In Iraq, the U.S. Does Eliminate Those Who Dare to Count ...

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In Iraq, the U.S. Does Eliminate Those Who Dare to Count ...

Post by admin » Thu Dec 09, 2004 12:24 pm

In Iraq, the U.S. Does Eliminate Those Who Dare to Count the Dead

By Naomi Klein
The Guardian U.K.
Saturday 04 December 2004

You asked for my evidence, Mr. Ambassador. Here it is.
David T. Johnson,
Acting ambassador,
US Embassy, London

Dear Mr. Johnson,

On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating".

The letter suggested that my charg
e was "baseless" and asked the Guardian either to withdraw it, or provide "evidence of this extremely grave accusation". It is quite rare for US embassy officials to openly involve themselves in the free press of a foreign country, so I took the letter extremely seriously. But while I agree that the accusation is grave, I have no intention of withdrawing it. Here, instead, is the evidence you requested.

In April, US forces laid siege to Falluja in retaliation for the gruesome killings of four Blackwater employees. The operation was a failure, with US troops eventually handing the city back to resistance forces. The reason for the withdrawal was that the siege had sparked uprisings across the country, triggered by reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed. This information came from three main sources: 1) Doctors. USA Today reported on April 11 that "Statistics and names of the dead were gathered from four main clinics around the city and from Falluja general hospital". 2) Arab TV journali
sts. While doctors reported the numbers of dead, it was al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya that put a human face on those statistics. With unembedded camera crews in Falluja, both networks beamed footage of mutilated women and children throughout Iraq and the Arab-speaking world. 3) Clerics. The reports of high civilian casualties coming from journalists and doctors were seized upon by prominent clerics in Iraq. Many delivered fiery sermons condemning the attack, turning their congregants against US forces and igniting the uprising that forced US troops to withdraw.

US authorities have denied that hundreds of civilians were killed during last April's siege, and have lashed out at the sources of these reports. For instance, an unnamed "senior American officer", speaking to the New York Times last month, labelled Falluja general hospital "a centre of propaganda". But the strongest words were reserved for Arab TV networks. When asked about al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya's reports that hundreds of civilians had b
een killed in Falluja, Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence, replied that "what al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable ... " Last month, US troops once again laid siege to Falluja - but this time the attack included a new tactic: eliminating the doctors, journalists and clerics who focused public attention on civilian casualties last time around.

Eliminating Doctors

The first major operation by US marines and Iraqi soldiers was to storm Falluja general hospital, arresting doctors and placing the facility under military control. The New York Times reported that "the hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumours about heavy casualties", noting that "this time around, the American military intends to fight its own information war, countering or squelching what has been one of the insurgents' most potent weapons". The Los Angele
s Times quoted a doctor as saying that the soldiers "stole the mobile phones" at the hospital - preventing doctors from communicating with the outside world.

But this was not the worst of the attacks on health workers. Two days earlier, a crucial emergency health clinic was bombed to rubble, as well as a medical supplies dispensary next door. Dr Sami al-Jumaili, who was working in the clinic, says the bombs took the lives of 15 medics, four nurses and 35 patients. The Los Angeles Times reported that the manager of Falluja general hospital "had told a US general the location of the downtown makeshift medical centre" before it was hit.

Whether the clinic was targeted or destroyed accidentally, the effect was the same: to eliminate many of Falluja's doctors from the war zone. As Dr Jumaili told the Independent on November 14: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja." When fighting moved to Mosul, a similar tactic was used: on entering the city, US and Iraqi forces immediately seized co
ntrol of the al-Zaharawi hospital.

Eliminating Journalists

The images from last month's siege on Falluja came almost exclusively from reporters embedded with US troops. This is because Arab journalists who had covered April's siege from the civilian perspective had effectively been eliminated. Al-Jazeera had no cameras on the ground because it has been banned from reporting in Iraq indefinitely. Al-Arabiya did have an unembedded reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on November 11 US forces arrested him and held him for the length of the siege. Al-Saadi's detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists. "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job," the IFJ stated.

It's not the first time journalists in Iraq have faced this kind of intimidation. When US forces invaded Baghdad in April 2003,
US Central Command urged all unembedded journalists to leave the city. Some insisted on staying and at least three paid with their lives. On April 8, a US aircraft bombed al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. Al-Jazeera has documentation proving it gave the coordinates of its location to US forces.

On the same day, a US tank fired on the Palestine hotel, killing José Couso, of the Spanish network Telecinco, and Taras Protsiuk, of Reuters. Three US soldiers are facing a criminal lawsuit from Couso's family, which alleges that US forces were well aware that journalists were in the Palestine hotel and that they committed a war crime.

Eliminating Clerics

Just as doctors and journalists have been targeted, so too have many of the clerics who have spoken out forcefully against the killings in Falluja. On November 11, Sheik Mahdi al-Sumaidaei, the head of the Supreme Association for Guidan
ce and Daawa, was arrested. According to Associated Press, "Al-Sumaidaei has called on the country's Sunni minority to launch a civil disobedience campaign if the Iraqi government does not halt the attack on Falluja". On November 19, AP reported that US and Iraqi forces stormed a prominent Sunni mosque, the Abu Hanifa, in Aadhamiya, killing three people and arresting 40, including the chief cleric - another opponent of the Falluja siege. On the same day, Fox News reported that "US troops also raided a Sunni mosque in Qaim, near the Syrian border". The report described the arrests as "retaliation for opposing the Falluja offensive". Two Shia clerics associated with Moqtada al-Sadr have also been arrested in recent weeks; according to AP, "both had spoken out against the Falluja attack".

"We don't do body counts," said General Tommy Franks of US Central Command. The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the j
ournalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks.

Mr. Ambassador, I believe that your government and its Iraqi surrogates are waging two wars in Iraq. One war is against the Iraqi people, and it has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. The other is a war on witnesses.

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You 'd think mostl Americans would be outraged about this???

Post by admin » Mon Dec 13, 2004 12:58 pm

You 'd think mostl Americans would be outraged about this???

They bomb hospitals!

They bomb mosques!

They eliminate reporters!

They torture human beings at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, at the Krome detention center in South Florida (and, yes, it has happened to a close member of my family too!!), and at various undocumented locations throughout the world!

They killed Joseph Dantica and psychologically tortured David and Daniel Joseph, youths of Haiti!

They undo democratically elected governments "for their incompetence" and replace them with governments that are even more incompetent!!

They encourage the killing of those who dare to disagree!</b>


And to the majority of people in the United States, it seems, those news have the exact same
effect as water on the feathers of a goose!

Until there is a sufficient number of people who will, as Marilyn put it, say: NOT IN OUR NAME</b>...

or until the time comes when we will be victimized in such a direct way that even a zombified conscience will no longer be able to deny.

I wonder which will come first.

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Voice of the weakest

Post by admin » Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:50 pm

[quote]Giuliana Sgrena: 'Voice of weakest'

Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena never thought she would be taken hostage telling the story of the people she deeply cared for.

A toughened war correspondent, her reports filter the impact of conflict through the lives of ordinary people - precisely what she was doing in Baghdad on 4 February when she was seized by gunmen.

The former left-wing militant has often been described as an advocate of the dispossessed and the have-nots.

She once said war correspondents "make known the reality which otherwise would just be described in official war bulletins and propaganda pamphlets".

And through the life-stories of individuals - in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere - Sgrena built a long career that began long before she joined her cur
rent employers at the communist newspaper Il Manifesto in 1988.

Support for weakest

The daughter of a World War II veteran, Sgrena was one of the founders of the peace movement in the 1980s.

Before joining Il Manifesto, she worked for the daily Guerra e Pace (War and Peace), but she made her name at the communist newspaper mainly through her avowed affinity with the Arab world.

"For my whole life, I have fought and written on behalf of the weakest," she said in a video put together by those who campaigned to secure her release.

With this in mind, the reporter refused to become embedded with the US military during the war - choosing, instead, to remain in Iraq on her own during the major hostilities of the spring of 2003.
She then returned to the country periodically, focusing on the suffering of ordinary Iraqis brought about by a war she was vehemently opposed to.

In a telling story, she interviewed an Iraqi woman who said sh
e was held at Abu Ghraib prison for 80 days by US forces.

Through Sgrena, Mithal al-Hassan said: "There were times when they didn't give me any water or food at all. Then, from the neighbouring cells I could hear the screams... There was no way you could sleep... I couldn't stand things any more. In the end I asked if I could write a note for my children, because I wanted to commit suicide."

Caged bird

Sgrena's outspoken anti-war stance should have endeared her to Iraqi insurgents fighting the US-led forces, said friends and colleagues shocked at her capture on 4 February.

In a video pleading for her release days after being abducted, the war correspondent was on the verge of tears as she said: "Nobody should come to Iraq at this time. Not even journalists. Nobody."

The message - recorded under the guns of masked men - certainly clashed with her quest for "people and social classes that are not well known, in countries that are often forg
otten, in order to describe the reality of their daily lives", said her partner, Pier Scolari.

After seeing the plea, Mr Scolari wrote to her through Il Manifesto encapsulating his feelings at the apparent transformation of his loved one.

"Dear Giuliana, in the video you seemed to me like a caged bird, with your ruffled hair and your frightened look," his message said.

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 321173.stm

Published: 2005/03/05 13:32:14 GMT


[quote]Published on Saturday, March 5, 2005 by Agence France Presse
US Attack Against Italians in Baghdad was Deliberate: Companion

ROME - The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday leveled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the
shooting had been deliberate.

"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.

"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."

The shooting late Friday was witnessed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.

"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.

When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.

Sgrena told RaiNews24 television Saturday a "hail of bullets" rained down on the car taking her to safety at Baghdad airport, along with three secret service agents, killi
ng one of them.

"I was speaking to (agent) Nicola Calipari (...) when he leant on me, probably to protect me, and then collapsed and I realized he was dead," said Sgrena, who was being questioned on Saturday by two Italian magistrates.

"They continued shooting and the driver couldn't even explain that we were Italians. It was really horrible," she added.

Sgrena, who was hospitalized with serious wounds to her left shoulder and lung after arriving back in Rome Saturday before noon, said she was "exhausted because of what happened above all in the last 24 hours".

"After all the risks I have been running I can say that I'm fine," she said.

"I thought that after I was handed over to the Italians danger was over, but then this shooting broke out and we were hit by a hail of bullets."

The chief editor of Sgrena's left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto Gabriele Polo meanwhile branded Calipari's death a "murder".

"He was hit in the head," he said.

will be given a state funeral Monday.

© 2005 AFP

[quote]Published on Saturday, March 5, 2005 by the BBC
Hostage Recalls 'Hail of Gunfire'

Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has described how she came under a "hail of gunfire" moments after being released from her Iraqi abductors in Baghdad.

"I was especially shocked because we thought that by then the danger was past," she told Italy's Rai radio.

Ms Sgrena, who was wounded in the incident, has been sent to a military hospital in Rome for an operation.

She denied US military accounts that the car was speeding past a checkpoint when it was fired upon.

US President George W Bush has pledged to fully investigate the shooting, in which a senior Italian security agent, Nicola Calipari, died.

Ms Sgrena was abducted on 4 February. It is unclear how she was released.

Some Ita
lian press reports say a ransom was paid.

'Terrible thing'

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of President Bush's staunchest allies, has demanded to know why US troops fired on the car carrying Ms Sgrena to safety.

"There was suddenly this shooting, we were hit by a hail of gunfire, and I was speaking with Nicola, who was telling me about what had been happening in Italy in the meantime, when he leaned towards me, probably also to protect me," Ms Sgrena told Rai radio.

"And then he collapsed and I realised that he was dead."

She said the shooting continued "because the driver wasn't even managing to explain that we were Italian".

"So, it was a really terrible thing."

Asked if the car was going too fast when the US troops opened fire, she said: "We weren't going particularly fast given that type of situation."

This is a serious diplomatic incident between the US and Italy, says the BBC's David Willey
in Rome.

President Bush has telephoned Mr Berlusconi to offer his condolences and apologies.

He "assured Prime Minister Berlusconi that it would be fully investigated," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

No celebration

The prime minister and other dignitaries joined family members to welcome Ms Sgrena to Rome's Ciampino airport.

Walking slowly and with some help, a tired Ms Sgrena struggled to a waiting ambulance.

Her left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto says a peace rally will be held in Rome later on Saturday.

The death of one of Italy's most senior intelligence officers in the shooting cast a pall of gloom over what should have been a joyous occasion, says our Rome correspondent.

Mr Calipari is being portrayed as a national hero in Saturday's Italian press for his courage in saving Ms Sgrena's life.

A little-known militant group, Islamic Jihad Organisation, had said it kidnapped Giuliana Sgrena and
demanded that Italy withdraw its troops from Iraq.

The same group said in September it had killed two Italian aid workers, Simona Torretta and Simona Pari - but they were later released by another organisation.

© 2005 BBC

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