Slaughter in the Streets

From Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches.

    “When the Americans take over our police station, they bring us all together and tell us we are no longer in charge of anything,” he says, holding up his arms in exasperation.

    The policeman says that all of them were made to stay inside the station while U.S. soldiers occupied the roof. “This is why I can say definitely yes, it was the Americans who shot Mr. Abrahim, and not Iraqi Police, because none of us were even allowed on the roof,” he says firmly.

    He adds that he personally has on his desk between 150-200 files of incidents where U.S. occupation forces have killed innocent Iraqis, and that several other Iraqi Policemen at his station have a similar number. He lets out a deep breath and says, “There are so many people the Americans have shot.”…. read more

Rigging the Results

The US is apparently going to choose Iraq’s interim government rather than the UN.

Let’s play their game. Asked whether the US would have veto power over the candidates it didn’t like who were presented by Brahimi for the new Iraqi interim govt, a State Department spokesman said that Bremer and Blackwill would make sure those candidates don’t get on the list to begin with!

…Read more

Kodak Accountability for Iraq MPs

Following orders?

If Graner, England and other MPs accused in the Abu Ghraib toture scandal intend to invoke the Nazi Defense, that they were “just following orders,” they’re going to have to explain why they were selective about which orders they decided to obey.

In the six months leading up to the investigation of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, three of the seven soldiers now charged with abuse repeatedly committed infractions and disobeyed orders but received only the mildest of punishments.

Their violations of military rules included entering buildings they had been ordered to avoid, continuing improper sexual relations with one another and being aggressive with detainees, according to records obtained by The New York Times.

The unruly behavior and weak rebukes reinforce a picture of a dysfunctional unit as described in the report by Major General Antonio Taguba, who noted a lack of respect for authority.

Among his concerns were flippant comments in logbooks, lack of standards for uniforms and soldiers who wrote poems and other sayings on their headgear. Taguba also raised concerns about officers and senior noncommissioned officers who had been disciplined for drinking, taking nude pictures of soldiers without their knowledge and fraternizing with junior soldiers.

In all, he noted “a lack of clear standards, proficiency, and leadership.”

Specialist Charles Graner, whom investigators call a ringleader in the abuse by members of the 372nd Military Police company, was disciplined at least twice, in November 2003 and in early January, two weeks before the investigation of detainee abuse began.

In the second incident, he refused at least seven times to follow a platoon sergeant’s order to leave a building, then told the officer as he finally left, “You can kiss my [behind].” He was told to take responsibility for his actions and was advised, but not ordered, to seek anger management counseling.

Private First Class Lynndie England was reprimanded three times, twice in July and then in November, for disobeying direct orders not to sleep with Graner.

The first time, she told an officer that she was “too busy” to report to the platoon sergeant about the violation. She received corrective training but was not seriously disciplined until January, when she was docked $357 in pay and demoted from specialist to private first class.

Sergeant Javal Davis, who is accused of jumping into a pile of detainees and stomping on their feet, was known to be “a little too aggressive with the detainees,” according to the sworn statement given to investigators by the warden of the site where the worst abuses had occurred.

Davis was pulled out of the facility in late November but was not disciplined.

Reese also told investigators that Graner “constantly challenges orders and requests from the leadership.”

The concerns about a lack of discipline in the 800th Military Police Brigade extended to the highest levels. An officer who traveled with Major General Geoffrey Miller, who headed detention operations at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and was touring prisons in Iraq, said their team had found a wanton lack of discipline among soldiers and noncommissioned officers.

Walking through Camp Cropper, a detention center, with Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the brigade’s commander, Miller encountered two military police soldiers sitting at their desks with their feet up, not so much as budging as the two-star general walked by. “It was shocking,” said the officer.
On July 23, England – who became the face of the abuse scandal when she was shown in photographs grinning next to naked detainees and holding one by a leash – was caught sleeping with Graner, a violation of army rules, after having been ordered to stop.

Disciplinary records note that she was given that order on July 13 but was caught violating it twice in the following weeks.granerengland

In November she was reported missing for two days. She was found in Graner’s cot. Again she was counseled for refusing direct orders and was told to sleep in her own bed. Reese then ordered her, on Jan. 1, to forfeit $357 of her pay.

The next morning, Graner was seen leaving her room in Building 100. Sergeant First Class Larry Bennett told him to leave the area. Graner, he said, refused several times.

Contrast this chaotic free-for-all with the swift and severe retribution meted out to Tami Silicio and her husband who were both fired immediately for “breaking a rule” when Silicio photographed American caskets departing Kuwait. Or Camilo Mejia, an exemplary soldier by all accounts, who was court martialed and jailed for refusing to return to Iraq and participate in the types of activities England and Graner did with pleasure. As Irene Khan, the secretary-general of Amnesty International said, ” “It seems that accountability in Washington DC is better generated by Kodak.”

Old sarin shell not WMD

UPI reports:

The 155-mm shells containing sarin gas that exploded in Iraq May 17 were manufactured before 1991, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. That was a pre-Gulf War shell, a different category than the weapons being sought by the Iraq Survey Group, Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, the joint staff deputy director for operations, told a Pentagon news briefing.
An artillery shell bearing traces of mustard gas was discovered in Baghdad, Knight-Ridder reported May 7.

Neither find is being offered as evidence of Saddam Hussein’s alleged illegal weapons programs, one of the prime reasons offered by the Bush administration for the March 2003 invasion and war.

It took them long enough to figure this out. Scott Ritter probably could’ve told them this after a two-minute inspection. But then, if Scott or any other expert had been allowed to inspect the shell right away, the warbots would’ve missed all the entertaining WMD victory dances they’ve been doing over a 1980’s dud artillery shell.