Remaining Peace Activist Hostages Released

Less than two weeks after reports of the brutal torture and killing of Tom Fox, the sole American member of the Christian Peacemaker Team that had been held hostage in Iraq since November, the three remaining hostages are being reported as rescued on the streets of Baghdad.

BBC News reports:

One British and two Canadian peace activists held hostage in Iraq have been freed in an operation by multinational forces.Norman Kember, 74, of Pinner, north-west London, was seized in Baghdad with two Canadians and an American in November.

Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were also freed in the operation on Thursday.


Only 6 Months for Abu Ghraib Dog-Handler?!?!?

abu ghraib dog handlerSgt. Michael Smith, who was convicted yesterday on charges of tormenting prisoners at Abu Ghraib, has been sentenced today by a military jury.

The unrepentant Sgt. Smith received a measly six month sentence for mistreating Iraqi prisoners with a snarling, unmuzzled, black Belgian Shepherd.

“Soldiers are not supposed to be soft and cuddly,” he told the court.

Among other things, Smith allowed his dog to participate in videotaped lewd acts (licking peanut butter off of one soldier’s testicles and another’s breasts in separate dares), and competed with another dog-handler — who will be tried in May — to frighten detainees into soiling themselves.

Several of the photos introduced as evidence are familiar around the world as part of the much criticized images of American soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib that were released to the public in 2004.

“What you’re seeing is what the department has committed itself to — a very broad and a very deep review of its detention operations across the board,” said a Pentagon spokesman.

Human rights groups are disappointed with the leniency of the sentence and argue that responsibility for clarifying unconventional interrogation techniques lay at the highest levels of government.

“Our soldiers shouldn’t be forced to sort out what manners of interrogation are permissible by watching who is convicted of what,” said Jean Aylward, a lawyer for Human Rights First.

Sgt. Smith, who must also pay $2,250 in fines, will be released from the military with a bad conduct discharge — one step above “dishonorable discharge” — following his six month sentence.

Smith could have faced up to 24 years if convicted on all 13 counts (he was convicted on 6). He was sentenced instead to a mere 179 days — one of the shortest sentences for our Abu Ghraib symbols of scandal.

Where is the justice? Can you hear the ICC knocking? Even Baghdad finds the U.S.-run court system there to be out-of-whack.


Err Rumsfeld

Since this cannot possibly get enough ink, allow me to repeat what this moron actually printed in a signed column in Sunday’s Washington Post:

Leaving Iraq now “would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.”

This from a living American leader who once canceled a trip to Germany out of fear of arrest following the 2005 release of the Abu Ghraib photos. As the Center for Constitutional Rights has it:

German law allows German courts to prosecute for killing, torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, forcible transfers and sexual coercion such as occurred at Abu Ghraib.

Rumsfeld’s implication that leaving Iraq would LEAD to Holocaust-like conditions is even more wickedly ironic in light of this March 20 Knight Ridder headline:

Iraqi Troops Say U.S. Executed 11, Including Baby

Daily War News covers the above accusation in depth, including a scan and translation of the official Iraqi documents condemning the U.S. troops involved.

Rumsfeld’s statement is more than just a little delusional, considering his Pentagon is pawning off their superfluous small arms to the like of Taiwan. This list of bloggers calling for Rumsfeld’s indictment or worse, continues growing.Or is he just playing the fall guy — finally to take one for the team, as The Guardian UK suggests (h/t Bubblejam). Three more reasons Rummy is just dead wrong are here. The asshole stamps his signature on letters of condolence to relatives still left wondering why.

President Bush, for his part continues pontificating in a way that presents freedom as an us-vs-them scenario that appears to exist nowhere outside of his big head. (Read Russ’ radicalized version of the speech). When will the media stop playing make-believe with him? Mr. President… your nose is growing

UPDATE: Sen. Feinstein is onboard for the Rummy upheaval.

cartoon by Tom Englehart, 3/16/06
cartoon by Bob Englehart for the Hartford Courant, March 15, 2006

Los Angeles media Uncategorized video

D. Heimpel Presents

Colleague and friend Daniel Heimpel wrote and produced the following video for Annenberg Television News. Additionally, check out his piece on the Manual Arts High School lacrosse team here. Enjoy.

Latino 96.3 Promotes Immigration Rally

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