Grand Rapids Press not Reporting all U.S. Casualties in Iraq
The reporting of U.S. military casualties within the mainstream press has diminished over recent months. A year ago soldier deaths were front-page news and almost every death was reported at some level. A recent examination of the Grand Rapids Press shows that over the first two weeks of July, they reported only nine out of thirty-six U.S. military deaths in Iraq. These deaths were reported in four separate articles, none of which were on the front page. Ironically, the article reporting the highest number of deaths, “Four GI’s killed in Samarra” was the shortest article, being only three inches long and buried at the bottom of page A7. The only front-page story about a U.S. military death during these two weeks was the bogus story of the beheading of Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun. He was later found to be alive and his entire abduction may have been a hoax. The Grand Rapids Press ran several stories about Cpl. Hassoun while completely ignoring the real deaths of twenty-four other U.S. service men. (Data on Grand Rapids Press coverage provided by GRIID)
Iraq Society Continues to Destabilize
Over the last week the destabilization of Iraq has continued. Insurgent attacks and bombings continue unabated while U.S. military deaths have actually increased since the transfer of “sovereignty.” Earlier this week the Governor of Mosul was killed in attack and there were two bombings that killed at least ten people each. Al Jahzeera reports that religious fundamentalists have destroyed stores selling alcohol in Baghdad. According to a new column by Robert Fisk, there have been numerous attacks on teachers and educators in Iraq by unknown assailants. Fisk notes that since the war started thirteen academics at the University of Baghdad have been murdered along with scores of others educators at various other institutions. Iraqi oil pipelines continue to come under attack, reducing the oil revenues available to the new “sovereign” Iraqi government. This week saw new attacks on the main Iraqi export pipeline in the north. Even the trial of Saddam Hussein has proved to be a divisive event. While many Iraqis would like to see the former despot punished, many others see him as a national symbol and consider cooperating with the trail would be a tacit endorsement of legitimacy to the new government. Rather than providing the U.S. occupation and the new, un-elected Iraqi government some propaganda points, the trial of Saddam might turn out to be one of a string of events that lead to a possible civil war in Iraq.
An article in the LA Times has found that some of the most enthusiastic advocates of the Iraq war are profitting from the reconstruction. Among them, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, who was a founding member the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an organization setup in 2002 at the request of the White House to build public backing for the war in Iraq and appeared as a featured speaker at a May 2003 conference titled “Companies on the Ground: The Challenge for Business in Rebuilding Iraq.” Woolsey’s current firm, Booz Allen, is a subcontractor on a $75 million telecommunications contract. According to the well-known economist JK Galbraith, this is not suprising–in a recent column he argues that foreign policy is historically motivated by corporate interests.
UK Report Reveals Serious Flaws in Intelligence Leading up to Iraq War
Yet another report has confirmed what was suspected by antiwar activists leading up to the invasion of Iraq–the intelligence used by the United States and British governments was severely flawed. The Butler Report, commisioned by the British government, has found a number of problems with the way in which intelligence was gathered and the quality of intelligence used.
Among the highlights of the report:
- Iraq did not have any stocks of chemical or biological weapons or developed plans for using them.
- “No recent intelligence” to lead people to conclude Iraq was a more immediate concern than other countries.
In response to questions about his credibility in light of the report, Prime Minister Tony Blair said “no one lied” and that “No one made up the intelligence. No one inserted things into the dossier against the advice of the intelligence services. Everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith for the country in circumstances of acute difficulty,” effecitvely ignoring any possibility of blame. While the report did not assign any political responsibility, around the world some papers, notably those in France, have pointed out that the Chirac government had access to the same intelligence yet chose not to support the invasion.
“Operation Enduring Support” Rally in Grand Rapids
Tomorrow there will be a rally designed to support the troops in Iraq, which according to organizers, are being forgotten amidst the negativty in the news media. The rally has been promoted on WZZM 13?s nightly newscasts, and free food for the rally is being donated by Spartan Stores. While the rally will likely celebrate the Iraq war and promote the notion that it was a “just war,” many military families are beginning to question the war. A recent interview with Erin Murphy, who has a 20-year old brother serving with the US National Guard in Iraq, examines attitudes of military families against the war and issues of class. Meanwhile, a British woman has called for Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign, arguing that the recent Butler Report on British intelligence failures shows that her son “died for a damn pack of lies.”
For more antiwar views from military families, visit www.bringthemhomenow.org
Kucinich Delegates Drop Demand for Quick Withdrawal of US Troops from Iraq
Delegates for Dennis Kucinich, Ohio congressperson and former candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination, have removed their call for the quick withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The delegates struck a deal with representatives of John Kerry at the Democratic Party platform convention in Miami. Rather than call for an a quick end to the occupation, as was a cornerstone of Kucinich’s candidacy, the delegates settled for wording in the platform that says the US will withdraw from Iraq–when appropriate so that the military support needed by a sovereign Iraqi government will no longer be seen as the direct continuation of an American military presence.?
Democracy Now interviewed Dennis Kucinich this week about the wording of the platform. In the interview Kucinich discussed accusations that he “sold out” and discussed the fact that the John Kerry and John Edwards both voted for the Iraq war and cannot, by any possible linguistic acrobats, be described as “antiwar” candidates.
Sexual Assaults by United States Service Members in Iraq and Afghanistan
While sexual assaults of women detained by US soldiers in Iraq have received some attention, a topic receiving far less attention are sexual assualts of United States service members by their fellow soldiers. Miles Moffeit and Amy Herdy first reported on the subject in January of 2004, finding that at least 37 female service members have sought sexual-trauma counseling and other assistance from civilian rape crisis organizations after returning from service. Now the number of reported cases is 176, according to a recent interview with Moffeit.