Why is the U.S. After a Filmmaker for British TV?

Ali Fadhil (l) with Mustafa Kamil
[updated 25jan06]

Shortly after midnight last Saturday, U.S. troops used explosives to enter Dr. Fadhil’s Baghdad home. The soldiers began shooting haphazardly around the house where Fadhil, his wife and young children were sleeping.

Fadhil, an Iraqi physician, described the raid in Wednesday’s Guardian:

My three-year-old daughter Sarah woke to this nightmare. She pushed herself on to me and shouted “Daddy, Americans! They will take you! No, no, not like this daddy …”

U.S. Army officials later claimed that they had mistakenly entered the wrong house, but it was in fact the third time Dr. Fadhil’s home had been invaded by U.S. troops, as he explained to CBC radio Wednesday night [listen].

But it was no mistake. Today U.S. Brig. Gen. Donald Alston characterized the raid of Fadhil’s home as “appropriate,” according to CNN.

Dr. Fadhil is employed by Guardian Films for Channel 4’s “Dispatches” television documentary program in the UK. He recently won the 2005 Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award for his reporting in Iraq.

A blue-eyed captain came to me holding my Handycam camcorder and questioned me aggressively: “Can you explain to me why you have this footage?”

I explained. “These are for a film we are making for Channel 4 Dispatches. There is nothing sinister about it.”

According to Fadhil’s account, he was then hooded and taken for questioning.

Dr. Ali Fadhil is best known for his fifteen documentary on the aftermath of 2004’s Fallujah battle, “The Fall and Fallout” [watch]. His current project was an investigation of British and American construction projects in Iraq and most likely exposed rampant corruption.

The director of the film, Callum Macrae, told the Guardian:

The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.

We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali’s investigation.

It seems there are absolutely no assurances for any journalist who is not embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq. Fadhil’s recordings were seized five days ago and have not been returned, and to this point it seems only the Guardian has had the nerve to expose these unacceptable and unnecessary military actions. These actions, followed by general acceptance, is yet another indicator that the U.S. truly has no intention of making Iraq a better, safer, and freer country any time soon, if ever.

UPDATE: Sheldon Rampton, of the essential Center for Media and Democracy blog, along with Professor Juan Cole, exposes the widespread disappearance of Iraqi bloggers / journalists. So far, Dr. Fadhil’s journalistic history has not been clarified in the press, however, as Mahablog suggested earlier this week, it is quite possible that this Fadhil is the same Dr. Fadhil who once authored the blogs Iraq the model and Free Iraqi.

UPDATE: Fadhil was interviewed January 25 by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.

Eyewitness Account of U.S. Airstrike Killing Innocent Iraqi Family

The results of “counter-insurgency” are rarely reported in detail from the ground. But buried on page A12 of Wedneday’s Washington Post was this chilling first-hand account from a Post correspondent.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 — U.S. pilots targeting a house where they believed insurgents had taken shelter killed a family of 12, Iraqi officials said Tuesday. The dead included women and children whose bodies were recovered in the nightclothes and blankets in which they had apparently been sleeping.

A Washington Post special correspondent watched as the corpses of three women and three boys who appeared to be younger than 10 were removed Tuesday from the house outside the town of Baiji, 150 miles north of Baghdad.

While the Department of Defense does report the number of daily air sorties (aka close-air-support missions… supporting coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities…), the last time the word “airstrike” was even printed in a DoD press release was one year ago. Yes, before Rummy out-ed the “i” word (even before he claimed to resign twice), he axed “airstrike.” See the January 9, 2005 American Forces Press Release: “Airstrike Hits Wrong Target, Insurgent Crackdown Continues.”

Aftermath of a U.S. airstrike in Baiji. A dozen civilians, including women and children were killed.

Bloggers Publish UK torture memos

Craig MurrayFormer UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray today published two documents at his website despite a ban imposed by British officials. Murray, whose book regarding these documents has been blocked for months by the UK Foreign Office, recently likened Uzbekistan to North Korea in this Guardian article.

These documents are damning indeed and as the mainstream media will not publish their contents, the blogosphere has come together today to expose these harrowing details of British (and American) endorsed torturous interrogation tactics.

Blairwatch has extensive coverage and images of these documents as well as the government’s side of the story here.

Murray had long been encouraged to resign after repeatedly questioning British interrogation practices, and was suspended indefinitely in October, 2004.
Murray made the following statement prefacing the documents on his web site:

In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.

After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government’s use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this.

I have made the text of these letters available here.

Several web sites are taking the lead on this including: Daily Kos, CathiefromCanada, IntoxiNation, AgitProp, The Talent Show, and Perfect.

Barron’s Bearish on Bush

“….Administration lawyers and the president himself have tortured the Constitution and extracted a suspension of the separation of powers,” writes Thomas Donlan in Barron’s Online.

Bush spying on Americans was no shocker, but to operate in suspicious cognito…

Dec. 26 Barron’s goes with it: “The administration is saying the president has unlimited authority to order wiretaps in the pursuit of foreign terrorists, and that the Congress has no power to overrule him.

As AG Ashcroft laid it down in 2002:

“The Constitution vests in the president inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that Constitutional authority.”

Gonzales last week declined to declassify relevant legal reviews made by the Department of Justice.

Get out the megaphone, and repeat with me:

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later.

Could it be… Merry Christmas and Impeach in the New Year???

[via Atrios as dug by Barry]