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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #188 - 3 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Iraq - the Movie (farbuthnot)
   2. Trying and shaming insurgents on prime time Iraqi TV (The Iraq Solidarity Campaign)
   3. Crumbling unwilling 'coalition' (farbuthnot)


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 10:56:38 +0000
Subject: Iraq - the Movie
From: "farbuthnot" <>

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

It's official, there are some sub-human species out there. f.

 Printer Friendly Version  E-Mail This Article  =A0
=A0Published on Monday, March 14, 2005 by the Los Angeles Times
Extreme Cinema Verite
GIs Shoot Iraq battle Footage and Edit it Into Music Videos Filled with
Death and Destruction. And they Display their Work as Entertainment.

by Louise Roug
BAQUBAH, IRAQ -- When Pfc. Chase McCollough went home on leave in November,
he brought a movie made by fellow soldiers in Iraq. On his first night back
at his parents' house in Texas, he showed the video to his fiancee, family
and friends.
This is what they saw: a handful of American soldiers filmed through the
green haze of night-vision goggles. Radio communication between two soldier=
crackles in the background before it's drowned out by a heavy-metal
"Don't need your forgiveness," the song by the band Dope begins as images
unfurl: armed soldiers posing in front of Bradley fighting vehicles, two
women covered in black abayas walking along a dusty road, a blue-domed
mosque, a poster of radical cleric Muqtada Sadr. Then, to the fast, hard
beat of the music =8B "Die, don't need your resistance. Die, don't need you=
prayers" =8B charred, decapitated and bloody corpses fill the screen.
"It's like a trophy, something to keep," McCullough, 20, said back at his
cramped living quarters at Camp Warhorse near Baqubah. "I was there. I did
Film cameras arrived at the front during World War II, but soldiers didn't
really document their own combat experience until the Vietnam War. (The
technology didn't lend itself to amateur moviemaking until the arrival of
the smaller Super 8 cameras.)
Today, video cameras are lightweight and digital technology has cut out the
need for processing. Having captured a firefight on video, a soldier can
create a movie and distribute it via e-mail, uncensored by the military.
With editing software such as Avid and access to Internet connections on
military bases here, U.S. soldiers are creating fast-paced, MTV-style music
videos using images from actual firefights and killings.
Troops often carry personal cameras and video equipment in battle. On
occasion, official military camera crews, known as "Combat Camera" units,
follow the troops on raids and patrol. Although the military uses that
footage for training and public affairs, it also finds its way to personal
computers and commercial websites.
The result: an abundance of photographs and video footage depicting
mutilation, death and destruction that soldiers collect and trade like
baseball cards.
"I have a lot of pictures of dead Iraqis =8B everybody does," said Spc. Jac=
Benson, 22, also stationed near Baqubah. He has collected five videos by
other soldiers and is working on his own.
By adding music, soldiers create their own cinema verite of the conflict.
Although many are humorous or patriotic, others are gory, like McCollough's
"It gets the point across," he said. "This isn't some jolly freakin'
peacekeeping mission."
Commanders have discretion to establish regulations concerning photography
on base, but common-sense rules apply, an Army spokesman said. Images that
threaten operational security =8B such as pictures of military installation=
or equipment =8B are not allowed.
Before being deployed to Iraq, some Marines were told they could not take
pictures of detainees, dead or wounded Iraqis or American casualties. But
photographs and videos of dead and maimed Iraqis proliferate.
"It doesn't bother you so much taking pictures of the guy who was just
shooting at you," McCullough said. He added that he hadn't seen any picture=
of dead U.S. soldiers. "It's just a little too morbid, a little too close t=
On the bases where Benson and McCullough live, the Army regularly searches
soldiers' quarters for drugs, alcohol and pornography as part of what it
calls health and safety inspections. But searching personal laptops would
infringe on soldiers' privacy, said Capt. Douglas Moore, a judge advocate
general officer with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Warhorse. Besides, if
this brand of filmmaking breaks rules, they're of a different kind.
"It's in poor taste," Moore said, "kind of sick."
McCullough was surprised that his favorite video was disturbing to his love=
ones back in Texas.
"You find out just how weird it is when you take it home," said McCullough,
whose screensaver is far more benign, showing him on his wedding day.
Brandi McCullough, then his fiancee and now his wife, said she had walked i=
as he was showing the videos to friends who were "whooping and hollering."
The 18-year-old was shocked by images of "body parts missing, bombs going
off and people getting shot."
"They're terrifying," she said by phone from Texas. "Chase never talked
about anything over there, and I watch the news, but not all the time. I
didn't realize there was that much" violence.
She also wondered why anyone would record it.
"I thought it was odd =8B a home video," she said. "People getting shot and
someone sitting there with a camera."
McCullough said his father, a naval reserve captain, had told him, " 'You
know, this isn't normal.'
"They were pretty shocked," he said. "They didn't realize this is what we
Daniel Nelson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati
School of Medicine, said he understood the disconnect.
"I'm not surprised about this =8B it's a new consciousness that we're
beginning to see," he said, comparing the videos to the Abu Ghraib prisoner
abuse photographs. "What happens in this situation, the culture is endorsin=
something that would be prohibited in another context stateside."
What seems disrespectful or a trivialization is also a way for soldiers to
distance themselves from the trauma, he said, which says: "I don't want to
see what I've done or experienced as real."
The creation of videos resembles what Nelson has seen in his work with
traumatized children and Vietnam veterans, he said.
"How do we create the story about our lives?" he asked. "Part of the healin=
process is for them to create a narrative, to organize an emotional story
that allows them to get a handle on it."
Thomas Doherty, chairman of the film studies program at Brandeis University
and author of "Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture and World Wa=
II," called the videos an authentic diary of the war.
"There's always the disconnect between the front-line soldier and the
sheltered home front," he said. "It's a World War II ethos: You don't bring
it home."
After watching the video, Doherty said, "Of course you're struck by the
gruesomeness of the carnage, but it's a wide range of images."
He went on to praise "the contra-punctual editing =8B the beat of the tune =
the flash of the images," calling it "a very slick piece of work."
"The MTV generation goes to war," he said. "They should enter it at
In another video, made by members of the Florida National Guard, soldiers
are shown kicking a wounded prisoner in the face and making the arm of a
corpse appear to wave. The DVD, which is called "Ramadi Madness," includes
sections with titles such as "Those Crafty Little Bastards" and "Another
Day, Another Mission, Another Scumbag," came to light in early March after
the American Civil Liberties Union obtained Army documents using the Freedo=
of Information Act.
James Ross, senior legal advisor for Human Rights Watch, called it
"disturbing that soldiers are making videos like that." But he added, "It
doesn't mean that it's necessarily a violation of the Geneva Convention."
The Geneva Convention instructs that remains of deceased shall be respected
and not "exposed to public curiosity," Ross said. "It's not putting heads o=
spikes and things like that. To argue you can't photograph [a body] would b=
a bit of a stretch."
Several websites sell footage from the war.
"Militants fight in the streets of Baghdad, looting, lawlessness," is how
clips are advertised on A Las Vegas-based company,, offers $50 and $100 clips that include older footage of
Saddam Hussein, Jessica Lynch, aerial bombardment and "sooooo many bombs."
The site also advertises video showing an Iraqi fuel truck being destroyed
by U.S. bombs during the invasion in March 2003.
Another website advertises, " is the place to find those
pump-you-up-to-kill-the-bad-guys videos everyone has been talking about."
Spc. Scott Schroder, a gunner with Task Force 2-63, wouldn't show what he
described as the "evil, nasty kill-videos," to his family.
"That's cool with the guys," he said. "I don't think my mom would care to
see any of these videos."
Another specialist, who wouldn't give his name, said the bloody videos
disgusted him.
"I wouldn't watch them, and the people I work with wouldn't watch them,"
said the specialist, stationed at a base near Mosul in northern Iraq. "I
don't think it's proper."
We compared the violent videos to those made by insurgents showing
"You bring yourself down to their level," he said. "Why would you do that?"
A poster for the video game "Grand Theft Auto" is pinned to the door of
McCullough's room at Camp Warhorse.
Watching the home videos gives him a different perspective on combat, he
said. Details are missed in the heat of battle, and the military "could use
it as a tool, kind of like how they do it with high school football."
His roommate, 30-year-old Sgt. Benjamin Bronkema from Lafayette, Ind., said
he was surprised no one had tried to sell the movies yet.
"If I had a copy of it, and MTV called, I'd sell it," he said. The videos
are no different than what's on screen at the cinema, showing glorified
violence, he added.
"It's no more graphic than 'Saving Private Ryan,' " he said. "To us, it's n=
different than watching a movie."
Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times


Message: 2
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 12:46:00 +0000 (GMT)
From: The Iraq Solidarity Campaign <>
Subject: Trying and shaming insurgents on prime time Iraqi TV

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Trying and shaming insurgents on prime time Iraqi TV
By Sam Dagher Agence France-Presse BAGHDAD . This is a hot one and comes wi=
th a special recommendation from the interior minister himself, says a man =
with a prosthetic arm tossing a video tape on Karim Abdul- Jabbar's desk.

In a cramped room filled with rows of archived tapes at Iraq's state-owned =
television station Al-Iraqiyah, Jabbar and two other technicians are busy f=
ormatting and editing taped confessions of alleged insurgents and criminals=
 for the nightly show Terrorists in the Grip of Justice. Saddam cut off Bas=
sem's hand because he was a money changer, says the thin and greying Jabbar=
, 42, as he lights up a cigarette and rewinds footage of a purported Saudi =
admitting to having come to Iraq for Jihad (holy war).

This show is therapeutic for people.

The programme, which has been on the air for less than a month, has already=
 stirred up Iraqis. Many want the alleged criminals and terrorists parading=
 on the screen to be publicly executed, while a few say it is government pr=
opaganda to sully the image of the true resistance fighters and to portray =
them as a group of psychopaths and criminals beholden to foreign powers, ma=
inly Syria.

Iraqi officials and those behind the programme say they have a moral duty t=
o the public to show the culprits of the car bombings and killings that pla=
gue Iraq two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Legal and human rights=
 experts say the confessions are tantamount to military court trials and ar=
e the wrong start given Iraq's democratic aspirations.

Yes sir, it is my fault,=B2says Hamid Al Huwaidi as the camera closes up on=
 his nervous face. He just admitted to having issued fatwas (religious edic=
ts) to permit the killing of dozens of Iraqi soldiers in the northern city =
of Mosul for being collaborators with the US occupation. Then footage of a =
video previously released by militant group Ansar Al Sunna is mixed in to s=
how Iraqi soldiers shot in the back and slumping one after the other in poo=
ls of blood.

The idea for the programme began in Mosul, explains Abdel-Karim Hamadi, the=
 head of news at Iraqiyah, which was started and funded by the previous US-=
led occupation authority. The network continues to receive technical assist=
ance from US communications company Harris Corporation under a US-funded co=

Hamadi says their Mosul affiliate received in January taped confessions fro=
m a commander in the Iraqi army's special forces who goes by the pseudonym =
Abu Al Walid. It was an immediate success, so I asked them to do something =
longer and detailed, you know more like a documentary, says Hamadi, who oft=
en interviews Iraq's tough-talking outgoing premier Iyad Allawi.

In one episode, a woman in Mosul identifies the alleged killer of her polic=
eman son Omar Jamal, 17, after having seen the man admit to that on a previ=
ous episode. It is him, the blond one, she points to a bruised and nervous =
man standing in a line up of suspects under the gaze of soldiers from Abu A=
l Walid's group nicknamed the Wolf Brigade. What should we do with him? ask=
s an unidentified male voice. Holding a photograph of her son, she pauses a=
nd then responds: Do with him what you see fit, avenge me.

In another episode produced by Abu Al Walid's team a man in his early 20s a=
dmits to having carried out roadside bombings and other operations against =
US and Iraqi forces in return for payments not exceeding $100. Now tell our=
 viewers about your family, says a stern unidentified voice. My mother was =
a whore sir and my brother and I are gay, says the man.

The group's alleged emir, or prince, who is branded by the military interro=
gator as a sodomite confesses to having links with hardline clerics in Saud=
i Arabia, including its highest religious authority Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sh=

I watch it the whole time, but the interrogation is very respectful and gen=
tle, they do not deserve it, says Shula Ali, 52, commenting on the show and=
 identifying herself as a human rights activist.

They should be exterminated.

The family of Qahtan Adnan, who appeared badly bruised in one of the episod=
es, said on Friday that it has received his dead body.

The ex-policeman confessed to having been coerced by insurgents to join the=
m and to shoot a fellow police officer in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

This is right out of Saddam's book, charges Qassem Al Sabti, an artist from=
 Baghdad. An Iraqi expert says the programme goes against everything in the=
 country's legal codes and the interim law signed by Iraq's former US admin=
istrator Paul Bremer.

You have a military and not a judicial body interrogating and charging peop=
le, says Abdul-Majid al-Sabawi, a law professor at Mustansiriyah University=
. Iraq's interim human rights minister denies detainees were abused.

These programmes have had a sobering effect on people, says Bakhtiar Amin. =
There is more cooperation with security forces and they show that our force=
s are making a difference.

The Jordan Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Iraq Solidarity Campaign
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Message: 3
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 16:08:46 +0000
Subject: Crumbling unwilling 'coalition'
From: "farbuthnot" <>

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Americans Call Iraq War Mistake, =8CCoalition=B9 Shrinks
A library photo of an anti-Bush rally in the US.=A0
ROME, March 16, 2005 ( & News Agencies) =AD Two years after =
US-led war on Iraq, a majority of Americans called the war a mistake and
believed that their troops were bogged down in the Arab country as the
US-led =B3coalition=B2 started shrinking after close ally Italy decided to =
troops pullout in September, a US poll revealed on Wednesday, March 16.
Of the surveyed, 57 percent said they disapprove of President George W.
Bush=B9s handling of Iraq, and 70 percent said the number of US casualties,
including more than 1,500 deaths, is an unacceptable price, according to a
new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
=B3Over the past two years, Americans rallied around Bush in the initial
stages of the war but grew increasingly disillusioned,=B2 the Post commente=
=B3While 43 percent believe the administration deliberately misled the
country, for the first time in a Post-ABC poll, a majority (51 percent)
called the war in Iraq a mistake.=B2
On the day Baghdad fell in April 2003, just 16 percent called the war a
mistake and 81 percent said it was the right thing to do.
=B3Plurality of Americans said the war has damaged this country's standing
around the world, with 41 percent saying the US position is weaker, 28
percent saying it is stronger,=B2 showed the survey.
Two years ago, 52 percent said the war had made the US position stronger,
vs. 12 percent who said it was weaker.
Shrinking =B3Coalition=B2
In a fresh blow to wartime Bush, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
said Tuesday, March 15, that his country would begin withdrawing its troops
from Iraq in September.
=B3We will begin a progressive reduction of the number of our soldiers in I=
in September,=B2 Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Berlusconi as saying,
shortly after lawmakers voted to maintain the 3,000-strong force for anothe=
six months.
Berlusconi said he had spoken with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and ha=
concluded that public opinion in both countries favored a troop withdrawal.
=B3I spoke to Tony Blair about it, and public opinion in our countries is
expecting this decision,=B2 he said.
Italian deputies voted by a large majority Tuesday to maintain Rome's 3,000
troops in Iraq for another six months, mirroring the approval of the upper
house Senate last month.
Berlusconi's centre-right government deployed the peacekeeping force in Jun=
2003, following the US-led invasion of Iraq. Italy fields the third-largest
contingent of foreign troops in the country, after the United States and
Pressure has mounted on him to withdraw the troops since intelligence agent
Nicola Calipari was killed earlier this month by US soldiers shortly after
rescuing an Italian hostage.
Reporter Giuliana Sgrena was wounded when US troops opened fire on her car
as she was heading for Baghdad airport with Calipari, who shielded her from
a hail of gunfire.
The incident soured relations between the United States and Italy, whose
government is one of Washington's closest allies in the war on Iraq despite
hostile public opinion.
Sgrena was operated on Monday, March 14, for the bullet wound.
Specialist Sandro Luziatelli, announcing the operation, said her condition
was improving but a second operation would probably be necessary.
=B3Serious Mistake=B2
A file photo of an Italian soldier in Iraq. (Reuters)=A0
=B3(Bush) knows that he can't let down a loyal ally,=B2 Reuters quoted
Berlusconi as saying, adding that the killing of the Italian agent was a
=B3serious mistake.=B2
The United States, however, downplayed Berlusconi=B9s statements and said
there was no link to a dispute over the slain Italian security agent.
=B3We certainly appreciate the contributions of the Italians. They have ser=
and sacrificed alongside Iraqis and alongside other coalition forces,=B2 sa=
White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Italy expressed on March 8 skepticism over a US version on the shooting
Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini dismissed Washington's view that a lack of
communication was responsible for the death of Calipari, and demanded that
the United States =B3identify and punish=B2 those responsible for the shoot=
Sgrena herself said US occupation forces in Iraq deliberately tried to kill
her because Washington opposed negotiations with her kidnappers.
Just hours before Berlusconi announced his decision, an Italian solider die=
in Iraq during a target-shooting exercise. Twenty-one Italian soldiers have
died in Iraq.
Several thousand people took to the streets of Rome during an anti-war
demonstration in October, demanding the pullout of the Italian troops from
the Arab country.
Earlier on Tuesday, Bulgaria's president said his country should withdraw
its 450 troops from Iraq by the end of this year after a Bulgarian soldier
was accidentally killed by US forces. A final decision is expected by the
end of the month. Back To News Page
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