Is General Petraeus Trying to Undercut Obama?

More news is coming out about the Petraeus/Odierno/Keane effort to undercut President Obama and his plans to withdrawal from Iraq. As before, IPS's Gareth Porter is the one breaking the news -and his latest story is stunning.

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Signs of Abuse? Iraqi Shoe-Throwing Journalist Kept from Court

Al Zaida was scheduled to appear in court today for the first hearings of charges against him for this weekend's shoe toss. But Iraqi officials did not let him appear and his family is very worried about what this means:

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News Giving Me the Jitters About an Attack on Iran

While poking around Iraqi news I ran across an odd little piece in the Arab Times reporting that Israel was denying reports that Israeli fighter jets were using US bases in Iraq to practice for an attack on Iran. My perennial worry about an attack on Iran kicked in - and was not eased by the report in the Sunday Times of London that Bush has "amber lighted" an Israeli attack on Iran:

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Did An Iraqi Soldier Kill US Troops for Kicking a Pregnant Woman?

Yesterday there were a flurry of reports about an Iraqi soldier shooting and killing two US soldiers during a joint mission. Reported as the first time this has happened, the reports in the American press may tell only half the story.

The rather startled reports repeated assertions that the attack was for "reasons unknown." Iraqi reports say the US soldiers were kicking a pregnant Iraqi woman when shot. Here's what we've been able to learn so far.

On December 26, two American soldiers were killed during a "joint Iraqi-U.S. patrol undertaking security duty in al-Haramat area, western Mosul."

The Multinational Force press office initially reported these deaths on December 28:

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Success in Iraq? Not for Iraqi Women

Reporters and too many politicians continue claiming that happy days are here again in Iraq. Golly, that surge has been soooo successful - and things are going just swell. In fact, US soldiers have even been told to treat approaching Iraqi civilians as ... civilians!

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US State Dept Granted Blackwater Immunity in Killing of 17 Civilians

This post, written by Siun, originally appeared on FireDogLake

Remember that Blackwater killing of 17 Iraqi civilians - and the oh so independent investigation that was supposed to dig out the truth (yeah, right).

Well, it seems the investigation is stalled because:*
The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.
The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.
H/T to Marcy who wonders:
Gosh, I couldn't imagine why the State Department would immediately immunize all the guards in this investigation, can you?
Anyway don't you think that's something Condi should have told Waxman's committee the other day ... that these guys had already been given immunity from prosecution and that, therefore, the FBI investigation is likely to end up-like all other investigations of Blackwater-holding no one responsible?
Given the apparent lack of investigatory muscle we've seen on Blackwater, it's encouraging to see that "the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions is planning an official visit to the US to investigate allegations of unlawful killings by US military and non-military actors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Incidents like the killings of Iraqi civilians in Haditha prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and civilian deaths caused by airstrikes in Afghanistan have all raised issues that Alston would like to investigate."

Rumsfeld On the Run From French Torture Charges

This post, written by Siun, originally appeared on FireDogLake

On Friday Donald Rumsfeld arrived in France to give a speech - but he had to leave via a back door that went directly into the US Embassy and then quickly scampered out of the country. Why? He was afraid French prosecutors would act on an indictment brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and several other NGOs.
The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture - and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court - it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.
In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.
While Rumsfeld had apparently gotten out of France before an arrest, the case can be prosecuted since he was in the country when it was filed. As Larry Johnson notes:
One thing is certain, Rummy is now part of an exclusive but growing club of Amcits who face legal peril in foreign lands because they participated (allegedly) in some kind of torture, disappearance, or other violation of international human rights. That means he won't be going on any foreign junkets. Once outside the safe confines of the United States he can be snatched up and hauled off to France to face questioning.
You can listen to an interview with the attorney's bringing the charge at Democracy Now and follow the case at the site for the International Federation for Human Rights. CCR is asking everyone to fax or call the French prosecutors and ask them to bring Rummy to justice - please take a minute to do so.

While Rumsfeld was playing hide and seek with French law, children in Iraq are not playing at all - in fact, this week the UN news service IRIN reported that children are being held in Iraqi prisons - and they too are being tortured:

Anti-War Minister Is Attacked for Trying to Enter Petraeus Hearing

This post, written by Siun, originally appeared on FireDogLake

Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus wanted to attend the Petraeus Hearings yesterday. He stood on line waiting his turn to enter the room. This is what happened to him.
Capitol Hill Police "football tackled" Hip Hop Activist who was in line to enter hearing room for General Petreus' testimony on Capitol Hill
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, was attacked by six capitol police today, when he was stopped from entering the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill, where General Petreaus gave testimony today to a joint hearing for the House Arms Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee on the war in Iraq.
After waiting in line throughout the morning for the hearing that was scheduled to start at 12:30pm, Rev. Yearwood was stopped from entering the room, while others behind him were allowed to enter. He told the officers blocking his ability to enter the room, that he was waiting in line with everyone else and had the right to enter as well. When they threatened him with arrest he responded with "I will not be arrested today." According to witnesses, six capitol police, without warning, "football tackled him. He was carried off in a wheel chair by DC Fire and Emergency to George Washington Hospital.
Rev. Yearwood was examined for possible head and leg injuries then transferred to Central Processing. He has been charged with "assaulting a police officer."
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