press, and an end to spending on illegal wars and occupations are the norm. Continued silence and secrecy is a grave threat to the security of the Iraqi and Afghan people, and we demand openness, accountability, and real discussion of these revelations.
We grieve for the Iraqi and Afghan lives that were lost and destroyed in these wars. We also grieve for our brothers and sisters in arms, who have been lost to battle or suicide. The Iraq War Logs bring home part of the harsh reality of these wars, a reality that we--as veterans--live with everyday. We demand a real end to both wars, including immediate withdrawal of the 50,000 "non-combat" troops who remain in the Iraq. The Iraq War Logs underscore the urgent need for peace, healing, and reparations for all who have been harmed by these wars. The first step is to bring our brothers and sisters home.