US Marine ordered to execute women and children

 One should be surprised by this, but I’m not.  This is what war does: it kills the innocent and the innocence in all of us.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083107K.shtml

Marine Tells of Order to Execute Haditha Women and Children
By Rob Woollard
Agence France-Presse

Thursday 30 August 2007

A US Marine was ordered to execute a room full of Iraqi women and children during an alleged massacre in Haditha that left 24 people dead, a military court heard Thursday.

The testimony came in the opening of a preliminary hearing for Marine Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who faces 17 counts of murder over the Haditha killings, the most serious war crimes allegations faced by US troops in Iraq.

Wuterich, dressed in desert khakis, spoke confidently to confirm his name as the hearing to decide if he faces a court martial began at the Marines’ Camp Pendleton base in southern California.

The 27-year-old listened intently as Lance Corporal Humberto Mendoza recounted how Marines had responded after a roadside bomb attack on their convoy in Haditha on November 19, 2005 left one comrade dead.

Mendoza said Marines under Wuterich’s command began clearing nearby houses suspected of containing insurgents responsible for the bombing.

At one house Wuterich gave an order to shoot on sight as Marines waited for a response after knocking on the door, said Mendoza.

“He said ‘Just wait till they open the door, then shoot,’” Mendoza said.

Mendoza then said he shot and killed an adult male who appeared in a doorway.

During a subsequent search of the house, Mendoza said he received an order from another Marine, Lance Corporal Stephen Tatum, to shoot seven women and children he had found in a rear bedroom.

“When I opened the door there was just women and kids, two adults were lying down on the bed and there were three children on the bed … two more were behind the bed,” Mendoza said.

“I looked at them for a few seconds. Just enough to know they were not presenting a threat … they looked scared.”

After leaving the room Mendoza told Tatum what he had found.

“I told him there were women and kids inside there. He said ‘Well, shoot them,’” Mendoza told prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Sean Sullivan.

“And what did you say to him?” Sullivan asked.

“I said ‘But they’re just women and children.’ He didn’t say nothing.”

Mendoza said he returned to a position at the front of the house and heard a door open behind him followed by a loud noise. Returning later that afternoon to conduct body retrieval, Mendoza said he found a room full of corpses.

In cross-examination, however, Major Haytham Faraj suggested a girl who survived the shootings had identified Mendoza as the gunman, sparking an angry reaction from prosecutors.

“The girl in question already identified another Marine,” Sullivan stormed. “This is completely unethical, inappropriate and has no basis in fact.”

Mendoza had given similar testimony during a preliminary hearing against Tatum earlier this year.

Investigating officer Lieutenant Colonel Paul Ware, who is presiding in Wuterich’s hearing, last week recommended dropping murder charges against Tatum, describing Mendoza’s evidence as “too weak”.

Prosecutors allege Marines went on a killing spree in Haditha retaliation for the death of their colleague in the bomb attack.

Defense lawyers will argue that Wuterich followed established combat zone rules of engagement.

A total of eight Marines were initially charged in connection with the Haditha deaths.

Four were charged with murder while four senior officers were accused of failing to properly investigate the killings.

Of the four Marines charged with murder, two have since had charges withdrawn, while allegations against Tatum are also expected to be dismissed.


			

Who’s renting the busses?

Well, I guess Dubya is flexing some muscle over PM Steve these days.

And, apparently, it’s all because of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, the ones some radio personality around here is writing off as an extremist radicals. Now, I don’t know about you, but from my recollection of Maude Barlow the last time she was through here, she’s a pretty tame duck. And she tends to talk a lot of sense, most particularly on water and globalization, I had thought.

Now there’s this issue of North American Union aka Security & Prosperity Partnership aka deep integration. The idea’s been around for a long time, just not so brilliantly orchestrated or articulated. We’ve had “structural adjustment,” the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, just a few bits of the language global economics and capitalist ideology have thrown our way as they continue in their lust for more, their disgusting and immoral misuse of resources and promotion of rampant consumerism.

And PM Steve is priming Canadians to accept it while big business works behind the scenes to quietly make it happen. PMS (and a PM or two or more before him) also kowtows yet again to the President of the United States of America, allows the US Army to dictate security in our country! Again, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t like it when a mucky-muck from another country, most particularly an aggressively violent other country is “protected” by a 25 km security perimeter from seeing what Canadians really think of him and his policies. I mean, is he worried that Maude might kill him? Now that is laughable!

What really gets my goat though is when friends of the mucky-mucks have the complete and utter stupidity to issue a challenge, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen:

“You can be sure it [security] will be pretty strong. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try to get through the 25 kilometres.”

Yet again, I do not know about you, but when I get challenges or threats sent my way by anyone, I get persnickedy. So, I’d like to try breaching the security area. I would. I hope some fine Canadian or group of Canadians charters a bus or organizes a train full of Canadians to get me and a whole lot of others to bring attention to this undemocratic and unethical attack on human rights and human security.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll write the letter The Council of Canadians are asking for (see below). And I’ll talk to a shwack of folks, too. If enough of us make noise, we might just succeed in getting that meeting cancelled. If not, I will see you on the bus or train.

 

INTEGRATE THIS! Teach-In

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ACTION ALERT: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now July 12, 2007Dear activists,As reported on the front-page of the Ottawa Citizen and in numerous other media reports, “Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.” (See Ottawa Citizen Police nix meeting near world leaders, July 12, 2007)The news report states, “The forum was scheduled for August 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.”

Frederic Castonguay, the municipality of Papineauville’s general manager, “confirmed he had been called by Mr. Guy Cote (of the Quebec provincial police), who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security.” Despite the fact that the Council of Canadians had paid its $100 deposit for the space, Mr. Castonguay said the police, “didn’t want us to rent it to anyone because they need the room there to put equipment and special vehicles. There was no choice.”

The Council of Canadians in coalition with other organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers-Canada and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, had planned to hold a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the nearby community with Maude Barlow and a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians. This public forum was intended to promote broader public awareness and citizen engagement on this important issue. An alternate location for the public forum is now being sought.

Linda McQuaig wrote recently in the Toronto Star, “Given the centrality of (national security and energy, as well as trade), one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people. But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process…No public consultations have been planned for Montebello. Indeed, security measures will ensure the leaders hear as little as possible from the people.”

For more information on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, along with a wide range of analysis and background materials on this issue, please go to IntegrateThis.ca.

THE DEMAND
Activists are encouraged to send their own version of the following message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at pm@pm.gc.ca or click here to send a letter using the form on our website
:

Prime Minister Harper,

As a member of the Council of Canadians, I am calling on you to stop talks on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, including the upcoming leaders summit this August 20-21 in Montebello, and to consult with Canadians on this critical issue.

I was outraged to read that a public forum near Montebello with writers, academics and parliamentarians wanting to speak on this issue was blocked because the police and U.S. army wanted the community centre it was to be held at as a base of operations for summit security.

I am opposed to the SPP, which includes the no-fly list (the SPP states, “Develop comparable standards and procedures…for passenger screening”); pesticide residues (it says, “Work to resolve differences in pesticide maximum residue limits that may be barriers to trade…”); the tar sands (it calls for, “Greater economic production from the oil sands”); and civil rights (it calls for, “sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico.”)

I also believe that the North American Competitiveness Council should be disbanded. Corporations such as Manulife Financial, Home Depot and Wal-Mart should not be shaping economic policy between Canada and the United States.

I urge you to keep the promise you made in your Throne Speech that “significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament.” I believe that the Security and Prosperity Partnership should be subject to public hearings, as well as brought to the House of Commons for a full debate and vote.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
<your name>

For more information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit IntegrateThis.ca. We’ll post new information about the Montebello summit as it becomes available. Visit often for up-to-the-minute updates

With thanks to the good women and men at BnR and to The Council of Canadians for the links.

Laying out un-Welcome Mats

Oh!  I can see it now from coast to coast to coast, un-Welcome mats layed out for Dubya, PMS, and Calderon who are scheduled to gather in Quebec from August 21-23rd 2007 to sign, seal, and deliver to us the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement which, of course, is being done without the benefit of due democratic process in any of the three countries involved.

But that’s what fascism’s about, eh?

The Canadian Peace Coalition invites all Canadians to join the National Day of Action

The  Council of Canadians has a wealth of information including background documents, AV materials, and Teach-in resources.

Iraq Unmasks the American State

Interesting analysis, this, courtesy The Business of Emotions.  Long, but well worth the read.

I was particularly interested in these points about “America’s emotional and moral malaise” before the writer launches into how the Iraq Resistance shows the American State for what it is.

America’s Emotional and Moral Malaise
The explanation of Bush’s hold on the United States developed in The Business of Emotions over the past few years, can be summarized thus:

1. Without authentic emotions, the vital connection between thinking and feeling is lost and the ability to act, morally and politically, for oneself and for others, is compromised…

2. People who lack emotional authenticity are incapable of recognizing its absence in others…

3. People who lack authentic emotions are susceptible to the predations of emotional marketers…

4. Thinking without feeling, talking without meaning…

Thanks to

Iraqi Refugees Forced into Prostitution

I guess oil is soooo important that women and girls lives don’t really matter to GWB & Co…

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2701324.ece
The Independent on Sunday ~~ June 24, 2007
’50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution
Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are
being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria
By Nihal Hassan in Damascus

It’s Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian
capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor,
lit up by flashing disco lights.

They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but
the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their
mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but
this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.

Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A
Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats
it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of
girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear
outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.

To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over
the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more
conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me
here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.

Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare
midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. She has been working in this
club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn’t
like it, she says, “but what can we do? I hope things get better in
Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after
my sister”. Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black
hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in
the club two months ago.

As the girls dance suggestively, allowing their breasts to brush
against each other, one winks at a customer. But these girls are not
just providing the floor show – they have paid to be here, and they
need to pick up a client, or they’ll lose money. If successful,
they’ll earn about $60, equivalent to a month’s wages in a factory.

There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women
whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working
legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how
many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi
women’s group Women’s Will, puts the figure at 50,000.

I met Fatima in a block of flats operating informally as a brothel in
Saida Zainab, a run-down area with a large Iraqi population. Millions
of Shias go there every year, because of the shrine of the prophet
Mohamed’s granddaughter. “I came to Syria after my husband was killed,
leaving me with two children,” Fatima tells me. “My aunt asked me to
join her here, and my brothers pressured me to go.” She didn’t realise
the work her aunt did, and she would be forced to take up, until she arrived.

Fatima is in her mid-20s, but campaigners say the number of Iraqi
children working as prostitutes is high. Bassam al-Kadi of Syrian
Women Observatory says: “Some have been sexually abused in Iraq, but
others are being prostituted by fathers and uncles who bring them here
under the pretext of protecting them. They are virgins, and they are
brought here like an investment and exploited in a very ugly way.”

Further viewing: Nihal Hassan and Nima Elbagir’s report will appear on
‘More 4 News’ at 8pm tomorrow

Censure sets back democracy & rights for Afghanistan’s People

Does anyone get the fact that by supporting the military action in Afghanistan they are now supporting the reversal of democratic rights and freedoms?

Human Rights Watch has responded to the censure of outspoken Parliamentarian, Malalai Joya:

Afghanistan: Reinstate MP Suspended for ‘Insult’

Censure of Malalai Joya Sets Back Democracy and Rights

(New York, May 23, 2007) – The Afghan parliament should immediately reinstate Malalai Joya, a member suspended for criticizing colleagues, and revise parliamentary procedures that restrict freedom of speech, Human Rights Watch said today.

On May 21, 2007, the Lower House of the Afghan parliament voted to suspend Joya for comments she made during a television interview the previous day. It is unclear whether Joya’s suspension will run until the current parliamentary session ends in several weeks or whether she will be suspended for the remainder of her term in office, which ends in 2009. In addition to her suspension from parliament, several legislators have said that Joya could be sued for contempt in a court of law.

“Malalai Joya is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice for Afghan women, and she shouldn’t have been suspended from parliament,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Joya’s comments don’t warrant the punishment she received and they certainly don’t warrant court proceedings.”

Male Military Vets Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

This is US data, but it makes one wonder how Canadian veterans fare in this regard.  Surely we are better placed to prevent such horrific statistics, by simply being a less militaristic culture than our southern neighbours. Mind you, with Harper and Hillier at the helm, we may be doomed to echo the patterns of the USians.  From AlterNet: War on Iraq:

Why Male Military Veterans Are Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

By Lucinda Marshall, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2007.

A recent DOJ report found that vets are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans.

A recent study by the Department of Justice found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than nonveterans. When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.

Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home. These include:

  • Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations
  • Domestic violence
  • Prostitution, pornography and trafficking
  • Honor killing

Read the rest of the article