Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Monday, 27 April 2009
The Report From LIVE in Iraq - by Dahr Jamail 4.27.09
Now Playing: Blood - Death - Blood - and more death, a report from an Independent Journalist
And So it Goes…
by Dahr Jamail
April 27th, 2009 | T r u t h o u tTo read story with photo click hereLast week found Iraq swimming in blood once again. Attacks last Thursday brought the worst violence Iraq has seen in over a year, with at least 96 Iraqis killed and 157 wounded in two massive suicide bombings. Over 35 bombings have rocked Baghdad this month alone. There appears to be no end in sight for the escalating violence. For an Obama administration that plans to keep at least 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, look no further for a justification in doing so.
On Friday, further slaughter assaulted Iraq, with 93 killed and another 163 wounded as the attacks continued unabated. Saturday was a light day, with “only” 15 Iraqis killed and 22 wounded, while Iraqi security forces reportedly defused 20 bombs and two booby-trapped cars in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, violence most likely related to the growing battle between government forces and the Sahwa, who are stepping up attacks against government and US forces, continues. In the last three days, clashes erupted at a police checkpoint in Fallujah, three men were killed while planting an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khanaqin, three Sahwa fighters were arrested north of Babel while planting an IED, an IED targeting Sahwa members in Udhaim killed three members and wounded three others, gunmen killed a member of the Sahwa in Mussayab, a car bomb was defused in Fallujah and two Sahwa members were wounded in a blast in Iskandariya. And, by the way, at least five US soldiers have been killed in the last five days.
Sunday found another 12 Iraqis killed and five wounded. A US military raid of a home in Kut brought the deaths of a man and his sister-in-law, who just happened to be the wife of a local clan leader; additionally, four Iraqis, one of them, a police officer, were arrested. Protests erupted as angry Iraqis denounced the raid. During a funeral procession in Kut where the cloth-draped coffins of the dead were carried, protesters called the Americans “criminal occupiers” and demanded the release of the seized men. “We condemn this horrific incident,” said Latif al-Tarfa, governor of Wasit province, “It violates the agreements between US forces and the Iraqi government. Innocent people were killed and the city is now very tense. They were poor people. They do not cause any political or security problems.”
US forces denied killing the man and claimed the death of the woman was “accidental.” They also claimed they had full permission from Iraqi authorities. Contradicting this US military propaganda, Maliki viewed the US military raid as a crime that violated a bilateral security pact, and wants US forces to hand those responsible to the courts, an Iraqi official in the office of Maj. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, the Baghdad security spokesman, told reporters. “The general commander (Maliki) is affirming that the killing of two citizens and detaining others in Kut is considered a violation of the security pact. He asks the commander of the multinational forces to release the detainees and hand over those responsible for this crime to the courts.”
Make no mistake about it - there is a war on. The floodgates of hell have once again been opened, largely as the result of US unwillingness to pressure the Maliki government to back off its ongoing attacks against the US-created Sahwa, which have led to the Sahwa walking off their security posts in many areas, which has been a green light for al-Qaeda to resume its operations in Iraq. In addition, many of the Sahwa forces, weary of not being paid promised wages from the government, as well as broken promises by the occupiers of their country, have resumed attacks against US forces. Again, there doesn’t appear to be anything in the short term to indicate these trends will stop.
General Patraeus, as part of his ongoing efforts to take responsibility for the hell he helped create in Iraq, laughably blamed the recent attacks in Baghdad on “Tunisians.”
Conveniently, during her recent visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while perched in the surreal Green Zone which is floating atop a sea of Iraqi blood, had the gall to claim “that Iraq is going in the right direction” and that the recent violence does “not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made” in Iraq. The primary reason for her unannounced visit was to reassure Prime Minister Maliki that if the violence continues to worsen, the Obama administration would back off its so-called withdrawal plan. Let us not forget the context of this visit - in addition to the hellish week Iraq has just experienced, overall violence there has been on the rise for the last two months.
Along with leaving up to 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, the plan to remove many of the other troops by August 2010 is slipping into the background as the justifications for remaining in Iraq are now being placed in the foreground. Iraq is Obama’s occupation now, and circumstances there are ripping away the mask of any promised “change.”
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:53 PM PDT
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Time Warner is Blocking Public Access to Internet
Now Playing: Internet Control = Time Warner fucks over average Joe Q Public
April 24th, 2009 by Megan Tady
Farmer Jay Foushee has pleaded with his phone company for years to bring high-speed Internet to his rural area of Roxboro, N.C. And across the state, where nearly five million people are offline, desperate residents have petitioned phone and cable companies to finally deliver this necessary lifeline.
“I have called our local phone companies numerous times asking, ‘When can we get [high-speed Internet]?’ ” Jay says. “I keep getting, ‘Well, it’s coming, it’s coming.’ And this has been going on for about three years now.”
How have the cable and phone companies responded to public demand for high-speed Internet? By writing a law that would keep the Internet out of people’s hands. AT&T and Time Warner Cable are pushing a piece of legislation (SB1004/HB1252) that would prevent millions of North Carolina residents from gaining access to the Internet and take the Internet away from residents who currently have it.
The proposed legislation would protect cable and phone company monopolies while squashing efforts by towns and cities to build their own local broadband networks. These municipal networks can connect areas that industry giants like AT&T and Time Warner have long overlooked.
It looks as though these companies will do anything to stifle competition, whether it’s crushing online video viewing, or blocking communities outright from connecting themselves to the Internet.
This week, the House Science and Technology Committee shifted the bill to the Public Utilities Committee (PUC).
Public outrage against the bill has been pouring in from across the state, and the Raleigh City Council approved a resolution this week opposing its passage. Activists are calling members of the PUC to urge them to kill the bill. You can help by contacting:
Chair Lorraine Coates (D-Rowan County)
Vice Chair Harold Brubaker (R – Randolph County)
Many cities and towns across the state have proposed building their own networks to connect their residents. And judging from the discussions during an InternetforEveryone.org town hall meeting in Durham in March, people want more Internet, not less. But the proposed legislation would ban these plans, and lock in AT&T and Time Warner Cables’s control of North Carolina’s Internet marketplace.
Brian Bowman, the public affairs manager for the city of Wilson, which offers its residents broadband, is warning that the legislation would destroy other towns’ attempts to create their own networks. He wrote on his Save NC Broadband blog:
NC Senate Bill 1004 and House Bill 1252 would change the law to stop other NC cities from providing broadband. The bills are titled “Level the Playing Field” but their effect is to protect cable monopolies in our state. A representative of the cable company told me Wilson would be exempt, but it’s still wrong for NC.
If the cable/phone companies really want a level playing field, they’d open their books like we do in the spirit of open meetings and open records law. They don’t want a level playing field. They want to be the only team on the field.
Why should we care about what happens in North Carolina? Because if this bill succeeds, don’t expect the phone and cable companies to stop with just one state. Does your state allow cities and communities to offer broadband to their residents? You could be next on Time Warner Cable’s legislative agenda.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 24 April 2009
Using Twitter - A personal account by a CEO who explains how she evolved
Now Playing: Using Twitter and the journey to see the functionality
Hello Z3er's Check this story of the learnining curve of one person using Twitter to make shit happen. The Key line she mentions that I just loved is highlighted in red in the article below from Forbes .com
~joe ...PS Z3 Readers... you can check out my Twitter Pages right here
Yes, I'm A CEO Who Really Uses Twitter
Diane Hessan, 04.22.09, 05:30 PM EDT
Here's how I got into it and what I get out of it.
Last fall, when I met Laura Fitton (Twitter name @pistachio) at a conference, I heard that she was the Queen of Twitter. So I asked her, "Do you really have time to get online and find out which of your friends is in the bathroom?" She persuaded me that Twitter was the real deal, so I invited her to come to Communispace, my company (which builds online customer communities), and present to our staff about the Twitter phenomenon.
Two weeks later, Laura introduced us all to the world of hashtags (Twitter keywords preceded by a #) and DMs and @s and RTs (you can look them up). I learned that a follower didn't have to be as close as a Facebook friend, that Barack Obama had the most followers of anyone, and that if I wanted to witness a company doing a good job with Twitter, I should check out Starbucks ( SBUX - news - people ).
Frankly, it was all mystifying. But clients were starting to ask me if they should be Twittering, or if their online communities should be. I just didn't know the answer. It was time to experiment.
It has now been six months, and I have found Twitter to be more valuable and more fun than just about any of my other social media adventures. However, it didn't happen immediately. Here's my experience:
Phase One: Loneliness. In the beginning, I read countless articles about how Twitter would be a vehicle for learning, connecting, business-building, friend-making, insight-sharing and more, but it wasn't any of that for me. I followed a few courageous work colleagues, and they followed me back, but most of the time my fascinating 140-character tweets seemed to disappear into the ether, to be read by no one. I asked a provocative question and nobody responded, except for maybe @pistachio. I said something interesting, and only my colleague Debi (@drkleiman) acknowledged it. I tried reading @jimmyfallon to see how he was planning for his show, but hearing about it in short bursts seemed a waste of time. Maybe I was just too old.
Phase Two: Finding Some Killer Apps. At the end of November, I had two bona fide Twitter moments. The first: I needed help from Comcast ( CMCSA - news - people ) about my home Internet hook-up and couldn't get an appointment for two weeks. I turned to @comcastcares and suddenly was connected to Comcast Executive Service and an obsequious representative who apologized--and who had a service person at my condo the next day.
The second: During the attacks in Mumbai, I logged on to search.twitter.com, searched via "#mumbai" and was captivated by a continuous stream of tweets from people who were right there in the streets of a city under siege. I had CNN on at the time, but my Twitter feed was at least 10 minutes ahead of CNN. I knew Twitter, and I was powerful! Maybe no one wanted to read my tweets, but I was part of a community of people who were faster and hipper and more in the know than everyone else.
Phase Three: Learning. Since Communispace's job is to help companies listen to their customers, I decided to practice what we preach and just listen to what people were saying in the Twitterverse. I went to MrTweet, a service for making Twitter connections, and found scores of fascinating people to follow: marketers, social media experts, professors, journalists, scientists, politicians and even professional baseball players (@nickswisher, although he's on the wrong team). I followed those people, and, amazingly, most of them followed me back. This was getting more interesting.
I started to become aware of who had new ideas (@stevebaker), who was inspiring (@skap5), who made me laugh (@OhowFUN), who was provocative (@amandachapel), who listened hard to what I had to say (@nejsnave), who was making me a better CEO (@zappos), who was helping me understand the field (@jowyang) and who just wrote links to his own news articles but wasn't really there (@andersoncooper). I made new friends (@womenkind), learned more about a smart client (@bestbuycmo) and found research to quote (@joelrubinson).
Eventually when I asked questions someone from my growing group of followers would actually respond. During this time, @rhappe even helped me organize a TweetUp (an event where you get to meet your Twitter friends in person and see how much older they look than their photos) at Communispace. We hugged and drank beer, and we celebrated the beginning of baseball spring training.
Phase Four: Getting Organized. At the TweetUp, I learned about Tweetdeck, an application that would help me classify my Twitter friends into different categories: people I work with, people in my industry, people whose opinions I respect and so on. Tweetdeck also helped me be more responsive, because it notified me when people were responding to my ideas or sending my tweets along to others. It allowed me to move faster, to have a better filter and to structure what had before been unstructured information.
Once organized, I had time to ask others whom they followed, and I had a way to add more followers without feeling overwhelmed. It also allowed me to put faces to the Twittersphere. When someone described Twitter as "one big focus group," I wrote, "For those of U who think Twitter's a focus group, have you ever BEEN 2 a good one?" and my entire column of market-research friends tweeted that they agreed that the focus group analogy was a bit of a stretch.
Phase Five: Value! Well, it's six months later, and I'm sold. Having invested the time to learn about the Twitter community, I now have 2,500 followers. Twitter has brought me new ideas and new friends, and it has connected us to a world of people who are trying to be adventurous and innovative. I have gotten free consulting, new clients, new alliance partners, lots of PR and a vehicle for getting our insights out into the marketplace. Most recently, for instance, when Communispace launched its new blog, Verbatim, I sent a tweet out about it, and more than 1,000 people responded by checking it out. Some 40% of our blog visits have come from Twitter links.
The lesson? As with anything else, just dabbling is a less time-consuming but often fruitless approach. I dabble in Facebook, but my daughters, who have thousands of Facebook friends, can't live without that social network. They use it for the business of life--e-mailing, setting up events, sharing news--and it's of much more value to them than it is to me, because I haven't really spent the time. That's what I learned from my Twitter experiment. What once felt like a useless exercise has become a highly leveraged tool for me and for our company. If you need help in your own journey, send me a DM, or find me at @communispaceceo.
Diane Hessan is the chief executive officer of Communispace Corp., which helps brands get insight into customers via online communities.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 9:33 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 27 April 2009 7:59 PM PDT
Torture memos Revel....repost from twin cities indy media
Now Playing: Bush Torture Memos
BTL:Bush Torture Memos Reveal Premeditated Brutality
Bush Torture Memos Reveal Premeditated Brutality
Interview with Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, conducted by Scott Harris
After a heated debate among his advisers, President Obama released memos from Bush administration officials detailing their authorization of interrogation techniques used against terrorist suspects held by the U.S. that are widely acknowledged as acts of torture. The memos, released on April 16, described the use of water-boarding - or drowning techniques - used on two al-Qaeda suspects on 266 occasions, up to six times a day in one case.
CIA interrogators also subjected 14 high-level U.S.-held prisoners to sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of painful positions. The president declared that he would not prosecute CIA personnel who participated in torture and who had relied on Bush administration legal opinions issued after the September 11th attacks.
But Obama left the door open to possible future criminal prosecution of the Bush administration architects of the interrogation techniques, that violated both U.S. and international law. The president said it would be up to his Attorney General Eric Holder on whether or not to prosecute these officials, and urged that any congressional investigation be organized "in a bipartisan fashion." Former vice President Dick Cheney and Bush's CIA Director Michael Hayden have both criticized the release of the torture memos, asserting that the information will be useful to al-Qaeda. Between The Lines Scott Harris spoke with Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who discusses what we've learned from the recently released torture memos and the need to hold government officials accountable for the commission of war crimes.
Michael Ratner is author of the book, "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, A Prosecution by Book." Contact the Center for Constitutional Rights by calling (212) 614-6464 or visit their website at www.ccrjustice.org
LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:
DOWNLOAD the MP3 by visiting:
VIEW the Between the Lines website by clicking on the link below:
"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit: http://www.btlonline.org
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to email@example.com
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 23 April 2009
Blind Amputee and his fight with AIG for medical needs
Now Playing: AIG = cheapskates and bailout exploiters
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Blind Amputee Has to Fight AIG for New Plastic Leg, Wheelchair
While Executives Get Bonuses, John Woodson Gets "Cheapest They Could Get Away With"
By AVNI PATEL and BRIAN ROSS
April 16, 2009—
VIDEO --> http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=7352630
An Oklahoma man who lost an eye and a leg in Iraq says the giant insurance company AIG refused to provide him a new plastic leg and fought to keep from paying for a wheelchair or glasses for the eye in which he has 30 percent vision.
"They bought the cheapest thing that they could get away with," said 51-year old John Woodson, a truck driver for the KBR contracting firm who lost his leg when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.
"Everything's been a struggle, a constant fight," said Woodson, injured in Oct. 2004. "It's been hell since."
Watch 20/20 Friday at 10pm E.T. to see this joint investigation involving the Los Angeles Times and Pro Publica, a non-profit investigative group.
Woodson is covered by AIG under a government-mandated program that provides medical and disability benefits for employees working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. AIG covers about 90 percent of the claims for overseas workers.
Still in constant pain, Woodson says he was infuriated to see AIG executives receive huge bonuses, travel on private jets and be pampered at a California spa.
"They're getting their bonuses but they fight you, they'll constantly fight in order to try to get you to give up," said Woodson, of Poteau, Oklahoma.
Woodson is one of a number of injured contractors whose alleged difficulties with AIG were examined in the joint investigation.
AIG said it could not discuss any specific case, but that it strives to provide "quality" care.
"We think we're helping the military with our insurance program," said AIG executive John Russo.
In Woodson's case, when his fuel truck hit the hidden bomb outside Baghdad, he was blown through the roof of his cab and thrown about a hundred feet away, also damaging his back and breaking his pelvis.
Woodson says he was told by an AIG representative in the hospital that he would be fully covered by AIG, but that when he returned home, he quickly discovered AIG was prepared to challenge almost all of his medical needs.
AIG Refused to Buy Him a New Leg, Woodson Says
"I've had to argue for everything, you constantly stay on the phone, writing letters, e-mailing, trying to get things to happen," Woodson said.
To cushion the impact on his injured back and pelvis, Woodsen asked AIG for a new plastic leg with a spring in the foot.
"It was just so painful just to walk," Woodson said.
He says AIG refused to buy him a new leg, which he says would have cost about $8,000.
AIG also refused, he said, to provide him a water-proof leg so he could remain standing and take a shower.
U.S. military amputees are normally provided three different legs, to cover a full range of walking, showering and exercising.
In the end, Woodson says he thinks it was pressure from his lawyer and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that forced AIG to finally provide an improved leg, with replacement parts, but not a new one as his doctor had ordered.
Woodson's lawyer, Toby Cole, says he sees a pattern of AIG "delaying and denying" claims from contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's difficult for me to think it's anything but a concentrated effort just to ignore these guys," said Cole.
In its statement, AIG says the "vast majority" of claims are "paid without dispute when the proper supporting medical evidence has been received."
More than 30,000 contractors have filed claims for injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 1,400 have died.
Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
OUTRAGED - Border Patrol Beats & Tasers innocnet US Baptist Minister
Now Playing: April 15 2009 = Border Patrol Fuck Up Baptist Minister For No Reason
I AM OUTRAGEDOut of control violent border patrol agents, attacks US citizen who was not even crossing the border. All because he would consent to a search. Posted to the Internet on 4.15.
This is a 8.min video on YouTubeHomeland Security beats tasers and jails innocent Baptist Minister in Arizona
here is his personal account http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUzd7G875Hc This just happened in the last week The video is posted on 4.15.09The man has (his new stitches and...) blood still on his face in this video He was told a dog signaled that there was a person or drugs in his trunkThere was nothing in his trunkThey wouldn't show the dog acknowledging the claim there was something in the trunk In other words it was contrived and was a false reason (LIE) He refused to cooperate in the ILLEGAL search And they fuked him up They broke his car windows and then tasered himLatter they crushed his head into the ground with a boot on his head holding him down Then they mocked him and laughed as he was cuffed in their trailer with a face bleeding where he latter would require 9 stitches
I hope he sues for mass $$
Video #2 a different man has better luck standing up for his rights, he is not beaten like in the case above
I originall found this article here:
It was posted on April 18 2009
I re-posted here on my blog The Zebra 3 Report
and I re-posted it up on Portland Indy Media
I used the sign in name Fourth Amendment on Indy Media here:
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
May Day - May Day - Workers - Labor - Rise Up -
Now Playing: A report From Death Row for May Day 2009
From Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row
May Day ’09
Taken from a March 23 commentary. Go to www.prisonradio.org to hear Mumia’s audio columns and www.millions4mumia.org to get legal and political updates on his case.
While May Day has historically been a day of workers’ solidarity and a celebration of labor power, this is not a day or year like any other.
That’s because many nations are in the midst of economic recession and financial failure, and it is workers worldwide who are suffering from layoffs and mass firings in almost every sector of the global economy.
While labor is depressed, capital is aggregating to itself bigger and bigger shares of national and global wealth, as governments rush to bail out banks and investment firms, but only if they are “too big to fail.”
Under the newly amended rules of capitalism, corporations—especially in the financial sector—can scam, steal and hustle virtually everyone, and when the economy falls, the government sails in and bails them out with public money!
Under a system such as this, capitalism can never lose. It’s like a gambling casino, where the house rules change every half hour, or depending on who’s winning and who’s losing. But workers are losing.
Around the world, workers are facing lost jobs, vanished careers, foreclosed homes and families broken and shattered against the grinding wheel of capital.
This will be one hell of a May Day, but it’s the one that globalized capital has fashioned for us all. Only if labor is truly globalized can it fight for and demand its fair share from the ravages of capitalism. Let that be our mission for May Day and for tomorrow.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 10:11 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 22 April 2009 10:15 PM PDT
USA man held in Iraq US Prison for 97 days
Now Playing: Fucked Up Terrorism Mistake ..."again!"
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
American contractor snared in secret U.S. prison
FBI informant imprisoned and treated like an insurgent for 97 days
By Lisa Myers
Senior investigative correspondent
updated 4:25 p.m. PT, Sun., June 17, 2007
This report aired Dateline NBC Sunday, June 17
For Donald Vance, a 29-year-old veteran and an American citizen, the desire to play a small part in a big event would lead to the scariest experience of his life. While in Iraq, he was neither a victim of a roadside bomb nor taken prisoner by insurgents. Instead, he was held captive by the U.S. government — detained in a secret military prison.
"It's probably the worst thing I've ever lived through," says Vance, who along with another American is now suing his own government, which he says "treated me like a terrorist."
It all started in the summer of 2005 when Vance went to Baghdad. Born in Chicago, Vance had joined the Navy after high school and later worked in security.
He took a job with an Iraqi company, Shield Group Security, or SGS, which provides protection for businesses and organizations. Vance supervised security and logistics operations. Before long, he says he started noticing troubling things at the company — explosives and huge stockpiles of ammunition and weapons, including anti-aircraft guns. He worried they were going to militias involved in sectarian violence.
There was "more ammunition than we could ever, ever need," says Vance. "We employed somewhere between 600 and 800 Iraqis. We had thousands of rifles."
Vance became so alarmed by what he saw that when he returned to Chicago in October 2005 for his father's funeral, he called the FBI office there and volunteered his services. He says he became an informant because, "It's just the right thing to do."
Once back in Baghdad, Vance says he began almost daily secret contact with the FBI in Chicago, often through e-mails and with officials at the U.S. embassy, alleging illegal gun-running and corruption by the Iraqis who owned and ran the company.
"I really couldn't tell you how many days I thought about, 'What if I get caught?'" says Vance.
In April 2006, he thought that day had come. His co-worker, Nathan Ertel, also an American, tendered his resignation. And with that, Vance says, the atmosphere turned hostile.
"We were constantly watched," Vance says, "We were not allowed to go anywhere from outside the compound or with the compound under the supervision of an Iraqi, an armed Iraqi guard."
Vance says an Iraqi SGS manager then took their identification cards, which allowed them access to American facilities, such as the Green Zone. They felt trapped.
"We began making phone calls," Vance recalls. "I called the FBI. The experts over at the embassy let it be known that you're about to be kidnapped. We barricaded ourselves with as many guns as we can get our hands on. We just did an old-fashioned Alamo."
The U.S. military did come to rescue them. Vance says he then led soldiers to the secret cache of rifles, ammunition, explosives, even land mines.
The two men say they — and other employees who were Westerners — were taken to the U.S. embassy and debriefed. But their ordeal was just beginning.
"[We saw] soldiers with shackles in their hands and goggles and zip-ties. And we just knew something was terribly wrong," says Vance.
Vance and Ertel were eventually taken to Camp Cropper, a secret U.S. military prison near the Baghdad airport. It once held Saddam Hussein and now houses some of the most dangerous insurgents in all of Iraq.
Here's what Vance and Ertel say happened in that prison: They were strip-searched and each put in solitary confinement in tiny, cold cells. They were deliberately deprived of sleep with blaring music and bright lights. They were hooded and cuffed whenever moved. And although they were never physically tortured, there was always that threat.
"The guards employ what I would like to call as verbal Kung-Fu," says Vance. "It's 'do as we say or we will use excessive violence on you.'"
Their families back home had no idea what was happening. Until they were detained, Vance had called or e-mailed his fiancée, Diane Schwarz, every day while in Iraq — and now he was not allowed to do either.
"I am thinking, you know, he's dead, he's kidnapped," recalls Schwarz.
After a week of intense interrogations for hours at a time, Vance learned why he was detained. He was given a document stating the military had found large caches of weapons at Vance's company and suspected he "may be involved in the possible distribution of these weapons to insurgent/terrorist groups."
He was a security detainee, just like an insurgent. And he says he was treated that way.
"The guards peeking in my cell see a Caucasian male, instantly they think he's a foreign fighter," says Vance. He recounts guards yelling at him, "You are Taliban. You are al-Qaida."
Vance says the charges against him were false and mirror exactly the allegations he had been making against his own company to the FBI.
"I'm basically saying to them: 'What are you talking about? I've been telling you for seven months now that this stuff is going on. You're detaining me but not the actual people that are doing it!'"
A military panel, which reviews charges against detainees, eventually questioned Vance and Ertel. Both men were given a document that said, "You do not have the right to legal counsel." The men say they could not see all the evidence used against them and did not have the legal protections typically afforded Americans.
But they were eventually allowed very infrequent phone calls, which were very frustrating for Vance and his fiancée.
"He's crying, you know, he's not getting any answers and I'm not able to help him," says Schwarz. "And he's not able to help himself."
The military cleared Ertel and released him after more than a month in prison. But Vance stayed locked up.
At that point, prohibited from keeping notes, he began secretly scribbling diary entries and storing them in his military-issued Bible, whenever he had access to a pen.
The military now acknowledges that it took three weeks just to contact the FBI and confirm Vance was an informant. But even after that, Vance was held for another two months. In all, he was imprisoned for 97 days before being cleared of any wrongdoing and released.
"I looked like hell, completely emaciated, you know — beard, shaggy, dirty," remembers Vance. "They showered me, shaved me, cleaned me up and dumped me at Baghdad International Airport like it never happened.
Throughout the ordeal, the U.S. military said it thought Vance was helping the insurgents. Wasn't that a reasonable basis to hold and interrogate him?
"They could have investigated the true facts, found out exactly what was happening," says Vance. "What doesn't need to happen is throw people in a cell, we'll figure out the answers later. That's not the way to do things."
Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel have now filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government and Donald Rumsfeld, who was secretary of defense when they were detained. It is generally very difficult to sue the government, but experts say this case may be different because Vance and Ertel are American citizens; they were civilians held by the U.S. military; and they were detained for such a long time.
Military officials would not comment, but a spokeswoman previously has said the men were treated fairly and humanely. The FBI also declined to comment, as did officials at SGS. The company’s name has changed, but it's still doing business in Iraq. Neither the company, nor its executives, has been charged with any wrongdoing.
Vance says he hopes the lawsuit will reveal why the military held him so long, and why he was denied the legal protections guaranteed American citizens.
"This is just another step of our Constitution slowly being whittled away," says Vance when asked why with all the tragedies and injustice in Iraq anyone should care about his story. "It's basic fundamental rights of our founding fathers."
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
tea part with the coppers
Now Playing: The police dont show in Portland - But NY city is another story
The Tea Party in Portland oregon ahd no police at it
I think the police in Portland only come out when its the left who is protesting. The Right was out in large numbers on April 15 in Pioneer Square;
Z3 Readers I wanted to share an account form a different perspective. The following article is from an economics blogger who I do like reading his insights on the economic system, but his right wing colors do come blazing out sometimes. In the article I will share below this rant, I wanted to note his observations on the "police contro;" and his insight on the "its the law" mentality many officers will take when they know they are enforcing bad rules:
Just so you Shooters know: I held the umbrella while Sam snapped the photos.
A Shooter sends us their account from my old hometown.
I attended the NYC Tea Party with my kids. I wanted them to experience political activism by protesting out of control government, mad deficit spending, bailout boondoggles that will encumber them for the rest of their lives, and the rapid descent into socialism granted in the bailout bill without public discussion or vote. The Congress voted for the bill without the benefit of reading it! An act for which they should be imprisoned!
The rally was scheduled to be held in City Hall Park across from City Hall. Police were everywhere in clusters of 5-6. Police cars, vans and command vehicles lined the streets. They had the park closed and barricaded. Police would not let anyone walk around to the south if they were carrying a sign. We tried to walk across the park, but were refused admission by police. I asked if this was not a public park.
And they admitted it was but refused entry. My teenage girls carried their signs folded and out of site. I tried to encourage them to hold them up with pride, but they told me they felt scared and intimidated by the police. We were routed up several blocks, then across and then down to get to the rally. The park remained empty and barricaded. Police had set up metal barriers along the street so that there was only a narrow lane between the street and the metal fence of the park. This resulted in a diffused body that was half spread out a quarter mile down Broadway, and half on the sidewalk on the other side of Broadway and across a closed side street. You could not move or get close to the speakers.
The energy of the crowd was good, but had fewer and not as good signs as the ones out west. There might have been 1000 people there. (Rough guess). I was appalled by the feeling of repression and complete disregard for free speech and public assembly rights essential to our Bill of Rights. I heard people complaining that they were not being permitted to walk where they wanted to. When we were ready to leave we gave our signs away, so that police wouldn’t block our route back to the car, but they wouldn’t let us walk a block south to our car. We were told we had to go north, across, and back down about 8 blocks out of our way.
The stoic, expressionless responses of the cops, saying, “it’s not my idea, just following orders,” is scary to experience because it makes me see that armed forces aren’t there to defend the constitution, they are there to execute the orders of the superiors as directed by whatever politician happens to hold the power. Didn’t they take an oath to defend the constitution as I did? Why is there no accountability for this? Then I remember that the president took that oath as well.
The way that this was handled does not reflect well on NYC. It is the same heavy-handed treatment that protesters received during the political convention, for which NYC is still handling the many civil actions.
The humorous piece for me when we left the party was when my kids said they were relieved because they had thought I was the only one who felt this way about the government handling of the economy!
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 20 April 2009
Military Suicides - And Medicated Soliders - Can Someone Help?
Now Playing: UGLY OLD WAR - military suicides up to 18 per day - and the beat goes on
Casualties of war
Desperate veterans turn to suicide
VA blamed for failing to help Iraq, Afghan veterans
Marney Rich Keenan / The Detroit News
On June 11, 2006, at 8:30 p.m., Randen Harvey, a 24-year-old Marine Corps veteran, walked into the emergency room of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Ann Arbor in such a state of despair he warned he "might jump off the roof or put a hose in his car exhaust."
Four hours later, around 1 a.m., he was found on the roof of the nine-story building. Hospital security had to be called to bring him down.
Three days later, on June 15, the Marine who served two back-to-back combat tours in Iraq surrendered to his demons. He was found sprawled on the tile floor in the bathroom of his father's Farmington Hills home, dead from an overdose of street and prescription drugs.
Several branches of the military are reporting significant spikes in the number of suicides committed by both active-duty troops and veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts are calling the number of military-related suicides sweeping the country an "epidemic."
Survivors of veterans who committed suicide are starting to file lawsuits, accusing the VA of medical malpractice. The agency also has come under attack by lawmakers and veterans' groups charging that it failed to treat injured veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The agency also has been accused of manipulating suicide statistics to downplay the problem and systematically misdiagnosing returning combat soldiers who suffer mental illness because their resources are tapped.
"We are murdering our own children here," said the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., in an interview with The Detroit News.
"The tragedy is we could have predicted this, what with multiple deployments, the type of urban warfare and the almost inevitable killing of innocent people. Now we have an epidemic on our hands. This is a national disgrace."
Veterans groups say they are bracing for a flood of soldiers coming home from Iraq to a Veterans Affairs system that is ill-equipped to treat them and a country in the grips of a recession with few or no jobs to offer soldiers.
Harvey was honorably discharged less than seven months before he committed suicide. He came home only to find he couldn't sleep, couldn't hold a job, couldn't stand to be in public, couldn't stay sober and couldn't be around the family who loved him.
The night he was found on the roof of the hospital, he told a VA psychiatrist: "I am at the end of my rope. Things would be much easier if I weren't here." But because Harvey had failed a Breathalyzer test, he was discharged.The following morning Harvey returned to the hospital and was examined by Dr. Brian Martis, associate director of psychiatry at the Ann Arbor VA. Harvey told the psychiatrist he felt "hopeless" and "ashamed." Still, Harvey was not admitted to the hospital.
Instead, the veteran who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, panic anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse -- the same patient who had tried to commit suicide two months prior and who, only hours earlier, had been talked down from the hospital roof -- was, in Martis' words, "not certifiable" -- hospital code for not sick enough to be involuntarily committed.
In a lawsuit, Harvey's family claims that Veterans Affairs, the organization President Abraham Lincoln said was charged "to care for him who shall have borne the battle," failed to keep him from taking his own life.
His mother, Jackie Green of Brooklyn, filed the medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Officials at the Ann Arbor Veteran Affairs facility where her son sought help, declined to comment for this story because the case is in litigation.
Green referred to her four sons from two marriages as The Brothers, as if they are one unit, one force with which to be reckoned: "You better run that by 'The Brothers,' " she'll say. Or: "The Brothers don't agree." Michael Sheppard is 35, David Sheppard, 33, Ryan Sheppard, 29 and Harvey, the youngest, would have been 27 on Feb. 1.
His relatives describe Harvey as the "glue," the "heart" of the family, with "the most infectious laugh you've ever heard."
The boys grew up on 80 acres in Comins in Oscoda County. Green, then a divorcee, moved from Ferndale to the country where her sons could have four-wheelers, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.
While the brothers have their own share of pain, Michael Sheppard seems the hardest hit. Last February, he was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Now, Sheppard finds himself thinking about what might have been.
When Harvey announced he was joining the Marines, Sheppard, a four-year Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War, re-enlisted. He joined his little brother at basic training in San Diego. When Sheppard later suffered a ruptured hamstring, the planned tour of duty together was off. In January 2003, his brother shipped off to Kuwait alone.
Family sees difference
After Harvey was discharged in November 2005, Green says she could see the difference in his eyes. "He looked so haunted," she says.
That Christmas, surrounded by relatives, Harvey had to leave his mother's house. He said he felt claustrophobic. By spring he was sleeping outside on the porch with a handmade machete.
He tried working at Best Buy but had a panic attack in the middle of a shift and never went back. Then he tried working for a landscaping business. When a lawnmower engine backfired, he lost it. Humiliated, he said: "I'm afraid of a frigging lawn mower!"
In the span of six weeks, in early 2006, Harvey got two drunken driving tickets. His mother tried to intervene: "I pointed out to him the worst person in the world doesn't just all of a sudden start getting drunk driving convictions. You need help," Green recalled.
On March 31, 2006, when Harvey was first seen by the Ann Arbor VA's urgent care facility, he said he could sleep only four hours a night. He admitted that he'd been cutting himself on his arms, but denied that he was suicidal.
Harvey was given prescriptions for Xanax and Wellbutrin, both antidepressants.
Two weeks later, on April 16, 2006, he swallowed what was left of the prescriptions and ended up in the VA hospital in Detroit for the night. But he downplayed it to his family, saying it was "just a panic attack."
On May 3, 2006, about five weeks before he died, Harvey was evaluated in the post-traumatic stress disorder clinic in Ann Arbor.
A physician wrote in his chart: "Patient says his motor transport unit was assigned 'cleanup duty' of casualties. P. says he felt disgusted and horrified by the site of dead and mutilated bodies especially by those of dead women and children. 'We bagged them and threw them in the truck like it was garbage day.' At one point he says he vomited from those sights and smells."
Real tragedy of war
A day after her son died, Green said she received two phone calls. One was from an intake counselor at the VA Battle Creek Medical Center saying they had a bed available for his long-term residential care. "He was one day away from getting help," she says ruefully. "One damned day."
The other was from the physician in Ann Arbor who had decided hours after his patient climbed up on a roof that he would release him. Jackie says he called to apologize. He said he would not make the same decision again. She screamed at him: "Why didn't you lock my son up? He might be alive if you had."
In retrospect, the grieving mother says: "You know it's a terrible thing to say about your dead son. But he looked so at peace. He just looked like all the war had been drained out of him. And it strikes me as so sad, a tragedy really, that he had to die to be at peace."
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Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:46 PM PDT
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