05 June 2004
From Capitol Hill Blue
By DOUG THOMPSON
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jun 4, 2004, 06:15
President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.
In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”
Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.
“It reminds me of the Nixon days,” says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. “Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.”
In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be “God’s will” and then tells aides to “fuck over” anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.
“We’re at war, there’s no doubt about it. What I don’t know anymore is just who the enemy might be,” says one troubled White House aide. “We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing.”
Aides say the President gets “hung up on minor details,” micromanaging to the extreme while ignoring the bigger picture. He will spend hours personally reviewing and approving every attack ad against his Democratic opponent and then kiss off a meeting on economic issues.
“This is what is killing us on Iraq,” one aide says. “We lost focus. The President got hung up on the weapons of mass destruction and an unproven link to al Qaeda. We could have found other justifiable reasons for the war but the President insisted the focus stay on those two, tenuous items.”
Aides who raise questions quickly find themselves shut out of access to the President or other top advisors. Among top officials, Bush’s inner circle is shrinking. Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen out of favor because of his growing doubts about the administration’s war against Iraq.
The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory George Tenet Wednesday night is, aides say, an example of how he works.
"Tenet wanted to quit last year but the President got his back up and wouldn't hear of it," says an aide. "That would have been the opportune time to make a change, not in the middle of an election campaign but when the director challenged the President during the meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by saying 'that's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I want it now."
Tenet was allowed to resign "voluntarily" and Bush informed his shocked staff of the decision Thursday morning. One aide says the President actually described the decision as "God's will."
God may also be the reason Attorney General John Ashcroft, the administration’s lightning rod because of his questionable actions that critics argue threatens freedoms granted by the Constitution, remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft “the Blues Brothers” because “they’re on a mission from God.”
“The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion,” says one aide. “They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God.”
But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them “fucking assholes” in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him “unpatriotic” or “anti-American.”
“The mood here is that we’re under siege, there’s no doubt about it,” says one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. “In this administration, you don’t have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President.”
The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the record.
© Copyright 2004 Capitol Hill Blue
04 June 2004
How do the Bushies deal with a company being investigated over Abu Ghraib? Easy: They give it another contract.
In a stunning move last week, the Bush administration announced it was awarding a new, multimillion-dollar contract to a private company currently being investigated for abuse at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Bush Knew About Leak of CIA Operative's Name
Witnesses told a federal grand jury President George W. Bush knew about, and took no action to stop, the release of a covert CIA operative's name to a journalist in an attempt to discredit her husband, a critic of administration policy in Iraq.
Bush Consults Lawyer About CIA Name Leak
President Bush has consulted an outside lawyer about representing him if he is questioned as part of the grand jury investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity, administration officials said yesterday. [WashPost requires registration]
Australian government lies exposed on Abu Ghraib torture
After weeks of denying that it had any knowledge of the torture of Iraqi prisoners prior to January, the Howard government was forced yesterday to admit that it has repeatedly misled the Australian public. The government has responded to the scandal, however, with its standard operating procedure of evasion, falsifications and lies, seeking to blame the Australian military and the defence department for allegedly not passing on relevant information.
PM regrets: I've been misled
The Prime Minister, John Howard, and senior Defence officials were forced to admit yesterday the Federal Government misled the public over when the Australian military was aware of prisoner abuse in Iraq.
New Iraqi government looks uncomfortably familiar
"How can you accept people who came with the occupiers? The people who were tortured and suffered inside Iraq deserve these positions." This sentiment from the street in Iraq, said the Arab News, sums up local feeling about the government sworn in yesterday.
Turkish PM: Israel treating Palestinians as Jews were treated 500 years ago
ANKARA - Israel is not contributing to the peace process, it is killing women and children indiscriminately and destroying Palestinian houses, and there is no way to describe such actions except as "state terrorism" says Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an exclusive interview with Haaretz.
Brahimi critical of heavy-handed US
The United Nations special envoy has called on the incoming Iraqi government to broaden discussions to include Iraqis who oppose the US occupation. He also suggested his authority in shaping the new government had been severely limited by US officials.
Military codes stolen; RAW, IB in panic
NEW DELHI: Secret defence communication codes have been stolen. Though the theft happened nine months ago, the codes haven't been changed yet.
Opinion: Drawing the Right Lessons from History
There it is again -- the comparison that George W. Bush used even before the Iraq war: the battle against Saddam Hussein and against terrorism is comparable to World War II.
The enemies of the United States still believe today, as they did then, that the Americans are weak and can be defeated. But today, much like then, the U.S. will prove they are wrong. The Americans will fight resolutely and not rest until the enemies are crushed.
It's a strident tone that fits the run-up to the D-Day ceremony and also the presidential election campaign, but not the political reality in which the U.S. president is ordering his military deployments.
Indonesia's abused migrant workers
Last week the image of a 19-year-old house cleaner, her shirt pulled up to reveal horrific burn scars on her back, was plastered across the front pages of both Indonesian and Malaysian newspapers.
Army to probe allegations of Palestinian abuse by IDF
Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Moshe Ya'alon is to launch a military police investigation into allegations of abuse against Palestinians in Hebron, as depicted in a photo exhibition titled Breaking the Silence, currently on display in Tel Aviv.
Jordanian woman killed after giving birth to illegitimate child
A 25-year-old woman was shot dead while recovering in a Jordanian hospital after she gave birth to an illegitimate child by Caesarean section, a local newspaper reported yesterday.
Is Europe Dragging its Feet on Immigration?
The EU's justice and home affairs commissioner has called for more to be done to find a common policy on immigration across the bloc.
US frantic to soften harsh language in UN rights report on Iraq
The United States is scrambling to soften allegedly harsh and inflammatory criticism of the US-led coalition in Iraq that is expected to be contained in a UN human rights report to be released this week, US officials said.
It's Not the American Way
I am obligated as a journalist to use the word "alleged" when writing about Jose Padilla, the former Chicago gangbanger the government says turned terrorist. He allegedly received terrorist training in Afghanistan. He returned to the United States as an alleged al Qaeda operative. He allegedly planned to detonate a dirty bomb and also allegedly hoped to use natural gas to bring down some apartment buildings in New York or another city. There, I have done my journalistic duty.
The government, on the other hand, is not similarly constrained. [WPost requires registration]
A trade-marked lesson in American power
The genius of the American empire after World War II was that it was not recognisable as one. The US identified its key global goals, advanced them as the shared goals of all free nations, and organised the world around achieving them.
Bush takes refuge in history
Images of the second world war pepper the president's rhetoric - but the one word you won't hear him say is Vietnam
Shock and awe was more than the first phase of the invasion of Iraq. It was the premise of Bush's foreign policy. Fear of unrivalled power would prompt the dominoes to fall - the dominoes being the traditional western allies. Unilateralism (depicted as the coalition of the willing) would yield in submission. The spectacle of Iraqi democracy, a beacon to the Arab world, would refute argument and opposition.
The Bush administration may have broken the law on Medicare.
Recently revealed federal documents show that the Bush administration estimated last year that the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit could cost almost $600 billion, more than half again as much as it publicly predicted at the time. Even worse, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has concluded that administration efforts to conceal this and other unflattering cost forecasts of the proposal while it was debated "appear to violate a specific and express prohibition of federal law."
Bush's false advertising
BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
MANY HAVE dubbed the Bush administration "data averse," in the sense that its powerful ideology blinds it to the facts. The Bush political wing also appears hostile to facts that don't fit its prevailing ideology, to wit: reelecting the president. Bush campaign advertisements in battleground states have so distorted John Kerry's record that the voters soon won't be able to know what to believe. It is time to flag these ads and call the foul.
Delusion on a psychotic scale
In the face of all the evidence, the Iraq Survey Group is still searching for WMD
The dustbin of history is crammed full these days. Head-first into the garbage has just gone Ahmed Chalabi, would-be leader of Iraq, now accused of treachery against the US and of peddling disinformation about non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Chalabi, Feith and Company: A Sordid Tale
There's a story behind the story. And it is a messy tale of deceit, cronyism and corruption.
Ahmad Chalabi's apparent falling out with the U.S., and some recent reports indicating that U.S. Undersecretary of Defense, Douglas Feith may be losing influence in the Administration, represent only the latest chapter in their sordid histories and relationship.
Photos of dead and wounded a rebuke to Bush's war in Iraq
The photographs of tortured Iraqis released in April were an abomination.
The images in these photographs plumb the depths of humankind's capacity to inflict evil upon those who have been demonized. The evil we see in the photographs of April is not a product of race, "ism" or religious belief, however. It is a product of our humanity that has followed us from the cave. The ghost of Cain has dogged our steps through every age and on every continent.
Go to original
By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY
". . . . A time like this demands . . . .
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor ; Men who will not lie."
Josiah Gilbert Holland, American journalist [1819-91].
Forget it Josh, baby, because in 2004 they are all liars and none of them has a sense of honor. Begin with those who approved the actions of US military torturers and then denied that they did. Descend further to those who slaughter sleeping children and declare they were terrorists. Then look at the creeps who give briefings about Iraq, knowing they are purveying trumped-up absurdities ; and eventually get to the bottom of the sleazy heap by gazing with abhorrence at the hideously self-satisfied, conniving trash of the Pentagon and their malevolent colleagues in the White House. From them all, the falsehoods flow like stinking sewage in a never-ending cascade of calculated foulness.
The mouthpiece in Iraq, Brigadier-General Kimmitt, whose flair for invention and glib misrepresentation never flags, distinguished himself even further last week when denying that US forces massacred people in the western desert of Iraq. During a hideous onslaught that will be forever a blot on the history of the US military, the troops of Bush destroyed an Iraqi hamlet and two score harmless citizens who had been attending a wedding.
Kimmitt stated flatly that there were "no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration." But he lied. (Has he ever been to a Bedouin wedding in the desert? I have. And there are no leftovers, believe me.) Anyway, his first instinct was to deny there could be evidence that a wedding had been held.
Unfortunately for Kimmitt, and for the last vestiges of belief around the world that the Bush machine might sometimes be trusted to tell the truth, there were two videos taken in the period of the wedding. Associated Press obtained one showing hours of ceremonies and innocent enjoyment on the wedding night ; then an AP camera team shot post-attack scenes showing fragments of musical instruments and decorations. "An AP reporter and photographer, who interviewed more than a dozen survivors a day after the bombing, were able to identify many of them on the wedding party video. Survivors say dozens of missiles were launched late at night after the festivities had ended and that women and children were among those killed, as were the bride and groom." But was that enough to convince Kimmitt? Of course not. In fact "Brigadier General Kimmitt denied finding evidence that any children died in the raid although he admitted that a "handful of women"--perhaps four to six--were "caught up in the engagement." "They may have died from some of the fire that came from the aircraft", he said."
And that was when I finally lost confidence in the US military. A sad day, indeed, for a former soldier who served alongside many American colleagues.
How can a human being, a citizen and soldier of a supposedly civilized nation, have the crassness, the sheer insensitivity, the moral blankness and lack of compassion to casually shrug off the death of "a handful of women" in such a fashion? Is there a Mrs Kimmitt, one wonders? What does she think of her husband's dismissive comments about the violent deaths of innocents?
A senior officer speaking for the entire United States military in Iraq has told the world that it's too bad, but "a handful" of wives, mothers, sisters, guilty of no crime whatever, were killed by US forces because they "were caught up in the engagement". Caught up?
Kimmitt, you suppurating cur : they were in bed. The "handful" of lives you so casually dismiss--and there were more than six--were not "caught up". They were slaughtered without pity by US forces. And you and everyone else has lied about the circumstances of their murder ever since. Poor Josiah Holland. He revered all that is best in American life. And, as have so many generations of Americans, he imagined that passage of years could only improve the moral outlook and practices of his countryfolk. He was wrong. He admired : "Men who have honor ; Men who will not lie" ; but this war on Iraq has spawned men and women who are dishonorable and who lie.
There is lying and lying, of course. Recently the chief executive and the top financial whizkid of Shell Oil were forced to resign because they told lies about the company's circumstances, thereby (just as Enron's crooks did), pushing up the share price. Once the Securities and Exchange Commission has got enough evidence (and there are several incriminating emails), it is likely prosecutions will follow. Very right and proper, you say. Quite so. But when some other people tell majestic lies, they are not sacked or prosecuted. Take, for example, the Pentagon's lying twerp, Wolfowitz, one of the most evil figures in the Bush administration.
An exchange between Wolfowitz and the Senate Committee on May 14 shows us what this man is made of. The transcript can be found in the New York Times and on the Australian Broadcasting Company site (www.abc.net.au/am/). It is most revealing:
Senator Reed: Mr Secretary, do you think crouching naked for 45 minutes is humane? Wolfowitz : Naked, absolutely not. Senator Reed : So if he's dressed up, that's fine? Let me put it this way : 72 hours without regular sleep, sensory deprivation which would be a bag over your head for 72 hours. Do you think that's humane? And that's what this says, a bag over your head for 72 hours. Is that humane?
Wolfowitz: Let me come back to what you said the work--Senator Reed: No, no. Answer the question, Secretary. Is that humane? Wolfowitz: I don't know whether it means a bag over your head for 72 hours, Senator I don't know. Senator Reed: Mr Secretary, you're dissembling, non-responsive. Anybody would say putting a bag over someone's head for 72 hours, which is sensory deprivation--Wolfowitz : I believe it's not humane. It strikes me as not humane, Senator.
It took a US Senator a long time to wring a grudging admission from Wolfowitz that torture is not humane. But Wolfowitz's dissembling (to use the word of Senator Reed) goes further than his reluctance to concede the importance or even the relevance of human dignity. Wolfowitz "made numerous predictions, time and time again, that have turned out to be untrue . . . " said Senator Hilary Clinton. Quite so : just like the predictions, time and time again, of the chief executives of Shell and Enron and so many other companies who lied consistently to the world in order to boost share prices and, of course, their own private hoards of cash, while beggaring their unfortunate shareholders.
Wolfowitz did not lie to improve his financial situation. He lied in order to justify his rabid desire for power and for war.
He publicly sneered at General Shinseki when the then Army Chief of Staff gave as his opinion that "several hundred thousand troops" would be needed to control post-invasion Iraq. (A campaign of vilification and denigration was then mounted against the honorable General Shinseki by Wolfowitz and his followers, some of whom, alas, were and still are wearing uniform.) But Wolfowitz was wrong. Totally wrong. And General Shinseki was right. Now, if Wolfowitz had been a company senior executive who had made a completely incorrect forecast, costing shareholders squillions, do you think for a moment he would still be in a position of responsibility in that company?
Of course not. If Wolfowitz had been comparably inaccurate in corporate life he would have been out on his ear in no time flat. Exposure of his predictions as lies would have reduced the share price, and investors would not have accepted that state of affairs for longer than a New York Heartbeat. Money, after all, is vitally important. But Wolfowitz's arrogant and erratic predictions affected only lives.
Thousands of lives have been shattered because Wolfowitz's predictions were lies. They were deliberate lies, because he refused to take into account the assessments and advice of those who knew better than he how to engage in war and cope with its aftermath. He did not only ignore the people whose careers have been devoted to the study of war : he held them openly in contempt, and continues to do so.
It is terrible that the dismal, back-stabbing, Byzantine climate of the Pentagon and, indeed, the culture of intrigue among senior echelons of the armed forces (but not all individuals, I hear, thank heaven), has crippled defense decision-making. The stage has been reached when nothing can be done unless it is thought to have the approval of those considered powerful enough to speak with the Cheney-Rumsfeld voice. This is passed down the line and amplified by Wolfowitz and other creatures of darkness whose influence is macabre and obscene. It is deeply troubling that these civilians are heavily involved in promoting and sidelining military officers on grounds of political and personal loyalty. The word is out in the military : if you want to survive, Do Not Contradict or Question any pronouncement coming from the top.
But who could not contradict or question the pronouncements--the sworn testimony--of Wolfowitz to the US Congress on February 27, 2003, just before the US began to wage war on Iraq? Wolfowitz announced that "These are Arabs [in Iraq], 23 million of the most educated people in the Arab world, who are going to welcome us as liberators. And when that message gets out to the whole Arab world it is going to be [a] powerful counter to Osama bin Laden. The notion that we're going to earn more enemies by going in and getting rid of what every Arab knows is one of the worst tyrants, and they have many governing them, is just nonsense . . . We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."
Wolfowitz lied. And he was wrong ; wrong ; and wrong again. He has appallingly poor judgment and is manifestly incompetent. He is unfit to hold a position of trust and responsibility. But he remains in the Pentagon. Why?
Probably because his boss is a liar, too. For example, on February 20, 2003, a month before his invasion, Rumsfeld was asked on PBS "The News Hour' "Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?" He replied : "There is no question but that they [US forces] would be welcomed." On September 25, when it was obvious that chaos was developing in Iraq, Rumsfeld appeared on Sinclair Broadcasting. Anchor Morris Jones led into a question by saying "Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms."
This was an accurate and embarrassing observation, so Rumsfeld's automatic response was to lie. He said "Never said that, never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said." And, to the eternal shame of the US media, nobody has pressed him about his outrageous mendacity.
He is a proven liar, so there is little wonder he won't sack his lying deputy for lying. And it goes on up the chain, because the man at the top tells lies, too. In the Bush speech to the Army War College on May 24 he described US torture of prisoners as being committed "by a few American troops who disregarded our country and disregarded our values." He lied. It wasn't "a few" ; far from it.
The New York Times reported on May 25 that "An Army summary of deaths and mistreatment involving prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan shows a widespread pattern of abuse . . . The cases from Iraq date back to April 15, 2003 . . . The Army summary is consistent with recent public statements by senior military officials, who have said the Army is actively investigating nine suspected homicides of prisoners held by Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan in late 2002. But the details paint a broad picture of misconduct, and show that in many cases among the 37 prisoners who have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army did not conduct autopsies and says it cannot determine the causes of the deaths . . . ."
This is an official military report, and the military commander-in-chief is a man who stated flatly that only "a few troops" were guilty of torture. (Let's forget the word "abuse': it is yet another attempt to disguise the unpleasantness of truth.) Bush is a disgrace. As disgraceful, indeed, as those who relished torturing helpless captives, at least 70 percent of whom, as the Red Cross recorded formally in its report to the Pentagon months ago, were not guilty of any crime atall. (Which is borne out by the hasty release of hundreds of prisoners from the hell of Abu Ghraib without any explanation of why they had been kept there.) And as disgraceful as the Marines who treated prisoners barbarically in June 2003 at Camp Whitehorse where, as reported by the Los Angeles Times on May 22, "one of the detainees died after he was left disabled and naked under a scorching sun". He was "disabled' by torture inflicted by Marines, but even after a whitewash report of the Whitehorse atrocities there had to be charges of misconduct against eight marines, which shows that the affair must have been REALLY bad. The treatment of prisoners by this unit was criminal. But not as wicked as the attack on the wedding party by Marines on May 19.
The Marines' song goes:
"From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land and sea . . ."
And now they can include the wedding party massacre of May 2004 in their battle honors.
"Soon American soldiers came [after the aerial rocketing and bombing that killed most people]. One of them kicked her to see if she was alive, she said. "I pretended I was dead so he wouldn't kill me,' said Shihab. She said the soldier was laughing." (This was carried by Fox News, of all outlets, on May 24. OK; so we despise Fox News, which is usually a sick joke, but at least they had the decency to put the report on their website.) There is no intention on the part of US occupation forces to permit a proper investigation of the circumstances in which over forty people were killed in their attack. The senior Marine commander involved, Major General Mattis, has already pronounced the verdict : "I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in wars. I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men." Not even if they kick women. Not even if they kill kids. There will be no apology or punishment for atrocities, even when proved. The Marines have come a long way from the shores of Tripoli.
The Pentagon will continue to deny that this savage attack on civilians was other than justified. There is a precedent for attacks on wedding parties (there was a particularly horrible one in Afghanistan, which is a well-documented war-crime), and for lying, too. In fact just as I wrote these words a news alert came up about a comparable incident 35 years ago, in the time of the evil Nixon. In a hellish echo of what is being attempted by the current administration concerning covering up war crimes, the New York Times of May 27 reported Nixon-era telephone transcripts that reveal the extent of deceit within his Cabinet. "In their conversation on Nov 21, 1969, about the My Lai massacre, Mr [Defense Secretary] Laird told Mr Kissinger that while he would like "to sweep it under the rug," the photographs [of the My Lai atrocities] prevented it. "There are so many kids just laying there; these pictures are authentic," Mr. Laird said." If it had not been for the photographs, there would have been energetic action to deny the whole thing.
It's all horribly familiar. When found out in illegal barbarity : lie. If that doesn't work, then try to cover up. Meanwhile, in a wholly cynical attempt to deny responsibility for war crimes, just declare "I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men", at which loyal statement most of the American public will instantly place their hands on their hearts and with tears in their eyes shriek : "We've got to support Our Boys!". Then, if there is just no alternative to holding a court martial, keep the whole charade focused on as low a rank as can be contrived and punish the guilty barbarian with a bag of cookies and two weeks' leave. Who cares, anyway?--It will all blow over.
After all, who is concerned about the deaths of a bunch of forty desert ragheads, be they male or female, young or old? Torture and killing of Iraqis are considered by brainwashed troops and millions of other Americans to be justifiable payback for 9-11. To them, these people don't matter. "A handful of women", in Kimmitt's contemptuous phrase, can be killed without mercy, qualm or retribution, and there is not one US figure in or out of uniform who is ever going to be punished for this war crime. Nobody will be held accountable. Such are the depths to which the Bush administration has sunk.
The lies of Kimmitt will become truth. The crazed fascist Limbaugh (and remember his talk show is the only one that is given so much time on US armed forces' radio) and many other zealots will attempt to portray the massacre as a vital action in the "war on terror' instead of admitting it to be a vile atrocity that stinks in the nostrils of the civilized world.
In the words of Josiah Holland, a true American patriot, the country needs "Men who have honor; Men who will not lie". But it does not have them in the right places. There are none to be seen or heard in this administration because they have been sacked or silenced. The way to success in the Bush machine is to lie. And the liars are winning. They always do.
Brian Cloughley writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com
03 June 2004
As we all know electronics has come a long way BUT without paper ballot back up your vote could go into the Black Hole of those not counted. How many of us have experience "electronic problems"? Could a lightning storm wipe out an entire city's votes? How we there be a re-count if there is nothing in place to re-count? Let's just ask something that we can have to protect our votes. I hope you will join me in signing this petition from MoveOn. It's about the new electronic voting terminals that are being installed in many states.
Too many are "black box" voting machines -- computer terminals that don't produce paper ballots. Without paper ballots, there's no way to know if our votes are counted correctly. Also, computers are vulnerable to malfunction -- how often does yours freeze up?
Every voting method should produce a paper ballot, so we can verify that our votes will count. Join me in calling for paper ballots, at:
02 June 2004
I have cruised around and picked up some of the better offerings, including one or two who's opinions disagree with most of the rest. Just like with ANYTHING which The Plea posts on this blog, unless it carries the Editors name (mine), It is the opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Enigmatic Flea or it's editor/poster.
Iraq's Interim Government
For weeks, Washington encouraged the world to believe that the United Nations was putting together Iraq's new interim government. Instead, the most critical appointments were made by the outgoing Iraqi Governing Council, an American-appointed body heavy with exile politicians that has limited public support and a dismal record of nonperformance. That messy process will now become the interim government's first burden as it tries to set up elections for a legislature and constitutional assembly early next year. [ NYT, requires registration ]
Bush's medical sleight of hand
Remember the billions for HIV-AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean that President George Bush pledged in his 2003 State of the Union address? Those funds were to put two million people life-saving antiretroviral drugs. Has this promise gone the way of “No Child Left Behind”? Or the new mission to the Moon and Mars?
Conservative Opposition Leaves U.N. Accord in Dry Dock
WASHINGTON — The Defense and State departments both want it. So do the oil and mining industries. Environmental groups are clamoring for it.
Yet three months after the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea won the unanimous approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is languishing in the Senate, with scant chance of ratification this year.
The comprehensive accord, covering the use of the oceans for shipping, mining, fishing and naval operations, has become the victim of an all-out assault by conservative groups, such as Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, that oppose multinational agreements on principle.
Mea culpa, that's what we want
Not one politician has lost their job over Iraq. It is time they did
Against the Occupation
by Voices in the Wilderness
As "coalition" repression increases in Iraq, many Voices have been raised in the media calling for more ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq and urging Bush and Blair to ‘stay the course’ – encouragement which, given the vast political and economic stakes, they hardly need but which does play an important role in shoring up public support for the occupation. Below we look at some of these arguments.
Overlooking Fraud Record
As seniors fear being bilked by the confusing new Medicare discount drug card program that starts today, the Center for American Progress released a new report showing that 20 of the 73 companies the White House approved to participate in the program have been charged at the federal and/or state level with fraud.
The international image of Israel
It is often the case in Israeli politics and public opinion that their very tempestuousness and the noise of their internal disputes drown out the voices coming from the international community. This is not just the legacy of Ben-Gurion's famous statement that "it doesn't matter what the non-Jews think, it matters what the Jews do."
Washington's 1-for-5 Mideast performance is a cause for concern
The United States and friends seem to be having mixed results in the “war on terror”. But how is Washington doing on other fronts where it is engaged in the Middle East? The scorecard is mixed, and mostly negative, but worth assessing in order to aspire to better days ahead.
Boom or bust in the Persian Gulf?
The Persian Gulf region is experiencing one of its most uncertain and volatile times in recent history. Yet despite all the political turmoil and regional insecurity, it is also enjoying an unprecedented economic boom.
It's business as usual
On its face, President George W Bush's recent endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's land grab in the occupied territories makes little sense. The plan, under which Israel would abandon Gaza while permanently annexing most of the West Bank, has met with almost universal condemnation.
Elites out of touch on Iraq
America's ability to play a positive role in the world, especially with regard to supporting its allies and friends, depends significantly on achieving its wartime aims in Iraq. While it is common to speak of the United States as the world's only remaining superpower, at best this is a transient designation: History books enthrall us with tales of the decline and fall of superpowers. A failure of political or military nerve in Iraq will lead to a tectonic shift in the world community, including the creation of a power vacuum that will tempt all sorts of dangerous ambitions.
Let us pray that God speaks to Bush
IN declaring his wars on terror, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, the French, the Germans, the UN and the Democrats, George W. Bush started saying "God" once, twice, even thrice in every sentence.
Must the Marines in Ramadi battle the media too?
I am taking time to ask you all for your help. First off, I'd like to say that this is not a political message. I'm not concerned about domestic politics right now. We have much bigger things to deal with, and we need your help.
Half of Britons against Iraq war
FIFTY percent of Britons think the war in Iraq was unjustified, compared with 33 percent who felt it was, an opinion poll revealed today.
More than a year after Britain joined the United States in invading Iraq, 72 percent of Britons felt their country's reputation had worsened across the globe, according to the poll by the ICM organization.
HIGHTOWER: Outrage Over the Outrage
Leave it to the kooks in congress and their sidekicks – the right wing pundits and talk-show yakkers – to see a "liberal conspiracy" behind the torture photos coming out of U.S. military prisons in Iraq.
A recent opinion poll indicated that over 75% are against the forthcoming visit to Ireland of the President of the USA, Mr George W Bush. Times have changed when so many Irish people are so openly opposed to an American President. When Bill Clinton was in power one could never imagine such opposition. More American citizens are also opposing Mr Bush, or rather, his policies. His foreign policy has led the US into a pit of destruction. Democratic principles have been trampled upon with the ‘might is right’ principle becoming the norm for, what one commentator describes as, ‘America on tour.’ Thankfully, people can distinguish between the foreign policy of a particular administration and the will or attitude of a nation’s citizens.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed it was scrutinizing scrap-metal yards in Jordan for nuclear equipment it believes may have been removed from Iraq military and industrial sites. This matériel, hauled by flatbed trucks into Jordan under the eye of the American occupation, could easily find its way into the international underground market for nuclear components and be sold to countries seeking to get going with their own nuclear-weapons projects.
Think-tank warns of anti-Islam 'time bomb'
Growing Islamophobia in Britain in the wake of the September 11 attacks could lead to a dangerous backlash of riots and extremism, it was reported today.
Security blitz as Rome braces for visit by Bush
He is coming to receive the grateful thanks, 60 years on, of a liberated Italy, but President Bush's visit to Rome on Friday has prompted the biggest security blitz here for years.
'It is the Iraqi people who want to nominate me'
A profile of Sheikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, who was today appointed as Iraq's interim president
Sheikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, the tribal chief who was today named interim president of Iraq, was born in 1958, the year in which Iraqi army officers overthrew the country's monarchy.
Bremer threatens to veto Iraqis' choice of president
Talks on naming an interim president for Iraq were deadlocked yesterday as a rift between US occupation officials and the Iraqi leadership they appointed threatens to undermine American plans to hand over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June.
On Their Way To Abu Ghraib
ABU SIFFA, IRAQ— “How could this happen?” nearly everyone asks these days. But as the U.S. now releases hundreds of men from Abu Ghraib prison, another question, “why were so many Iraqis locked up there in the first place?” is likely to become part of the debate.
We, as individuals, are fast losing our reputation for honest dealing. Our nation is losing its character. The loss of a firm national character, or the degredation of a nation's honour, is the inevitable prelude to her destruction. ~~ William Wells Brown
3rd of detainees who died were assaulted
WASHINGTON — More than a third of the prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan were shot, strangled or beaten by U.S. personnel before they died, according to death certificates and a high-ranking U.S. military official.
Let's face up to it - we are torturers too
Blair must answer fully to all the evidence of abuse by British troops
Last week, the British government admitted for the first time that investigations are under way into the killing in British military custody of 10 Iraqis, double the number previously stated. Meanwhile, the government has dispatched additional troops to the region and is now seeking immunity for these troops from criminal prosecution in a nominally independent Iraq.
I was misled on abuse: Howard
Prime Minister John Howard says he did not mislead the public about when Australian officials became aware of allegations about the serious abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
The white gloves of ignorance
Once again, bureaucrats have taken the rap to protect the PM
It's Children Overboard all over again. John Howard has put on the white gloves of ignorance and blamed everyone else for not telling him about what he should have known of the Iraqi prisoner abuse.
US hawks are forced to fly back into the House of Saud
The Bush administration and the House of Saud are being thrown back into each other's arms by the crisis in Iraq and the attacks on westerners in Saudi Arabia.
OPEC Has Already Turned to the Euro
As the dollar's rate of exchange continues to fall against the world's major currencies, there has been much speculation about the likely knock-on effect. One area receiving a lot of attention is crude oil in general, and OPEC in particular.
E-Mail Links Cheney's Office, Contract
Officials Say Only Involvement in Halliburton Deal Was Announcing It
Shortly before the Pentagon awarded a division of oil services contactor Halliburton Co. a sole-source contract to help restore Iraqi oil fields last year, an Army Corps of Engineers official wrote an e-mail saying the award had been "coordinated" with the office of Vice President Cheney, Halliburton's former chief executive.
Rumsfeld-military ties worsen
WASHINGTON - Tensions between the civilian leaders of the Pentagon, led by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the US military's top brass have deepened amid the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
Bush Lowers Hope for New Iraq Troops
WASHINGTON - Iraq's new leaders "are not America's puppets," the White House declared Tuesday while President Bush scaled down hopes that other countries would send sizable numbers of troops to help U.S. soldiers fight rising violence
President's daughters could flourish with service and show that war is everyone's responsibility
If President George W. Bush is serious about the war on terror and respects the men and women in the military, he could do something no president in decades has done:
He could suggest that his twin daughters enlist.
Freedom vs. Security: A False Choice
In recent days administration officials have warned the nation about possible terrorist attacks, subjecting us once again to color-coded threat charts and puzzling admonitions to go about our lives as usual. The message is clear: grave danger surrounds us, but ordinary citizens should do nothing and trust the government take care of it.
Hawks Eating Crow
The Bush Administration has not made it easy on its supporters. David Brooks now admits that he was gripped with a "childish fantasy" about Iraq. Tucker Carlson is "ashamed" and "enraged" at himself. Tom Friedman, admitting to being "a little slow," is finally off the reservation. Die-hard Republican publicist William Kristol admits of Bush, "He did drive us into a ditch." The neocon fantasist and sometime Republican speechwriter Mark Helprin complains on the Wall Street Journal editorial page--the movement's Pravda--of "the inescapable fact that the war has been run incompetently, with an apparently deliberate contempt for history, strategy, and thought, and with too little regard for the American soldier, whose mounting casualties seem to have no effect on the boastfulness of the civilian leadership."
Electorate Is Wising Up to the Iraq Blunder
June 1, 2004 -- So, you really can't fool all the people all the time. George W. came close, getting high marks for his "war against terrorism" and for being a "war president," even though in Iraq he ended up fighting the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Shocking footage of US military conduct in Iraq is available through major news services, yet the American public seldom sees what reporters see
BY JASON VEST
Issue Date: May 28 - June 3, 2004 "Boston Phoenix." -- ON NOVEMBER 22, 2003, the 16th paragraph of an Associated Press story filed from Baghdad reported that troops from the US Army’s Fourth Infantry Division had arrested former Iraqi lieutenant general "Taha Hassan" "for alleged involvement in mortar attacks on police stations" in his hometown of Baquoba. One day later, Agence France-Presse noted the arrest of "Taha Hassan Abbas," as he was correctly identified, in a report that included additional dramatic details. A Fourth Infantry Division spokesman quoted by AFP provided the official account of the arrest: Abbas had "resisted when an assault force approached his house," and "engaged [in] fire," which was returned by US troops who "captured" Abbas and two others.
Far more important than the AP’s errant reporting — itself a reflection of the story’s low priority — is that these two dispatches moved over the wires but went unpublished by any newspaper. Instead, in what has become par for the course, readers were treated to brief depictions of beleaguered US troops engaging in the challenge of bringing law and order to a country beset by Ba’athist insurrectionists. But as disturbing details and images continue to flow from investigations into the horror show that was Abu Ghraib, an increasingly outraged American public is trying to fathom why US forces seem so obviously out of control in their sweeping arrests and torturous interrogations of Iraqis. Just as important, they’re also wondering whether the American media have failed — by design or default — to convey the ground-level truth of the US occupation of Iraq, minimizing the causes of Iraqi alienation and resentment.
In a yet-to-be-released documentary, a top international investigative reporter offers a tentative explanation for both forms of derailment. On March 14 — almost six weeks before 60 Minutes II aired its Abu Ghraib story — the Australian NineNetwork’s Sunday newsmagazine program aired a scaled-down version of Iraq — On the Brink, reported by Ross Coulthart, a journalist whose award-winning investigations have spanned rough-and-tumble assignments in East Timor and Afghanistan to seminal intelligence and public-corruption investigations in the US and Australia. Indirectly, Coulthart raises serious questions about American media self-censorship — something journalists have been wrestling with since the first Gulf War. The film also raises the possibility that, then as now, such self-censorship may have helped the military cover up Iraqi wartime deaths. (A 15-minute trailer for Iraq — On the Brink can be seen at www.journeyman.tv/?lid=14772. Latest RealPlayer required. American audiences may get to see snippets of the documentary in Michael Moore’s award-winning Fahrenheit 9/11, depending on how it’s released.)
Indeed, what began at Abu Ghraib as a probe into torture has now forced the Army to reveal that at least 32 Iraqi deaths may qualify as homicides. Whether Taha Hassan Abbas was one of the victims is difficult to say; extensive official and unofficial inquiries by the Phoenix into the former general’s status yielded no answers. Yet as film footage shot by the NineNet crew shows, the Fourth Infantry Division’s official account of Abbas’s arrest was disingenuous at best.
Beyond the sometimes-shocking documentary content of Iraq — On the Brink, the film bears witness to the yawning gap between what on-the-scene journalists see and what the rest of the world sees. The Hassan-arrest footage was not recorded or guarded or classified by the US Army. It was shot and marketed by a major news organization, the Associated Press Television News (APTN). So why doesn’t footage like this make it into US news coverage? TV news services send out teasers for potential stories, and clients buy footage based on what they see in the teasers. The trouble is, either teasers don’t include the most damning material or, even if such material is included, news producers, for whatever reasons, decide not to buy the whole piece. However it happened, the footage that made it into Coulthart’s documentary, as well as that which was left out, was as available to American TV networks as, say, footage of George W. Bush carrying a turkey platter to troops on Thanksgiving Day. Yet no one chose to run it.
COULTHART GOES out of his way to present a nuanced view of the occupation. He notes that under the command of Colonel David Teeples, soldiers of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, which was charged with enforcing a 9 p.m. curfew in the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Qusabah, were exceptionally careful. Coulthart’s camera crew captured images of Teeples’s resolute but respectful soldiers questioning Iraqis through translators, and in one case, quickly entering and exiting a house in pursuit of a suspected curfew violator. In other encounters, US troops make a point of explaining why they’re doing what they’re doing, and ask for the Iraqis’ help in the future. Heavy weaponry aside, the footage plays like a domestic-dispute encounter from Fox TV’s Cops.
These scenes stand in stark contrast to what comes next. "The Americans need to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis," Coulthart says in his voiceover. "But that’s not helped by aggressive raids like this one carried out by troops not under the command of Colonel Teeples." Though the troops are not identified, patches on their uniforms peg them as soldiers from the 588th Engineering Battalion of the Fourth Infantry Division. "It’s the dead of night outside the house of a senior former Iraqi officer," Coulthart continues, referring to Taha Hassan Abbas, "who’s suspected of helping the insurgents."
The soldiers don’t exactly approach with stealth. They kick open a gate to the house’s yard. What happens next, as Coulthart explained in an interview with the Phoenix, illustrates a perilous gap in American and Iraqi cultural understanding. "First, you have to understand that guns are ubiquitous in Iraq — most people have them, and it’s very common for them to shoot them in the air all the time for any number of reasons — from celebrations to anger to whatever," he says. "Burglary has become very common in the past year, and oftentimes, if people hear something outside their homes at night, they’ll fire a shot or two into the air to scare burglars away. Now, you could just go up to a house, like other soldiers do, and just knock on the door. But some treat these missions like full-fledged combat operations and start kicking things in with guns drawn, and then you get what happens next."
Coulthart’s voiceover continues: "The officer’s son — thinking the soldiers are thieves — goes to the roof of the house and fires into the air to scare them away." The response from US soldiers: "We’ve got a shooter on the roof!" followed by a hail of bullets loosed at the house.
The next shot — of film, that is — shows Abbas, a clearly unarmed, middle-aged, balding man in pajamas, hands above his head, trembling as he stands across from at least a half-dozen US soldiers whose M-16s are trained on him. "Inside the house, the officer surrenders, but he doesn’t understand what the Americans are saying — and they don’t have a translator," Coulthart explains. Abbas repeats the only English he appears to know — "Welcome! Welcome!" — over and over again, keeping his hands far above his head as the Fourth Infantry Division soldiers handle the situation in a way almost exactly the opposite of how the Third Cav troops acted in similar circumstances. The Fourth Infantry soldiers’ manner foreshadows the images at Abu Ghraib that the world would see months later.
"Want me to shoot him in the leg?" one soldier yells. "I might shoot you!" another growls at Abbas. As Abbas stands motionless in the doorway between his kitchen and the next room, one soldier shouts, "He’s trying to draw us in there!" Another solider half mutters, half yells, "I don’t give a shit, I’m gonna shoot, I’m gonna shoot, I’m gonna shoot!" while another hollers, "I can shoot him in the leg!"
"Get the fuck over here, get the fuck over here," shouts another, while the previous soldier repeats his desire to shoot Abbas in the leg, adding that someone should also "shoot him in the foot."
Abbas steps away from the doorway and moves his back to the wall. "The Iraqi officer, thinking he’s about to die," Coulthart’s voiceover resumes, "can now be heard praying." The American response is far from ecumenical, with one soldier yelling, "Who the fuck are you talking to? Who the fuck are you talking to? Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up!" The soldier then grabs the man’s pajama top and hurls him across the room into the hands of another soldier, who in turn hurls him into a chair that goes flying as the Iraqi sprawls onto the floor. One soldier begins to kick Abbas, who, though on his back, has his hands in the air again, repeating "Welcome! Welcome!" Three soldiers put their gun barrels in his face, with one solider yelling repeatedly, "Shoot him!" Another asks, "Who’s shooting?" when he hears gunfire from the roof, and then yells, "Bullshit" at the prone Abbas, who continues to repeat, "Welcome!"
The next sequence shows the capture of Abbas’s adult son, who had shot the gun off on the roof; as he’s being restrained, a soldier’s voice barks menacingly, "Take the camera off him." The film then resumes with a shot of two women — apparently Abbas’s wife and daughter — kneeling on the ground at gunpoint, their hands on their heads, their faces pictures of anger and humiliation.
The final shot shows the former general. Though fleeting, it is, perhaps, the most disturbing sequence of the film, given that in his previous appearance Abbas was terrified but physically unharmed. Now, his arms are restrained behind his back. His face is battered and bruised. His left eye is beginning to swell shut. The front of his shirt is stained with blood, and a stream of snot and blood dangles from his left nostril.
"No one here was killed," Coulthart’s voice resumes. "But it’s raids like this that can only fuel the resentment against Coalition forces."
Speaking with the Phoenix from Australia, Coulthart doesn’t entirely fault the soldiers for their initial reaction to gunfire from the roof: "One could reasonably, though incorrectly, conclude that one was being fired on, and it makes perfect sense to fire back if that’s what you think." But, he says, it again raises the question of who gave the order for the squad to apprehend the general in the way it did — especially without a translator — given the obvious potential for creating an unnecessarily inflammatory situation. "People don’t seem to realize the incalculable damage something like this causes," he says. "You can see on the face of the young woman that her heart and mind are gone forever to the Americans. When we first saw this footage, the first reaction of our Iraqi fixers was absolute anger — I can only begin to guess what the reaction is to the scenes from Abu Ghraib."
Coulthart says he’s not sure what’s more troubling: that the arrest of a former Iraqi lieutenant general apparently merited no coverage; that footage showing an arrest almost completely at odds with the official account was not distributed in its entirety by Associated Press Television News; or that what was distributed wasn’t of interest to any APTN clients.
"We had a hunch that there was probably some very disturbing footage cameramen had shot that American network producers had consciously chosen not to air, or that broadcast-news-service editors had edited teasers in a way that didn’t prominently feature footage like this," he says. "I think the problem is more with the clients for TV news services than the services themselves. In this case, the edited version sent out was just a shortened version that didn’t show the drama that we realized when we viewed the entire sequence. When we saw it, we couldn’t believe no one had used it. Because the clients should have realized first off that the version was an indication of something more sinister worth investigation."
At the same time, he says, it may be asking too much of news organizations to air such footage. "This is part of the irony of how modern news systems actually work to keep stuff like this off the air. Places like APTN and Reuters TV generate so much, squirting out images 24 hours a day on permanent satellite-feed channels, that there just isn’t time to monitor it and watch it all. Which is too bad, because it’s the wire services like APTN and Reuters that are doing most of the really ballsy shooting."
Coulthart is similarly vexed by the lack of attention US media paid to the American use of cluster bombs last year — and how the damage they’ve done has engendered extreme ill will towards the American occupiers, particularly in the Doura section of Baghdad. Condemned by most international humanitarian organizations, cluster bombs explode and then spray smaller explosive bomblets over a vast area; all too often some of the bomblets don’t immediately explode, causing civilian casualties later on. Featured prominently in Iraq — On the Brink is Aida al-Ansari, an English-speaking Doura resident whose son and 25 others were killed when a US warplane cluster-bombed her neighborhood as American forces were fighting their way into Baghdad last spring. While a handful of stories mentioned the Doura bombing last year, there’s been no follow-up since — another missed opportunity, as the Sunday crew discovered, to understand the roots of growing Iraqi anger at the occupation.
When Coulthart visited the Doura neighborhood this year, he discovered al-Ansari, who still has the shrapnel-torn, bloodstained jeans her 16-year-old son, Fahad, was wearing when he died on the operating table at a local hospital, bereft of any anesthetic to ease the pain. Almost a year later, Coulthart reports, "grief among Fahad’s family and friends has now hardened to anger" directed at the US government. "They hate them," al-Ansari tells him of the Americans, explaining that "they don’t hate the people, but they hate Bush and the Army."
"Did they hate the United States before this war?" Coulthart asks.
"No," she responds. "They were — everybody used to dream to go to United States to work or to do something."
"Has anyone from the Coalition ever come to you or to this community and apologized for what happened?" he asks.
"No. No one."
The documentary also includes another type of footage rarely seen on American television. Though ABC originally aired it briefly (and though a handful of Web sites have shown it at various lengths), Iraq — On the Brink includes the full night-vision footage taken from the gun cameras of a US Army AH-64 Apache helicopter that shows the killing of three men, one of whom appeared to be hiding a rocket-propelled grenade. Though it’s impossible to verify just what the man has, the crew is nonetheless instructed by radio to "Smoke ’em," and then coolly fires through the dark at each suspected insurgent in turn. In this sort of video-game-style footage, we’re used to seeing the destruction of bunkers and buildings, not human figures.
However shocking it is to watch, the action is actually permissible under the US Army’s rules of engagement; indeed, it was likely that reliable intelligence led the helicopter to stake out the scene in the first place, and as helicopters are notoriously vulnerable to rocket-propelled-grenade and other shoulder-fired-missile attacks, it’s not entirely surprising that the Apache fired away. Rather, says Coulthart, the importance of the footage is that it reflects what many non-American Coalition military units said to his crew: that they’ve grown increasingly concerned about the political ramifications of the Americans’ take no-prisoners/show-no-mercy approach. "When it came up in conversation with one Coalition officer," says Coulthart, "he shook his head and said, ‘The Americans have gone feral, and no good will come of it.’"
Iraq — On the Brink also captures the brusque aloofness of CPA administrator J. Paul Bremer, the shiftiness of Ahmad Chalabi, the still-being-uncovered hidden horrors of Saddam’s regime, and the bravery of the Baghdad Police Department’s bomb squad in defusing scores of bombs each day. (The Americans use remote-controlled robots to neutralized explosives threatening US troops; the Iraqis display what Coulthart calls a "splendid madness in heroism" as they are left to defuse bombs by hand, with no protective gear.)
WHILE COULTHART thinks the documentary makes for an accurate and timely snapshot of post-Saddam Iraq, he exhales a rueful sigh at the mention of Abu Ghraib — a sigh that reflects a sense of both self-recrimination and angst born of the economics of foreign correspondence. When his crew was en route to meet Teeples and his Third Armored Cavalry soldiers in Iraq’s western desert, their route took them past Abu Ghraib. As Coulthart recalls, no discussion was required to stop the van; the scene they beheld "was like something out of Dante’s Inferno." "We all knew what it was and what it stood for, this thing with mythological status in Iraq where all this death and misery took place," he says. "Part of what was striking was that, frankly, it wasn’t looking much different now — barbed wire, troops with menacing gun emplacements, lines of people trying to get in to see relatives.
"While we’re filming overlays, up walks this mother, who tells us this horror story about her sons essentially being abducted from their home in Um Qasr by the Americans in the middle of the night. I did the interview, of course, but didn’t run it in our story because it seemed a little off our focus. You’re so focused on the story you tell yourself is the story — in part because the cost is so high and the budget is so tight. It cost us $1500 a week to be there, and unless we deliver results, it’s harder in the future to get the support this kind of work requires."
Indeed, Coulthart says, those sorts of cost considerations actually kept the cluster-bomb segment from appearing on Sunday for a year. "Most of that we shot last year, but we had to focus on the story we were supposed to be telling, which was mostly about Chalabi," he says. Determined to advance the dormant story on his latest visit to Baghdad, days of street reporting led the crew to al-Ansari, whose experiences ultimately made for a much more informative and affecting piece of journalism.
Yet the fact remains that a disturbing reality went unreported for a year, essentially due to constraints on time and money. "And with Abu Ghraib, it was the same situation again," Coulthart sighs. "Though we had the luxury of more time and more flexibility than anyone who covers Iraq day in and day out, we felt like we couldn’t shift our focus. And the irony was, here was this story of a lifetime right under our noses. There were people standing in queues trying to see their sons, waiting eight hours a day and often being told to come back the next day, and then the next and the next. Looking back on it, I’m not only kicking myself now, but am kind of ashamed. I’m sure that if we had scratched the surface and had taken the time to systematically interview people coming out to Abu Ghraib trying to figure out what had happened to their loved ones, we could have dug something up then."
COULTHART’S SENTIMENT is not uncommon among seasoned, independent-minded reporters cognizant of the complexities of most foreign stories. But in some respects, the dice have been loaded against journalists covering Iraq since the beginning of the war. While a handful of journalists has provided a steady stream of exemplary reporting, there are some who feel that whatever good reporting has been done since the end of "major combat operations" has involved an even greater uphill battle for attention than usual. Why? Because the Bush administration’s practice of embedding journalists with the troops set the tenor of Iraq-war reporting.
As the Washington Post’s Richard Leiby wrote last year, embedding was nothing short of a "propaganda coup" for the Defense Department. By embedding scores of reporters (many with little or no combat or foreign experience) in rapidly advancing frontline units, argued Leiby, the Pentagon ensured that virtually no one who was "cover[ing] the instability and power vacuum left in the invasion’s wake" got nearly the play their "embedded" colleagues did — thus minimizing the disturbing realities of poor post-war planning and lulling Americans into a sense of complacency, not about what was to come, but about what was already happening.
Speaking at an extraordinary-but-unnoticed symposium at the University of Texas last year, award-winning combat photographer Peter Turnley was unsparing in his criticism of the increasingly institutionalized self-censorship he believes began in the first Gulf War, and has only become more insidious since. In Gulf War I, Turnley — then a top Newsweek photographer — was so uncomfortable with the Pentagon’s control of journalists through its "pool" system that he actually left Saudi Arabia before the war and snuck across the Kuwaiti border by dressing as an Army colonel. While many of his colleagues were being shepherded through the theater of operations by US military minders, Turnley at one point found himself surveying a horrific scene that the Army thought it had successfully quarantined from journalists.
"I witnessed US soldiers forcing Iraqi prisoners at gunpoint to pick up bodies and pile them up and put them in mass graves where bulldozers would come and cover them up," he said. "There were two Iraqi soldiers, they were really very pathetic, in their 40s, didn’t have teeth, very tired and fatigued, and at gunpoint being made to pick up dozens of bodies. It seemed rather inhuman to me, how long they were obliged to do this. I remember as they dropped a body next to a stack of bodies, one of the Iraqi soldiers fell to his hands and knees and started sobbing. I got on my knees and started to make a picture — at that point an American soldier came up and punched me in the chest and said, ‘You animal.’ And I grabbed him by the shirt and told him I didn’t make these guys do this."
Although Turnley took rolls of disturbing and moving images — some of which he showed to the symposium audience — almost none saw the light of day, either in Newsweek or through distribution by his photo agency. Yet almost every newspaper reproduced Turnley’s photograph of a wounded US soldier in a helicopter, crying as a comrade died in his arms.
During the 2003 Gulf War, Turnley — this time for the Denver Post — once again struck out on his own, purposely avoiding US and British soldiers and focusing his attention on the Iraqi people. "For the first three weeks, I would see a convoy, a whole troupe of writers from major media outlets that would come in for a half day’s reporting so they could get their dateline and then get out," he recalled. "It took me literally five seconds of entering into Iraq and looking into the eyes of people whose eyes showed mistrust, open hostility at the worst. There were towns that troops had just flown through, not staying to create any law and order. People showed me leaflets the Americans had dropped from the sky saying they should be embraced with joy and welcomed because we were bringing liberation and food and water and power, and they’d scream at me, ‘Where’s the water? Where are the medical supplies? In the hospital we have nothing.’"
In Turnley’s view, the media-government arrangement that effectively produced much of the coverage of Gulf War II and the early occupation conspired to create what he terms a "projected idea of reality" — which policymakers actually consider tantamount to reality. Yet wrenching situations like the one he witnessed in a Baghdad hospital five days after the city’s liberation, he says, are precisely what people need to see to drive home the reality that the invasion was not about American pride, but about America’s failure to secure the blessings of liberation for the Iraqi people. "I saw this beautiful little girl on the bed — yellow socks, white shirt — and I noticed two doctors were doing cardiac massage on her chest, and that I was watching the life of this little girl evaporating. I thought I saw her chest exhale and I had this leap of joy, I thought she was coming back to life — and one of the doctors had this look of disgust and put a towel over her face and walked out."
The girl, Turnley found out, had died of pneumonia, for which she could have been treated. But because the Americans had failed to plan for crowds running riot, the girl’s father couldn’t get her to the hospital before it was too late.
Jason Vest is a contributing writer for the Boston Phoenix.
Video: "Iraq - On the Brink" available here
01 June 2004
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) yesterday released more information about the heavily censored legal challenge it is bringing against the government's use of a controversial provision of the USA PATRIOT Act that allows the FBI to obtain from businesses sensitive personal information about their clients. Among the documents unsealed today is a declaration by the ACLU's anonymous client in the case, the president and sole employee of an unnamed Internet Service Provider (ISP), referred to only as "John Doe."
John Doe is prohibited by law from revealing his identity to the public, even as he confronts the federal government over the very section of the Patriot Act that forces him to remain anonymous.
n his statement, Doe explains that his business provides access to the Internet, email accounts and space on the Web where people can post their own sites or store electronic files. He says some of the his clients "are individuals and political associations that engage in controversial political speech," and that some "communicate anonymously or pseudonymously," which allows them "to discuss embarrassing, sensitive or controversial subjects without fear of retaliation or reprisal."
Doe and the ACLU are asking the court to deem unconstitutional the government's use of National Security Letters (NSLs), which allow FBI agents to demand, with no judicial oversight, personal information about clients of Internet Service Providers.
"I believe that the government may be abusing its power by targeting people with unpopular views," Doe writes. "I am challenging the constitutionality of the NSL provision in an effort to protect all of my clients' interests."
In a memorandum to the court, the ACLU wrote that the statute allowing the broad use of National Security Letters gives the FBI "unchecked authority" to require businesses to reveal "a broad array of sensitive information, including information about the First Amendment activities of ordinary Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing."
The memorandum continues: "The statute does not require the FBI to seek judicial authorization before demanding the disclosure of sensitive information, and it does not specify any means by which a person served with an NSL can challenge the NSLs validity before complying with it. In other words, the FBI issues NSLs without judicial oversight of any kind."
ACLU lawyers and their client are also disputing a section of the law that prohibits an entity that receives a National Security Letter request for information from telling anyone about the request. Ironically, this gag order is the same rule that prohibits the ACLU and John Doe from talking about many aspects of their case.
The ACLU challenge of the National Security Letters and the gag rule has been wrapped in secrecy since it was filed in early April this year. The civil liberties organization has been locked in constant disagreements with the government over how much can be revealed about the case. The group was not even allowed to announce the existence of the suit for over two weeks, and even after negotiating the right to publicize the case, has been subject to numerous restrictions on the kinds of information it can disclose.
Numerous words, sentences and entire sections of the documents related to the suit, which are posted on the group's website, remain blacked out.
Assistant attorney general for legal policy Daniel Bryant defended the gag order last week at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing last week, saying it prevents people from interrupting terrorism investigations. But critics say the secrecy rule is designed to keep the public in the dark about the government's invasion into people's constitutionally protected privacy.
"It is particularly troubling," writes ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in a statement to the court, "that while the ACLU... [has] been gagged from discussing the NSL power, President Bush and representatives of the FBI and Justice Department are engaged in a public campaign in support of the Patriot Act. The gag provision silences those who are most likely to oppose the Patriot Act. [We] believe we have the right to inform the public of a great deal of the information the gag is suppressing."
In filings with the court, Both Romero and Doe described the self-censorship they had been forced to engage in when asked by others about the National Security Letters in general or the case in particular.
"The government has now prohibited the disclosure of my name and my company's name in connection with the case," said Doe. "They have provided no further clarification about what I can and cannot say." He says that he has found it difficult to have normal conversations. "[I] used to discuss topics related to politics and current events, but now I feel wary when I communicate... I have steered clear of numerous topics of conversation as I am afraid.... The gag has put me in a very compromising situation, as I do not want to be dishonest in my communications [words blacked out] but also do not want to violate the gag."
Romero said that not only is the gag order affecting how he and other staff at the ACLU can talk about the case, but it is having an impact on the broader activities of the organization, which has been actively engaged in educating and organizing against the Patriot Act since the law's inception in late 2001.
"[T]he scope of the gag in this case, and the refusal of the government to clarify what is prohibited, is intolerable," he writes. "The gag has severely disrupted our ordinary course of business... More importantly, the public and even members of Congress are denied non-sensitive information essential to public and legislative debate that is at the heart of democratic self-governance."
For all ACLU documents related to this case see:
[Jessica Azulay is a co-founder of PeoplesNetWorks and an editor at The NewStandard.]
GUADALAJARA, MEXICO -- Latin America and Europe capped a summit with a condemnation of Iraqi prisoner abuse and calls for support for the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol--indirect criticisms of the United States that never mentioned the world's superpower by name. [ChiTrib-requires registration]
Cash Crunch, Sex Abuse Charges Hit U.N. Peacekeeping
As the United Nations gears up to despatch thousands of new troops into political trouble spots in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, its peacekeeping missions are being undermined by a shortage of funds, unpaid debts and charges of sexual abuse against women and children caught in the crossfire.
H.R.3920 To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.
Prominent U.S. Jews, Israel blamed for start of Iraq war
WASHINGTON - As the argument in the United States over the necessity of the war in Iraq and the manner in which it was waged intensifies, and as the presidential election date draws nearer, those who have tried to accuse Israel or the U.S. Jews of pushing the administration into battle are once again sounding their voices.
Bush Keeps Saddam Gun at White House
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A handgun that Saddam Hussein) was clutching when U.S. forces captured him in a hole in Iraq) last December is now kept by President Bush at the White House, a spokesman confirmed on Sunday.
The Israeli attack on Rafah in the Gaza Strip did not come in a political and military vacuum. The Israeli army's 'operation rainbow' is now only 'paused' and all indications are that the struggle that has continued between Israel and the Palestinians along the Egyptian border for more than three years now will resume shortly.
Gaza house razing renewed
....... On Saturday night the IDF demolished about twenty Palestinian buildings along the Philadelphi road in Rafah. Palestinian sources said dozens of IDF tanks, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers, supported by helicopters, moved into the "G Block" area in southern Rafah before dawn yesterday morning.
The man who unmasked the Likud
Even as these lines are being written, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is staking his political life on his plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria (in the West Bank), no one knows where the prime minister is heading.
Bush and Blair appear to think that making declarations on Iraq is enough to change the realities on the ground
Seeing the US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, testify before the 9/11 commission on CNN in April was a challenge in eye-ear coordination. While she eloquently spelled out the Bush administration's strategy for the war on terror, the tickertape of rolling news spewed out grim news from the front across the bottom of the screen. Your ears took in the official narrative: "We are in control and shaping a positive future for the Middle East." Your eyes traced the brutal reality: "This is a bloody mess and innocents are dying."
Alleged Halliburton ties haunt Cheney
Time magazine reported on Sunday how Vice President Dick Cheney's office "coordinated" an extremely lucrative contract with his former employer Halliburton.
A War Crimes Avoidance Strategy
How often have we parrotted that well-known phrase without having any concrete understanding of what Lord Acton really meant. But now, akin to proving Einstein's Theory of Relativity long after he developed it, we can point to the special status of the United States in Gulf War 2 as concrete proof of absolute power in action.
Washington Urges Media Freedom - But Not for AlJazeera
When the U.S. state department shyly released a human rights report two weeks ago amidst an international outcry over U.S. soldiers' abuse of Iraqi prisoners, it slipped in some tough talk on media freedom -- against the practice, not for it as would be expected.
A senior Australian army officer visited Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison last year to investigate allegations of prisoner maltreatment, a Senate inquiry has heard, contradicting statements by the Prime Minister and defence chiefs.
Major George O'Kane, who visited the notorious prison five times, was yesterday barred from giving evidence to the Senate estimates hearing by Defence Minister Robert Hill.
Middle East experts discuss the war on terror
Amnesty International's general secretary Irene Khan has alleged that many government's have "lost their moral compass" in fighting the war on terror. Amnesty International's Middle East director, Dr Abdel Salam Sidahmed, and senior fellow and director for the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute, Meyrav Wurmser, debate the issue.
[Real Video] [Windows Media] [Transcript]
Hicks may face conspiracy charges
Australian Muslim convert David Hicks was likely to be charged this week with the terrorist offence of conspiracy, based on military training he undertook with al-Qaeda in Pakistan four years ago.
ASIO let tip-off on JI slip past
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has revealed that an Australian-born Muslim convert rang the federal police four years ago with information about terrorist groups but the contact was not followed up.
Defence chiefs come clean on abuse
The Federal Government's claim that no Australian personnel knew of abuses of Iraqi prisoners until January was demolished during an extraordinary Senate hearing yesterday amid accusations of a cover-up by the Government and military leaders.
IN PALESTINE : A released prisoner interviewed : "during the first few days,(after arrest) there are likely to be at least two interrogation sessions each twenty four hours, each one lasting for several hours. Between the interrogation sessions, the detainee may be placed in the "Shabah" or "coffin". Both methods make sleep impossible. Shabah means that the detainee is made to squat stand with legs bent, or is made to sit handcuffed to the wall of an outdoor yard. The "Coffin" is a tiny cell measuring about one meter square into which the detainee is locked for hours at a time."
..........." In this article I just described some examples which came to mind after I read about the Iraqi prisoner torture testimony, in which I read that one of the interrogators told the Iraqi detainee while torturing him that he was called "the Evil Abu Allah". This reminded me of the Israeli sexual harassment during the interrogations by the Israeli experts "Steve" and the other one who called himself "Abu Allah" during the sexual torture of Palestinian women detainees. Actually, the Israeli interrogation and torture teams are using the same language everywhere they go, without limit."
Excerpted from The Handstand
SMSgt, USAF, (ret)
I do not believe Pvt England can get a 'fair' trail at Ft Bragg and possibly not by any military justice system which has and uses command 'discretionary power' to do what they want and usually choose not to punish the males who committed criminal acts; but harass and punish the victims. The military view is also visited upon children who are feloniously abused and often killed by their soldier parents. I have included a list of abuse, death, and child pornography and sexual abuse by Ft Bragg soldiers as reported in the news and available on the internet.
Consider this Denver Post article as regard the military’s view with regard to rape of women:
--some excerpts from this article:--
Women who were raped while serving in the military say they were isolated and blamed for the attacks, while the system they turned to for help has treated the men who assaulted them far more humanely
Military officers often have ignored or hidden problems and findings related to sexual assaults.
The obstacles to pursuing justice are wrenching, more than 50 sexual-assault victims told The Post. Many fear retaliation, damage to their careers and being portrayed as disloyal. And those who do report are often punished, intimidated, ostracized or told they are crazy by their superiors.
"These people were supposed to be my family," said Michelle Swanson, an Army intelligence specialist who said she was discouraged by a supervisor from reporting her sexual assault. "I was betrayed."
The Post's interviews and an analysis of records found:
Leniency toward sexual-assault crimes is routine. Over the past 10 years, twice as many accused Army sex offenders were given administrative punishment as were court-martialed. In the civilian world, four of five people arrested for rape are prosecuted. Nearly 5,000 accused sex offenders in the military, including rapists, have avoided prosecution, and the possibility of prison time, since 1992, according to Army records.
--end of excerpts--
I have to ask - are they sitting on Court Martial juries meting out punishment for females?
My name is Myra Kinderknecht. I am 67 years old and the grandmother of 2 military dependent who are Special Education Special Needs children. I am also a retired Senior Master Sergeant (E-8), U S Air Force with 45 years of work experience in both civilian, government and military agencies. Here is part of my story. I apologize for the length of this communication and if I do not seem focused and organized, consider that I have been through a harrowing year and a half suffering the male dominated Ft Bragg post’s continual refusal to investigate or look into the emotional neglect/abuse of my two special education grandchildren. I have statements and evidence of actual abuse which the entire chain of command has refused to read or consider for the best interest of the children. I am not concerned about my rights - I am concerned about the children’s rights and Ft Bragg and parental failure resulting in escalated dramatic changes and major depression in my grandson and emotional trauma for my granddaughter.
ALL I WANTED WAS HELP FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN TO INSURE THAT THEIR BEST INTERESTS AND RIGHTS WERE BEING ADDRESSED AND ASSURED. The information I provided relative to myself is just to show what happens to a person trying to report suspected emotional abuse of children on Ft Bragg. They can do to me what they want, I am an adult - a strong and intelligent adult. Ft Bragg’s neglect and refusal to provide protection for the dependent children of soldiers is scary.
Ft Bragg officials chose to harass and intimidate me and refused to consider my pleas and requests to look into and/or investigate the emotional abuse of my grandchildren, both of whom are special education children living on Ft Bragg and attending Ft Bragg schools. Fort Bragg Family Advocacy Program literature defines Isolating Children from Those They Need as EMOTIONAL CHILD ABUSE. All information I’ve found on Emotional Child Abuse says the same thing. A Fort Bragg Commander along with Ft Bragg Social Service declined to investigate and collectively denied contact and communication of the grandchildren to have access to their grandmother who had raised them and who the children constantly beg to have access to. Subsequently and recently, Ft Bragg has discharged the soldier mother, the step-dad is still military. Ft Bragg has convinced the mother to say it was 'her' idea to request discharge due to not having child care, however the mother told her friends that Ft Bragg was ‘harassing her‘ and that she was going to be thrown out of the Army. The mother worked very hard for over a year to get back into the Army and I cannot believe that all of a sudden she wants to raise her children and get fired from the Army and requested it. Her track record of wanting the money - not the children is PROOF. The fate of the children is absolutely no concern of Ft Bragg. A general's wife on May 20, 2004, told me that they are so busy with all the current Iraq issues. I told her my grandchildren deserve to be taken care of as much as the Iraqi children. She said someone will get back to you. I have heard that from every level of the chain of command on Ft Bragg and to date, no one has ‘gotten back to me.” Although my only concern is for my grandchildren, the treatment and harassment I got for trying to help him is presented only as evidence of what I perceive of neglect and failure to protect children as well as their chauvinistic attitude towards females. I am an adult who can think, asses the situation and understand somewhat what is happening. The children are special needs children who cannot possibly understand why the Army ignored their pleadings and requests to keep their grandmother in their life. Both Ft Bragg schools IEP boards at McNair and Murray schools stated that my involvement in the children lives was imperative. They did not elaborate but it must have had something to do with the children’s care prior to my arrival at Ft Bragg, common sense says.
In January 2002 at the pleading request of the mother I gave up my job, my townhouse, my life style, and gave away my furniture (her time constraints prevented attempts to sell it) and I provided child care 24/7 99% of 2002 to include financial support. total support of their academic school life.
Did she want her children? September 5, 2002 she received orders to move her family from New Orleans, La to Ft Bragg NC. She took the money to move them. About three months later when Ft Bragg discovered that she had not moved them up (December 2002) Ft Bragg told her to move them up or pay them back. She did not have the money anymore and didn’t want to ‘’pay them back’’ so my ex-husband and I drove them and their belongings (all purchased my me) to her Ft Bragg residence a couple days before Christmas 2001. Although she had an allotment sent to the father of the children, the children lived with me in New Orleans, I supported them and I was also a substitute teacher at their school to help offset the additional financial cost to me to provide for them. I have never received any compensation from the parents towards support of the children. Money was their focus, not the children.
I am not qualified in psychology, but anyone can tell that it was not the children she wanted, she did not want to pay the Army back the money. Should this have been the first Red Flag clue to Ft Bragg that there was an issue that said she didn’t want the children as evidenced by her displayed concern for the money?
I moved out of her house on Ft Bragg due to her rage and refusal to honor the information I passed on to her from Joel Clinic and the schools, and I considered her rages to be detrimental to the children. The children moved with me off post from the end of August 2002 through December 2002. When Ft Bragg discovered the children were living with me while she was collecting financial benefits and she had family quarters on post, she had to either take her children back or lose the ''money.'' Again, should this have been another Red Flag to Ft Bragg that she did not want her children?
Damien Winsborrow was a sweet happy child, extremely bright and doing very well when he arrived of Ft Bragg Christmas of 2002. He completed 4th grade at McNair School on Ft Bragg and his teacher has ‘high’ expectations for his progress. WHAT HAPPENED TO DESTROY DAMIEN WINSBORROW? The grandmother has been begging Ft Bragg Officials from her Commander and Ft Bragg Social Services to a top General's wife to assess the dramatic decline in this child's life as the child has become physically violent, curses and on many occasions had told staff at Tolson Youth Center and faculty/staff at Irwin Middle School that he hates his life and wants to die. Albeit the Army Law, as well as North Carolina Law, defines emotional abuse/neglect as Child Abuse and demands that when a child repeatedly says he wants to die that they must report it. Ft Bragg says it has Zero Tolerance for Child Abuse. In fact, they have no regard for this child and his sister.
Based on my personal experience and observations,
Ft Bragg's Zero Tolerance for Child Abuse is:
*Harass the person trying to make the report.
*Move the offending soldier parent off post.
*Discharge the offending solider parent if necessary.
ALL I WANTED WAS HELP FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN TO INSURE THAT THEIR BEST INTERESTS AND RIGHTS WERE BEING ADDRESSED AND ASSURED.
NOTHING, ZERO, HAS BEEN DONE WITH REGARD TO THE EMOTIONAL MENTAL WELL BEING AND SAFETY OF DAMIEN WINSBORROW, who just turned 13 May 30 2004 and is going through puberty without proper information and guidance. He was put on Ritalin in spite of CONCERTA’S WARNINGS that the drug should not be given to children who suffer anxiety and emotional problems. Ft Bragg REFUSED at all levels to investigate and consider the future well being of this child. I was told by Colleen McCloskey, Provost Marshall’s Office Military Investigator and Paulette Lombard, Ft Bragg Social Service worker, under the guise of counseling me and my soldier daughter, stated that the soldier mother can raise her children in any manner she wants to, to include withholding vital information from a doctor and putting him on the wrong drug. Ms. Paulette Lombard strong armed me and said that if I would stop writing letters and making trouble and let Spec Monica McKinley raise her children any way she wants to including withholding vital information and putting him on the wrong medication, then she, Paulette Lombard, would let me visit the children one day per month for a few hours each day Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb. She said she would readdress the visitation in Feb 2004. She has not done so as of June 1, 2004..
When a known psychotic female soldier gave my 9 year old special education granddaughter a used condom to play with I took it to the schools and subsequently to Ft Bragg Social Service at Womack Army Hospital where in less than a week they closed the case without any investigation. A copy of the report is also enclosed.
This child has gone from a sweet kind and well above average child who displayed affinity for hugging. He also let his teacher, Mr. Howle, know that his grandmother was the "only one who loved him and took care of him." Not only has the entire Ft Bragg official chain of command, including Ft Bragg Social Service, refused to accept my claims as regards emotional abuse but they all acting in unison in trying to intimate her and harassed her and their attitude appeared to be one that should have make her fear them. This included the 67 year old grandmother being threatened and verbally assaulted on March 1, 2004 by a soldier in uniform she did not recognize at night on Ft Bragg in a displayed violent rage who chased her down on Ft Bragg. He was driving his vehicle in uniform and was shaking his fist in a threatening manner and stating things like if she knew what was good for her she would do what he said and he was cursing her violently with major vulgar terms. This grandmother (me) went to the Military Police Station on Butner Road, Ft Bragg and the entire staff and MP's on duty refused to take her report, refused to do an incident report, refused to listen to her. She was told to wait. She did. The soldier who had threatened her and violently cursed her arrived and he was allowed to give his 'version'. The grandmother was told to leave. MP Petty told her no report on her behalf would be made. MP Petty watched the grandmother leave as he and the offending soldier went back into the station together. WHY? Guess who the female in this true story is? Inquiries have been made by myself as well as Lt Col Jacobs on my behalf and as of this writing, there has been no response. I am not really concerned for myself - I only mention this to give credence to my perception of chauvinism on Ft Bragg, as well as total disregard for children.
You have to ask why the Ft Bragg United States Post Office refused to return the green cards for certified mail that the grandmother paid for and sent to all levels of command from Military Police and JAG to the Garrison Commander and subsequently she sent by UPS her letter to General John R. Vines.
On May 20, 2004 the grandmother took some of paperwork to the wife of General Horst. After the usual attempts at harassment, intimidation. and total disregard for the children's welfare; Mrs. Horst noticed the list I have been compiling of victims of Ft Bragg soldiers abuse, especially the brutality and death of children and females. She said that 'someone will get to you.' On May 24, 2002, Mr. Timothy Howle, Assistant Principal at Irwin Middle School (the children attend school here) told the grandmother that the Judge Advocate is investigating. I asked Mr. Howle direct "Is this going to help Damien and Elaine?" He replied "Yes." On May 27, 2004 when I went to Irwin Middle School to pick up my refrigerator that I had provided for Damien's classroom, Mr. Howle assured me he had received a phone call from the JAG and that he was "truthful" with his response. He said that and that the Judge Advocate is going to answer my letter to General John R. Vines. I told Mr. Howle that I was beginning to think that all this information is going to be important for Damien will have the opportunity to sue everyone who failed to perform their duty as required and demanded to insure his safety and well being. I left his office feeling that once again, I had been bamboozled.
How many officials at all levels of rank and importance does it take to intimidate and harass a grandmother while refusing her request to look into the mental and emotional well being of Ft Bragg Military dependent special education children?
On August 9, 2002, a news report was issued that a Ft Bragg soldier, PFC Hezekiah Bates, burned a kitten on a barbeque grill. They reported that Ft Bragg leaders told Bates to leave his housing on post by August 27, 2002 because of decaying animals found in his yard. They also said he had been told to move because of a child neglect charge. Nearly a year later, it was reported that the cat was still alive and living at the Dogwood Animal Hospital and a Ft Bragg representative said PFC Bates was discharged from the Army on an ''unrelated matter.'' No report was found regarding the child who it was reported that PFC Bates neglected. However it does add credence to my belief that when a soldier becomes a "problem" in child abuse/neglect issues, they are merely moved off post and the problem then is not their concern as they are off Ft Bragg land.
HAVE TO ASK WHY FT BRAGG HAS SO LITTLE REGARD FOR CHILDREN, AT LEAST, SOME OF THEIR DEPENDENT CHILDREN. My grandson needs help NOW. I told General Horst's wife that he needs help NOW and that I am scared to death for him. He has become physically violent since leaving my care. Damien never once exhibited physical violence until after he was removed from care and now it seems to be a habit he has acquired and I maintain it is due to EMOTIONAL ABUSE. Ft Bragg just wants to ignore me and hope I go away. The mother told a friend she is being thrown out of the Army because she cannot find 'child care'. Her 'real' commander told me that she requested it. I am sure that she will say what they told her to as her current husband is still in the Army stationed at Ft Bragg.
Recently when I contacted the XVIII Inspector General's Office, after talking to me for a few minutes, Sgt. Moore told me that I was "doing more harm than good." I asked him to explain to me what he meant. He stopped talking at this point and gave me the phone number to Capt Bryson and told me that is her 'real commander'. Apparently the acting commander Capt Kukiela who denied the children any contact with me on October 15, 2003, was not the 'real' commander.
I have personally observed the following:
Soldier Dwayne Harris married to Soldier Shirley Harris with two children ages 2 and 4 late at night (after 1:00 a.m.) in a drunken violent rage did destroy a car parked in the 32G 34G 36G Sicily Drive parking area to include breaking out all the windows, ripping off the spoiler and hitting the vehicle with a child's push toy. Immediately thereafter Soldier Shirley Harris' commander told her that she had to let him come back and live in their home.
Soldier Tina Anderson seeking separation and divorce from an abusive Soldier husband, moved into a trailer with her mother off post (off military controlled land). Her commander ordered her to let her abusive Soldier husband move into the trailer with her and her mother. Tina Anderson has been subsequently discharged from the Army and divorced her abusive soldier husband.
SOMEONE HAS TO ASK ''WHY''?
I personally am holding Ft Bragg responsible for their failure to do what was required by policy, established procedures, and regulations to protect the emotional and mental well being of Damien Winsborrow (Emotionally Impaired as classified by the school IEP Assessment Board.) and Elaine Winsborrow (Learning Disabled as classified by the school IEP Assessment Board. For example: DoDEA Manual 2946.2 states for SPECIAL EDUCATION students, the School Counselor (position held by Mr. Small) "participates in the Case Study Committee (CSC) and other support meetings as needed; participates in the development of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) when school counseling goals will be included and at other times when appropriate; assists the special education teacher and administrator(s) in student placement and scheduling; participates in the student evaluation process, as needed and supports services as required in the IEP." It also states that the CSC with the school counselor's input will determine if another professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist could better address a student's needs. Counselor is also to share the responsibility of complying with timelines and documentation required for special education students.
Although Mr. Timothy Howle was made aware of Damien's statements that the only one who took care of him was his grandmother and that he was ''terrified'' that she might move and Mr. Howle continually expressed his concern for Damien's onset of extreme depression and dramatic change in appearance and decline and Damien's comments saying that he wants to die; I feel that knowing the facts, Mr. Howle failed to perform his obligation to report suspected child abuse/neglect when Damien became depressed and was telling every he wanted to die. Tolson Youth Center staff failed to report it although on one occasion they had to call in a counselor for Damien. Further, based on the downward spiral and decline of Damien Winsborrow, Mr. Small, the school counselor, also failed to address the suspicion of child neglect. Damien's teacher said that Mr. Small never approached her with any information, suggestions, or guidance regarding Damien Winsborrow. Army rules and regulations as Federal Law and North Carolina State Law demand reporting of ‘’’suspected’’’ child abuse/neglect (physical, sexual and emotional abuse). Got to ask why they didn’t? The best interest and protection of the child should be the consideration whether or not to ’report suspected abuse/neglect’, I would assume.
It is my personal and professional opinion that Ft Bragg has zero regard for children as they worked much harder to thwart my reporting it than it would have taken to address it. Based on the decisions made with regard to murdered spouses and murdered children and felony child abuse it just doesn't give one the feeling that Ft Bragg is impartial and further they appear chauvinistic as well as total void of concern to include refusal to do that required by Federal Law and Army Regulations and Policies to insure the safety and security and well being of Special Needs children.
I find the 'rush to judgment' in prosecuting the lowest ranking female involved in the recent Iraq abuse case without even completing investigations or providing information and reports to her lawyer is proof that the Army has no regard for the female population. Pvt England is an administrative office worker who must follow orders and not in a position to give orders or issue commands.
Since my arrival at Ft Bragg January 2002 I have read the Ft Bragg PARAGLIDE. It does not report the individual cases of soldier felony abuse/neglect/murder of children or females. The focus of the PARAGLIDE is on the Male Soldier and the mission. The focus of Ft Bragg is on the Male Soldier and the mission. --- dependents be damned; they are merely collateral damage.
I would like to address an issue which has caused much publicity and concern over Mold in North Carolina colleges and in some military installation buildings where the adult population was moved out until the ‘mold ‘ can be taken care of. There was a one time news report from WRAL news titled “Military Moms Wage War With Fort Bragg Officials Over Mold” on October 28, 2003. These military Moms say mold is making their families sick and no one is doing anything about it. Jessica Culp’s family was always healthy and says her kids rarely got sick until they moved to Fort Bragg. She said she is convinced that Fort Bragg admits there is mold and plans to renovate housing over the next 20 years, but many parents say that is not soon enough. Mothers claim kids have nosebleeds, headaches, etc. and they make trips to the Womack Army Hospital Emergency Room frequently. One mother has a 6 year old child with a lung disease and complains of chest hurting. What do Fort Bragg officials have to say? Renovations are set to begin next year. Culp’s neighborhood is first on the list, but nothing is scheduled to happen until then. They say more than 60 percent of military on-base housing is considered sustandard(sic) by the U. S. Defense Department. I presume they mean substandard. AGAIN - total disregard for health of children. THERE HAS BEEN NO MORE NEWS REGARDING MOLD AND SICK CHILDREN and I have to wonder what happened to Mrs. Jessica Culp and the moms who tried to prevent illness and disease caused by mold in Ft Bragg housing? Do they still live in the mold houses? Were their soldier husbands told to shut them up and get them off their back? <- my opinion and perception. Did Ft Bragg take a single step to insure the health and safety of these children?
Pvt England has been refused visits to her family. She is pregnant and eats alone in her room the newspaper said. How are we to make Iraq humanitarian if we do not display that we are humanitarian also? Has the Army pre-convicted her and is the court martial just a matter of scheduling to meet the Army’s predisposal to make sure she is found guilty. I find this totally amazing, as well as cowardly, unConstitutional, chauvinistic, unprofessional, unfair, prejudicial, and not in accordance with due process and law. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld keeps saying that his office is going to issue a statement with regard to domestic violence and problems in the Army. Shouldn’t Pvt England’s court martial take place before the facts are all in and investigations completed? Was she offered a plea bargain as was the Male Soldier?
I am including, what I call a list of horrors, that I have been able to find on the internet. I keep thinking what all I could find if I was Secy Rumsfeld with power, authority, high tech computers, etc.
As of May 27, 2004, Mr. Timothy Howle, Assistant Principal, Ft Bragg Irwin Middle School who has known me and the children since our arrival on Ft Bragg January 2002 -- assured me that he was ’truthful’ and he talked to the JAG (Judge Advocate General) during the week of May 24-26, 2004 and that the JAG is investigating and that this would be good for Damien and Elaine. He said the JAG, in addition to investigating the welfare of the children, is going to respond and answer my letter which I wrote to General John R. Vines on March 26, 2004.
Again, my apologies for being disorganized, possible communicating irrelevant and/or too lengthy issues, but there is something wrong on Ft Bragg.
ALL I WANTED WAS HELP FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN TO INSURE THAT THEIR BEST INTERESTS AND RIGHTS WERE BEING ADDRESSED AND ASSURED.