9/29/11

Obama: A Disaster For Civil Liberties

He may prove the most disastrous president in our history in terms of civil liberties.

By Jonathan Turley
September 29, 2011

With the 2012 presidential election before us, the country is again caught up in debating national security issues, our ongoing wars and the threat of terrorism. There is one related subject, however, that is rarely mentioned: civil liberties.

Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the "just following orders" defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama's personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.

It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama's policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona.

Ironically, had Obama been defeated in 2008, it is likely that an alliance for civil liberties might have coalesced and effectively fought the government's burgeoning police powers. A Gallup poll released this week shows 49% of Americans, a record since the poll began asking this question in 2003, believe that "the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals' rights and freedoms." Yet the Obama administration long ago made a cynical calculation that it already had such voters in the bag and tacked to the right on this issue to show Obama was not "soft" on terror. He assumed that, yet again, civil libertarians might grumble and gripe but, come election day, they would not dare stay home.

This calculation may be wrong. Obama may have flown by the fail-safe line, especially when it comes to waterboarding. For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. As Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have admitted, waterboarding is clearly torture and has been long defined as such by both international and U.S. courts. It is not only a crime but a war crime. By blocking the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture, Obama violated international law and reinforced other countries in refusing investigation of their own alleged war crimes. The administration magnified the damage by blocking efforts of other countries like Spain from investigating our alleged war crimes. In this process, his administration shredded principles on the accountability of government officials and lawyers facilitating war crimes and further destroyed the credibility of the U.S. in objecting to civil liberties abuses abroad.

In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term. He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at George Washington University.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

9/25/11

Freddie Mercury?

9/21/11

Harper's Index

Percentage of the current U.S. debt that was accumulated during Republican presidential terms : 71

Portion of debt-ceiling elevations since 1960 that have been signed into law by Republican presidents : 2/3

Percentage of profits American corporations paid in taxes in 1961 : 40.6

Today : 10.5

Portion of the increase in U.S. corporate profit margins since 2001 that has come from depressed wages : 3/4

Percentage of Americans who say they did not have money to buy food at all times last year : 18.2

Percentage change in the median household wealth of white families since 2005 : –16

Of Hispanic families : –66

Number of minors sent back to Mexico by U.S. immigration authorities in 2010 : 20,438

Percentage who were sent unaccompanied by an adult : 57

Percentage of the world’s population that could fit in Texas by living with the population density of New York City : 100

Estimated value of government subsidies that will go to the oil and gas industries between now and 2015 : $78,155,000,000

Average amount the tooth fairy left for a tooth in 2010, according to a survey by Visa : $3

Average so far in 2011 : $2.60

Price for an iPad case made out of Bernie Madoff’s Polo Ralph Lauren blue chinos : $350

Percentage of millionaires who said in a July survey that they are concerned about global unrest : 94

Percentage of Egyptians who say they want the new government to amend or abandon the Camp David accords : 70

Estimated number of Syrians killed during pro-democracy protests since March : 1,700

Number of people killed in Ecuador since July by bootleg liquor : 35

Portion of the Indian Ocean that is underexplored by scientists because of pirates : 1/4

Amount an unemployed Utah man is charging for the opportunity to hunt and kill him : $10,000

Portion of non-interest federal spending that is dedicated to programs for the elderly : 1/3

Chance that a person will remember something if he thinks he can look it up later : 1 in 5

If he thinks he cannot : 1 in 3

Percentage of U.S. college grades that are A’s : 43

Portion of America’s college students who attend for-profit schools : 1/10 (see page 51)

Portion of federal financial aid that goes to such schools : 1/4

Portion of college students who believe alcohol improves their ability to tell jokes : 3/4

Who believe it improves their sexual encounters : 1/3

Percent increase in armed robberies at pharmacies since 2006 : 81

Chance that an American fast-food customer uses posted calorie information to make food-buying decisions : 1 in 6

Number of states in which less than 20 percent of adults are obese : 0

Percentage of private-sector workers who believe that public-sector workers receive better benefits : 60

Percentage of public-sector workers who believe this : 44

Percentage of Americans who believe China has passed or will pass the United States as the world’s leading superpower : 46

Percentage of Chinese who do : 63
Of French : 72

Percentage of Americans who say they would vote for a well-qualified homosexual candidate for president : 67

For a well-qualified atheist : 49

Percentage of Americans in a July poll who said they approve of God’s job performance : 52

Figures cited are the latest available as of August 2011. Sources are listed on page 68.

October 2011

9/16/11

9/15/11

Walk On By (Diana Krall)

Harry Shearer

A Thousand Cuts

9/12/11

Paul Simon at Ground Zero

9/11/11

Memorial

9/10/11

Grief and Empathy in New York City

This article was originally published on September 30, 2001


On September 25, exactly two weeks after the World Trade Center attacks, my aunt Judi died of breast cancer in her home in Milburn, New Jersey. Unlike the thousands who unknowingly went to work on Tuesday the 11th, my aunt knew that the end was near. After doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her liver, she underwent five weeks of emergency chemo. It didn't work. When I got the news that she would be going home to die, I knew that I would be going home to New York to grieve.

As soon as I walked into Midway, and witnessed the barely muted chaos of the new 'security measures,' I realized that there would be no way to separate my family's loss from the country's loss. Three thousand New Yorkers died in the World Trade Center. My aunt's death suddenly, strangely seemed like one voice in a chorus of despair. Time and again during the weekend -- over lunch, at the wake, in the parking lot outside the church -- talk bounced back and forth between the impossible tragedy of my aunt's death at 40, and the impossible tragedy of September 11th. There were flags everywhere in New York, from bodegas to buses to adult video stores, so it wasn't terribly surprising to file into the pews only to be met with a comically large flag draped across the balcony. As much as we would claim the disaster in lower New York as our own, attach our own grief to this greater grief, this flag seemed to signal the converse. Our grief would be claimed by America. When I picture the funeral in my head, I see mostly the flag. As we drove away from the church, my mother leaned in and solemnly informed me that we had had to leave promptly so they could start the second funeral of the day-a local resident who had worked in the Twin Towers. When minutes later, I saw a funeral procession of equal length enter the other of the cemetery's two gates, I knew instinctually why they were there.

With the deluge of commentary and punditry that has accompanied the events of September 11th, it scarcely needs to be repeated that our lives will never be the same. But that weekend, it also seemed possible that death may never be the same. As the hours dragged on, and the mourning showed no signs of letting up, it somehow seemed like that death had been the most radically altered thing of all.

While my uncle and parents went to the first night of the wake, my brother and I stayed at my uncle's house to watch over my cousins. Tommy is seven, and Danny, my godchild, is nearly three. In the past week they had not only lost a singularly devoted mother, but had, by some cosmic accident, become members in a class of over 10,000 children whose parental units had been sliced in half, or destroyed altogether. As I tucked Danny into bed he looked up at me and asked "Where mommy bed go?" I tried to explain it had been taken to a special place. "Where!?!" "Right around here." "WHERE!?!" I had no answer and some part of him knew that there was never going to be a satisfactory answer. Where did mommy's bed go? Where did the towers go? We cannot say. We tend to conceive of loss spiritually: the absence of a person's personality, their essence gone - but loss is always, at its base, physical. A person's cells and atoms are taken away from us. They cease to have a place. Just as the World Trade Center ceased to be a place.

My aunt Diana lives in Greenwich Village. We talked about lower New York at the wake and she said that the stench (what Dianne Sawyer referred to as 'acrid') was still unbearable. "New York is depressed," she said wistfully. Not New Yorkers, New York. It is always tempting to conceive of the city as an organism; it has nearly all of the features of a conscious being, a complexity that rivals our own neural networks. And now this organism was suffering. One needed only look up to the skyline to understand this suffering. The Empire State building, a powerful limb that once proudly grabbed the sky, now appeared a delicate and slender neck shirking towards a guillotine just slightly out of view.

I asked my friend if he thought New York was depressed. "Definitely" he said "The other day I saw this woman almost get hit by a cab. Some guy yelled ''Watch yourself, Ma'am!' and she stepped back and the cab screeched to a halt and everyone stopped and stared at her blankly. You just knew no one could have borne to watch this woman get hit by a cab." On the day of the attacks Mayor Giuliani was asked how many causalities there were. "More than any of us will be able to bear," he responded gravely. More than we can bear. What is more than we can bear? Can my uncle and cousins bear the loss of a wife and mother? Can a city bear the loss of hundreds of its firefighters? Those words of Giuliani's, lauded for their eloquence, are empty. We now know what the losses are, and both my uncle and New York know that they must be borne. But how? How to bear it?

In the past several weeks I, like countless other New Yorkers and Americans, have found solace in the epic acts of heroism displayed by the firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers who have risked their lives to save others. My aunt's neighbors displayed a quieter, more quotidian heroism in her final weeks, setting up a cooking schedule so that a fresh dinner would always be delivered, taking turns watching the kids, and even lending my uncle a new coffee pot when his broke.

Standing outside the house and gazing at the orderly lines of trees, circled with pink ribbons, I realized that people are overwhelmingly thoughtful and altruistic towards fellow members of their 'community'. Cruelty and indifference are nearly always directed towards those who lie outside the community. The trick is figuring out where exactly the boundaries of the community should lie. What has been so magical about the American response to the WTC attacks is the rapidity with which the entire country has become a coherent community. The morning that those planes hit the towers, the vast majority of the over 300 million Americans felt rough visceral anguish, a kind of anguish that we usually reserve for those we know. We found ourselves shedding tears for those who, hours earlier had been strangers. Now they were neighbors. At their best, this is what the ubiquitous American flags represent: a nation and community that are now coterminous, an enlargement of our empathic abilities that is nothing short of miraculous.

But the grief that Americans feel for other Americans, the care and support we extend towards the victims' families all take place within the physical and metaphorical borders of a global empire that is too often unconcerned with the grief of hundreds of thousands of other 'victims' families' who live and die outside of our community. How many Americans even know that our country murdered a civilian in Sudan in 1998? On August 20th, 1998 there was some Sudanese father who woke up, kissed his family goodbye and went to work at a pharmaceutical company, only to be blown to smithereens by an American cruise missile. The fact that we did not explicitly intend to kill this man does not mitigate the pain his family must have felt, nor the does it mitigate the lack of emotion that it stirred in me when I heard the news. As heartening as the flag as a symbol can be, we are required to ask ourselves why our community should stop at the border? Why can't we muster tears for those who die tragic and painful deaths in remote places? How can we grieve for everyone?

A founding principle of the liberal philosophy to which most of the Western world subscribes is a belief in the universal equality of all people, regardless of contingent affiliations like religion, nation, and ethnicity. A community of all humankind. The problem, of course is that the more you expand the boundaries of the community, the less membership in the community actually means. I am very proud to be a New Yorker, and many are proud to be Americans; but few, if any are proud to be human beings. In fact, multi-national corporations and multi-national religions, such as Islam, provide the broadest level of community membership that retains any real significance in the contemporary globalized world.

Community itself is defined negatively as often as it is defined positively. A community requires both an inside and an outside, so to speak of a universal community is to speak of a chimera. But being in New York last weekend I saw that there is such a thing as a community of mourners. Loss, no matter the cause, can unite the bereaved. And in a world in which death and tragedy are too-readily available, perhaps this can oddly function as the content for a global community.

There will always be, at any given moment, a fellow human being dying a death that is worthy of mourning. It is an uncomfortable psychological fact that we cannot mourn for everyone, that is obvious, but the aftermath of the WTC suggests that our empathic abilities are greater than we might have thought; our community, the global village, is more vast than we could have imagined. We have shown that we are able to empathize on the same visceral level with people from New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and we have seen the footage of mourners in Germany, England and elsewhere. So maybe the limit to our ability to feel the suffering of others is not as circumscribed as we may hope it is. Maybe we can shed tears for a mother who died today in Kabul, or in Hebron or in Baghdad.

If there was ever a community with the ambition to be a community of the world, it was New York City. On my final subway ride of the weekend I boarded a packed car with a middle-aged gentleman wielding a clarinet, pushing a shopping cart loaded with a stereo. He began to play -- first 'God Bless America' (the stereo blasted an arrangement while he played the solo melody). Next came 'New York, New York.' After he finished his second song, a woman leaned towards him and said "How often do you do this?" The man replied, with great difficulty, "I don't speak English." Everyone on the car applauded.

Christopher Hayes is the Washington, D.C. Editor of The Nation and a contributor to MSNBC.

9/9/11

102 Things Not To Do If You Hate Taxes

So, you’re a Republican that hates taxes? Well, since you do not like taxes or government, please kindly do the following.

1. Do not use Medicare.
2. Do not use Social Security
3. Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
4. Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
9. Do not use public restrooms.
10. Do not send your kids to public schools.
11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
12. Do not live in areas with clean air.
13. Do not drink clean water.
14. Do not visit National Parks.
15. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
16. Do not eat or use FDA inspected food and medicines.
17. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
18. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
19. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
20. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
21. Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.
22. Do not apply for food stamps when you can’t feed your children.
23. Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.
24. Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.
25. Do not apply for any Pell Grants.
26. Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal dollars.
27. Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.
28. Do not use any product that can trace its development back to NASA.
29. Do not watch the weather provided by the National Weather Service.
30. Do not listen to severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service.
31. Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.
32. Do not apply for federal housing.
33. Do not use the internet, which was developed by the military.
34. Do not swim in clean rivers.
35. Do not allow your child to eat school lunches or breakfasts.
36. Do not ask for FEMA assistance when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.
37. Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion.
38. Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.
39. Do not buy firearms that wouldn’t have been developed without the support of the US Government and military. That includes most of them.
40. Do not eat USDA inspected produce and meat.
41. Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.
42. Do not apply to win a government contract.
43. Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.
44. Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons, toxins, etc…by the Consumer Protection Agency.
45. Do not save your money in a bank that is FDIC insured.
46. Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.
47. Do not use the G.I. Bill to go to college.
48. Do not apply for unemployment benefits.
49. Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Department of Energy.
50. Do not live in homes that are built to code.
51. Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.
52. Do not ask for help from the FBI, S.W.A.T, the bomb squad, Homeland Security, State troopers, etc…
53. Do not apply for any government job whatsoever as all state and federal employees are paid with tax dollars.
54. Do not use public libraries.
55. Do not use the US Postal Service.
56. Do not visit the National Archives.
57. Do not visit Presidential Libraries.
58. Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.
59. Do not apply for loans from any bank that is FDIC insured.
60. Do not ask the government to help you clean up after a tornado.
61. Do not ask the Department of Agriculture to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.
62. Do not take walks in National Forests.
63. Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your oil company.
64. Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.
65. Do not seek medical care from places that use federal dollars.
66. Do not use Medicaid.
67. Do not use WIC.
68. Do not use electricity generated by Hoover Dam.
69. Do not use electricity or any service provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
70. Do not ask the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild levees when they break.
71. Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes at sea.
72. Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.
73. Do not visit historic landmarks.
74. Do not visit fisheries.
75. Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.
76. Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.
77. Do not hunt or camp on federal land.
78. Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.
79. Do not use public transportation.
80. Do not drink water from public water fountains.
81. Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own. Government enforces copyright laws.
82. Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.
83. Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.
84. Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.
85. Do not seek help from the US Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.
86. Do not apply for a passport to travel outside of the United States.
87. Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.
88. Do not adopt a child through your local, state, or federal governments.
89.Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or state safety regulators.
90. Do not use any resource that was discovered by the USGS.
91. Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.
92. Do not move to any other developed nation, because the taxes are much higher.
93. Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the state.
94. Do not use money printed by the US Treasury.
95. Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.
96. Do not attend a state university.
97. Do not see any doctor that is licensed through the state.
98. Do not use any water from municipal water systems.
99. Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the US government and CDC, reach your house.
100. Do not work for any company that is required to pay its workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.
101. Do not expect to be able to vote on election days. Government provides voting booths, election day officials, and voting machines which are paid for with taxes.
102. Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance.

The fact is, we pay for the lifestyle we expect. Without taxes, our lifestyles would be totally different and much harder. America would be a third world country. The less we pay, the less we get in return. Americans pay less taxes today since 1958 and is ranked 32nd out of 34 of the top tax paying countries. Chile and Mexico are 33rd and 34th. The Republicans are lying when they say that we pay the highest taxes in the world and are only attacking taxes to reward corporations and the wealthy and to weaken our infrastructure and way of life. So next time you object to paying taxes or fight to abolish taxes for corporations and the wealthy, keep this quote in mind…

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Courtesy of Addicting Info (http://www.addictinginfo.org)

9/7/11

Dog Tease

9/3/11

9/1/11

Uncle Phil

Why We Protest War

By Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Newspapers

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.

The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.

But Philip Alston, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger.

Reached by email Wednesday, Alston said that as of 2010 — the most recent data he had — U.S. officials hadn't responded to his request for information and that Iraq's government also hadn't been forthcoming. He said the lack of response from the United States "was the case with most of the letters to the U.S. in the 2006-2007 period," when fighting in Iraq peaked.

Alston said he could provide no further information on the incident. "The tragedy," he said, "is that this elaborate system of communications is in place but the (U.N.) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up when states ignore issues raised with them."

The Pentagon didn't respond to a request for comment. At the time, American military officials in Iraq said the accounts of townspeople who witnessed the events were highly unlikely to be true, and they later said the incident didn't warrant further investigation. Military officials also refused to reveal which units might have been involved in the incident.

Iraq was fast descending into chaos in early 2006. An explosion that ripped through the Golden Dome Mosque that February had set off an orgy of violence between rival Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Sunni insurgents, many aligned with al Qaida in Iraq, controlled large tracts of the countryside.

Ishaqi, about 80 miles northwest of Baghdad, not far from Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, was considered so dangerous at the time that U.S. military officials had classified all roads in the area as "black," meaning they were likely to be booby-trapped with roadside bombs.

The Ishaqi incident was unusual because it was brought to the world's attention by the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up with American military assistance and staffed by U.S.-trained Iraqi police officers.

The original incident report was signed by an Iraqi police colonel and made even more noteworthy because U.S.-trained Iraqi police, including Brig. Gen. Issa al Juboori, who led the coordination center, were willing to speak about the investigation on the record even though it was critical of American forces.

Throughout the early investigation, U.S. military spokesmen said that an al Qaida in Iraq suspect had been seized from a first-floor room after a fierce fight that had left the house he was hiding in a pile of rubble.

But the diplomatic cable provides a different sequence of events and lends credence to townspeople's claims that American forces destroyed the house after its residents had been shot.

Alston initially posed his questions to the U.S. Embassy in Geneva, which passed them to Washington in the cable.

According to Alston's version of events, American troops approached a house in Ishaqi, which Alston refers to as "Al-Iss Haqi," that belonged to Faiz Harrat Al-Majma'ee, whom Alston identified as a farmer. The U.S. troops were met with gunfire, Alston said, that lasted about 25 minutes.

After the firefight ended, Alston wrote, the "troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. After the initial MNF intervention, a U.S. air raid ensued that destroyed the house." The initials refer to the official name of the military coalition, the Multi-National Force.

Alston said "Iraqi TV stations broadcast from the scene and showed bodies of the victims (i.e. five children and four women) in the morgue of Tikrit. Autopsies carries (sic) out at the Tikrit Hospital's morgue revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed."

The cable makes no mention any of the alleged shooting suspects being found or arrested at or near the house.

The cable closely tracks what neighbors told reporters for Knight Ridder at the time. (McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder in spring 2006.) Those neighbors said the U.S. troops had approached the house at 2:30 a.m. and a firefight ensued. In addition to exchanging gunfire with someone in the house, the American troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the house.

The cable also backs the original report from the Joint Coordination Center, which said U.S. forces entered the house while it was still standing. That first report noted: "The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men. Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."

The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, who was described in the document as the assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center.

The cable also backs up the claims of the doctor who performed the autopsies, who told Knight Ridder "that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed."

The cable notes that "at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay'ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra'a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz's mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz's sister (name unknown), Faiz's nieces Asma'a Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid."




This cell phone photo was shot by a resident of Ishaqi on March 15, 2006, of bodies Iraqi police said were of children executed by U.S. troops after a night raid there. A State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks quotes the U.N. investigator of extrajudicial killings as saying an autopsy showed the residents of the house had been handcuffed and shot in the head, including children under the age of 5. McClatchy obtained the photo from a resident when the incident occurred. |