Saturday, May 23, 2009










Yesterday the KPFA Evening News didn't air (or not at its usual hour if it did). KPFK did carry the KPFA Evening News. This being Pacifica, we should probably point out that it's fundraising before someone thinks there was another lock-out. On the KPFA Evening News aired on KPFK, KPFA's Andrea Lewis covered the War Crimes.

Andrea Lewis: An ex-soldier convicted of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and murdering her family was spared the death penalty today and will serve a life sentence after jurors could not agree unanimously on a punishment.

Evan Bright reports:

The jury deliberated for a total of ten hours and twenty minutes. While waiting for the jury, Jim Lesousky(P) was seen, hands clasped, as if in prayer. Scott Wendelsdorf(D) was pacing around the defense table, anxious and apprehensive. His hands were shaking as he took his seat. Green, appearing in the same maroon sweater vest as before, appeared surprisingly calm, his breathing steady; the exact same calm-cool-collected look could also be seen on Green's father John and uncle David, present in court. Pat Bouldin(D) twiddled his thumbs with his head down, knowing that this was the moment they'd spent the past two and a half years preparing for. The jury entered, looking quite stern. Two juror's lips were near quivering. The members of the defense team looked down, while the prosecution eyed the flock of jurors for the last time. After reviewing the verdict forms, Judge Russell announced that the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, giving Green life in prison without possibility of parole.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) broke it down thusly, "Green was given the life term after jurors couldn't come to unanimous agreement on sentencing him to death."
AFP explains, "Their failure to agree effectively handed Steven Dale Green life in prison without the possibility of parole for the rape and killing of Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and the murder of her mother, father and six-year-old sister." As James Dao (New York Times) notes, "At least four other soldiers have pleaded guilty or were convicted in military courts for their roles in the rape and murders. While most received long prison terms, none are facing the death penalty, and all will be eligble for parole in 10 years or less." UPI explains, "The trial was the first in which a civilian jury was asked whether to execute a former service member for a wartime crime." Alsumaria notes, "Green acknowledged the 17 charges addressed to him including rape, murder and judicial obstruction." Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal -- link has a video option as well) observes, "Green broke into a slight smile when the verdict was announced."

While Green was grinning, Iraqis were less than pleased. Marc Santora and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times, for tomorrow's paper so it will not be considered in the next section of the snapshot) quote Sheik Fahil al-Janabi stating, "There is no comparison between the crimes and the sentence. That soldier entered an Iraqi house, raped their underage daughter and burned her with her family, so this sentence is not enough and it is insulting for Iraqi's honor." The reporters tell you that the case was news ("extensive coverage") on Iraqi TV -- well at least some media system cared -- and that Green has been dubbed "the killer of innocence." Sami al-Jumaili and Habaib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) quote Abeer's uncle Raad Yusuf stating, "It's a real shock. That court decision is a crime -- almost worse than the soldier's crime." Earlier, Habib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) noted a mechanic from Abeer's home time, Ahmed Samir stating, "What the American soldier did is a terrorist act and he deserves execution. The court has not delivered justice. If I killed an American girl, the American court would have executed me." CNN quotes Sahwa leader Mustafa Kamel Shabib al-Jaoburi stating, "He raped a girl and killed an entire family, and he got only life in prison. . . . This is an unjust trial. We demand a new trial."

And Green may get a new trial. It's always sad when anyone -- guilty or innocent -- who is poor is betrayed by a public defender. Maybe the defender falls asleep in court, maybe the defender just doesn't give a damn about the client? There are many wonderful public defenders in the US and they work very, very hard. They are heroes and heroines because they ensure that everyone gets a voice, that everyone has representation. But not every public defender is up to the job. Steven D. Green entered a plea of "not guilty." As reporters have repeatedly noted, his attorneys decided (they say) not to fight the guilt but to work on being sure Green didn't get the death penalty. If that is correct, Green's got solid grounds for an appeal because his attorneys disregarded his wishes. A public defender does not determine what the client will plead. Nor is a public defender allowed to say, "I'll just sit out the trial but, after they convict my client, I'll earn the tax payers dollars by fighting to prevent him/her from receiving the death penalty." Green does not appear to have been served by his attorneys who appear to have either thought they couldn't win or just didn't want to work for a win. This appears likely not only by their comments to the press but also by their behavior in the courtroom. April 28th the prosecution began calling their witnesses and they rested May 4th. That afternoon the defense began calling their witnesses and they rested . . . the following day. 1 day and a half of witnesses. May 7th the jury returned their verdict (guilty on all counts). Green was now guilty. It was time for sentencing. The defense called their first witness on May 11th. May 18th, the defense called their last witness. Throughout the case, the defense verbally argued the entire system failed Green. With their actions, the defense failed him. (Click here for more on that.) Comments made by Green's father and brother indicate it's likely Green may indeed appeal. He's due to be sentenced September 4th. This may or may not be over.

But let's look back to what should be the most known War Crimes of the Iraq War. The fact that they aren't go to a media failure. There are some who have earned praise. Many more have not. From July 2, 2006 snapshot: "Lupien also noted the arrest of Steven D. Green. Green, is 21 and was with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. Friday, in Asheville, North Carolina, he was arrested and charged with both the four deaths as well as the rape. According to the US government press release, if convicted on the charge of murder, 'the maximum statutory penalty . . . is death' while, if convicted on the charge of rape, 'the maxmium statutory penalty for the rape is life in prison'." Green's trial finally began April 27th. The first day, Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal) reported, "In an opening statement in a trial that is expected to last three to five weeks, Justice Department lawyer Brian Skaret said the government will present at least five witnesses who say Green bragged about the crimes, including one who says Green told his fellow soldiers that it was 'awesome'." Wolfson bid closest without going over: Four weeks. The trial lasted four weeks. In all that time, there was only one known editorial. The Washington Observer-Reporter made the trial the topic of an editorial and they concluded, "But there are no hardships, military or otherwise, that could excuse an atrocity like this and you can't blame it on a 'lack of leadership'." The New York Times? During the four weeks, they filed three reports on the story. Three. Campbell Robertson and Atheer Kakan filed "Ex-G.I. Guilty of Rape and Killings in Iraq" from Iraq and this is the first report the paper ever carried which mentioned Abeer by name. It was not their first story on the topic, or the second or third or . . . But it was the first time that Abeer's name was ever mentioned. The paper had repeatedly rendered her invisible for nearly three years. James Dao filed "Civilian Jury Considers Death Penalty for Ex-G.I." which moved Abeer's name back to paragraph 14 (paragraph thirteen was where Robertson and Kakan were able to get it in) and was a pretty sorry report with no saving graces. Today Dao filed "Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders" which is such a huge improvement, it's hard to believe that both articles were written by the same reporter. Praise for Dao.

That was the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times loves, loves to cover 'military justice.' They're always dispatching Tony Perry to . . . Well, as a friend at the San Diego Union-Tribune likes to put it, "Where ever Rick goes, they [LAT] send him." And if anyone ever doubted that Tony was anything other than a camp follower they had their proof over the last four weeks. Rick Rogers wasn't dispatched to Kentucky so . . . Tony didn't go. Some people call it "competition," some people call it "stalking." The Washington Post? Though Ellen Knickmeyer wrote the definitive newspaper account of the crimes in 2006, "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" (July 3, 2006), the paper made do with Reuters and AP when 'covering' the Green trial. Wall St. Journal? Didn't Old Man Rupaul Murdoch promise no lay offs and that resources would be pooled so there would be even more coverage? Apparently the only thing that pooled was the blood from his lifeless head because the Wall St. Journal which should have been covering it wasn't covering it. Now everyone knows -- check any Marriott -- that the Wall St. Journal isn't really the paper with the largest circulation in the US (the bulk of the Wall St. Journals at Marriotts are never picked up -- many front desks 'store' them in the closet nearest to the front desk) but it claims to be and, as such, it certainly should have been able to manage one reporter covering the case. September 13, 2006, USA Today ran Gregg Zoroya's "Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations" on the front page which not only offered a look at Justin Watt who heroically came foward, it also named the victims (Abeer, sister Hadeel, parents Fikhriya Taha and Qassim Hamza) and featured photos of her two brothers Ahmed (then nine) and Mohammed (then eleven). Justin Watt did a courageous thing in coming forward and Zoroya explained that he took the issue to a mental health counselor "because he wanted to bypass what he thought would be a skeptical command structure and get an audience with Army investigators". You might have thought they'd want to live up to their high water mark because, let's be honest, USA Today is not the paper most people read -- it's a glance-at. It's the paper which causes serious readers to groan at the airports when they realize it's the only one left. And yet despite having one of those few moments in their history that they could be proud of, they elected not to build it and appeared to think they'd show the world they were a real news outlet -- honest they were -- by blogging about what the AP wrote. Yesterday they teamed their Andrea Stone up with the Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson for "Ex-soldier gets life for Iraqi murders." It was a move they should have considered weeks ago but they still come out ahead of many, many other outlets.
And what about radio? A lot of McBurgers were sold to make NPR what it is so where's the beef? Never on air. Diane Rehm famously BANNED the topic from her show when the jury released their verdict of guilty (on all counts). After they were exposed (here) the show sent out a laughable e-mail to those who had e-mailed on the topic and those who had called Rehm out for banning the topic. We've got seven forwarded copies of that and I've confirmed it with a friend with the show so on a slow day this summer we may include it in the snapshot. (Click here for some of the e-mails sent into the show on the day Diane was banning the topic.) All those hours to fill every day and not a word about Abeer on the NPR programs. This afternoon Frank James blogs and includes some comments by NPR's JJ Sutherland. But actually getting it on air was too damn much work for NPR. Pacifica Radio? They didn't send anyone. They're begging for money right now and they're doing awful. KPFA, for example, is supposed to be ending their fund drive and they are $100,000 short of their target goal. KPFA has the best fundraising (because it has the richest base) of any Pacifica radio station. WBAI is teetering due to already being in debt. No one thought to send anyone to Kentucky and despite the fact that all the Pacifica stations have listeners in Kentucky, no one thought to ask one of them to file some sort of report or, for that matter, to interview Evan Bright. We'll come back to Evan. Lila Garrett talks a good game about caring about Iraqis, she talks a good game. But when it came to an Iraqi teenager who was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers? Where were you, Lila? We know where Margret Prescond was -- on the corner whoring for Barack. Remember that when Maggie The Cat wants to tell you yet again how wonderful she is and how she interview Hugo Chavez and how she . . . Didn't do s**t.

I'm not overly fond of Amy Goodman. I'd love to right now be able to point to someone else but Amy's the only one who consistently was aware of Abeer. It was never more than headlines but when Goodman's getting ready to go to bed, she can tell herself, "I did cover it." And she did. Credit where it's due. Not as much but also deserving credit, Andrea Lewis on KPFA. Andrea covered it twice. Andrea does know what actual news is. Which puts her far ahead of her morning replacement, to be honest. When Andrea co-hosted The Morning Show and when Sandra Lupien did the news breaks? They broke the story. No other radio station in the country had run with the arrest of Steven D. Green. Sandra worked her ass off and she didn't -- as Aileen does -- just grab AP and read it out loud (which some call plagiarism when you don't say "AP reports . . ."). She found the government's announcement of the arrest and found it about ten minutes after it was released and worked furiously to include it in the news break she was about to do. KPFA was the first broadcast outlet to note Steven D. Green's death.

They're short now. And why is that? Why should we give money to KPFA? They didn't send anyone to cover Abeer's case. We had Aimee Allison making a fool herself every damn morning, being the equivalent of Phyllis George, and we're supposed to pay for that? We're supposed to pay to listen to them read Associated Press stories to us that they pass off as news? We're supposed to pay for all that Barack Whoring? It's not news. It's not free speech. It is propaganda and, no surprise, they're learning people aren't going to pay for it. (See Panhandle Media for how KPFA in particular ABUSED the airwaves and the audience to WHORE for Barack.) Andrea Lewis is a functioning adult. She may be one of the few left at KPFA. But despite all the calls and e-mails and all the blog comments they've had (you can leave comments at their archives) asking why they weren't covering the Green trial, the only KPFA employee who seemed to think "Maybe in a fundraising cycle it's really not good to piss off our audience?" was Andrea. When the layoffs come, they need to start way at the top. When the layoffs come they need to start with the execs who allowed this to go on and who have turned The Morning Show into two hours that no one can listen to because it's a daily sermonette (preached strongest by Brother Mitch Jeserich in that hideous "Washington Letter") on the Glory and Goodness of St. Barack. Instead of sending Mitch to DC to reach his hands down St. Barack's pants, maybe the money could have been spent reporting on the War Crimes trial coz, pay attention, in ten years when Pacifica really needs to beg for money, their happy time chatter about Barack won't be worth s**t but if they could say "We covered the War Crimes trial" they might have have impressed someone. That's especially true of Free Speech Radio News which appears to be utilizing all of their energies currently to demonstrate that they are not "free speech" nor are they news. Message received. May you share warm reminisces . . . on the unemployment line.

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