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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, June 2, 2006

More on the killings at Ishaqi.

Earlier, we posted about reports of another massacre committed by US troops in Iraq. This time, it was at the town of Ishaqi and a video obtained by the BBC show that 11 people, including five children, were killed.

On today's edition of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed Knight Ridder's Matthew Schofield, who was the first reporter to obtain a copy of the Iraqi police report that accused US troops of being responsible for the deaths in Ishaqi. Here are some excerpts from the interview transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain exactly what you know at this point?

MATTHEW SCHOFIELD: Well, the story, as you and Juan just outlined it, pretty much goes through the basics of the story. We've talked quite a bit further in the last couple days with people surrounding the story. But what we have is a divergence on the story between the two -- there are two accounts. There?s a U.S. military account, and then there?s an Iraqi police account of what happened.

As you know, the U.S. military account is that after showing up and getting into a shootout to get into this house, the house collapsed during the shootout. People were killed either in the shootout or by the collapsing house. They left. They found four bodies and left. They found this suspect. They arrested him. And that's pretty much that story.

The other story is that the house was standing when the U.S. troops went in. They were herded into one room -- eleven people herded into one room, executed. U.S. troops then blew up the house and left.

We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women.

Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A number of -- you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The doctor said it's very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round, the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble, so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in, they came across the blankets.

They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been handcuffed and shot. And the Iraqi assumption is that they were shot in front of the man across the room. They came to be facing each other. There is nothing to corroborate that. The U.S. is now investigating this matter, along with the Haditha matter. That's kind of where we stand right now....

AMY GOODMAN: You know, these stories are coming out one after another. The Haditha report, now the Navy launching a criminal investigation. This report that you have made, coming out of Balad. This is the week that President Bush is launching another sort of offensive, where he goes out and speaks to the public about the good-news stories that are coming out of Iraq and really going after the media, saying they choose only the negative stories. Your response?

MATTHEW SCHOFIELD: Well, if you?re looking at these two stories as isolated incidents of times when Iraqis believe Americans have gone out of control and killed people, that's missing the mark by a wide margin. This is commonplace everyday Iraqi belief. The belief over here is that this is happening all the time. What's different in these cases is that there is some level of credence given to it by U.S. investigations into the matter, by police reports.

In the county next to -- in the province next to Balad is Diala. Diala has officially named this "the year of the cop," because they're very pleased with the progress Iraqi police have been making, and they want to highlight the increasing professionalism of the police. What's going on in Balad is the police are going through their investigation, and they are targeting -- they are targeting Americans as the perpetrators in this. It's very similar to any crime, I suppose, at that level. And they're going about their business. And when we talk to them, they're saying, "Listen, we don't have any axe to grind here. This is just the way we're doing our work."

Now, if Bush wants to come out and say that we're ignoring the good news, I think there is, on the other side, an effort to ignore the depth of the bad news here.

You definitely should go read the whole interview.

The latest I've read about Ishaqi is that, in Baghdad, US Lt Gen William Caldwell has made a statement on the Ishaqi killings. The only copy of the statement that I've found is behind a firewall, so I can't tell you what he said. The speculation was the Caldwell would deny that the US had murdered the 11 Ishaqi civilians, which would be in line with a Pentagon statement earlier today that US troops were following their rules of engagement in Ishaqi.

Given the foot-dragging and denial that the US military went through in the months after the Haditha massacre, I'm not particularly optimistic that the Pentagon will be telling us the truth about what happened at Ishaqi any time soon.

| | Posted by Magpie at 1:38 PM | Get permalink




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