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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
Marine commanders in Iraq learned within two days of the killings in Haditha last November that Iraqi civilians had died from gunfire, not a roadside bomb as initially reported, but the officers involved saw no reason to investigate further, according to a senior Marine officer.
The commanders have told investigators they had not viewed as unusual, in a combat environment, the discrepancies that emerged almost immediately in accounts about how the two dozen Iraqis died, and that they had no information at the time suggesting that any civilians had been killed deliberately.
There's a lot more valuable and important information in that story, such as that:
In recent weeks, investigators have interviewed the Marine commanders who were serving in Iraq at the time of the killings, including Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, commander of the Second Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, and Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, commander of the Second Marine Division, a senior Pentagon adviser said.
The account of how the Marines allegedly approached the taxi, and how that raised questions, is also worth reading.
Next, this morning's WaPo story by Josh White, which like other accounts I'll get to, recounts the official military verdict on Ishaqi, a story the military pushed rapidly yesterday after the BBC story with video popped up, as recounted in the past two Round-ups (see links at bottom of post):
U.S. commanders used appropriate force in taking down a safe house in Iraq during a March 15 military raid that led to the deaths of as many as a dozen civilians, according to the results of an investigation announced in Baghdad yesterday.
Officials moved quickly to tamp down allegations of a civilian massacre in the town of Ishaqi, near Balad, after a video broadcast by the BBC this week appeared to show that several civilians, including children, were shot to death in the nighttime raid.
The military scrambled to announce the investigation's findings amid rising international furor about another alleged mass slaying, in Haditha, on Nov. 19.
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq, issued a statement last night saying that investigators had found no wrongdoing in the Ishaqi raid and that the ground force commander "properly followed the rules of engagement as he necessarily escalated the use of force until the threat was eliminated." Caldwell said troops captured a Kuwaiti-born al-Qaeda cell leader -- Ahmad Abdallah Muhammad Na'is al-Utaybi -- and killed an Iraqi bombmaker and recruiter during the coordinated raid.
The troops took direct fire from the building upon their arrival, he said. They responded first with small arms and then by calling in helicopters and, later, close air-support, essentially destroying the structure, Caldwell said in the statement. Troops then entered the building and found the Iraqi bombmaker's body, along with three dead "noncombatants" and an estimated nine "collateral deaths."
"Allegations that the troops executed a family living in this safe house, then hid the alleged crimes by directing an air strike, are absolutely false," Caldwell said.
Is this correct? How would I know? It's certainly true that there's a difference between a horrible case of "collateral damage," which is to say, innocent people (and obviously children age 3 and 5 are innocent, no matter the acts of their parents -- see pictures linked in yesterday's Round-up) being brutally killed in the course of a firefight, and innocent people being deliberately killed for no reason. It's a distinction that the families will take no comfort in, of course, and that anyone who simply thinks the war should not and never have been fought might readily assert is of no matter or import, but without getting into the pros and cons of the war, I'd note the distinction as of some import, myself.
The rest of the WaPo piece is basically rehash and general summary, save for this:
[...] Michael E. O'Hanlon, a defense expert at the Brookings Institution, said he fears that there is a gradual decline in trust between U.S. forces and the Iraqis. He said the tactics troops have employed during the war are worrisome in a broader sense.
"A lot of civilian casualties in Iraq are due to American bullets, and that raises questions about whether our tactics are appropriate and smart," O'Hanlon said. "Sometimes you're killing four innocent people in order to kill two insurgents, and we've used force in ways that have carried that risk almost every day of the war."
At the NY Times dynamic AP link, which is always frustrating to link to, because the text at such a link constantly changes, it currently says:
The U.S. military ordered American commanders to hold ethical training on battlefield conduct, and the Iraqi government Thursday announced its own investigation into reports that U.S. Marines killed unarmed civilians last year.
The U.S. military already is conducting at least two investigations into the killings, and now Iraqi Cabinet members have decided to launch a separate inquiry, Adnan al-Kazimi, an adviser to al-Maliki, told The Associated Press.
He said a special committee of the Justice and Human Rights ministries, along with security officials, will handle the probe.
''We do want to express our deepest condolences to the families who lost a loved one in Haditha,'' Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said at a Baghdad news conference. ''The coalition does not and will not tolerate any unethical or criminal behavior. All allegations of such activity will be fully investigated.''
He added that the U.S. military constantly strives to avoid civilian casualties and has promised the deaths in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, will be fully investigated.
''Let me be very clear about one point. The coalition does not and will not tolerate any unethical or criminal behavior. Any allegations of such activities will be fully investigated and any members found to have committed these violations will be held accountable,'' Caldwell said.
He said that ''about three or four'' inquiries were being carried out around Iraq but would not provide any details.
The Iraqi prime minister said he asked a ministerial committee to hold talks with the U.S. military to set ground rules for raids and detentions.
When asked about Iraqi complaints that U.S. forces show no regard for their lives during raids and detentions, al-Maliki said he objected to such practices.
''We cannot forgive violations of the dignity of the Iraqi people,'' he said at a news conference. He also said the Cabinet had agreed to issue a statement denouncing such practices.
There was more there from Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli and other U.S. commanders, but it was all repetition of stuff I've previously covered.
Late yesterday, Reuters and AP covered the Ishaqi reports from the U.S. military. Here is Reuters:
A U.S. military probe has exonerated U.S. troops in the deaths of Iraqi civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March, finding American forces followed standard procedures and committed no misconduct, defense officials said on Friday.
Police in Ishaqi, 60 miles north of Baghdad, have said six adults and five children were shot dead in a U.S. military raid on a home on March 15.
The U.S. military maintains there were four dead in the incident, including a guerrilla, two women and a child, and said they died after troops were fired upon from the house as they arrived to arrest an al Qaeda suspect.
The defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an investigation found no wrongdoing by U.S. forces.
The officials said a military fact-finding inquiry determined that U.S. forces followed proper procedures and that the civilian deaths were unintentional.
The "single child" claim is clearly wrong, since we have pictures of multiple children, and their names, as I reported yesterday. (Unless someone was dragging in gun-shot children from elsewhere, which I'm inclined to strongly doubt.)
[...] U.S. officials described a nighttime raid aimed at finding a specific guerrilla, who then fled the building but was later caught. Another guerrilla who fired from the building was killed in the raid, they said.
"When the assault force arrived, they took fire," said one official. The U.S. troops then pulled back and called in air support from an AC-130 gunship, and U.S. forces then fired on the house, the official said.
No further investigation of the incident is planned by the U.S. military, the official said.
An AC-130 gunship, if you're not familiar with it, is a craft capable of massive destruction, armed with actual cannons from the sky; it's a flying artillery platform -- with a 105-mm howitzer, to be precise, which is artillery -- and a 120-mm mortar, as well as one 25mm GAU-12 Gatling gun (1,800 rounds per minute), two M61 20mm Vulcan cannons with 3,000 rounds) and one L60 40mm Bofors cannon (100 shots per minute).
You really don't want to be anywhere near where this thing fires at the ground. You just don't. Nowhere. Remotely. Near.
But needless to say, grinding up "collateral damage" when it fires is hardly surprising. On the other hand, I've not seen any reports that the victims were examined by a medical examiner, or that there are any specific reports on what caliber of weapon hit them; so whether they were killed by ground troops or air assault seems to be an open question, insofar as the U.S. version is directly contradicted by the Iraqi version, as we'll see.
Police in Ishaqi have offered a different account. Police said five children, four women and two men were shot dead by troops in a house that was then blown up.
They said all the victims were shot in the head, and that the bodies, with hands bound, were dumped in one room before the house was destroyed. Television footage showed the bodies in a morgue. Their wounds were not clear, although one infant had a gaping head wound.
Obviously, if they were shot in the head, that was ground troops, not the AC-130; and if the kids were shot in the head, obviously this was massacre, not part of taking down enemy fighters, or people who might have been reasonable confused with, in the heat of assault, enemy fighters.
So this question of how they were killed would seem to make all the difference. Since the victims in Haditha are being exhumed, despite the Islamic prohibition on that, it would seem to me that the only way to truly begin to settle the question of Ishaqi, which, despite this hasty release of news yesterday by the U.S. military, given the evidence of the Iraqi police report, and most of all, the pictures I previously linked to, seems to remain very open, is to seek to also exhume and examine the bodies at Ishaqi, and also re-open a fresh investigation by the U.S. military into the events that took place there.
A military investigation into allegations that U.S. troops intentionally killed Iraqi civilians in a March raid in a village north of Baghdad has cleared the troops of misconduct, two defense officials said Friday, despite dramatic video footage of slain children.
The investigation of the March 15 attack in the village of Ishaqi concluded that the U.S. troops followed normal procedures in raising the level of force as they came under attack upon approaching a building where they believed an al-Qaida terrorist was hiding, two defense officials said.
A ground force conducted the March 15 nighttime raid in the village of Ishaqi, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. After being fired upon from the targeted building, the soldiers pulled back and called in airstrikes by an Air Force AC-130 gunship, which attacked and collapsed the building, the defense officials said.
Local Iraqis said there were 11 dead, and contended that they were killed by U.S. troops before the house was leveled.
One defense official said the investigation into the circumstances of the Ishaqi attack found that four people in the building were killed by U.S. forces, including two women and a child. The main target of the attack, said by U.S. intelligence to be an al-Qaida figure, ran from the building but was later captured, the official said.
The bloody aftermath of the attack was captured at the time in video footage shot by an AP Television News cameraman. The footage became the focus of attention Friday in the wake of the Iraqi prime minister's condemnation of U.S. behavior.
The footage shows at least one adult male and four of the children with deep wounds to the head that could have been caused by bullets or shrapnel. One child has an obvious entry wound to the side and the inside of the walls left standing were pocked with bullet holes. A voice on the tape said there were clear bullet wounds in two people.
Although it has been known that U.S. air power was involved in the assault on the building in Ishaqi, it was not previously reported that there was an AC-130 gunship, a devastating weapon capable of operating at night and pummeling its target with side-firing guns, including a 105mm cannon. The gunship is flown by Air Force Special Operations crews.
Earlier in the story it dealt with Haditha:
Meanwhile, a lawyer representing families of Iraqi civilians allegedly killed by U.S. Marines in Haditha said three or four Marines carried out the shooting while 20 more waited outside.
The lawyer, Khaled Salem Rsayef, said Marines ordered four brothers inside a closet and shot them dead.
Rsayef said he witnessed U.S. troops responding to the bomb attack from his house. He said he lost several relatives in the alleged massacre, including a sister and her husband, an aunt, an uncle and several cousins. He and his brother, Salam Salem Rsayef, spoke to The Associated Press from the Euphrates River town of 90,000 late Thursday and Friday.
Despite the Iraqi government's insistence of cooperation between the U.S. and Iraqi investigations, the Rsayefs said they and other victims' families turned down a request by U.S. military investigators several months ago to exhume the victims' bodies for forensic tests.
"No way we can ever agree to that," Salam Salem Rsayef said. Under Islamic teachings, exhuming bodies is prohibited, but is allowed on case-by-case basis, sometime after a fatwa, or an edict, from a senior cleric allowing it to proceed.
As relatives and witnesses, the Rsayef brothers met at least four times with U.S. military investigators looking into the killings. The meetings, they said, began in February and were held at Samarra General Hospital. The time and venue of each meeting were relayed in advance to the relatives by doctors at the hospital, they said.
The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, the two brothers said, suggesting that the U.S. investigations into the 6-month-old affair are not finished.
Khaled Salam Rsayef identified the four brothers shot and killed in a closet as Jamal Ayed Ahmed, 41, a car dealer; Chassib Ayed Ahmed, 27, a traffic policeman; Marwan Ayed Ahmed, 28, an engineer; and Kahtan Ayed Ahmed, 24, a local government employee. He said the U.S. military did not give compensation payments to their families because the brothers were believed to be insurgents.
Rsayef said his account of what happened was based on his personal observations from the rooftop of his home and windows. His house is only several dozen yards away from the three homes raided by Marines. The killings, which he did not witness in person, were recounted to him and other members of his family the following day by survivors.
He said his own home shook violently when the roadside bomb went off at 7:15 a.m. and that intermittent gunfire lasted for about two hours. He could not go out of his house to see for himself, but managed to steal quick glances from his roof and from behind windows.
"About 5 p.m. I emerged with my family carrying white flags," he said. "We wanted to move away from the area fearing that shooting could resume."
And lastly, the April case of the man with the shovel:
In the separate case of the shooting death of the Iraqi man in April, military prosecutors plan to file the charges against the seven servicemen, who are being held in solitary confinement at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Marine Corps base, said Jeremiah Sullivan III, who represents one of the men.
The Iraqi man reportedly was dragged from his home west of Baghdad and shot. The Los Angeles Times and NBC News said troops may have planted an AK-47 and a shovel near the body to make it appear as if the man was an insurgent burying a roadside bomb. Neither suggested a possible motive.
The man with the shovel, you ask? Who is he? Ah, for that, we go to Knight-Ridder for the mystery of the Man With The Shovel. What to make of it, well, that's the question; Nancy A. Youssef reports:
AL HAMDANIA, Iraq - Before people talked about how Hashim Ibrahim Awad was killed, his friends shared tales about how the Americans wanted him to be an informant.
U.S. Marines had approached him several times, Awad's friends say he told them, asking him to help them find who was planting explosives in this small village outside Baghdad. Every time, Awad, in his 50s with a lame leg and bad eyesight, refused. His family considered the job shameful.
In an exclusive interview with Knight Ridder on Friday, Awad's family gave their version of what happened to him in the early morning hours of April 26. They said U.S. Marines dragged Awad from his home, killed him and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel next to him to make him look like a terrorist.
The family members said American investigators have since harassed them, questioning their allegations in hours-long sessions that begin in the dead of night and last past dawn. They said they once were taken for questioning to nearby Abu Ghraib prison, the scene of previous allegations of American abuse.
There was no way to confirm the accounts. U.S. officials have declined to provide details of the allegations that led them on May 25 to announce that they were investigating the death of an Iraqi civilian and that "several service members from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment . . . were removed from operations and have returned to the United States."
Lt. Lawton King, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where the Marines are based, said Friday that the investigation is continuing. He said that he had no idea if or when charges would be filed.
Al Hamdania is on the far western edge of Baghdad province. Insurgents are active in the area, and kidnappings and other violence are common. The town is obscure enough that U.S. officials incorrectly rendered its name as "Hamandiyah" in their official announcement.
Awad's family showed Knight Ridder a sheet of paper that appeared to be part of a report on the incident. A Marine sergeant had written that his unit killed the man because he was "digging on the side of the road from our ambush site. I made the call and engaged. He was pronounced dead at the scene with only a shovel and AK-47."
The sergeant signed his name. It was witnessed by a second Marine.
Awad's family members offer a radically different version. Awad's cousin, Farhan Ahmed Hussein, said Americans came to his door in the early morning hours of April 26 and pounded on it so forcefully that he knew that if he didn't open it, they would.
In broken Arabic, a soldier said, "Tefteesh," or search. The Marines asked him if he had any weapons. An AK-47, he told them, and they took it and a shovel resting in front of his house. They thanked him in Arabic for cooperating and left, Hussein said.
He said he didn't think much of it. "I told myself first thing in the morning, I will stop the first patrol I see and ask them for my AK-47 and shovel back," he said.
Next, the Marines knocked on the door of Awad's brother, Awad Ibrahim Awad. The two brothers lived not far from their cousin, in small houses on a barren field.
Awad Ibrahim Awad said the Marines knocked at around 2 a.m., but that he decided not to get out of bed. They left.
Surprised, he said he looked outside - the area is illuminated with generator-powered lights - and saw the Marines walking behind his brother's house toward the home of a neighbor.
"The soldiers asked my mom if there were any men in our house. When she told them no, they left without searching the house," the neighbor, who asked to be identified only as Mohammed, said.
Awad Ibrahim Awad said the Marines then knocked at Hashim Awad's door. When he came to the door, two Marines grabbed each of his hands and pulled him out of the house. The Marines took Hashim Awad and left without searching inside, Awad Ibrahim Awad said.
"They looked like people who found what they were looking for," Awad Ibrahim Awad said. "I told my wife, `They took my brother, but I think he will be fine.' And I told myself: `What's the worse they do? Investigate him for a few days and then release him because he is innocent.' Thirty minutes later, I heard gunshots."
The next day, as Awad Ibrahim Awad was working at a nearby gas station, Iraqi police pulled in and asked him to identify the body of someone from his neighborhood who'd been killed by the Americans. He stared at the body, which had an AK-47 and shovel next to it, but didn't recognize his brother.
"I saw a swollen face, and signs that he had been beaten. And it was clear a bullet had been shot into the mouth and broke part of his bottom teeth," he said. "I told the police officers, `I know this man,' but I cannot recognize him. He was beaten to the point that I couldn't recognize his face."
Awad Ibrahim said it never occurred to him that the body might be his brother's. "He didn't have an AK-47 or shovel when the Americans took him," he said. "And besides, the Americans took him. How can he be dead and in police hands now?"
But something nagged at him, so he went to the hospital and looked at the body again. This time he recognized his brother by his leg, which had been damaged in a farming accident 15 years ago.
Local tribal leaders said the Americans brought Hashim Awad's body, the shovel and the AK-47 to the local police station and reported that they'd caught the man digging a hole and planting an explosive device, so they killed him. The police took the body to the hospital.
Shortly after the funeral, residents showed the family a flyer that Marines were circulating. The flyer said that Hashim Awad had been killed because he was a terrorist planting explosives and "lethal force will stop that." They misspelled his name.
Tribal leaders told Marine officers about the Hashim Awad's death during a regularly scheduled community outreach meeting May 1. U.S. officials opened an investigation shortly after that.
Since then, American forces have questioned the family repeatedly, relatives said, sometimes in the middle of the night. They said the Americans once took several of them to Abu Ghraib prison and held them for hours, questioning only one of them. They rode home in a military convoy.
"We believe the Americans are trying to terrorize us so we won't talk," said Hussein, Hashim Awad's cousin.
The American investigators have taken DNA swabs from his mouth, Awad Ibrahim Awad said. Another brother, Sadoun Ibrahim Awad, gave the Americans permission to exhume his brother's body.
(A Knight Ridder special correspondent who could not be named for security reasons reported this story this from Hamdania. Also, Knight Ridder speical correspondent Zaineb Obeid contributed to this report.)
So, there's the story of Hashim Awad, the man with the shovel. It doesn't look good, and it also bears further reporting on.
This later AP story rehashes much of the above. There's one additional 'graf about the AP tv tape:
The video includes an unidentified man saying "children were stuck in the room, alone and surrounded."
"After they handcuffed them, they shot them dead. Later, they struck the house with their planes. They wanted to hide the evidence. Even a 6-month-old infant was killed. Even the cows were killed, too," he said.
There's also this slight oddity:
On Friday, White House press secretary Tony Snow said al-Maliki had told U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad that he had been misquoted. But Snow was unable to explain what al-Maliki told Khalilzad or how he had been misquoted.
Last Updated: Saturday, 3 June 2006, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
The Iraqi government has rejected the findings of a US military investigation into the deaths of 11 civilians in the village of Ishaqi, north of Baghdad.
A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said the report, which cleared the US soldiers of wrongdoing, was unfair.
The government will demand an apology and compensation, the spokesman said.
The US said allegations the troops had deliberately killed a family and then covered it up were "absolutely false".
The outcome of the Pentagon investigation emerged a day after the BBC released video footage that appears to show the aftermath of US action in Ishaqi, about 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
The video shows a number of dead adults and children at the site with what our world affairs editor John Simpson says were clearly gunshot wounds.
Here is the video the BBC has released. Despite the efforts of the U.S. military yesterday in declaring the matter covered and done with -- and I don't say this with any happiness in the slightest -- we've clearly not heard the last of Ishaqi, near Balad.
That's about it, for now. I'll probably give less frequent updates on Haditha/Ishaqi/Americans-in-Iraq war crime allegations over the weekend, but as time and attention allow, may update this post as warranted. Similarly, if you've not looked back at the Friday Round-up since very late last night, check the lower part of it for the many and varied addendums I attached throughout the day.
Read The Rest of all as interested (and logs say pretty much no one checked any of the links on yesterday's, which is a shame insofar as you should at least see the photographs if you can stomach them).
Oh, yes, and completely tangentially, remember Amir Taheri, the NY Post columnist and Benador Associates speaker who spread all those false reports about the Iranians passing a law requiring Jews to wear yellow badges (and members of other non-Islamic religions likewise in other colors)? He's since gone to the White House to offer sage advice.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said President Bush also had a meeting with several experts and scholars of Iraq, namely Wayne Downing, Barry McCaffrey, Michael Vickers, Amir Taheri, Fouad Ajami, and Raad Alkadiri.
Gary, I'm very grateful for the roundups. I'm even following links!
One thing I have not managed to find anywhere is what unit(s) was/were involved in the Ishaqi attack. I have a feeling it wasn't Marines, because that would tie in too well for reporters to fail to mention.
It's the first day in a week that temperatures are bearable and the air is clear, so I've got to get away from the computer and into my neglected, overgrown garden. If you should happen to run across the info, I'd be grateful for a heads-up in comments or update to this post.