The ugly daily fight for ground in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City unfolded Saturday at a small mosque next door to a hospital, damaging the hospital and all its ambulances, and near a group of children who were injured by the violence as they gathered tin cans to sell for salvage.
The first hit came after a night of clashes in the neighborhood, when the Americans fired at least three “precision-guided munitions” in the area of the Sadr General Hospital at 10 a.m. The target was a small building next door to the hospital that neighbors said was used as a rest house and place of prayer for hospital employees, pilgrims and neighborhood residents.
The sign at the iron gate at the entrance to the building said “Imam Hussein’s Resthouse.”
The Americans described the building in a statement as “a criminal element command and control center.”
“Intelligence reports indicate the command and control center was used by criminal elements to plan and coordinate attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces and innocent Iraqi citizens,” the statement said.
Next door, in an area used as a parking lot for the hospital’s ambulances, a second missile hit, damaging a water line and creating a small pond, destroying three ambulances and shattering the windows in about 10 others. A third missile hit a generator nearby that supplied the neighborhood.
The next ambassador from Bahrain to the United States will be a Jewish
woman named Huda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, according to a report in
GulfNews.com last week.
"Huda is Bahrain's nominee for the post and this is of course very good
news for Bahrain's deep-rooted values of tolerance and openness," said
Faisal Fouladh of the Shura Council, the upper house of Bahrain's
legislature. The Shura Council currently includes 11 women, including
See "Bahrain set to name Jewish woman envoy" by Habib Toumi, GulfNews,
A few years ago, the ACLU successfully sued the Pentagon for documents on Guantanamo Bay. It took a good while but the Pentagon eventfully coughed up thousands of pages of documents. One of the biggest revelations was that FBI agents had witnessed abuse of detainees. So the DOJ launched an internal investigation exploring just what the agents saw. Thankfully, that investigation is now done. In fact, it's been done for a few months. So why haven't we seen it yet? Because the Pentagon is taking it sweet time in reviewing the report for clearance.
The Pentagon's delay isn't sitting well with the DOJ's inspector general, who oversaw the report. From McClatchy:
Glenn Fine, the Justice Department’s inspector general, told McClatchy Newspapers that his office has pressed the Defense Department to finish its review, but officials there haven’t completed the process “in a timely fashion.”
“Why that happened, I don’t know,” Fine said in an interview this week.
“It’s been slower than we would like, and it’s taken a long time. We provided our report to them months ago, and we are pushing hard to conclude this process.”
Which made me wonder: Just how unusual is it for an inspector general's report to be delayed by another agency or department.
I emailed with secrecy guru Steven Aftergood who suggested the question really misses the bigger picture: "From my perspective, it is just one more illustration of the tactical use of the classification system to manage public perception. Why was the John Yoo torture memo' classified Secret? Not for national security reasons."
A few years ago I interviewed Aftergood about a related story, namely why the Pentagon's original report on the Abu Ghraib abuses--the Taguba report--was classified to begin with. His answer then might just be as for today: "The classification system has entered advanced stage of decadence."
P.S. The DOJ report might not stay classified for long. The ACLU has just FOIA'd it.
P.P.S. Coming tomorrow (if he returns our calls) a discussion with William Leonard, the former head of the government's classification oversight office. (That office doesn't have a lot of power, but the folks there do know the system!)
Yesterday, a jury again deadlocked on the "Seas of David" trial, a case involving seven Haitian-American in Miami who were accused of plotting to bomb the Chicago Sears Tower. As I wrote in a piece for Mother Jones a few months ago, there wasn't a lot of evidence against these guys. The case instead relied heavily on a pushy and well-paid informant who seems to have come quite close to engaging in a bit of time-honored entrapment.
When a jury first deliberated on the case last fall, it deadlocked then too and a mistrial was declared. A whole new trial ensued, with a whole new jury, and it shouldn't be a surprise that that jury deadlocked too. That because, while the evidence in the case might have been thin, the laws these men were charged with violating--the so-called material-support provisions--are darn expansive. As I wrote:
After deliberating for nine days last December, the jury acquitted
one man who'd separated himself from the group and moved to Atlanta.
But it deadlocked on the others, and a mistrial was declared. A new
trial is scheduled for this spring. Until then the six men are in
prison, and they and their lawyers are under a gag order. (The same
applies to the acquitted man, Lyglenson Lemorin, who's in detention
awaiting possible deportation to Haiti even though he's lived here
legally for nearly 20 years. Citing privacy laws, the government will
not explain why he is being kicked out.)
"I think it may hang again," juror Delorise Thompkins told the Miami Herald.
"You're going to find someone always afraid of terrorist groups, but
then when you see the evidence, there's not a lot there—no plans, no
papers, no pictures, no nothing connecting them to Osama bin Laden."
The jury's ambivalence is understandable. The plots were little more
than talk encouraged by informants; the central evidence in the
case—the taped oath—was a staged fbi
production. But then, whether the men were a threat or the plot real
doesn't matter when it comes to the charge of material support.
I've joinedProPublica, a non-profit investigative news outfit that's starting. I'm going to be writing for and helping oversee the Web site. Which means 1) health care! 2) posts to this here blog will probably continue at their current, eh, less-than-torrid pace.
Remember "broken windows" theory? The notion that small signs of decay--such as broke windows--need to be guarded against since they give a sense of lawlessness and in turn encourage bigger problems. Well, looks like Baghdad's traffic cops are trying out the theory, and people are pretty happy:
Mohammed Yunis, an inspector with the traffic police in central Baghdad's Karada district, said the seat belt rules began to be enforced a couple of days ago and that the response showed that Iraqis were eager to follow the law. "About 80% of the drivers have their seat belts on, so it's not impossible to implement these laws here," he said.
We've known for years that the administration cleared the way for torture. The facts were there well before the Abu Ghraib photos turned it into a scandal. But I plenty of realities of what has happened have yet to come out. One area where we still don't know many details is rendition, the practice of shipping suspects to other countries who know...how to take of them.
"They beat me up in a way that does not know mercy," Sharqawi
wrote, referring to his Jordanian captors, "and they're still beating
me. They threatened me with electricity, with snakes and dogs ... [They
said] we'll make you see death."
Sharqawi described his interrogations, explaining that the
Jordanians were feeding his responses back to the CIA. "Every time that
the interrogator asks me about a certain piece of information, and I
talk," Sharqawi said, "he asks me if I told this to the Americans. And
if I say no he jumps for joy, and he leaves me and goes to report it to
his superiors, and they rejoice."
But was the U.S. really involved this guy's alleged detention and treatment? Well, you know where the Jordanians sent him to after his stint there: Gitmo.