Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Nancy Drew

Did not know about a new Nancy Drew movie.  Did you?  From CHEAT SHEET:

Enduring girl detective Nancy Drew is making the leap to the big screen – again. The character, who made her first appearance in the 1930 book The Secret of the Old Clock, has been rebooted for modern audiences for the new movie, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, which opens March 15.

The new Nancy (Sophia Lillis of It) has ditched her cloche hat and blue roadster for hoodies and skateboarding, and she has to contend with online bullying. But she’s still a teen sleuth, and with the help of her friends Bess and George, she helps to solve the mystery of what’s really going on at a supposedly haunted mansion.

Do kids today still know Nancy Drew, the prodigious teenage detective who’s been skulking around novels, occasional movies, and TV shows since 1930? Maybe not, but they should. Part of the fun of Nancy Drew, separate from that of more constant remake subjects Robin Hood or Tarzan, is seeing how filmmakers interpret a girl’s boundless interest in sleuthing for different eras. The last time Warner Bros. made a movie about her, writer-director Andrew Fleming addressed the character’s old-timey roots by giving the tenacious Nancy an appreciation of retro fashions and mannerisms. Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase reboots the character again, this time sans clever gimmick—though the uninitiated might initially mistake this skateboarding, flannel-clad Nancy (Sophia Lillis) for a ’90s throwback. The movie opens with her peeling through the streets before jumping into a case that’s more revenge than mystery, as Nancy uses her sleuthing skills to get even with a teenage bully (shades of her ’00s descendant Veronica Mars).

Was the Andrew Fleming film a few years back a hit?  Not really.  $25 million domestically.  And the Bonita Granville films were really serials where they made Nancy a reporter.

The TV show, though, was something I watched in syndication.  THE HARDY BOYS/NANCY DREW MYSTERIES.  I liked Pamela Sue Martin episodes.  Then they wanted to do away with Nancy's episodes and Pamela left and Janet Louise Johnson took over.  Was she liked in real time?  I really could not stand her as Nancy Drew.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, March 13, 2019.  Thirteen years ago Abeer was gang-raped and killed in Iraq, are the children of ISIS being helped or punished, Iraq's do-nothing prime minister has declared that he's owed by the world and wants money, and more.

It's been 13 years today. Do you remember Abeer?

A 14 year old girl was gang raped, murdered (including her family) and set on fire by US soldiers in Al-Mahmudiyah, Iraq. Thread

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi is the 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped and murdered March 12, 2006. US soldiers Paul Cortez and James Barker began raping her while  Steven D. Green was in the other room murdering Abeer's five-year-old sister and her parents.

February 18, 2014,  AP's Brett Barrouquere reported   the 28-year-old Green was found dead in his Arizona prison cell on Saturday and that, currently, the operating belief is that it was a case of suicide.

Steven D. Green

May 7, 2009 Steven D. Green (pictured above) was convicted for his crimes in the  March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21, 2009, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty.

Alsumaria explained, "An ex-US soldier was found guilty for raping an Iraqi girl and killing her family in 2006 while he might face death sentence.  . . . Eye witnesses have reported that Green shot dead the girl’s family in a bedroom while two other soldiers were raping her. Then, Green raped her in his turn and put a pillow on her face before shooting her. The soldiers set the body afire to cover their crime traces."

Evan Bright reported on the verdict:

As the jury entered the court room, Green(red sweater vest) let out a large sigh, not of relief, but seemingly of anxiety, knowing the weight of the words to come. As Judge Thomas Russell stated "The court will now publish the verdict," Green interlaced his fingers and clasped them over his chin. Russell read the verdict flatly and absolutely. Green went from looking down at each "guilty" to eyeing the jury. His shoulders dropped as he was convicted of count #11, aggravated sexual abuse, realizing what this means. A paralegal at the defense table consoled Green by patting him on his back, even herself breaking down crying at the end of the verdicts.
After Russell finished reading the verdicts, he begged questions of the respective attorneys. Wendelsdorf, intending to ensure the absolution of the verdict, requested the jury be polled. Honorable Judge Russell asked each juror if they agreed with these verdicts, receiving a simple-but-sufficient yes from all jurors. Green watched the jury flatly.

From the September 4th, 2009 snapshot:

Turning to the United States and what may be the only accountability for the crimes in Iraq.  May 7th Steven D. Green (pictured above) was convicted for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. Today, Green stood before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. Kim Landers (Australia's ABC) quotes Judge Russell telling Green his actions were "horrifying and inexcusable."  Not noted in any of the links in this snapshot (it comes from a friend present in the court), Steven Dale Green has dropped his efforts to appear waif-ish in a coltish Julia Roberts circa the 1990s manner.  Green showed up a good twenty pounds heavier than he appeared when on trial, back when the defense emphasized his 'lanky' image by dressing him in oversized clothes.  Having been found guilty last spring, there was apparently no concern that he appear frail anymore. 
Italy's AGI reports, "Green was recognised as the leader of a group of five soldiers who committed the massacre on September 12 2006 at the Mahmudiyah check point in the south of Baghdad. The story inspired the 2007 masterpiece by Brian De Palma 'Redacted'."  BBC adds, "Judge Thomas Russell confirmed Green would serve five consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole."  Deborah Yetter (Courier-Journal) explains, "Friday's federal court hearing was devoted mostly to discussion of technical issues related to Green's sentencing report, although it did not change Green's sentence. He was convicted in May of raping and murdering Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and murdering her parents, Kassem and Fakhriya, and her sister, Hadeel, 6, at their home outside Baghdad."
Green was tried in civilian court because he had already been discharged before the War Crimes were discovered.  Following the gang-rape and murders, US soldiers attempted to set fire to Abeer's body to destroy the evidence and attempted to blame the crimes on "insurgents."  In real time, when the bodies were discovered, the New York Times was among the outlets that ran with "insurgents."  Green didn't decide he wanted to be in the military on his own.  It was only after his most recent arrest -- after a long string of juvenile arrests -- while sitting in jail and fearing what sentence he would face, that Green decided the US Army was just the place he wanted to be.  Had he been imprisoned instead or had the US military followed rules and guidelines, Green wouldn't have gotten in on a waiver.  Somehow his history was supposed to translate into "He's the victim!!!!"  As if he (and the others) didn't know rape was a crime, as if he (and the others) didn't know that murder was considered wrong.  Green attempted to climb up on the cross again today.  AP's Brett Barrouguere quotes the 'victim' Green insisting at today's hearing, "You can act like I'm a sociopath.  You can act like I'm a sex offender or whatever.  If I had not joined the Army, if I had not gone to Iraq, I would not have got caught up in anything."  Climb down the cross, drama queen.  Your entire life was about leading up to a moment like that.  You are a sociopath.  You stalked a 14-year-old Iraqi girl while you were stationed at a checkpoint in her neighborhood.  You made her uncomfortable and nervous, you stroked her face.  She ran to her parents who made arrangements for her to go live with others just to get her away from you, the man the army put there to protect her and the rest of the neighborhood.  You are one sick f**k and you deserve what you got.  Green play drama queen and insist "you can act like I'm a sex offender" -- he took part in and organized a gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl.  That's a sex offender.  In fact, "sex offender" is a mild term for what Green is.
Steven D. Green made the decision to sign up for the US military.  He was facing criminal punishment for his latest crimes, but he made the decision.  Once in the military, despite his long history of arrests, he didn't see it as a chance to get a fresh start.  He saw it as a passport for even more crimes.  What he did was disgusting and vile and it is War Crimes and by doing that he disgraced himself and the US military.  His refusal to take accountability today just demonstrates the realities all along which was Green did what he wanted and Green has no remorse.  He sullied the name of the US military, he sullied the name of the US.  As a member of the army, it was his job to follow the rules and the laws and he didn't do so.  And, as a result, a retaliation kidnapping of US soldiers took place in the spring of 2006 and those soldiers were strung up and gutted.  That should weigh heavily on Steven D. Green but there's no appearance that he's ever thought of anyone but himself.  He wants to act as if the problem was the US military which requires that you then argue that anyone serving in Iraq could have and would have done what he did.  That is not reality.  He does not represent the average soldier and he needs to step down from the cross already.
 AFP notes, "During closing arguments at his sentencing, Green was described alternately as 'criminal and perverse' and deserving of the death penalty, and as a 'broken warrior" whose life should be spared'."  Brett Barrouquere (AP) has been covering the story for years now.  He notes that Patrick Bouldin (defense) attempted to paint Green as the victim as well by annoucing that Green wanted to take responsibility "twice" before but that Assistant US Attorney Marisa Ford explained that was right before jury selection began and in the midst of jury selection.  In other words, when confronted with the reality that he would be going to trial, Steven D. Green had a panic moment and attempted to make a deal with the prosecution.  (The offer was twice rejected because the 'life in prison' offer included the defense wanting Green to have possible parole.)  Steve Robrahn, Andrew Stern and Paul Simao (Reuters) quote US Brig Gen Rodney Johnson ("Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command") stating, "We sincerely hope that today's sentencing helps to bring the loved ones of this Iraqi family some semblance of closure and comfort after this horrific and senseless act."

Green went into the military to avoid criminal charges on another issue.  He was one of many that the military lowered the standards for.

May 28, 2009, the family of Abeer gave their statements to the court before leaving to return to Iraq. WHAS11 (text and video) reported on the court proceedings:

Gary Roedemeier: Crimes were horrific. A band of soldiers convicted of planning an attack against an Iraqi girl and her family.

Melissa Swan: The only soldier tried in civilian court is Steven Green. The Fort Campbell soldier was in federal court in Louisville this morning, facing the victims' family and WHAS's Renee Murphy was in that courtroom this morning. She joins us live with the information and also more on that heart wrenching scene of when these family members faced the man who killed their family.

Renee Murphy: I mean, they came face to face with the killer. Once again, the only thing different about this time was that they were able to speak with him and they had an exchange of dialogue and the family is here from Iraq and they got to ask Steven Green all the questions they wanted answered. They looked each other in the eye. Green appeared calm and casual in court. The victims' family, though, outraged, emotional and distraught. Now cameras were not allowed in the courtroom so we can't show video of today's hearing but here's an account of what happened. (Video begins] This is a cousin of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl raped and killed by Steven Green. He and other family members in this SUV were able to confront Green in federal court this morning. Their words were stinging and came from sheer grief. Former Fort Campbell soldier Steven Green was convicted of killing an Iraqi mother, father and their young daughter. He then raped their 14-year-old daughter, shot her in the head and set her body on fire. Today the victim's family was able to give an impact statement at the federal court house the young sons of the victims asked Green why he killed their father. an aunt told the court that "wounds are still eating at our heart" and probably the most compelling statements were from the girls' grandmother who sobbed from the stand and demanded an explanation from Green. Green apologized to the family saying that he did evil things but he is not an evil person. He says that he was drunk the night of the crimes in 2006 and he was following the orders of his commanding officers. In his statement, Green said if it would bring these people back to life I would do everything I could to make them execute me. His statement goes on to say, "Before I went to Iraq, I never thought I would intentionally kill a civilian. When I was in Iraq, something happened to me that I can only explain by saying I lost my mind. I stopped seeing Iraqis as good and bad, as men, women and children. I started seeing them all as one, and evil, and less than human." Green didn't act alone. His codefendants were court-martialed and received lesser sentences. Green will be formally sentenced to life in prison in September. [End of videotape.] The answers that Green gave were not good enough for some of the family members. at one point today, the grandmother of the young girls who were killed left the podium and started walking towards Green as he sat at the defendant's table shouting "Why!" She was forcibly then escorted to the back of the court room by US Marshalls. She then fell to the ground and buried her face in her hands and began to cry again. The family pleaded with the court for the death sentence for Green. but you can see Green's entire statement to the court on our website and coming up tonight at six o'clock, we're going to hear from Green's attorneys.

Steven D. Green was convicted of War Crimes.

We covered that.  We even covered it when Green took his own life.  But so many turned away and ignored the story.  Apparently, dropping napalm on a child is appalling -- if there's photographic evidence -- but gang-raping her while she hears her family being murdered and then killing her is no bid deal.

There were no TIME or NEWSWEEK cover stories on Abeer.  There was no DATELINE or 20/20 or FRONTLINE episode devoted to what happened to her. US feminist reaction was underwhelming.  In fact, Katha Pollitt had to be shamed repeatedly before she finally noted Abeer -- in a single sentence.  (The late Alexander Cockburn had written of Abeer before Katha finally got around to her 'contribution.')

Has #MeToo changed anything?  I don't know.  Ask all the Kathas who didn't say boo all those years ago what's changed?  Because a 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered by US troops, you had admissions of guilt and you had a conviction and it was never a story to them.  Ask the Kathas what's changed?

And, in fairness, it shouldn't fall on feminists only.  So ask the non-feminists -- men and women -- as well.  Better yet, ask the asses who were screaming "Islamophobia!" over the murder of Shaim Alawadi why they didn't cover Abeer?  If you've forgotten, a whole movement sprung up among the stupid over Shaim Alwadi's murder.

Excuse me, sprung up momentarily.

They didn't give a damn about the woman at all.

A very fishy murder took place where it was obvious that the scene was staged.  But instead of waiting for facts -- Jussie Smolletts are everywhere -- idiots ran with the lie that the woman was killed by people who hated Muslims.  DEMOCRACY NOW! brought on 'expert' to explain that the whole are was anti-Mulsim.  Marches!  Now!

Turns out, her husband killed her.  Not a surprise to anyone who really listened to the early reports.

Now Shaima was still dead at this point, but all her support vanished.  Because they never supported her.  They never cared that she was murdered.  They only cared that they could scream, "Islamophobia!"

Islamophobia exists.  It's very real.  It's ugly and it needs to be highlighted.

But if you're only appalled that a woman was murdered if it was due to Islamophobia, then you have some serious issues and you need to get professional help.

13 years ago, Abeer was gang-raped and murdered.  It's a shame our so-called independent media didn't care.  And let me clarify for a corporate journalist who apparently just started visiting this site, independent media is not the US concept of an independent press.  Independent media used her refers to beggar media, the panhandle media, send-money media.  You can refer to the piece at THIRD including this one Ava and I wrote in February of 2008.

They beg for your money saying they do important work but on all important issues, they tend to disappear.  See especially the Queen of Beggar Media Amy Goodman.

Children continue to suffer in Iraq.  Last week, Human Rights Watch issued a statement about what was happening to some children in Iraq.  This week, HRW's Jo Becker discussed the findings with Audie Cornish on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED:

As the bombs fall in Syria and governments stand poised to announce the end of ISIS, there remains the incredible challenge of what to do with the tens of thousands of people involved with ISIS. A recent report from Human Rights Watch raises alarms about how children suspected of involvement are being treated, describes torture, forced confessions and quick trials without lawyers. Jo Becker is advocacy director for the children's rights division at Human Rights Watch. She joins us now via Skype. Welcome to the program.

JO BECKER: Thank you very much.

CORNISH: Let's begin by talking about who you interviewed for this report. How old are these children, and how did they get to ISIS?

BECKER: We interviewed nearly 30 children in northern Iraq who had been arrested and were being prosecuted for suspected association with ISIS. So for example, I met Salam (ph), who was just 14 years old and attending school when ISIS took over Mosul, where he was living with his family. His school soon shut down. And with little to do, he said he joined ISIS to earn a salary. He got 20 days of training and then worked as a cook making $50 a month.
He told us, I never wanted to fight; that's why I stayed a cook. And yet, he was captured in a military offensive and detained, interrogated and convicted of terrorism. When we met him, he had been in prison already for more than two years. We estimate that there are approximately 1,500 children - these are Iraqi children, largely between 13 and 17 - who are being detained for alleged association with ISIS.

CORNISH: And when we say detained, what is the process? How are the forced confessions coming in?

BECKER: So what happens is oftentimes, if these children are passing through a government checkpoint, authorities will check their wanted lists of ISIS suspects. And if they see the child's name on the list, the child will be arrested and detained and often interrogated and even tortured. These lists are compiled of tens of thousands of names.
And a child could be arrested simply because someone from their village reported them, whether rightly or wrongly, as connected to ISIS. Just being seen in the company of ISIS fighters or being suspected of having a father or an uncle who is part of ISIS is enough to get a child on one of these lists.

CORNISH: When it comes to teens who did commit horrible crimes, what should happen to them? I mean, what would would make sense in terms of the process?

BECKER: So international law says that children should never be recruited by armed groups in the first place. And by children we're talking about anyone under the age of 18. The real perpetrators here are the adults who recruit the children. Children should be perceived primarily as victims. And in fact, in most armed conflicts around the world, that's the norm.

If the children that I met in Iraq had been fighting in South Sudan or the Central African Republic, chances are they'd already be back in school or getting vocational training so that they could, you know, resume their lives.

Everyone's a target in Iraq.  Gulf Center 4 Human Rights notes:

On 26 January 2019, a demonstration was held against the presence of Turkish forces at a military barracks in Shiladze in the governorate of Dohuk, by a group of citizens. Some of the demonstrators set fire to the barracks, and Turkish forces opened fire indiscriminately, killing two demonstrators and wounding more than ten others.

As a result, Dohuk's intelligence agency (Asayish) arrested dozens of citizens who took part in the demonstration. They were detained until forced to sign a pledge not to demonstrate in the future.

Later that same day, Asayish arrested more than 50 activists and journalists while they were preparing to hold a solidarity sit-in with demonstrators against the Turkish presence in Shiladze. According to reliable local sources, the activists were blindfolded and tortured while they were interrogated by Asayish.

Most of the arrested activists and journalists were released. However, independent journalist and civil society activist Sherwan Al-Shirwani and civil society activists Ayaz Karam, Rikan Rashid and Takur Zardashti are still being held in Zarka prison in Duhok.

Sherwan Al-Shirwani had used his Facebook page, with more than 16,000 friends and followers, to publish news reports on various protests, including videos about the Turkish airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan. On 27 January 2019 he had published a post in which he named all the citizens who were killed by these airstrikes.

Journalist and civil society activist Mustafa Bamarni, who was also among those arrested on 26 January 2019, was arrested again on 1 March 2019 by security forces and remains in detention.

Information received indicates that the charges against them are in accordance with article 156 of the amended Iraqi Penal Code No. 111 of 1969, in connection with "prejudice to the independence, unity or territorial integrity of the country" despite the suspension of the work of this article which carries the death penalty in the Kurdistan Region under Law No. 21 of 2003.

On 27 January 2019, security forces confiscated all the transmission and communication equipment of Kurdish TV channel NRT in Duhok governorate and suspended the channel. Five staff members of NRT were detained for several hours by the security authorities in relation to their coverage of the protests against the presence of Turkish troops in the governorate.

In the governorate of Najaf, the National Security Directorate ordered the arrest of journalist Hussam Al-Kaabi, NRT correspondent in Najaf, where security men in a civilian car arrested him from a city street late on the night of 07 January 2019. Al-Kaabi was arrested after a complaint was filed against him by the National Security Adviser, who accused him of defamation resulted from publications he made on his Facebook page. He was released the next day.

In the governorate of Basra, security forces belonging to the Ministry of the Interior arrested journalist Muslim Al-Mayahi, radio correspondent, after he had covered their forceful dispersal of a peaceful demonstration in the centre of Basra. He was released shortly afterwards.

The Metro Center for Defending the Rights of Journalists and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) call on the authorities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to release Shirwan Al-Shirwani, Ayaz Karam, Rikan Rashid, Takur Zardashti, and Mustafa Bamarni immediately and unconditionally and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. In addition, the Metro Center for Defending the Rights of Journalists and the Gulf Center for Human Rights urges the authorities in Kurdistan, and the federal authorities in Iraq to respect public freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and refrain from targeting journalists and other activists.

Meanwhile, RUDAW reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi bluntly demanded for the world to take responsibility for rebuilding Iraq’s ravaged cities, arguing that Iraq has done it a favor in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).

“We did the world a great service. We gave our blood. We gave millions of victims. This isn’t about charity, grants or tips from anyone. The world has to repay the favor in terms of the security, stability and stopping the movement of displacement to other countries. The world has to repay the favor to Iraq to rebuild its areas,” Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told reporters in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Iraq paid Kuwait about $60 billion in reparations for the Kuwait invasion, and Abdul-Mahdi underscored that Turkey has received billions of dollars from the European Union “just to stop” the flow of migrants.

No, the world shouldn't.  Not a dime until the puppet governments collapse and Iraqis are truly allowed to pick their leaders.

And the rise of ISIS is not a surprise, was not a surprise.  We predicted it here before it happened.  And Adil should have predicted it.  He didn't use his mouth to warn or to call out.  He's suddenly concerned but in real time was happy to go along.

Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is the reason ISIS took hold in Iraq.  And it was obvious that something was going to rise up due to his actions.  From May 16, 2012:

Nouri The Terrible backed by the White House

Today Human Rights Watch offers another damning release on the prime minister of Iraq.

Nouri al-Maliki has a second term as prime minister not because the Iraqi people wanted him but because the White House wanted him.  Nouri was installed by the Bush administration in 2006 to block Ibrahim al-Jaafari (the choide of Iraqi legislatures).  His term was an overwhelming failure by every standard possible.

He signed off on the White House benchmarks and these were a set of goals Bush and company came up with as Congress was (rightly) noting there was no progress in Iraq.  Congress wanted metrics.  The White House wanted funding.  So they proposed a set of measurements.  These were not things that would be achieved in 2012.  These were things that were, at the time they were proposed, thought to be possible by 2008 if not in 2007.  And Nouri agreed to them and signed off on them.  He accomplished none of them.  Even now, there is no benchmark which can be checked off as "completed in full."  Five years later and he never finished them.

He failed legally and did so repeatedly.  Nouri took an oath to uphold the 2005 Constitution.  It was written before he became prime minister, he should have been familiar with it.  Article 140 mandated that, by the end of 2007, a referendum and census would take place in Kirkuk to determine the fate of disputed Kirkuk.  Nouri al-Maliki never implemented Article 140.  He was (and remains in his second term) in violation of the Constitution -- the one he took an oath to uphold.  If the prime minister of the country is not bound by the Constitution, who is?

If the prime minister doesn't have to follow the law, who does?

The ethnic cleansing took place during his first term. And that didn't matter apparently.

Iraqis remained without basic services and he repeatedly promised improvements that never came.  And that didn't matter.

He sat on billions while he played cheap.   He refused to use them on public services despite claiming he would.  He refused to use them to help the Iraqi refugees in surrounding countries despite claiming he would.  When widows and orphans needs were exposed in the media, he would insist that money would be forthcoming.  It never was.

Time and again, on every measure Nouri failed.  But among the most awful aspects of Nouri al-Maliki was his continued reliance on secret prisons and torture chambers.

This reliance has still not ended.

Human Rights Watch issued the following today:
(Beirut) – Iraq’s government has been carrying out mass arrests and unlawfully detaining people in the notorious Camp Honor prison facility in Baghdad’s Green Zone, based on numerous interviews with victims, witnesses, family members, and government officials. The government had claimed a year ago that it had closed the prison, where Human Rights Watch had documented rampant torture.
Since October 2011 Iraqi authorities have conducted several waves of detentions, one of which arresting officers and officials termed “precautionary.” Numerous witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces have typically surrounded neighborhoods in Baghdad and other provinces and gone door-to-door with long lists of names of people they wanted to detain. The government has held hundreds of detainees for months, refusing to disclose the number of those detained, their identities, any charges against them, and where they are being held.
“Iraqi security forces are grabbing people outside of the law, without trial or known charges, and hiding them away in incommunicado sites,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Iraqi government should immediately reveal the names and locations of all detainees, promptly free those not charged with crimes, and bring those facing charges before an independent judicial authority.”
The government should appoint an independent judicial commission to investigate continuing allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, disappearances, and arbitrary detention in Camp Honor and elsewhere, Human Rights Watch said.
Multiple witnesses told Human Rights Watch that some detainees arrested since December 2011 have been held in the Camp Honor prison in Baghdad’s International Zone, known as the Green Zone. In March 2011 the government announced it had closed Camp Honor prison, after legislators visited the site in response to evidence Human Rights Watch provided of repeated torture at the facility.
The two most sweeping arrest dragnets occurred in October and November 2011, detaining people alleged to be Baath Party and Saddam Hussein loyalists, and in March 2012, ahead of the Arab summit in Baghdad at the end of that month.
In April two Justice Ministry officials separately told Human Rights Watch that since the roundups began in October, security forces often have not transferred prisoners into the full custody of the justice system, as required by Iraq law. Instead, the officials said, security forces have transported dozens of prisoners at a time in and out of various prison facilities, sometimes without adequate paperwork or explanation, under the authority of the military office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Fourteen lawyers, detainees, and government officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that recent detainees have been held at Camp Honor prison. Some of the officials said that detainees have also been held at two secret detention facilities, also inside Baghdad’s Green Zone. These allegations are consistent with concerns raised in a confidential letter from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) obtained by Human Rights Watch in July 2011 after the letter’s existence was made public by the Los Angeles Times.
Officials, lawyers, and former detainees also told Human Rights Watch that judicial investigators from the Supreme Judicial Council continue to conduct interrogations at the Camp Honor prison. Between December and May, Human Rights Watch interviewed over 35 former detainees, family members, lawyers, legislators, and Iraqi government and security officials from the Defense, Interior, and Justice Ministries. Without exception, they expressed great concern for their own safety and requested that Human Rights Watch withhold all names, dates, and places of interviews to protect their identities.
“It’s a matter of grave concern that Iraqis in so many walks of life, officials included, are afraid for their own well-being and fear great harm if they discuss allegations of serious human rights abuses,” Stork said.
“Precautionary” Detentions ahead of March 2012 Arab Summit
The most recent mass arrests occurred in March as the government dramatically tightened security throughout Baghdad in preparation for the Arab League summit there on March 29. Family members and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that arresting officers characterized the roundups as a “precautionary” measure to prevent terrorist attacks during the summit. Six detainees released in April told Human Rights Watch that while they were in detention, interrogators told them that they were being held to curb criminal activity during the summit and any “embarrassing” public protests.
Legislators from Prime Minister al-Maliki’s State of Law party have denied in the news media that any preemptive arrests took place, claiming that all arrests were of suspected criminals and in response to judicial warrants. All detainees and witnesses interviewed, over 20 in all, said they had not been shown arrest warrants.
In Baghdad neighborhoods where multiple arrests were made, including Adhamiya, Furat, Jihad, Abu Ghraib, and Rathwaniya, residents told Human Rights Watch it appeared that a large proportion of those detained had previously spent time in prisons run by the US military, including Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, and Camp Cropper. Some family members and legislators concluded that people were being arrested not because of suspected current criminal activity, but simply because they had been detained before.
In May an Interior Ministry official told Human Rights Watch that “security forces, in the interest of keeping security incidents to a minimum during the summit, while the world was watching, sometimes decided it was easier to just round up people who had been imprisoned years before, regardless of what crime they may have committed.” In April a Justice Ministry official told Human Rights Watch that of the hundreds arrested, “some have been released, about 100 will be officially charged within the justice system, and the rest are somewhere else. We do not know where.”
During an April 9 parliament session, Hassan al-Sinead, head of the parliament’s Security and Defense Committee and a member of Prime Minister al-Maliki’s State of Law Party, held up what he said were official security reports of Baghdad Operation Command and said, in response to allegations of pre-emptive arrests by other legislators, that there were only 532 arrests in all of Baghdad during the month of March, and that none were pre-emptive.
Two other members of the parliamentary committee subsequently told Human Rights Watch that this figure greatly underreported arrests that month. At the April 9 session an investigative committee was formed, made up of members of the Security and Defense and Human Rights committees. Members of the investigative committee told Human Rights Watch that plans to visit detainees never happened. To date, no investigation results have been released.
“Baathist” Arrests
In October and November 2011, security forces arrested hundreds of people in Baghdad and outlying provinces, almost all during nighttime raids on residential neighborhoods. State television reported that Prime Minister al-Maliki ordered these arrests. Government statements, including by the prime minister, claimed that those arrested were Saddam Hussein loyalists plotting against the government. Family members told Human Rights Watch that security forces came to their doors with lists and read off names. Some of those listed were former Baath party members and others were not, including people who had died years ago. Three officials separately told Human Rights Watch that the total number arrested in the campaign approached 1,500.
A man whose 57-year-old father was arrested along with 11 neighbors on October 30 told Human Rights Watch in December, “A week after my father was arrested, some of the same police officers who arrested him came back and found family members to give them belongings [of neighborhood men who had been arrested], like clothes or money or IDs, but they still said they had no information about where they were being held, or what they were being charged with.”
The man’s son showed Human Rights Watch a document the police had given to him that listed the date his father was arrested but left blank the space reserved for the name of the detention facility.
Upon learning that some prisoners were being held in Baghdad’s Rusafa prisons, run by the Justice Ministry, Human Rights Watch asked Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari on January 4 for access to the prisoners. The request was refused.
Though not all arrests have been on the same scale as those in October, November, and March, regular arrest campaigns have taken place, often in largely Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad as well as in several outlying provinces, said witnesses, family members and media reports. Strict government secrecy regarding the number of arrests and exact charges makes it difficult to assess the scope.
While some prisoners were released within hours or days and say they were not mistreated, others told Human Rights Watch they were tortured, including with repeated electric shocks. Most said interrogators forced them to sign pledges not to criticize the government publicly or to sign confessions. They said interrogators threatened that unless they signed these documents they would suffer physical violence, female family members would be raped, or they would never be released. Some families told Human Rights Watch that they were told to pay thousands of dollars in bribes to secure their loved ones’ release. In two cases known to Human Rights Watch, detainees were released after the families made such payments.
Camp Honor Prison
Camp Honor is a military base of more than 15 buildings within Baghdad’s fortified International Zone, which Iraqis and others continue to refer to as the Green Zone. The Iraqi Army’s 56th Brigade, also known as the Baghdad Brigade, which falls under direct command of the Office of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, controls the Camp Honor complex and is responsible for the security of the Green Zone.
On March 29, 2011, Justice Minister al-Shimmari told Human Rights Watch that the government had closed the camp’s main detention facility, Camp Honor prison (often simply referred to as “Camp Honor”). Al-Shimmari said that authorities had moved all its detainees, whom he alleged were terrorists and Islamist militants, to three other facilities under the control of his ministry.
Contrary to this assurance, Human Rights Watch has received information from government and security officials indicating that some detainees from the “Baathist” and “Summit” roundups were held in Camp Honor prison and that it is still being used at least as a temporary holding site, or as a place to extract confessions before moving detainees into the official correctional system. This use of military prisons outside the control of the Justice Ministry is consistent with known procedures at other publicly acknowledged facilities outside of the ministry’s control, such as Muthanna Airport Prison and a facility in western Baghdad run by the army’s Muthanna Brigade, both of which have also housed hundreds of detainees from the recent arrests, according to government officials and former detainees.
A security official from the Defense Ministry told Human Rights Watch in April that judicial investigators attached to the Supreme Judicial Council go to the Camp Honor prison on a regular basis, where they participate in investigations and interrogations, alongside military investigators from the 56th Brigade. A lawyer who works for the government but did not want his department identified corroborated this allegation in an April interview with Human Rights Watch.
Three former detainees who spoke with Human Rights Watch between December and April gave credible accounts of what they said were their interactions with judicial investigators in Camp Honor prison. These allegations are consistent with judicial procedures known to have taken place there in the past. One detainee told Human Rights Watch in April that he had been held for over a month in Camp Honor prison, from late October to early December.
In a March interview, another man told Human Rights Watch he had been detained in Baghdad in early November and taken to a prison inside the Green Zone, which guards and other detainees told him was Camp Honor prison. His description and a sketch he made of the layout of the cells and interrogation trailers were consistent with the known layout of the facility.
Another detainee said in early December that he could confirm that he was in Camp Honor prison in May 2011 by the proximity of clearly recognizable surrounding buildings. When he was taken from the main holding facility to adjacent trailers for violent interrogations on three separate occasions, he said, he was not blindfolded. “The Defense Ministry and the old Council of Ministers [Hall] are right there,” he said. “I’m a former military man, and I used to work very close to there, so I knew right where I was.”
In July Human Rights Watch obtained a copy of a May 22,2011 letter written by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which said the ICRC had “collected reliable allegations” of two separate secret detention facilities attached to Camp Honor military base, plus another facility next to the headquarters of the Counter-Terrorism Service, also in the Green Zone, “that are used to this day to hold and conceal detainees when committees visit the primary prison.”
In the letter, the ICRC also documented the methods of torture used inside Camp Honor prison and affiliated facilities, consistent with torture methods Human Rights Watch had previously reported.The ICRC addressed the letter to Prime Minister al-Maliki and copied Farouq al-Araji, head of al-Maliki’s military office, General Mahmoud al-Khazraji, commander of the 56th Brigade, other defense officials, Justice Minister al-Shimmari, and Judge Midhat al-Mahmoud, head of the Supreme Judicial Council.
After the Los Angeles Times made public the letter’s existence on July 14, the ICRC released a statement declining to confirm or deny its authenticity, as per long-standing policy to confine its communications to officials of the government concerned. In July and August, two Iraqi government officials and one former official familiar with the letter assured Human Rights Watch of the letter’s legitimacy.
Two defense lawyers separately told Human Rights Watch in May 2012 that clients of theirs had been held in Camp Honor prison as recently as August 2011. Another lawyer told Human Rights Watch that while working at the Supreme Judicial Council over the past year he encountered frequent references in comments by judges and others, as well as in court paperwork, to prisoners being held in Camp Honor prison and in “two other prisons in the Green Zone also run by the 56th Brigade.” Four officials from the Defense and Justice ministries, plus two former officials, also told Human Rights Watch of the existence of these secret prisons, one also part of the Camp Honor complex, unofficially called “Five Stars,” and another outside the base, but still within the Green Zone.
Treatment of Detainees
Statements to Human Rights Watch by those captured in the roundups and detained in various prisons, including those run by the Justice Ministry, varied in describing the treatment they received. Some said they were not physically mistreated. Three people detained in the “Summit” dragnet told Human Rights Watch that security officers assured them that they just had to wait until the Arab Summit was over and they would be released – that holding them “was just a precautionary measure.” Others described multiple beatings and threats and some described abuse that amounts to torture.
In May, a 59-year-old man told Human Rights Watch that he was arrested in late October in a southern province of Iraq and transported with more than 60 other prisoners to a detention facility in Baghdad, which he identified but asked Human Rights Watch to keep confidential. “When I first arrived, I was blindfolded and had my hands tied behind my back, and I had to walk down a long line of men, each of whom punched me in the face and hit my head with wire cables as I passed them,” he said. “After that, I was in solitary confinement for some time, and then they brought me before the judicial investigators. I couldn’t believe that they beat so hard and gave me electric shocks for three continuous hours, without even asking me any questions.”
He also said that during other interrogations his captors stripped him naked, hit him with wire cables, boxed his ears, poured cold water over him, and shocked him with electrodes attached to his back.
He was released in March, five months later, after his family paid over US $10,000 in bribes and an influential politician intervened on his behalf. Before leaving custody, he was forced to sign what he said was a confession, though he is not sure of its contents, as well as a pledge to never speak “against the government” and never to talk to the media about his arrest. “They told me that if I break any of these rules, they will bring in my sons and destroy them, and rape my wife,” he said. “As I left, they told me, ‘We will arrest you again, and make sure you’re executed.’”
Family members of detainees who spoke with Human Rights Watch said they had no idea where their loved ones were being held, despite multiple inquiries to the Ministry of Human Rights and the headquarters of the security forces that arrested them. In cases in which the government disclosed where prisoners were being held, security forces hindered or completely blocked detainees’ access to legal and family visits.
“On paper, a defendant can be defended by a lawyer, but in real life, it is next to impossible,” said a defense lawyer who is attempting to represent two men arrested in the “Summit” sweep in March. He told Human Rights Watch that when he is actually informed of the location of a detainee and allowed in, he is kept waiting for hours, and then told to go home because it is the end of the day. “Any lawyer attempting to see his client will be subjected to threats by the security forces holding the detainees,” the lawyer told Human Rights Watch. “Several times in the past few months, they said, ‘So, you want to represent a Baathist and a terrorist? I wonder what is making you do this, why you are on his side.’ This is clearly an attempt to intimidate attorneys from standing up for their victims.”
Families who tried to hire lawyers to defend relatives arrested in the “Baathist” sweep gave strikingly similar accounts. In December, one man told Human Rights Watch that his family went to four separate criminal defense lawyers who were at first cooperative. But when they learned that his father was taken in the “Baathist” arrests, he said, “each immediately told us that they could not interfere in this case because the arrests were by order of the prime minister’s office.” He cited one lawyer as saying: “This case is already decided. It’s a lost case, and I can’t be part of it, because they were arrested by the order of the prime minister.’”
“It is amazing that all four had the same reaction and this made us lose hope,” the family member said. “We did not try to get another lawyer, and have no idea where my father is.”

 The Los Angeles Times can't find a writer in Iraq to touch it so it's left to Carol J. Williams to note, "The continued operation of the Camp Honor detention site was disclosed by Los Angeles Times staff writer Ned Parker in July, four months after Maliki's government said the facility had been closed at the urging of Iraqi lawmakers and human rights advocates."  Ned Parker can't cover it because he's currently on sabbatical (he's an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations).  Hopefully, he'll do a video a paper on it for CFR this week or next.  He has owned this story and one of the things that the Los Angeles Times can point to with strong pride in the last decade was Ned Parker's repeated coverage of this topic.

The Telegraph of London adds, "Amnesty International also said in a February 2011 report that Iraq operates secret jails and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them."

Nouri's record of secret prisons and tortures was well established before March 2010 when the parliamentary elections were held.  All of this was known.

And despite the fact that his political slate came in second, despite the Constitution, despite the will of the Iraqi people as expressed at the ballot box, the White House sided with minature despot Nouri.  This administration can claim to give a damn about human rights, but it's hard to take that claim seriously when they chose to trash the will of the people, the Iraqi Constitution, the notion of democracy and the safety of the Iraqi people in order to keep Nouri al-Maliki on.

If they hadn't backed him, if the White House had cut him loose after the 2010 elections, he would not be prime minister now.  Would something worse be in office?  Maybe, maybe not.  But the reality is that Iraqis wanted something else, that's what they voted for and the White House demonstrated as little concern for the results of a democratic election as they did for the safety of the Iraqi people.

And now?  Now they've got US Ambassdor James Jefrrey trying desperately to shore up support for Nouri al-Maliki, meeting with blocs and trying to cut deals and offer 'gifts' (bribes) if the blocs will support Nouri.  Even now, the administration refuses to do the right thing.

The Iraqi people voted Nouri out as prime minister in the 2010 elections.  March of 2010.  He refused to step down.  He brought the government to a stop -- an 8 month political stalemate.  US Gen Ray Odierno had warned ahead of the election that this might happen but Barack's White House had ignored him.  When it happened?  They ended up eventually siding with Nouri and negotiating The Erbil Agreement -- a contract that gave Nouri a second term in exchange for Nouri agreeing to give other political parties various things. Nouri never honored his side of the contract and despite Barack personally promising Ayad Allawi that the contract would be honored, it wasn't.  After waiting over a year, the Iraqi politicians got together.  Led by Moqtada  al-Sadr and various others, they launched a movement for a no-confidence vote.

The US pressured then-President Jalal Fat Ass Talabani to stop it.  How?  There was nothing in the Constitution for him to do but present it to the Parliament -- a ceremonial role.  Fat Ass created a new role out of thin air, he had to vet the signatures.  Without giving any sort of a tally, he just said that there were not enough based on his polling.  He then ran out of Iraq as fat as his wobbly legs could carry his extreme girth.  Emergency surgery! he cried.  He had to go to Germany.  He had elective surgery . . . on his knee.  The fates don't like fat ass liars so, at the end of the year, in the midst of an argument with Nouri, Jalal suffered a stroke and was taken to Germany.  He'd remain there forever but that's another story.

Mahdi needs to grasp that the problems in Iraq right now are partly his and his peers.  They went along with the colonization of Iraq.  He has no authority.  He was installed by the US government -- he'd long been the CIA's choice -- and he's just another corrupt politician who fails to deliver for the Iraqi people.

Trillions have poured into Iraq -- Japan announced more giving last month -- and the people continue to suffer.  That's because corruption ensures the money never gets to the people.

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