In the Belly of the Beast: 4/5/11: “Collateral Murder”: One-year Anniversary

INDEX

The Wikileaks News & Views Blog for Tuesday, Day 129

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

“POLITICS”


from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)


NUCLEAR POWER

Headlines for April 5, 2011

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

The Wikileaks News & Views Blog for Tuesday, Day 129

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

“Collateral Murder”: One-year Anniversary

It’s a year after WikiLeaks released the “Collateral Murder” video showing American war criminals at work. Here is the original posting from http://www.wikileaks.org

Click the links to see either the short or long version of the video.

Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)

One Year After: Soldier in WikiLeaks Iraq ‘Murder’ Video Speaks Out in New Film and Interview

Greg Mitchell | April 5, 2011

Today marks the first anniversary of the day WikiLeaks started to become a household name in the US—when Julian Assange released the video he had titled “Collateral Murder.” It showed a 2007 incident in Baghdad when a US Apache copter crew gunned down more than a dozen Iraqis, most likely civilians, on the streets below, including two Reuters staffers. After a flurry of publicity, the episode soon faded from the media, although three major WikiLeaks releases followed last year, all allegedly coming via Private Bradley Manning, now sitting in near-solitary confinement [1] in the brig at Quantico.

But largely thanks to one soldier who was in the thick of things on that day in 2007, the incident is far from over.

He is Ethan McCord, who spoke out after the release of the video to testify that he was on the scene that day and helped rescue two badly injured children (who were riding in a van driven by their father who had tried to helped the wounded only to be killed himself) and carry them to a vehicle that took them to a hospital.

Now he is featured in a film short that will debut in three weeks at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here is a link [2] to the film’s site which includes background, a trailer and a director’s statement in which he reveals he is now working on a feature length film and hopes to talk with the triggerman.

My colleague Kevin Gosztola talked to McCord last week. McCord says that he has turned over all photos from that day and they will air soon. Here [3] is the audio and transcript. One key quote from McCord: “The video was released on April 5th of 2010. However, the entire incident was written about in a book by David Finkel called The Good Soldiers. So, they’re stating that this was classified, but it was already released back in 2009 through a book so how is it classified if it’s already for released? I mean, word for word this video is described in the book The Good Soldiers so yet we’re going to charge Bradley Manning for releasing classified information. Shouldn’t we also be charging David Finkel for writing this book detailing the entire engagement in his book in 2009?”

Finally, below, here is an excerpt from my The Age of WikiLeaks [4]book—recounting a remarkable interview McCord gave nearly one year ago.

* * *

One of the most remarkable interviews relating to this whole episode came to light on April 20, 2010, when Kim Zetter at Wiredrevealed that she had located and interviewed one of the soldiers in the video.

He was Ethan McCord, 33, the father of three who had left the Army after seven years and was now living in Kansas. In the video, McCord was seen carrying the 10-year-old boy, Sajad, from the van to seek medical care. He had recently posted a letter online—with fellow soldier Josh Steiber—asking Sajad’s family’s forgiveness and backing the WikiLeaks release of the video.

McCord described his shock at seeing people “destroyed” on the ground and finding the badly injured children in the van, helping a medic take the girl to a nearby building, and then coming back for the boy. After carrying Sajad to a Bradley, “I got yelled at by my platoon leader that I needed to stop trying to save these mf ’n kids and go pull security….

“After the incident, we went back to the FOB [forward operating base] and that’s when I was in my room. I had blood all down the front of me from the children. I was trying to wash it off in my room. I was pretty distraught over the whole situation with the children. So I went to a sergeant and asked to see [the mental health person], because I was having a hard time dealing with it. I was called a pussy and that I needed to suck it up and a lot of other horrible things. I was also told that there would be repercussions if I was to go to mental health.

“I’ve lived with seeing the children that way since the incident happened. I’ve had nightmares. I was diagnosed with chronic, severe PTSD. [But] I was actually starting to get kind of better.… I wasn’t thinking about it as much. [Then I] took my children to school one day and I came home and sat down on the couch and turned on the TV with my coffee, and on the news I’m running across the screen with a child. The flood of emotions came back. I know the scene by heart; it’s burned into my head. I know the van, I know the faces of everybody that was there that day.

“I did see a video on YouTube after the WikiLeaks came out, of the children being interviewed.… When I saw their faces, I was relieved, but I was just heartbroken. I have a huge place in my heart for children, having some of my own. Knowing that I was part of the system that took their father away from them and made them lose their house…it’s heartbreaking. And that in turn is what helped me and Josh write the letter, hoping that it would find its way to them to let them know that we’re sorry. We’re sorry for the system that we were involved in that took their father’s life and injured them. If there’s anything I can to do help, I would be more than happy to.

“Personally, I believe the first attack on the group standing by the wall was appropriate, was warranted by the rules of engagement. They did have weapons there. However, I don’t feel that the attack on the van was necessary…. And where the soldier said [in the video], ‘Well, you shouldn’t take your kids to battle.’ Well, in all actuality, we brought the battle to your kids.

“I think that the bigger picture is what are we doing there? We’ve been there for so long now and it seems like nothing is being accomplished whatsoever, except for we’re making more people hate us.

“I don’t say that Wikileaks did a bad thing, because they didn’t…. I think it is good that they’re putting this stuff out there. I don’t think that people really want to see this, though, because this is war.… It’s very disturbing.”

Greg Mitchell’s latest book [1] is Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences.

“POLITICS”

Lessons in how NOT to negotiate, courtesy of your President. Lesson 1: Don’t accept the other guy’s opening offer.

For a couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing that White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley called Speaker John Boehner and offered to give the GOPers the cuts they wanted on the 2011 budget. Sam Stein heard something similar:

A party operative, plugged into the discussions, made it clear that there were disagreements over the chief of staff’s negotiating tactics.

“He is choosing to appease Republicans over fighting for Democratic principles,” the operative said, pointing to a post put together by the Obama-allied Center for American Progress, arguing that $32 billion in cuts is “not much of a compromise if we end up with what the House Republican leadership wanted in the first place.”

I wish this was wrong. But, it’s not.

Today, I listened to Obama’s remarks during the press briefing. He basically confirmed it:

In fact, what we’ve been able to do is to present to the House Republicans a budget framework that would cut the same amount of spending as Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers originally proposed — their original proposal for how much would be cut.

And several weeks ago, there were discussions between the White House and Speaker Boehner’s office in which we said, let’s start negotiating off of that number, $73 billion.

So, the White House strategy of negotiating with Republicans really is to give them what they want. In case we missed the point, Obama repeated it:

And I just want to set the context for this now. Again, I’m going to repeat. Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, the Republican appropriations chairman — their original budget proposed $73 billion in cuts. We have now agreed to $73 billion worth of cuts.

Got that?

What law school did Obama attend? Was he absent when they studied negotiations? That has to be the worst negotiating tactic around.

No wonder the Hill GOPers have no fear of the White House. When you start negotiating by agreeing to the Republicans’ opening offer, you aren’t negotiating, you’re caving.

And once you cave and accept their opening offer, as we found out today, it’s still not enough.

President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that he would not sign another stopgap spending bill without an agreement first on the 2011 budget, even as Republicans upped the ante, signaling that a $40 billion package of cuts might have the makings of a deal to avert a shutdown Friday.

The Republicans just keep moving the goal posts — and, the President is letting them get away with it.

Krugman on the Medicare crisis: It will come down to Obama

The “Medicare crisis” — of course — isn’t a crisis in the usual sense. It’s a crisis created by the GOP’s desire to kill it. And make no mistake; the Republicans plan to kill it.

Paul Krugman makes the essential point: This is like 2005, when Bush II tried to kill Social Security by privatizing it. Progressives won in 2005. So why is he so pessimistic about Medicare this year? One word.

Obama. He’s that specific. The Professor:

In many ways, this fight resembles the 2005 fight over Social Security. Once again, we have a bait and switch, an attempt to destroy a pillar of American society in the name of saving it. And then, too, you had Democrats who were obviously itching to run up the white flag.

The difference now is that Democrats hold the White House. And that may prove to be their undoing.

In 2005, the de facto Democratic leader was Nancy Pelosi. … Pelosi is still there. But Barack Obama is now the party’s leader. And let’s be frank: Obama still, after all that has happened, seems devoted to the dream of transcending partisanship, a dream he tries to serve by being nice to Republican ideas no matter how terrible those ideas are. … The great danger now is that Obama — with the help of a fair number of Senate Democrats — will kill Medicare in the name of civility and outreach.

His conclusion is stark:

Republicans have, in fact, offered Democrats a huge political opportunity — much as Bush did in 2005. But I’m sorry, I have no confidence in the current leadership’s willingness to do the right thing, even when it’s also politically smart.

E.J. Dionne asks the right question:

This is all extreme and irresponsible stuff. The president knows it. The coming week will test who he is. When Ryan releases his budget, will the president finally engage?

The Professor is not optimistic about the answer. The title of his post: “The Enemy Within”.

(For an excellent analysis of why the Republican Medicare “fix” will end very badly, start here.)

House Republicans cheer mention of govt shutdown

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by John Aravosis (DC)

1 person liked this

Joe mentioned this at the bottom of his previous post, but it bears repeating. Republican congressmen gave a standing ovation to John Boehner when he mentioned possibly shutting down the federal government.

House Republicans huddled late Monday and, according to a GOP aide, gave the speaker an ovation when he informed them that he was advising the House Administration Committee to begin preparing for a possible shutdown. That process includes alerting lawmakers and senior staff about which employees would not report to work if no agreement is reached.

The danger is that a lot of these guys aren’t playing chicken. They truly want to shut the government down, and keep it shut down. They don’t care about the negative impact on the economic recovery. They don’t care that the unemployed, and veterans, and others won’t get their checks. The government doesn’t exist to them, other than their means for getting a fat paycheck while bashing the hand that feeds them.

It’s a dangerous situation for the President, who doesn’t like to hold firm during negotiations. He’s dealing with hostage takers who are all too willing to kill the hostage. And if he doesn’t want them to keep taking more hostages, and slowly killing them, in the future, the President needs to expose these thugs once and for all

President, Hill leaders meet this morning to talk 2011 budget, shutdown, more spending cuts

The White House and Congressional leaders are holding one last meeting to determine whether they can prevent a government shutdown starting Friday. They’ll be gathering at 10:15 AM. Here’s how the White House “Daily Guidance” previews the meeting:

Later in the morning, the President and the Vice President will meet with Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Chairman Dan Inouye, and Chairman Hal Rogers to discuss ongoing negotiations on a funding bill to bring us through the end of the fiscal year. The President has made clear that we all understand the need to cut spending, and significant progress has been made in agreeing to all work off the same number – $73 billion in spending cuts in this year alone. With the process running short on time, the President will urge leaders to reach final agreement and avoid a government shutdown that would be harmful to our economic recovery.

Yes, we know “has made clear that we all understand the need to cut spending.” He bought into the GOP talking point last year. And, they’re working off the GOP’s proposed numbers. As John wrote last night, the Republicans are offering another one-week extension, which includes another $12 billion in cuts (but the Pentagon is exempt.) From John:

Why are we constantly debating on the Republicans’ own terms? Perhaps because the President caved on this issue a year ago and we’ve never fully recovered since. Those of us who warned that it was a seriously bad move by the President to “admit” to the GOP talking point that the deficit had grown too big and needed to be addressed immediately (thus pulling the legs out on any remaining public support for the stimulus) – we warned that this would come back to bite him in the ass, and we were sadly, again, right. Just as we predicted that the Republicans would get the message when the President said in December, famously, that he’d rather cave than let hostage-takers kill the hostages. So prepare for another hostage crisis. And another, and another, and another…

And, next up, the Paul Ryan/GOP 2012 budget disaster. Let’s hope the White House has a much better strategy for that.

Oh, and all the spin that GOPers don’t really want a shutdown? Not true. They outed themselves last night:

House Republicans huddled late Monday and, according to a GOP aide, gave the speaker an ovation when he informed them that he was advising the House Administration Committee to begin preparing for a possible shutdown. That process includes alerting lawmakers and senior staff about which employees would not report to work if no agreement is reached.

An ovation. Yeah, they’re honest brokers.


CIVIL LIBERTIES TODAY
“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”

States Use “Astonishing Lack of Care and Deliberation” to Choose New Lethal Injection Drugs for Death Row Executions

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

Texicution_playTonight Texas plans to use a new drug for the execution of death row prisoner Cleve Foster. Like many states, it is experimenting with its lethal injection process due to a shortage of the sedative sodium thiopental. The new method was shrouded in secrecy until records revealed Texas prison officials chose a replacement execution drug, pentobarbital, without consulting a medical professional and relied on news articles to help them choose a sedative for the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail that is intended to prevent pain, inhibit muscle movement, and stop the inmate’s heart. On Friday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency demanded Kentucky and Tennessee hand over their supply of the drug because of concerns it may have been illegally imported. We speak with Maurie Levin in Austin, who filed suit to get details about Texas’s new execution drug. We’re also joined by Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. [includes rush transcript]

11:25am EST Update: The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay in Foster’s execution, pending the disposition of the petition for rehearing of the order denying cert in January raising issues regarding constitutional adequacy of state habeas counsel and related claims of innocence and ineffective assistance of counsel.



THE ECONOMY

ENVIRONEMENT




NUCLEAR POWER

U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Says It Will Continue to Push for New Nuclear Power Plants Despite Growing Global Nuclear Concern

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

Play_janThe disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan has set off a debate in the international community about the future of nuclear energy. There are currently 440 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide, generating about 14 percent of global electricity—and plans for construction of new plants have soared in the last decade, especially in India and China. This was the focus on Monday as the fifth review meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety kicked off in Vienna, hosted by the United Nations atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. We are joined by Philip White of the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center and Jan Beránek, the director of Greenpeace International’s Nuclear Campaign. Baránek argues the IAEA is preventing an honest review by “focusing its efforts to restore the public confidence in nuclear power and to help other countries expand the usage of civilian nuclear reactors to generate electricity.” [includes rush transcript]

Japan Releases Radioactive Water Several Million Times the Legal Limit into Ocean

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

Play_whiteRadiation at the shoreline of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility has measured several million times the legal limit, just four weeks after the earthquake and tsunami and days after workers discovered a crack where highly contaminated water was spilling directly into the Pacific Ocean. Experts say radiation dissipates quickly in the vast ocean, but they are unclear what will be the long-term effects of large amounts of contamination. The new levels prompted the Japanese government on Tuesday to create an acceptable radiation standard for fish for the first time. We’re joined by Philip White of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo. “Cancers from this sort of level of radioactivity will not appear in the first few months or year; they will be late-onset phenomena,” White says. “So, it’ll require a lot of monitoring of health to actually see what the impact of this is.” [includes rush transcript]

Fukushima: “no safe dose” of radiation

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

A second attempt to stop radioactive water leaking into the Pacific ocean at the Fukushima nuclear plant by using paper and sawdust bound with a chemical compound failed April 4. Engineers are now resorting to a third plan: building mounds of silt around the reactor to filter radioactive particles. (Daily Mail, April 4) Officials in Fukushima prefecture have launched an emergency program to measure radiation levels in school playgrounds. More than 1,400 schools and nurseries will be tested over two days amid growing anxiety among local parents. Officials say there should be no risk to children if they stay outside a 30-kilometer evacuation zone. (BBC News, April 4) Efforts to protect Tokyo’s water supply from radiation have led to a run on Indonesian coconut husks. Granulated charcoal made of the husks is used in Tokyo area treatment plants. Prices for the absorbent carbon material have jumped 44% since the disaster started. (Bloomberg, April 4)

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This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Civil Liberties, Corporations, Corruption, Environement, Events, Globalization, Human Rights, Imperialism, Imperialist Interference & Views, Japan, Nuclear Power, Obama. Bookmark the permalink.

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