Thursday, February 22, 2007

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was a 14-year-old innocent,helpless yet brave(she struggled ,she tried guys...come on ..a 14 year old...imagine when we were 14..and 4 men put us down...) Iraqi girl child who lived in the village of Mahmoudiyah southeast of Baghdad. Local officials and relatives had first said she was either 15 or 16, but her identity card and death certificate show that she was 14 years old.
ABEER, her parents and her 5 year sister were shot and killed in their home in Mahmoudiyah on or around March 12, 2006. A discharged U.S. serviceman, Pfc. Steven D. Green, was arrested and charged on July 3, 2006 with raping and killing Hamza and killing her father Qassim Hamza Raheem, 45, her mother Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, 34, and her seven-year-old sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza.THE INCIDENT : The Al-Mahmudiyah incident occurred on March 12, 2006 in the town of Al-Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, Iraq in which five United States soldiers with the 502nd Infantry Regiment allegedly gang-raped and murdered a 14-year-old Iraqi girl named Abeer Qasim Hamza, after murdering her mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 34; her father Qasim Hamza Raheem, 45; and her sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza, aged 5 .
The matter came to light when an unidentified soldier reportedly revealed the crime during a counseling session on June 22, 2006 following the deaths of two other soldiers in the same regiment.The Qasim family lived in an isolated farm house situated approximately 200 meters away from a traffic checkpoint manned by US soldiers. The soldiers, who noticed Abeer as she worked in the field next to the house, formed a 6-man unit responsible for the traffic checkpoint. According to the neighbors, the accused soldiers had previously entered the farmhouse several times, ostensibly to search it, and had made advances towards Abeer in the days before the actual killing took place.This poor helpless child was stalked for atleast a week,her fault being she was beautiful and a helpless iraqi. Abeer's brother Mohammed, aged 13, who survived the attack along with his younger brother because they were in school at the time, said he witnessed one of the soldiers stroke Abeer's face during one of their visits to the house, a gesture that had terrified the girl.That soldier her brother came to know later was Steven Green ,a mentally deranged soldier which was proven to have "homicidal ideations"2 months prior to this crime.
Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, She was scared,if u look at her picture she looked scared then too,her mother confided in a neighbor. As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.“Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances towards her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl’s mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10. Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there. Janabi said he agreed. Then, ‘I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear,’ Janabi said. ‘I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing.’Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter. Instead, attackers came to the girl’s house the next day,
According to the affidavit written by the FBI in support of an arrest warrant for Steven Green, the accused had discussed raping the girl in the days preceding the event. On the day in question, five soldiers of the six-man unit responsible for the checkpoint left their posts for the Qasim farmhouse. Four of the soldiers are alleged to have directly participated in the attack, while a fifth (PFC Howard) acted as lookout . A sixth soldier SGT Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with failing to report the attack but is not alleged to have been a direct participant.During a U.S. military court hearing testimony on Aug 7 ,2006 on how U.S. soldiers took turns to hold down and rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdered her and her family,Special Agent Benjamin Bierce recalled how Baker testified that The girl, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, and her father were standing outside their house.
The soldiers allegedly dragged them inside and pushed the man, his wife and younger daughter, 5, into a side room where Green stood guard over them.Barker's statement said Cortez pushed the girl to the floor and tore off her clothes as Barker held her down(DOES A 14 YEAR OLD CHILD DESERVE THIS MY FRIENDS?BEING DRAGGED DOWN AND HELD BY GROWN UP MEN WHO WERE THERE TO PROTECT TO HER?). She held her knees together and struggled as Cortez tried to rape her. SPC James P. Barker of the UNITED STATES ARMY described to him how he went into the living room of a house and held the hands of the teenage girl while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped the child.(Now as a human being ,just imagine the horror this child went through .Her fault was that she was a helpless little girl ,who was constantly stalked before her brutal rape and murder.Imagine your parents being shot in other room while some animals are raping you ,what must have gone through her mind?what was on the minds of their killers?that they could get away with such a heinous crime?).Special Agent Gary Griesmyer, who also testified on Aug 7 2006, said he questioned Cortez who confirmed how they changed their clothing and covered their faces to look like insurgents.Griesmyer said Cortez confirmed that he held the girl down as Barker raped her. The weeping child pleaded to be set free, but Barker told her to "shut up" after the rape, Cortez said, according to Griesmyer.Meanwhile, Green took the girl's parents and five-year-old sister into another room. Shots rang out and he came back, saying "They're all dead. I just killed them," the hearing heard.Green took his turn to rape the girl, then shot her dead with a captured AK-47 assault rifle. Kerosene was poured over the girl and someone -- it was not clear who -- set her alight, Bierce said, citing Barker's testimony.(So after murdering her family ,gang raping her they burnt her body to destroy the evidence)After the murders, the troops returned to their checkpoint 200 metres away and "grilled chicken wings", the statement said.
An Iraqi Army medic told how he was sick for days after finding the naked and burned body of a 14-year-old girl, allegedly raped and murdered by US soldiers.The doctor testified on the first day of the US military tribunal hearing set up to determine whether the five soldiers will face court martial for the rape and murder on March 12 of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the killing of her parents and sister.The medic, whose name was withheld for security reasons, had been called to the house in the hardline Sunni town of Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.He said he found the girl naked, her torso and head burned. She had a bullet wound under an eye."I was feeling very bad," he said. "I was sick for almost two weeks."A few weeks later a journalist recounted how he heard the accused rapist steven green say " I came over herebecause I wanted to kill people"
Abeer Hamza was raped ,murdered and burnt ,she was just 14 .On the 4th of july 2006 Luciana Bohne wrote this about ABEER Yesterday was Independence Day in the USA. I remembered Abeer Qasim Hamza, 14. She was said to be "pretty."
And scared.
I will not give you the details of her rape and death. I tried to last night. It gave me nightmares.
I planted a rose in her memory, and if a thorn pricks me and a drop of blood falls to the ground, I shall know that she once lived, just like me, but, unlike me, not for long.
She died young, perhaps green-eyed, as the poet said, and beautiful.

soldier tells court of Iraq rape-murder

FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier under court-martial at a Kentucky military base broke down in tears on Wednesday as he described how he and others planned the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, murdered along with her family.
Sgt. Paul Cortez, 24, is the second U.S. soldier to plead guilty to raping the girl and killing her and her family in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in March 2006. The soldiers then poured kerosene on the girl's body and lit her on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Cortez, wearing a dress green uniform and flanked by his civilian and military lawyers, described how he, Spc. James Barker and a since-discharged soldier, Pvt. Steven Green, planned the attack over liquor and a game of cards.
"While we were playing cards Barker and Green started talking about having sex with an Iraqi female. Barker and Green had already known..." Cortez said before breaking down. He bowed his head and remained silent, sniffling occasionally, for a full minute before continuing.
"Barker and Green had already known what, um, house they wanted to go to ... knew only one male was in the house, and knew it would be an easy target," Cortez said.
Once at the house, Green, the suspected ringleader, took the girl's mother, father and little sister into a bedroom, Cortez said, while he and Barker took the teenager, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, to the living room.
"She kept squirming and trying to keep her legs closed and saying stuff in Arabic," Cortez said.
"During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard five or six gunshots that came from the bedroom. After Barker was done, Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead," Cortez said.
"Green then placed himself between Abeer's legs to rape her," Cortez said, sniffing audibly. When Green was finished, he "stood up and shot Abeer in the head two or three times." The entire crime took about five minutes to carry out, he added.
Cortez said the girl knew her parents and sister had been shot while she was being raped. He said she screamed and cried throughout the assault.
A recess was granted in the middle of his testimony to allow him to regain his composure. About two dozen spectators attended the hearing in a tiny courtroom on the base.
The military judge accepted Cortez's guilty plea, and will likely impose a sentence later on Wednesday or on Thursday. Cortez could face life in prison without possibility of parole for the rape and four counts of murder.
According to the charges, three soldiers raped the girl, while another helped commit the crimes. A fifth kept watch back at their outpost. All have been charged.
Barker pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to 90 years in a military prison. Green was discharged from the Army for a "personality disorder" and is in a Kentucky prison awaiting civilian trial.
Barker and Cortez both avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty and have agreed to testify against Green and others charged in the crime.
Cortez also pleaded guilty to rape, arson and breaking into the girl's house and to obstruction of justice for helping get rid of the murder weapon, an AK-47, which was thrown into a canal.

Postcard from Abeer (posted by gottlieb on another forum)

Hi. You don’t know me by my name. I am Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi. You may call me Abeer. This picture is old. Just a little, little girl then. But that is all that is left of me on this earth.
You don’t know my name. But you know who I am. I have shamed you. You can only be shamed by me. It was not my intention. I did not intend to shame you. I only intended to live my life and marry and have children and make my family proud; and Allah.
But I shamed you instead. That is my legacy. It is ignoble, not what I would have chosen given the choice. But, I was not given the choice. The choice was taken from me. The great God, Allah, praise be his name, gave human beings, all of us, the gift of free will.
We aren’t supposed to use it, says my father and my mother, we are to honor the Almighty by withholding the gift, to show our obedience to His will, but free will, the will to choose, is ours by birthright.
They used their free will to deny mine. I did not choose to be raped. I did not choose to be murdered, my body desecrated and burnt. I did not choose to shame you.
My name is Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi. And I offer my sincerest apology for what your boys did to me.
I saw them looking at me for many days before anything happened; the soldiers.It began…
There are some things I want to say first.
I am fourteen. It is true. But it is also true I am a woman. I know, because here I can know, how some have reacted and lied because they were afraid of the reaction the reaction to my age would cause in your society. Some thought it was better to lie about my age. Some said I was 20 or 25. But any fool would know I would be married with children, enjoying a wondrous family of my own by that age.
I am fourteen, but I am a woman. I understand in your culture, the culture and the country I have shamed, that a fourteen year old female is considered a child. But I also know, because I have seen American television, please, do not tell my mother and father, but I have seen American television, and I know that your fourteen year old “girls” often dress as whores. Forgive me; I do not mean to offend, but we both know it is true. Young girls in your culture dress in a way to seduce and entice the opposite sex even though they may not understand what that means.
It is not that way in my world. In my world a man is attracted by the essence, not the flesh.
I did nothing to attract those boys. They attracted themselves to me.
But, I must admit, in all fairness, before Allah, praise be, I did smile once ever so slightly.
If I am guilty because of my smile, ever so slight, then the shame is mine.
But that one small, ever so small, nervous, smile at the checkpoint turned your boys into monsters. It was from then on, they couldn’t take their eyes off me.
I never, I swear on my soul to Allah, I never meant to allure, but only to show I meant no harm. Your boys are very frightened and I smiled to tell them I was not an enemy.
One more thing before I go on.
I am a Sunni, though my town, Mahmudiyah, where we had only recently moved is a “mixed” town. I notice now, in this place where so much is known, that like “the massacre in Haditha,” I am now known as the “rape in Mahmudiyah.” It is easier for you I guess not to know the people behind the massacre, the rape, the kidnapping, the burning. It is better the crime remain impersonal. But behind every massacre, rape kidnapping and burning there are people just like you. Just like you, who have been made to suffer the torments and the shame of hell on earth.
The “rape in Mahmudiyah” is me; Abeer Hamza.
As I was saying, your boys are frightened all the time. They have no friends among us. To befriend one of your boys is to surrender your life. But though your boys have no friends, it does not mean everyone is an enemy. Yet, and who can blame them for they are young and inexperienced in human matters, and frightened, as I said, like puppies weaned too early from their mother, to your boys we are all enemies.
My smile, my one small smile was not meant to beguile or trick. I have heard stories of the fighters using women, women older than me to lure your boys into traps. That is not who I am or what happened. My smile, my one ever so slight smile, with my eyes averted to the ground, was to say, “do not be afraid.” The words of the angels when they come into our dreams.
I never smiled at your boys again because when I passed through the checkpoint, they began to whistle and holler as I walked to my house. They called me “baby” and words that sounded like the shrieks of animals in the night.
From then on, if you could look backwards in time, my destiny, or my fate I should say, as my destiny is still unfolding, was set. As soon as I stepped foot out of the house the leering and taunting and wanting, the desperate wanting of lonesome, frightened boys would begin.
My mother so worried she sent me to spend the nights at other houses with other mothers, women, elders to watch over me while I slept. But each day, the tensions rose. One of your boys was frenzied, out of control, obsessed and enraged. My neighborhood knew what was going on. It was not a secret and it was not a surprise when it happened.
Finally, your boys could not stand it anymore. They had been driven insane by their fear and anger and obsession and, I don’t know the words to describe a heart of horror; a heart broken to the point of…heartlessness.
They came to my house, your boys. And forever I will be thankful to Allah, the merciful, the beneficent, I will always forever be grateful for His understanding and wisdom. He, the one who had surrendered his heart and his reason and his humanity, the one filled to the brim with emptiness, he took my mother and father and baby sister, Hadeel, who is only six years old; he took them and shot them all dead first before he took me.
I will always be thankful to your boy for not forcing my father and mother and little sister, Hadeel, who is here with me now, to watch what he did.
And because Hadeel my sister is here with me now and she is still a girl and not a woman, and does not know of these things, I will not say all of what was done to me. You know.
I did not mean to shame you, but shamed you are. Your choice was taken away as mine was by boys, lost and confused, alone and scared, wounded, hurt, with no mother’s touch to comfort and heal them.
It is ironic, after all, that so many believe the horror of what happened is the rape of a “girl,” but the real horror is the lost soul of your boys; and perhaps the soul of your nation.
So, finally, again, I offer my apology. I never meant to harm you or your boys. I never meant to bring shame to your country. None of us can ever know our fate until it is too late and time is a one way street; for you. I can see it both ways now.
And your shame is only just beginning.
I am Abeer Hamza and I am a woman.



Saturday, February 17, 2007

'We have been silent about many crimes but we will not stand rape'

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in MahmoudiyaFriday October 20, 2006The Guardian
The only picture of Abeer Hamza Qasim is the one that appeared on her Iraqi ID card, a black and white passport size photograph taken when she was maybe eight or nine, black hair, round face and big black eyes.
A few years after the picture was taken, when she was 14, Abeer was gang-raped and killed, along with three members of her family. Then her body was set on fire. On Wednesday the Pentagon announced that four soldiers of the 101st Airborne division are to be court martialled over what has become one of the most emotive atrocities committed during the US-led occupation of Iraq. A fifth soldier allegedly involved in the rape has since been discharged.
Today Ahmad Qassim, Abeer's uncle, is describing for the first time the moment he first heard what had happened to his brother's family on March 12. He is a tall, thin farmer with mud-covered toes protruding from his sandals and a grey moustache.
"They called me at eight in the evening, the night when it happened," he says. "First they just told me there has been a shoot-out and your brother has been killed. I couldn't come until the next day. When I arrived the Americans were blocking the main road. I told them my brother is dead but they shouted back something in English and pointed their guns at me. I wanted to run through their checkpoint but people held me back and told me, are you crazy? We had to go through a back road."
Later he takes me, via the same back road, once more to avoid the Americans, to his brother's home in this town 20 miles south of Baghdad. It is a typical Iraqi farmhouse surrounded by palm and fig trees. "When I arrived that morning there was still a smell of burning plastic," Ahmad recalls. Inside the modest house, the walls and ceiling are covered with soot at the far right end of the room. Under the window sill, the wall and part of the floor are covered with a thick layer of burned grease, and next to it the corner wall is stained with an arc of spattered blood.
"Abeer, was lying there," gestures Ahmad. "Part of her body was burned." In an adjacent room, he points at another blood-stained wall: "My brother was sitting there, his head slumped down. His wife was here by the door. And in the middle of the room was the little girl."
While we are looking round the house, a woman wearing a shapeless black dress and a black hijab comes in with her 13-year-old son, Omar. Omar explains how he was outside the house showing his bicycle to Ahmad's brother, Hamza [Abeer's father] in the yard next door when he heard noises.
"I told him: I think the Americans have gone into your house." Hamza went to see what was happening. About half an hour later, the boy said he heard a sound, "like beating a tin barrel with a stick few times". He went outside and saw five Americans leaving. One carried two guns.
His mother takes up the story: "We went to the house and shouted through the door, are you OK? Are you OK? No one answered, then we saw the smoke coming from that window. I went to the street screaming for help, the young men from the street came in and we broke the door down.
"The poor girl, she was so beautiful she lay there, one leg was stretched and the other was bended and her dress was lifted to her neck."
American troops returned a few days later. "They stayed in the house all day, they had even men on the roof," recalls her son.
Blue rubber gloves apparently left by an investigating team are still scattered around the house. There are a number of one inch-wide holes in the floor tiles of the room where Abeer was found.
Earlier Ahmad explained to me why locals had not reported the incident. "We knew about the rape all along, but in the tribes if you can't do anything about it better to shut your mouth. No one will say our daughter was raped and we can't do anything."
Iraqi tribal society is deeply patriarchal. Honour and reputation are valued much more highly than property. Shame can only be wiped clean by blood and there is no worse shame for a family than rape.
Shifting his weight uneasily and drinking his tea in a single gulp, Ahmad went on: "If we knew the soldier we would kill him but who is he? They all look the same."
He dismissed claims by Sunni insurgent groups that the kidnapping and killing of two US soldiers in an area near the scene of the rape was in retaliation for the attack on Abeer.
He said his brother asked him a week before the incident if he could bring his family to stay in Ahmad's house. He complained that the Americans were harassing his daughter as she came in and out of the house.
He said he had little faith in a US court martial. "They should hand the criminals to us to an Iraqi court, we don't trust their justice, they should be tried in Iraq and be executed here."
Adnan Janabi, the leader of the Janabi tribe, echoed his view: "A murder can be solved in a tribal council by money but rape can only be solved by killing the perpetrator."
"As a tribe, we the Janabis don't recognise their court. The crime will not be forgotten until the criminal pays with his life.
"The Iraqis have been shouldering lots of murders and crimes by the Americans and have been silent. But they will not stand the crime of rape."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations

On a night in June, Pfc. Justin Watt lay in his cot in Iraq, anguishing over whether to tell Army investigators that he suspected soldiers from his own platoon had raped a 14-year-old girl and then killed her and her family.
Watt, 23, of Tucson, decided to call his father back home. "If you knew something bad about your brothers," Watt asked him, "would you come forward?"An Army veteran, the elder Watt asked for details, but Justin Watt would offer none. Finally, Rick Watt told his son that whatever had happened would have to be monstrous. "Heinous," he said, "is the only reason for giving up a brother."

Hours later, Watt told authorities what he had learned from talking with another soldier from their platoon in the 101st Airborne Division. That soldier is one of four now accused of the killings March 12 in Mahmoudiya, Iraq.In interviews by telephone and over the Internet from Iraq, Justin Watt recounted for the first time details about his decision to come forward. He refused to discuss any details about the criminal case but explained how the violence that racked his platoon all year and claimed so many of his friends drove his decision. Since being assigned to a different unit and moved away from those who may resent what he did, Watt says he feels isolated and misses his buddies.

On March 12, in the midst of the platoon's hard-luck tour, the bodies of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, 14, her 5-year-old sister, Hadeel, and their mother, Fikhriya Taha, and father, Qassim Hamza, were found in their Mahmoudiya home. The Army initially blamed the assault on insurgents.Watt says he could barely sleep after the kidnappings. When he did, he had nightmares about dead Iraqi children or slain comrades, talking to or staring at him.According to testimony Watt later gave in court (and that was reported by a small group of journalists allowed inside the hearing), Yribe disclosed a terrible secret:
He suspected that 1st Platoon soldiers had attacked the Iraqi family March 12.Shaken, Watt later approached another soldier in 1st Platoon, Pfc. Bryan Howard, 19. Howard, Watt testified, told him a gruesome story.
The details emerged during a so-called Article 32 hearing held in Baghdad last month. In such hearings, an investigator listens to evidence and decides whether to recommend a court-martial.The Article 32 hearing considered charges of rape and murder against the four soldiers: Howard, Spc. James Barker, 23, Sgt. Paul Cortez, 23, and Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 21. A fifth, Yribe, is not suspected to have taken part in the attack and is charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crimes.


On the Fourth of July: A rose for Abeer (By Luciana Bohne Online Journal Contributing Writer )

I read somewhere that the administration of President Bush the First told the Pentagon in the Gulf War: "No My Lais." If that is true, his son, who majored in history at Yale, must have said, perhaps indirectly or by omission, "Two, three My Lais."
Because they are happening.
It's the Fourth of July all over again. I was going to tape the Declaration of Independence to my mailbox (flawed as it may be), but I feared that it would be read as a seditious document and might get me arrested like that Vietnam War veteran recently was, who was nabbed and handcuffed at the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center in Chicago for wearing an antiwar T-shirt while drinking a cup of coffee.
Another impressive victory for the farceurs of the "war on terror"!
It also seems to be My Lai season in Iraq all over again -- a season of unrestrained murder and rape of civilians and of all-out conspiracy to cover them up. And I'm not talking about "al Qaeda in Iraq." I'm talking about the USA in Iraq.
I planted some unpatriotic (they are neither "with us" nor "against us," but, like the lilies in the fields, they toil not and neither do they kill) delphinium and black-eyed susans in the garden, but I could not stop thinking of the rape of a young girl, her murder, and the murder of three members of her family in their own home in Mahmoudiya, a village some 20 miles south of Baghdad.

At first -- and for three months afterwards -- this crime, which occurred on 12 March (My Lai happened on 16 March 1968) and is now known to have involved up to six soldiers from the US Army's 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Infantry Regiment, was ascribed to the Sunni "insurgency" and confined to the oblivion of so many other massacres of civilians blithely normalized under the convenient rubric of "ethnic and religious strife." It did not seem to bother the military authorities that the "Sunni insurgency" alibi was inconsistent with the family's own Sunni identity. Shia, Sunni what's the difference -- they were killed and that was the end of it.
But it wasn't.
"Stuff happens," opined the latter-day Polonius of the Bush-conspiracy-junta to make endless war, Donald Rumsfeld, to explain the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad and the burning of the treasures of the National Library in those heady days (for Americans) of the "liberation" of Iraq and the protection of its Oil Ministry and Interior Ministry, with its vast repository of spying data on the citizens of Iraq. "Stuff happens," said the pompous nincompoop, the Secretary of Death, who seems not to want to know that "stuff happening" in occupied territories is the responsibility of the occupying command -- a duty assigned by those "quaint" folks who wrote the Geneva Conventions for the protection of civilians and their property in occupied territories (1949).

And it sure does. "Stuff happens," if no one cares to stop it. Ask Macbeth: "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace,” a pace awash in blood.
The "incident" in Mahmoudiya, like the one in My Lai, resurfaced when US soldiers spilled the beans -- to speak in the homespun vernacular of Uncle Polonius Rumsfeld, who often dresses up murder in home-on-the-range witticisms. After a three-month delay, the army was forced to start an investigation because soldiers from the unit came forward. They did so after two soldiers from the same unit, taken captive from a military checkpoint, turned up dead in June.
Feeling, like Macbeth, that they are invincible because "no man of woman-born" can kill them (apparently, they think only the devil and his witches can -- or, a fact arrogantly forgotten, one merely of Caesarian birth), the Bush hierarchy then moved swiftly to find the "bad apples" in a barrelful of rotten ones, especially at the top, on whom to pin sole responsibility for this unspeakable crime. That happened for the 400-plus victims in My Lai. One culprit -- and he was pardoned by Nixon under pressure from that sector of the US public who can't distinguish between a Purple-Heart action and a war crime, as they amply demonstrated once again in the presidential election of 2004 -- fraud included.
They arrested Steven D. Green, 21, now a civilian, former private first class. He appeared in a federal magistrate's court in Charlotte, North Carolina, charged in connection with the Mahmoudiya crime. He faces the death penalty if he's convicted of murder. Green was discharged for a "personality disorder" before the attack became public knowledge.
Comforting to know that the army disgorges such troubled individuals into the complete innocence of the private domain without or before apparently attending to their little "personality disorders"! Of course, Mr. Green is innocent until proven guilty, but, if guilty, it wouldn't surprise me to discover that his mother "gave [the army] a good boy, and they made him a murderer," as one anguished mother of a My Lai massacre participant justifiably cried out at the court martial of Lieutenant William Calley for that monstrosity in which his defense was that he "carried out orders" -- as well he may have done, though it was not a valid defense as those who ordered them knew.
One aspect of Green's career in the army attracts my attention.
He served 11 months with the 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before being deployed to Iraq -- as did all the men allegedly implicated in the "incident." The 101st was put in charge of Falluja right after the invasion in March 2003. They were indeed greeted as liberators by the pro-American mayor of the town, but they did not return the compliment. Within days, they shot into an unarmed crowd of demonstrators who demanded that troops be removed from a local school. They wounded or killed 17 unarmed people.
Indeed, the 101st were so gung-ho and inept that they swiftly turned Falluja into a seething cauldron of resentment. The 101st were removed from Falluja on 31 March 2004 to be replaced by the Marines -- the transfer occurring just as four mercenaries were notoriously dragged from their vehicle and subjected by a vengeful crowd to a theatre-of-cruelty death, which sealed the fate of Falluja, the City of Mosques. On 8 November 2004, four days after the people of the United States elected (or re-elected or almost elected or whatever happened) Bush for president, the terror of the earth was unleashed on the people of Falluja -- napalm (which the army no longer calls "napalm" but Mark 77 firebombs, an improved napalm), white phosphorus, snipers, hospitals bombed, darkness, lack of water -- and more. Today, Falluja is an ex-city.
You see my drift? Will Green be charged alone? Why should he be charged for the rape and murder of a girl if perpetrators of the rape and murder of a country go untried? They put him there. No. I’m not saying he should not be tried; I’m saying that our leaders are making a mockery of justice. Is it any wonder that our soldiers get criminalized when they see our institutions crumble under the weight of this massive crime that is the attack on Iraq?
Apparently five mates might join Green in the dock. Military officials have confirmed that four members of the 502nd Infantry have been confined to a US base in the vicinity of Mahmoudiya. One more soldier, on active duty, has been arrested after confessing that he participated in the apparently premeditated atrocity.
I am sorry for their mothers as I am for all the mothers with children in Iraq. It is not a happy thought to realize that one's children can never be heroes in an illegal and unjust war or to realize further that they might even come home something quite opposite to a hero. Nor is it easy to live with the burden of knowing that their nights are haunted by the furies of guilt and retribution, their souls permanently singed by the burning memory of what they saw done or have done. Or their children might return impervious to guilt or second thoughts, inoculated against empathy -- imposing their emotional hell on others because they no longer know what love is or can be.
“The sleep of reason begets monsters,” said Francisco Goya, a Spanish painter, who knew something about war
True, many soldiers don't act villainously. They act courageously in physical ways. The same soldiers who went on a murder and rape rampage in My Lai had previously acted with astonishing physical courage towards their comrades, but, at My Lai, they had not the moral courage to say no (with one notable exception). Soldiers show great physical courage when they protect one another other, often at great cost to themselves, and if they protect the civilians of whom they have charge. But finding the strength to act with moral courage in the charnel house that the Iraq invasion inhabits is another matter. Moral courage is something finer and rarer than mere physical courage, which is why mothers of soldiers who resist the slaughter and the war in general are the blessed ones.
Moral courage preserves one's humanity in protecting that of others'. Moral cowardice leads to massacres -- the greater the mass of civilian moral cowards behind the single ones in the field, the more numerous the victims. We might as well share the moral guilt as a nation with those soldiers who commit atrocities in a war we have allowed to happen. It is the honorable, the responsible thing to do. The criminal responsibility, however, lies at the top.
We must bring them to account.
Yesterday was Independence Day in the USA. I remembered Abeer Qasim Hamza, 15. She was said to be "pretty."
And scared.
I will not give you the details of her rape and death. I tried to last night. It gave me nightmares.
I planted a rose in her memory, and if a thorn pricks me and a drop of blood falls to the ground, I shall know that she once lived, just like me, but, unlike me, not for long.
She died young, perhaps green-eyed, as the poet said, and beautiful.
Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

Monday, September 11, 2006


An ex-G.I. is charged with killing an Iraqi girl he raped--and her family--while his comrades stood byBy JULIE RAWE WITH APARISIM GHOSH
Family members describe Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi as tall for her age, skinny, but not eye-catchingly beautiful. As one of her uncles put it, "She was an ordinary girl." So perhaps it was sheer proximity that made the 15-year-old so tantalizing. Her house was less than 1,000 ft. from a U.S. military checkpoint just outside the Iraqi town of Mahmudiyah, and soldiers manning the gate started stopping by just to look at her. Her mother, who grew concerned enough to make plans for Abeer to move in with a cousin, told relatives that whenever she caught the Americans ogling her daughter, they would give her the thumbs-up sign, point to the girl and say, "Very good, very good."
Abeer's brother Mohammed, 13, told TIME he once watched his sister, frozen in fear, as a U.S. soldier ran his index finger down her cheek. Mohammed has since learned that soldier's name: Steven Green. Last week Green, 21, a former Army private first class who was honorably discharged because of a "personality disorder" a month before the criminal allegations came to light, pleaded not guilty to charges of raping Abeer and killing her along with her parents and 7-year-old sister. Five other soldiers have been charged, four of them for conspiring with Green and one for dereliction of duty for not reporting the crimes. The grisly March 12 slayings--in which Abeer's skull was smashed and her legs and torso set on fire--sparked the military's fifth investigation into U.S. personnel accused of murdering Iraqi civilians. But unlike the massacre in Haditha, where Marines are suspected of shooting up to 24 innocent people in November following the death of a beloved comrade, the butchering of Abeer's family does not appear to be the result of vengeance or confusion. Instead, all signs point to premeditated depravity.
According to an affidavit based on sworn statements from several members of Green's infantry unit, Green and three other soldiers abandoned the traffic checkpoint they were manning 20 miles south of Baghdad, in a region littered with roadside bombs, before heading to Abeer's house. Some of them had been drinking, and all but one had changed out of their uniforms, allegedly to avoid easy identification. A fifth soldier, who remained at the checkpoint to monitor the radio, said that when the men returned in bloodied clothes, each of them told him not to speak of the incident again.
Given that the area was known to be a terrorist stronghold, many former and active-duty officers are wondering how such a small convoy of soldiers--a single vehicle's worth--was left on its own, apparently far from the watchful gaze of a superior officer. "Where were the older sergeants, and the lieutenants and captain who should have prevented this crime from happening?" asks Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star general.
The apparent lack of supervision makes it harder for military officials to cast this as a one-time, isolated incident, particularly after an Army general concluded last week that Marine officers had been negligent in failing to probe the deaths in Haditha. In a joint statement, the U.S. ambassador and the senior U.S. commander in Iraq called the soldiers' alleged acts in Mahmudiya "absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable." Officials say one purpose of their pledge to vigorously and transparently investigate and prosecute the crimes is to quell the calls from Iraqis, among them Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to stop granting U.S. troops immunity from local prosecution, a notion that Pentagon officials consider "a nonstarter," especially in a country whose legal system is practically nonexistent.
If there was an element of strategic calculation behind the public remarks of U.S. officials, there was genuine emotion too. In private meetings with Abeer's relatives, military officers apologized repeatedly, and a one-star general hugged her two orphaned brothers. "The general seemed emotionally distressed. He was not pretending," concluded Mahdi Obeid Saleh, Abeer's cousin, who says he rushed to the crime scene and doused the flames on her burning body. Both Saleh and Army investigators initially thought the attack was the work of insurgents. "This is what happens when you harbor terrorists," a military translator lectured Saleh on the day of the slayings.
It wasn't until some three months later that officers got wind of a different story. In June, after insurgents killed a member of Green's troop and kidnapped and beheaded two others--there's suspicion, but no evidence yet, that this attack was a response to the rape and killings--another soldier in their infantry unit told Army combat-stress counselors in Baghdad about the alleged murders in Mahmudiya. Within 24 hours of the initial report, Army officers turned the case over to military criminal investigators at Iraq's Camp Slayer. Six days later, the FBI arrested Green near his grandmother's house in Nebo, N.C., where he was visiting after attending a troopmate's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.
The details of Green's biography contain little to suggest he was destined for trouble but nothing that indicates he knew how to avoid it either. He was born in Midland, Texas, and bounced between parents who divorced when he was 4. Green, who was in his teens when his mother spent six months in jail for drunken driving, dropped out of school after 10th grade. In February 2005, fresh from a three-day jail stint for underage possession of alcohol, he enlisted in the Army, and a month later--during basic training--he was baptized in a makeshift prayer room in a kitchen at Fort Benning, Ga. In December, after Green had been sent to Iraq, he was quoted in a newspaper article as saying of a house-to-house search for insurgents, "It's kind of disappointing that we didn't find anything."
Five months later, Green was honorably discharged with a "personality disorder." In fiscal 2005, 1,038 soldiers--or 0.21% of those on active duty--were discharged with this classification, which used to be referred to as Section 8. (Corporal Klinger was always trying to get one on M*A*S*H.) An Army spokeswoman says such cases can take weeks or even months to process and require a psychiatric evaluation followed by an opportunity for the soldier to modify his behavior as well as the option to file an appeal.
The Pentagon won't say how long it took to process Green's case. But even if his possible instability helped lead to the atrocity, that doesn't explain why his fellow soldiers allegedly participated in the incident--including one who reportedly joined Green in the rape--and helped him cover his tracks. The names of these other soldiers have yet to be released.
Green, meanwhile, is scheduled to be arraigned next month in Kentucky--home to Fort Campbell, where he was most recently stationed--and could end up facing the death penalty. Close relatives won't talk about him. Even distant ones are reluctant. In tiny Denver City, Texas, where he spent a couple of years with his mother's ex-husband and which he claimed as his hometown on Army paperwork, Green's former stepgrandfather thought back about the meals they had shared. "He always seemed a little bit different," B.J. Carr said, before his wife interrupted, "We don't know that boy."With reporting by With reporting by Hussein Hamdi/ Baghdad, Theo Emery/ Fort Campbell, Greg Fulton/ Atlanta, Hilary Hylton/ Denver City, MARK THOMPSON, Douglas Waller/ Washington

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people."

By Andrew TilghmanSunday, July 30, 2006; B01
" I came over here
because I wanted
to kill people."
Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. It was February, and we were at his small patrol base about 20 miles south of Baghdad. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.' "
He shrugged.
"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," he went on. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza.' "
At the time, the soldier's matter-of-fact manner struck me chiefly as a rare example of honesty. I was on a nine-month assignment as an embedded reporter in Iraq, spending much of my time with grunts like him -- mostly young (and immature) small-town kids who sign up for a job as killers, lured by some gut-level desire for excitement and adventure. This was not the first group I had run into that was full of young men who shared a dark sense of humor and were clearly desensitized to death. I thought this soldier was just one of the exceptions who wasn't afraid to say what he really thought, a frank and reflective kid, a sort of Holden Caulfield in a war zone.
But the private was Steven D. Green.
The next time I saw him, in a front-page newspaper photograph five months later, he was standing outside a federal courthouse in North Carolina, where he had pled not guilty to charges of premeditated rape and murder. The brutal killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in Mahmudiyah that he was accused of had taken place just three weeks after we talked.
When I met Green, I knew nothing about his background -- his troubled youth and family life, his apparent problems with drugs and alcohol, his petty criminal record. I just saw and heard a blunt-talking kid. Now that I know the charges against Green, his words take on an utterly different context for me. But when I met him then, his comments didn't seem nearly as chilling as they do now.
Maybe, in part, that's because we were talking in Mahmudiyah. If there's one place where a soldier might succumb to what the military calls "combat stress," it's this town where Green's unit was posted on the edge of the so-called Triangle of Death, for the last three years a bloody center of the Sunni-led insurgency. Mahmudiyah is a deadly patch of earth that inspires such fear, foreboding and uneasiness that my most prominent memory of the three weeks I spent there was the unrelenting knot it caused in my stomach.
I was nervous even before I arrived. Although Mahmudiyah is only a 15-minute drive from the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, I was taken there by helicopter. Military officials didn't want to risk my riding in a truck that might be hit by a roadside bomb. I'd chosen to go to Mahmudiyah because I wanted to be on the front lines of the war and among the troops fighting it.
When I arrived in February, Green's battalion -- the 101st Airborne Division's 502nd Infantry Regiment -- was losing an average of about one soldier per week. Whenever I asked how many of the nearly 1,000 troops posted there had been killed so far, most soldiers would just frown and say they'd lost count.
Danger was everywhere. Inside the American base camps, mortar shells fell almost daily. In the towns where U.S. forces patrolled, car bombs were a constant threat. On the rural roads, the troops kept watch for massive artillery rounds hidden under piles of trash that could shred the engine block of an armored Humvee and separate a driver's limbs from his torso.
About a month before I arrived at Green's base -- an abandoned potato-packing plant lined with 20-foot concrete walls -- the soldiers there fought off a full-blown assault that rallied dozens of insurgents in a show of force almost unheard of for a shadowy enemy that typically avoids face-to-face combat. It took more than an hour to quell the attack of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades coming from all sides of the camp.
Morale took another nosedive soon after, when the hastily rigged electrical wiring system caught fire and burned down the Americans' living quarters. The soldiers watched as the early-morning blaze destroyed all reminders of home: the family photographs, the iPods and the video games that provide brief escapes from combat. When I got there a week later, a chow-hall storage room, packed with radios and satellite maps, was serving as the base command center. The sergeants were still passing out toothbrushes and clean socks to the young troops who had lost everything.
The company commander in charge of Green's unit told me that the situation was so stressful that he himself had "almost had a nervous breakdown" and had been sent to a hotel-style compound in Baghdad for three days of "freedom rest" before resuming his command.
And yet despite the horrific conditions in which they were daily being tested, I found extraordinary camaraderie among the soldiers in Mahmudiyah. They were among the friendliest troops I met in Iraq.
Green was one of several soldiers I sat down with in the chow hall one night not long after my arrival. We talked over dinner served on cardboard trays. I asked them how it was going out there, and to tell me about some of their most harrowing moments. When they began talking about the December death of Sgt. Kenith Casica, my interview zeroed in on Green.
He described how after an attack on their traffic checkpoint, he and several others pushed one wounded man into the back seat of a Humvee and put Casica, who had a bullet wound in his throat, on the truck's hood. Green flung himself across Casica to keep the dying soldier from falling off as they sped back to the base.
"We were going, like, 55 miles an hour and I was hanging on to him. I was like, 'Sgt. Casica, Sgt. Casica.' He just moved his eyes a little bit," Green related with a breezy candor. "I was just laying on top of him, listening to him breathing, telling him he's okay. I was rubbing his chest. I was looking at the tattoo on his arm. He had his little girl's name tattooed on his arm.
"I was just talking to him. Listening to his heartbeat. It was weird -- I drooled on him a little bit and I was, like, wiping it off. It's weird that I was worried about stupid [expletive] like that.
"Then I heard him stop breathing," Green said. "We got back and everyone was like, 'Oh [expletive], get him off the truck.' But I knew he was dead. You could look in his eyes and there wasn't nothing in his eyes. I knew what was going on there."
He paused and looked away. "He was the nicest man I ever met," he said. "I never saw him yell at anybody. That was the worst time, that was my worst time since I've been in Iraq."
Green had been in country only four months at that point, a volunteer in a war he now saw as pointless.
"I gotta be here for a year and there ain't [expletive] I can do about it," he said. "I just want to go home alive. I don't give a [expletive] about the whole Iraq thing. I don't care.
"See, this war is different from all the ones that our fathers and grandfathers fought. Those wars were for something. This war is for nothing."
A couple of days later, I ran into Green again, and he invited me to join him and another soldier in a visit to the makeshift tearoom run by the Iraqi soldiers who share the base with the American troops. It was after dusk, and the three of us walked across a pitch-black landing zone and into a small plywood-lined room where a couple of dozen barefoot Iraqi soldiers were sitting around watching a local news channel.
"Hey, shlonek ," Green said, offering a casual Arabic greeting with a smile and a sweeping wave as he stepped up to the bar. He handed over a U.S. dollar in exchange for three Styrofoam cups of syrupy brown tea.
Green knew a few words of Arabic, and along with bits of broken English, some hand gestures and smiles, he joked around with the Iraqis as he sipped their tea. Most U.S. soldiers didn't hang out on this side of the base with the Iraqis.
I asked Green whether he went there a lot. He did, he said, because he liked to get away from the Americans "who are always telling me what to do."
"These guys are cool," he said, referring to the Iraqis.
"But," he added with a shrug, "I wouldn't really care if all these guys got waxed."
As we talked, Green complained about his frustration with the Army brass that urged young soldiers to exercise caution even in the most terrifying and life-threatening circumstances.
"We're out here getting attacked all the time and we're in trouble when somebody accidentally gets shot?" he said, referring to infantrymen like himself throughout Iraq. "We're pawns for the [expletive] politicians, for people that don't give a [expletive] about us and don't know anything about what it's like to be out here on the line."
The soldiers who fought alongside Green lived in conditions of near-constant violence -- violence committed by them, and against them.
Even in my brief stay there, I repeatedly encountered terrifying attacks. One night, about a mile from Green's base, a roadside bomb exploded alongside the vehicle I was riding in, unleashing a deafening crack and a ball of fire. In most places in Iraq, soldiers would have stopped to investigate. In the Triangle of Death, however, we just plowed on through the cloud of smoke and shower of sparks, fearing an ambush if we stopped. Fortunately, the bomb was relatively small, its detonation poorly timed, and the soldiers all laughed about it moments later. "Dude, that was [expletive] awesome," the driver said after making sure no one was hurt.
A few days later, I was standing outside chatting with an officer about the long-term legacy of the Vietnam War when a rocket came whistling down and struck the base's south wall. A couple of days after that, a mortar round blew up a tent about 20 feet from the visitors' tent that I called home.
My experience, however, was nothing compared with that of Green and the other young men of his Bravo company who spent months in the Triangle of Death.
In the end, I never included Green's comments in any of the handful of stories I wrote from Mahmudiyah for Stars and Stripes. When he said he was inured to death and killing, it seemed to me -- in that place and at that time -- a reasonable thing to say. While in Iraq, I also saw people bleed and die. And there was something unspeakably underwhelming about it. It's not a Hollywood action movie -- there are no rapid edits, no adrenaline-pumping soundtracks, no logical narratives that help make sense of it. Bits of lead fly through the air, put holes in people and their bodily fluids leak out and they die. Those who knew them mourn and move on.
But no level of combat stress is an excuse for the kind of brutal acts Green allegedly committed. I suppose I will always look back on our conversations in Mahmudiyah and wonder: Just what did he mean?
Andrew Tilghman was a correspondent in Iraq for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. He lives in Houston.

Many Americans can’t face reality because the media hides real faces (taken from american street blog)

The Times article is titled: Iraq Incident Was Fueled by Whiskey, G.I. Says
Now it’s common for a nation’s leader and its generals to demonize an enemy, and to use reptilian and other subhuman references, to propagandize the public into believing war is not mass murder, especially at the front end of a war. Media outlets typically carry such messages to the public early on, as well. That they abandon journalistic integrity at all is sad, but it’s completely predictable, in each and every war. And that’s why so many Americans still believe the WMD misinformation and outright lies.
Yet along the way, as long wars unfold, better reporting usually takes root. Our war on Iraq has every possible element necessary for any credible journalist or media publication to abandon propaganda campaigns and pursue the truth. Consider these facts:
Before the war began, UN inspectors and other analysts indicated the missing stocks of chemical weapons from the first Gulf War would have degraded to an unusable state.
The UN’s nuclear inspection arm indicated before the war that no evidence existed - based on fresh inspections - that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.
The UN’s inspection team found no fresh evidence of any WMDs in Iraq and sought an extension of a few months to track every remaining lead to make their WMD determination absolute.
From the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame fiasco, the Downing Street memos and other sources, much evidence has emerged to indicate the Bush administration used distorted intelligence and outright lies to make a case for war, that they planned to attack Iraq from the first month after Bush took office no matter what Saddam did, and they’ve actively covered up their actions throughout.
The stated goal of the war - regime change - was achieved by May 2003 as Saddam’s government was completely dismantled and he was in hiding, and was solidified with his capture in December 2003. The subsequent goal of a democratically elected replacement government was completed late last year
Instead of withdrawal, however, we’re still sending more troops to try to disrupt an active civil war, while most of the Bush administration and its apologist generals evade calling it what it is.
The media has, at least, started asking more questions and reporting these facts, though US media has noticeably lagged the rest of the world in reporting these truths. Today’s article in the New York Times, however, has fallen back into its habit of acting as a propaganda disseminator instead of fulfilling any responsibility as a news publication.
In this hearing, several military troops stand accused of raping a 14 year old Iraqi girl, then murdering her, her younger sister and their parents. Then burning the corpses and residence to try and coverup their other crimes.
The media was subsequently taken to task for calling the 14 year old a woman. But today’s article is even worse, for now its title highlights a soldier’s defense without even noting that it’s not a defense at all. And it goes downhill from there.
The title refers to the multiple crimes as an ‘Incident’. A gangrape and multiple murders, followed by a coverup is much more than ‘an incident.’ These are capital offenses and war crimes.
Though the title carries the claim that alcohol inspired the crimes, it overlooks the initial reports, in which relatives of the murdered family indicated the family had noticed the daughter drawing unwanted attention from US troops prior to the day of these heinous crimes. The article notes that they went from playing cards to hitting golf balls after the drinlking concluded, so that suggests they weren’t wildly inebriated on a drunken tear when the crimes were committed.
It further reported that one private repeatedly egged on the others to go kill some Iraqis. Which suggests the others were sufficiently lucid to not agree initially.
But the Times’ worst offense in this article was to fall back to the propaganda tactic of dehumanizing the non-Americans. Note that there remains to this day no evidence that any Iraqi was an active threat to or enemy of the US. No evidence exists that the murdered family was active in the resistance to the US occupation of their country. So by any measure, there’s not even good cause to dehumanize this family, as none have even alleged they were enemies of the US or our troops in Iraq.
They didn’t even grant the victims the dignity of having names.
The girl who was raped and murdered was Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi. Submitting to the desire to rape her seems to have led to every subsequent crime.
These crimes were committed several months ago. Has any media outlet explored the questions that should arise in the minds of civilized, law-respecting people? Such as:
Is the desire to rape a 14 year old girl common in men? Or the desire to gangrape? Is the desire more likely to occur in wartime to men experienced in combat? Are the vast majority of men - in peacetime or wartime - not raping because they suppress those desires? Or do they simply not have those desires at all?
I think it’s important to know these answers. I don’t think I’m alone in wondering these things. The desire to rape is foreign to me, but I sometimes wonder if I’m the aberration or the norm. I think society becomes better equipped to dissuade, prevent and prosecute such crimes, by knowing these answers.
But, setting that point aside, I think it most vital that our media stop dehumanizing murder and rape victims who were innocent victims of what I’d characterize as monstrous crimes.
The perpetrators deserve punishment and to be forgotten. The story is not really about them, but about Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi and her family and the awful things done to them by criminals.
And the New York Times continues to fail to report these important facts. Because it’s easier for us to remain non-commital, numb and unsympathetic, when the crimes are done to nameless, faceless people.

Iraq medic tells of rape horror

A US military court has heard graphic testimony of how American soldiers took turns holding down and raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl before murdering her and her family.
The second day of the hearing into whether four US soldiers should be court-martialled heard a special agent describe details of what took place in Mahmudiya based on an interview he conducted with Specialist James Barker, one of the accused.
Earlier, an Iraqi Army medic told how he was sick for days after finding the naked and burned body of a 14-year-old girl, allegedly raped and murdered by US soldiers.
The doctor testified on the first day of the US military tribunal hearing set up to determine whether the five soldiers will face court martial for the rape and murder on March 12 of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the killing of her parents and sister.
The medic, whose name was withheld for security reasons, had been called to the house in the hardline Sunni town of Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.
He said he found the girl naked, her torso and head burned. She had a bullet wound under an eye.
"I was feeling very bad," he said. "I was sick for almost two weeks."
The case, the fifth involving serious crimes being investigated by the US military in Iraq, has outraged Iraqis.
It led Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to call for a review of foreign troops' immunity from Iraqi prosecution.
In Baghdad, Iraqi and US forces fought a deadly gun battle with Shiite militiamen after launching an overnight raid on an impoverished eastern Baghdad district, Defence Ministry and militia officials said yesterday.
In another incident, six Iraqi soldiers were killed and another 15 wounded when gunmen attacked their checkpoint near the restive, religiously-mixed city of Baquba, just north of the capital.
Separately, three US soldiers were killed south-west of Baghdad on Sunday when a roadside bomb hit their patrol.
Meanwhile, in the northern city of Tikrit a suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral wake and killed 15 mourners.

Testimony Tells of Rape, Killings in Iraq

Military investigators give details of a U.S. soldier's admission. They say troops planned the assault while playing cards and drinking.
By Louise Roug, Times Staff WriterAugust 8, 2006
BAGHDAD — An American soldier charged with the rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slaying of her family told investigators that he and his comrades devised the attack while playing cards and drinking whiskey at a checkpoint, and that afterward he grilled chicken wings, a military investigator testified Monday.The GI's admission was revealed on the second day of testimony in a military hearing to determine whether the soldiers would face a court-martial. Reports of the March 12 killings in the southern Baghdad suburb of Mahmoudiya have enraged Iraqis and shamed the U.S. military.
Spc. James P. Barker, 23, told investigators in sworn statements that he and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 23, took turns sexually assaulting the 14-year-old, and that former Pfc. Steven D. Green, 21, also raped the girl after killing her mother, father and 5-year-old sister, military investigator Benjamin Bierce testified.
A fourth soldier, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, 21, was inside the house during the attack while another soldier, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, 19, kept watch elsewhere, Barker told investigators, Bierce said.The military tribunal, known as an Article 32 hearing, is similar to a civilian grand jury. After hearing from prosecutors and defense lawyers, an investigating officer will determine whether there is enough evidence for four of the soldiers to face a military trial on charges of rape and murder.The military tribunal, known as an Article 32 hearing, is similar to a civilian grand jury. After hearing from prosecutors and defense lawyers, an investigating officer will determine whether there is enough evidence for four of the soldiers to face a military trial on charges of rape and murder.Another soldier from the same Army unit, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with failing to report the attack but is not suspected of taking part.Green was discharged from the Army in May because of a "personality disorder," according to court documents. He was arrested in North Carolina in late June and will be tried separately in federal court.
Bierce testified that Barker wrote in his sworn statement that he, Cortez, Spielman and Green had been playing rummy and drinking Iraqi moonshine mixed with an energy drink on the day of the killings.
While they were playing cards and drinking Iraqi whiskey, the idea came to go to the Iraqi house, rape a woman and murder her family," said Gary Griesmyer, another military investigator, who had interviewed Cortez.The house was about 650 feet from the checkpoint, one soldier told investigators. The soldiers had seen the girl before during a visit to her house.Cortez said in a sworn statement that Barker and Green raped the girl, Griesmyer testified. Cortez acknowledged holding the girl down when Barker began to rape her, Griesmyer said. The girl was crying and speaking in Arabic, and Barker told her to "shut up" after raping her, according to Cortez's statement, Griesmyer said.
Barker said the men had practiced hitting golf balls near the checkpoint after finishing their card game. Green repeatedly said he wanted to kill some Iraqis, and asked Barker if he thought Cortez would go along, according to Bierce's testimony. Green asked Cortez, who in turn asked Barker what he thought. Barker, in his statement, wrote that his answer was, "It's up to you," Bierce testified.
The men changed into black thermal underwear and black ski masks, Bierce testified. Cortez gave a radio to Howard, who was supposed to be on the lookout.
At the house, Cortez pushed the girl to the floor and raped her as she struggled, Bierce testified.Barker told investigators that Green came into the living room, where the girl was pinned to the floor. Referring to her family, Green told his fellow soldiers: "They're all dead. I just killed them.
"Green put down an AK-47 assault rifle that he had taken from the house and raped the girl while Cortez held her down, Bierce testified. Afterward, Green shot the girl several times before Barker took a lamp and poured kerosene on her body, the investigator said.
Barker told investigators that Green went into the kitchen and came back saying, "We need to get out of here," supposedly because Green had opened the propane tank and the house was going to blow up.
Investigators testified that the attack lasted between 20 and 30 minutes, and that the soldiers hid their identities, hoping to pin the slayings on insurgents.
After the men returned to the checkpoint, Barker said, he began to grill chicken wings.