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[casi] Witnesses testify to beating of Iraqi prisoners by four soldiers

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Associated Press
Posted on Thu, Aug. 28, 2003

UMM QASR, Iraq - In a second day of testimony Thursday
to determine whether charges of mistreating prisoners
of war should be brought against four U.S. Army
reservists from Pennsylvania, an officer testified he
saw a prisoner being thrown to the ground and other
prisoners being punched.

"I saw what appeared to be a punch," Staff Sgt. Donald
Bragg testified, in a tent courtroom at Camp Bucca,
where the prisoners were being taken when allegedly
mistreated in May.

Possible charges against the four include dereliction
of duty, assault, maltreatment of prisoners, conspiracy
to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

The hearing near Umm Qasr, a southern port city, is the
equivalent of a civilian grand jury investigation that
will produce a nonbinding recommendation to be
forwarded to Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the
800th Military Police Brigade, for a final judgment.

He could decide to ignore the allegations, set
penalties or call for a courts martial.

The four - Spc. Timothy Canjar, 21; Sgt. Shawna
Edmondson, 24; Master Sgt. Lisa Marie Girman, 35, and
Staff Sgt. Scott A. McKenzie, 38 - are all from the
320th Military Police Battalion, based in Ashley, Pa.

They are alleged to have punched and kicked several
Iraqis, breaking one man's nose, while escorting a
busload of prisoners to the Camp Bucca POW processing
center. The soldiers have said they acted in self-

Thursday's session was adjourned after a few hours to
allow the defense counsel to consult with their

On Wednesday, several government witnesses said they
saw prisoners being treated with excessive violence.

Spc. Brian Taylor said he saw McKenzie kicking a
prisoner in the groin.

Spc. Diane Rider testified that Edmondson, a close
friend of hers, told her the soldiers physically harmed
a prisoner who was allegedly a rapist.

"She said they did it to teach the prisoner a lesson on
how to treat women because he was charged with rape,"
she said.

Rider said Edmondson told her she met with other
members of her unit after an investigation into the
allegations was launched, prompting the government
attorneys to add the possible charges of conspiracy to
obstruct justice and obstruction of justice to the list
of charges.

Several of the reservists have experience in handling
prisoners in their civilian jobs.

Girman, a Pennsylvania state trooper for 14 years,
served at a POW camp during the 1991 Gulf War.
McKenzie, who was decorated for his previous service in
Bosnia, is a lieutenant in a boot camp-style prison run
by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
Edmondson is a campus security officer at the
University of Scranton, where she also takes classes.

The case has caused an uproar in Pennsylvania, where
relatives of the accused have enlisted the help of
politicians, veterans' groups and friends to support
the four reservists.[1]


Occupied Iraq Will Never Know Peace

Tariq Ali
The Age

August 27, 2003

The recolonisation of Iraq is not proceeding smoothly.
The resistance in the country (and in Palestine) is
not, as Israeli and Western propagandists like to
argue, a case of Islam gone mad. It is, in both cases,
a direct consequence of the occupation.

Before the recent war, some of us argued that the Iraqi
people, however much they despised Saddam Hussein,
would not take kindly to being occupied by the United
States and its British adjutant.

Contrary to the cocooned Iraqis who had been on the US
payroll for far too long and who told George Bush that
US troops would be garlanded with flowers and given
sweets, we warned that the occupation would lead to the
harrying and killing of Western soldiers every day and
would soon develop into a low-intensity guerilla war.

The fact that events have vindicated this analysis is
no reason to celebrate. The entire country is now in a
mess and the situation is much worse than it was before
the conflict.

The only explanation provided by Western news managers
for the resistance is that these are dissatisfied
remnants of the old regime.

This week Washington contradicted its propaganda by
deciding to recruit the real remnants of the old state
apparatus - the secret police - to try to track down
the resistance organisations, which number more than 40
different groups. The demonstrations in Basra and the
deaths of more British soldiers are a clear indication
these former bastions of anti-Saddam sentiment are now
prepared to join the struggle.

The bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad shocked
the West, but as Jamie Tarabay of the Associated Press
reported in a dispatch from the Iraqi capital last
week, there is a deep ambivalence towards the UN among
ordinary Iraqis. This is an understatement.

In fact, the UN is seen as one of Washington's more
ruthless enforcers. It supervised the sanctions that,
according to UNICEF figures, were directly responsible
for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children and a
horrific rise in the mortality rate. Two senior UN
officials, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck,
resigned in protest against these policies, explaining
that the UN had failed in its duties to the people of

Simultaneously the US and Britain, with UN approval,
rained hundreds of tonnes of bombs and thousands of
missiles on Iraq from 1992 onwards and, in 1999, US
officials calmly informed The Wall Street Journal that
they had run out of targets.

By 2001, the bombardment of Iraq had lasted longer than
the US invasion of Vietnam.

That's why the UN is not viewed sympathetically by many
Iraqis. The recent Security Council decision to
retrospectively sanction the occupation, a direct
breach of the UN charter, has only added to the anger.

All this poses the question of whether the UN today is
anything more than a cleaning-up operation for the
American Empire?

The effects of the Iraqi resistance are now beginning
to be felt in both the occupying countries. The latest
Newsweek poll reveals that President Bush's approval
ratings are down 18 points to 53 per cent and, for the
first time since September 11, more registered voters
(49 per cent) say they would not like to see him re-
elected. This can only get worse (or better, depending
on one's point of view) as US casualties in Iraq
continue to rise.

In Britain more than two-thirds of the population now
believe that Tony Blair lied to them on Iraq. This view
is shared by senior figures in the establishment. There
was open disquiet within the armed forces before the
war. Some generals were not too pleased by the sight of
their Prime Minister, snarling at the leash like a
petty mastiff, as he prepared to dispatch a third of
the British army to help occupy one of the country's
largest former colonies in the Middle East.

After the capture of Baghdad, Sir Rodric Braithwaite,
the former head of the joint intelligence committee and
a former national security adviser to Blair, wrote an
astonishing letter to the Financial Times in which he
accused Blair of having deliberately engineered a war
hysteria to frighten a deeply sceptical population into
backing a war. Fishmongers sell fish, warmongers sell
war, wrote Braithwaite, arguing that Blair had oversold
his wares.

This anger within the establishment came to a head with
the alleged suicide of the Ministry of Defence's
leading scientist, Dr David Kelly, and forced a
judicial inquiry, a form of therapy much favoured by
the English ruling class.

This week Blair will be interrogated before Lord
Hutton, but already the inquiry has uncovered a mound
of wriggling worms.

There is talk now that New Labour will offer the
Defence Secretary, a talentless mediocrity by the name
of Geoff Hoon, as a blood sacrifice to calm the public.
But what if Hoon refuses to go alone? After all, he
knows where the bodies are buried.

And Australia? Here the Prime Minister - a perennial
parrot on the imperial shoulder - managed to pull his
troops out before the resistance began. They were badly
needed in the Solomon Islands. Like Blair, John Howard
parroted untruths to justify the war and, like Blair,
he's lucky that the official Opposition is led by a
weak-kneed and ineffective politician scared of his own

And one day, when the children of dead Iraqis and
Americans ask why their parents died, the answer will
come: because the politicians lied.

Meanwhile, there will be no peace as long as Palestine
and Iraq continue to be occupied - and no amount of
apologetics will conceal this fact.

Tariq Ali has been in Australia as a guest of the Age
Melbourne Writers' Festival. His next book, Bush in
Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq, will be published
by Verso in October.

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