15 October, 2006

odds 'n ends - a process deeply ingrained


. . . The number of the Latin American officers being trained by the US is going up very sharply. By now, for the first time (it never happened during the cold war) the US military aid is higher than the sum of economic and social aid from key federal agencies- that’s a shift. There are more air bases all over the place. Keep your eyes on Ecuador, there’s an election coming up in about a week, the likely winner, [Rafael] Correa is an interesting person, he was recently asked what he would do with the big Manta US airbase in Ecuador and his answer was, well he’d allow it to stay if the United States agreed to have an Ecuadorian airbase in Miami.
. . .
The Military training has been shifted. Its official focus now is on what’s called radical populism and street gangs. Well, you know what radical populism means, like the Priests organizing peasants or anyone who gets out of line.

"More than half of the 13 million population live in poverty, many of them indigenous communities that still speak Quechua language before Spanish." Listen to the weight of that word "still" in this WaPo sentence in a Reuters bylined article on the Ecuador's election, where speaking Quecha is equated with being backward. It is the same assumption & host of associated prejudice we hear in the US about Spanish speaking citizens vis a vis the dominant language.

[Update 16.10.06] The Independent reporter uses the exact same sentence in today's paper: "More than half of the 13 million population live in poverty, many of them indigenous communities that still speak Quechua language before Spanish." Let's assume this is the result of using the same unacknowledged stringer (Reuters?) and not outright plagiarism. He goes on to write: "Although he has a middle-class background, Mr Correa is fluent in Quechua." While understanding that most of Latin America's indigenous populations haven't 'achieved' middle class status, must there be such surprise expressed that a middle class politician would also speak the language half his country uses in evyday speech? Is "although" really necessary?


Ron Kovic:

You’ve been taught to follow orders, to obey and not question, to go along with the program and do exactly what you’re told. You learned that in boot camp.

You learned that the very first day at Parris Island when the drill instructors started screaming at you. It is "Yes sir" and "No sir," and nothing in between. There is the physical and verbal abuse, the vicious threats and constant harassment to keep you off balance. It is a powerful conditioning process, a process that began long ago, long before we signed those papers at the recruit stations in our hometowns, a process deeply ingrained in the American culture and psyche, and it has shaped and influenced us from our earliest childhood.


It is highly unlikely that the US soldiers who killed the ITN correspondent Terry Lloyd and two members of his team during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 will be brought to justice.

Lloyd was injured in crossfire between Iraqi troops and American tanks outside Basra. He was picked up by a makeshift ambulance. As it drove away, the Americans fired on it and Lloyd was killed. His translator, Hussein Osman, and his cameraman, Fred Nerac, whose body has never been found, were also killed.

At last week's inquest on Lloyd's death, there was a verdict of unlawful killing. His daughter, Chelsey, said his death amounted to murder; his widow, Lynn, called it a war crime. The coroner will ask the Attorney-General to press charges.
. . .
Both the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence wanted reporters to be "embedded" with their forces during the invasion. Embedded journalists were subject to censorship, and it was hard for them to get an independent view of what was going on.

The Pentagon and the MoD disapproved of the so-called unilaterals like Lloyd. By the time this atmosphere of disapproval has filtered down to the front-line soldiers, it can occasionally seem like a licence to kill.
. . .
Since the First World War, every war in which the Americans have fought has been marked by unnecessary civilian deaths and wholly avoidable "friendly fire" incidents. Now, it seems, there may be a new distinguishing feature of American wars: the killing of journalists.


In a jail cell at an immigration detention center in Arizona sits a man who is not charged with a crime, not suspected of a crime, not considered a danger to society. But he has been in custody for five years [at the Florence Correctional Center, a privately run detention center in Arizona]. His name is Ali Partovi. And according to the Department of Homeland Security, he is the last to be held of about 1,200 Arab and Muslim men swept up by authorities in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. There has been no full accounting of all of these individuals. Nor has a promised federal policy to protect against unrestricted sweeps been produced.
. . .
In his lawsuits - there have been seven so far - Partovi claims he is a victim of civil rights abuses and demands between $5 million and $10 million in restitution. The most recent was filed in July.

The staff at the jail where he was first held "poured hot coffee on my body, they also poured cold ice water on my body,'' he wrote in one, claiming that staffers also cuffed his hands and feet, which caused "my ankle and lower extremities to swell abnormally.''

"It is my firm belief that I am constantly subjected to physical abuse (because) of my ethnicity, I am Iranian of Persian birth,'' he wrote in another, filed this summer. In that lawsuit he claimed that immigration officers forced him to kneel while handcuffed, and then kicked and punched his stomach and kidneys. "As you can imagine, this is very, very painful when you are cuffed from behind,'' he wrote. . . .Partovi doesn't have a lawyer, and he told the AP he doesn't want one, choosing instead to represent himself, gleaning expertise from the prison library.


The Pentagon's Inspector General's office said that it had ordered the Miami-based Southern Command to investigate after Marine Lt Col Colby Vokey, who represents a detainee at the US naval base in eastern Cuba, filed the "hotline" complaint last week.

Col Vokey attached a sworn statement from his paralegal, Sgt Heather Cerveny, 23, in which she said several guards in a bar at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice. "Others were talking about how when they get annoyed with the detainees, about how they hit them, or they punched them in the face," Sgt Cerveny said during a telephone interview Thursday.

"It was a general consensus that I [detected] that as a group this is something they did. That this was OK at Guantanamo, this is how the detainees get treated."
. . .
In her complaint, she wrote: "From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice . . . Everyone in the group laughed at the others' stories of beating detainees."
. . .
The Red Cross has recently completed a two-week visit to the prison, meeting the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and 13 other high-profile detainees who were transferred there weeks ago from CIA custody. The encounters apparently mark the first time the 14 detainees have spoken to anyone other than their captors since they were arrested. They had been held in CIA custody at secret locations . . .


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