Reuters Stands by Abused Staffers

Editor & Publisher has an update on the story of the three Reuters staffers who were held at Abu Ghraib, including a detailed timeline of their imprisonment. Reuters is not backing down and indeed seems to be ratcheting it up a notch since the Army dismissed the staffers as “not credible”.

Not surpisingly, the Washington Times is trying to dismiss the abuse scandal entirely — going so far as to say that “the story has run its course” — by attacking the never-made claim that they were “journalists”. Instead, it noted that they are “two Iraqi cameramen and a driver under contract”.

It’s absolutely true, but does it make it right to abuse them and then sweep it under the rug?

What’s truly humorous about the WashTimes piece is that it tries to deflect the entire event as bias. Hey, look over here where they are throwing flowers at us. Look how nice our troops are to the Iraqis when they aren’t being ordered to put glow-sticks up thier ass!

Reuters Stands by Iraq Abuse Reports, Releases Timeline on Incident [Editor & Publisher]
Press can’t let abuse story go [Washington Times]

Related Entries:
Reuters Staff Abuse: Swept Under Rug!
Shocking Details on Abuse of Reuters Staffers in Iraq
Reuters, NBC Staff Abused by U.S. Troops in Iraq

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Visual of Abu Ghraib Chain of Command

Because everyone appreciates a good visual analysis of things, uggabugga has created an infographic of the Chain of Command from Abu Ghraib all the way up to the President. As he explains the graphic: “the key elements from Seymour Hersh’s most recent report in the New Yorker, Chain of Command“. The graphic is about a week old and Hersh has released a newer article since then. (click image for larger view at uggabugga):

[via BagNewsNotes]

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New Images/Video Emerge in Abu Ghraib Scandal

The Washington Post has posted newly released images as well as a video of Iraqis being hit and humiliated. They have also released new details in the article “New Details of Prison Abuse Emerge”:

“They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees,” said Hiadar Sabar Abed Miktub al-Aboodi, detainee No. 13077. “And we had to bark like a dog, and if we didn’t do that they started hitting us hard on our face and chest with no mercy. After that, they took us to our cells, took the mattresses out and dropped water on the floor and they made us sleep on our stomachs on the floor with the bags on our head and they took pictures of everything.”


“Do you believe in anything?” he said the soldier asked. “I said to him, ‘I believe in Allah.’ So he said, ‘But I believe in torture and I will torture you.’ “

All I can say is: “Superb Job”.

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Reuters Staff Abuse: Swept Under Rug!

Wow, the Army must have some gigantic brass balls to be able to blanket deny that three Reuters staff members were abused at Abu Ghraib. On the claims of “being continuously hit”, having “a shoe stuck in their mouth” and being forced to “stick a finger in their anus and then lick it or smell it”, the response is just staggering in it’s dismissal: “Their allegations on these points are not credible.”

Not credible?!? What the hell are they smoking in this investigation? Did they miss the part where our troops are taking pictures of prisoners who are forced to masturbate and perform fellatio?

No, instead of admitting there’s a problem, apparently the best solution is to completely deny that there’s a problem. But oh, let’s send those same “paratroopers accused of beating, taunting and humiliating journalists” off to a refresher course where they will learn that you are not supposed to make a prisoner stick his finger up his ass and lick it!

Seriously, who is passing out the giant brass balls award this year? Because I think we have some nominees.

U.S.: Troops cleared of abusing reporters [The State]

see more…

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A Bit Offtopic: The VanDyke File

Just a little bit of news about what’s going on with me (yeah, you try mixing ems and me while you’re drunk):

  • My infographic “How News Travels on the Internet” is being translated and reprinted in an article for the Icelandic version of “PC World” magazine (incidentally, it has already been done in Chinese). I was not offered any money for it, however I am pretty sure the Iceland tax is like 60% so who cares. He said I would get a copy of the magazine, so I’ll definitely scan it and put it up. I’m sure there’s a bork bork joke waiting to be done.
  • Over 1000 visits yesterday. It’s mostly Nick Berg search engine traffic and it doesn’t seem to be even close to levelling off yet. If I were to get that kind of traffic reliably, I’d post even more than I do now (because I’d hire hot interns for pennies to do it). So tell your friends about the site if you want to help it grow. The site isn’t pro-Democrat or pro-Libertarian or pro-Republican, it’s just focused on dissecting the news for the truth and presenting it in context.
  • A guy from New York Mag called me for an interview regarding the elections. Can’t go into details now since I want him to have his scoop, but hopefully he’ll send me a copy of it when it comes out. I really suck at keeping secrets, ya know?
  • I’m supposed to be a correspondent for WatchBlog at the Libertarian Party Convention here in Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend. However I’m getting a bit of the cold shoulder treatment from them on getting my press credentials. You would think that the Libertarian Party would jump all over the opportunity after the Democratic Convention handed out credentials to “bloggers” and alternative media. It could be a mix-up, but if it’s a premeditated move to block independent journalists, they’ll get more bad press than a Michael Jackson day care center.

That’s it, enough of the boring crap, I now return you to the crazy shit that is happening in political news.

You know, great stuff like how this administration seems to be completely unravelling, with everyone bailing out and indignant finger-pointing becoming the norm as the media feeding-frenzy comes to a head. I don’t see how Bush plans on getting re-elected if he keeps stomping down this path of self-destruction and congratulationing everyone who completely screws things up. “Superb Job” indeed.

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2002 White House Memo Outlined “War Crime” Fears

Joe Stump passed along this article on a White House memo from January 2002:

In it, top White House lawyer to the president Alberto Gonzales warned that the handling of prisoners could cause the White House staff itself to be indicted for war crimes under a 1996 U.S. law which removed protective barriers. It also warned that methods being used to interrogate prisoners and detainees would indeed violate Geneva Conventions and complicity from the White House would allow an international tribunal to indict George Bush himself. Newsweek has the full story in “Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings”:

Noting that the law applies to “U.S. officials” and that punishments for violators “include the death penalty,” Gonzales told Bush that “it was difficult to predict with confidence” how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future.


“The implication was that a new president would come into office and start potential prosecutions of a bunch of ex-Bush officials,”

Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings [MSNBC/Newsweek]

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Kaufman Hoax Confirmed by Snopes

The story has been officially debunked by Snopes, the “Kaufman Returns” saga is unraveling. My sources say that it’s not even Zmuda behind the hoax this time, but instead is someone who is still anonymous. Regardless, it seems like it will get a little more play through the weekend as curious viewers slowly come to realize that yes, Andy is still dead (after all, he’s already missed the May 16 deadline).

So what’s left after the party is over and Kaufman fans shake their angry fists at a hoaxer who dashed their hopes? Cashing in on t-shirts and merchandising of course:

Related Entries:
“Andy Kaufman Returns” is Hoax

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Chalabi Out; House Raided

Ahmad Chalabi has been on the slide for the past week, and this administration is distancing itself from this man who may take the fall for much of the bogus information that was vetted prior to the invasion.

To start off, funding from the U.S. of $335,000-per-month was cut-off earlier this week.

Not content with that, they went and raided his house and were looking for 15 suspects who were wanted for fraud, kidnapping and “associated matters.” Several people were arrested — Chalabi was apparently not a suspect — but take a look at his company if you want to judge his character.

It gets better though, American Dynamics has the backstory on Chalabi, and he’s no stranger to fraudsters and huckers: “Back in the 90’s Chalabi had quite a run. He ran away from Jordan and was convicted in absentia of massive bank fraud. But defrauding Jordan is small time, Chalabi soon moved his operation to DC. First he worked on the CIA and State Department, selling them bullshit ‘intelligence’ out of Iraq while siphoning funds for more operations.” The CIA eventually wised up to his deceptions and kicked him out.

But round two starts just as his career as a huckster is on the downhill. He approached Cheney and sold them on the idea that he could take the reins of Iraq for them after an invasion. The administration bought into this fantasy so much that they believed damn near every lie he told them — grandiose claims of WMD programs and dreams of flowers and parades on our arrival — to the point that they flew him in right after the invasion and expected him to pick up and become the defacto new leader of Iraq. Sad thing is, everyone in Iraq seems to know what a sham this guy is.

The fact is, once he flew in, he became another two-bit thug in Iraq, except he was milking the American payroll the entire time. He established his own war-lord mansion and lifestyle and set about consorting with thugs and kidnappers (later hiring and housing them), fueling the growing chaos and hatred on our dime. What’s worse, we let him raid the troves of Baath documents, effectively sponsoring his black-mail and revenge operations.

I say good riddance to this guy (and we should have arrested him, not just his cohorts); Someone get an investigation going on the Whitehouse for letting this fraudster pillage our goodwill with the Iraqi people and wasting our time and money.

Iraqi group linked to questionable intelligence loses U.S. funding [Mercury News]
GIs, Iraq Police Raid Home of Former Ally [AP]
Baghdad DC, A Soap Opera [American Dynamics]
Chalabi: A Questionable Use of U.S. Funding [MSNBC]
Secret Baath files may help Chalabi settle old scores [SMH]

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Washingtonienne Affair now “Real News”

Blogging can be so fun, especially when you expose someone’s little 20/visit a day site (I’m totally making that up).

Arizona Central has the complete write-up — omitting the juicy “ass-fucking” details — in Senate staffer’s shocking sex blog:

An entry-level staffer in Sen. Mike DeWine’s Washington office titillated Capitol Hill this month with an explicit blog that detailed her performing sexual favors for money – until her blog was ended this week.

Senate staffer’s shocking sex blog
They must not have gotten the memo that the site is back upwait, no it’s notyes it uhh… no. Whatever, I’m holding out for a defacto Congressmen to start his/(her?) own blog detailing their escapades with hot staffers.

The Lost Washingtonienne (WONKETTE EXCLUSIVE, ETC., ETC.) [Wonkette]
Senate staffer’s shocking sex blog [AZ Central]
I Just Got Back to Blogging and Boy is My Asshole Tired [Washingtonienne]
Washingtonienne: We Thought We Knew You [Wonkette]
You Heard (Half Of) It Here First! [Swamp City]

Related Entries:
Wonkette’s Political Sex Story Yumminess: Now with 100% more Capitalism

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More Pictures from Abu Ghraib Released

Two new photos were released by ABC News tonight Soldiers Shown Giving Thumbs Up Sign By Body of Dead Iraqi Prisoner


“Andy Kaufman Returns” is Hoax


UPDATE: Zmuda performed at House of Blues, then invited everyone to the Bunny Ranch:

Clifton would out do him, he told the crowd, as he announced “Act 3″…wherein the legendary porn star Ron Jeremy came out with a sign, also held by Dennis Huff, who is apparently the owner of the Midnight Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Act 3 will be tomorrow night (actually tonight, I guess) for anybody who can make it to the Bunny Ranch for free….whatever you like…between 8pm and Midnight.


A few Bunny Ranch denizens then took off their top and invited everyone to come on up tomorrow night for all they could eat.

Apparently Zmuda was able to make it. Photo of Zmuda performing as “Tony Clifton” character at House of Blues.


The website, Andy Kaufman Returns, is being outted here at Hammer of Truth as a HOAX!


Recently, two items were released that spelled doom for the hoax–which is being perpetrated by Kaufman’s old friend Bob Zmuda–a press release using the free wire service PR Web, and photos of an event at the Bunny Ranch near Las Vegas.

see more…


Shocking Details on Abuse of Reuters Staffers in Iraq

Editor and Publisher has an extremely in-depth view of what happened to the three Reuters staffers who were imprisoned at Abu Ghraib:

“Soldiers would move between them, whispering things in their ear. Ahmad and Sattar did not understand what was whispered. Salem says they whispered that they wanted to have sex with him and were saying “come on, just for two minutes.”T hey also said he should bring his wife so they could have sex with her. …

“Soldiers would whisper in their ears “One, two, three…” and then shout something loudly right beside their ear. All of this went on all night. … Ahmad said he collapsed by morning. Sattar said he collapsed after Ahmad and began vomiting. …

One item that intrigued me is the “badges with the letter ‘C’ on it”:

“Ahmad and Sattar both said that they were given badges with the letter ‘C’ on it. They did not know what the badges meant but whenever they were being taken from one place to another in the base, if any soldier saw their badge they would stop to slap them or hurl abuse.

They had no evidence on which to detain the men, yet somehow they were given these badges. I did run across a military term that might apply, but it’s pure speculation. If anyone has any info on this one, let me know:

(DOD) A deliberate & calculated association with person[s] for the purpose of recruitment, obtaining info, or gaining control for these or other purposes [emphasis added]

Related Entries:
Reuters, NBC Staff Abused by U.S. Troops in Iraq

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U.S. strike kills 40 at Iraqi wedding party

Big news of the day is that U.S. gunships fired on an Iraqi wedding after seeing gunshots from celebratory gunfire:

A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party early Wednesday in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report and was investigating.


Al-Ani said people at the wedding fired weapons in the air, and that American troops came to investigate and left. However, al-Ani said, helicopters attacked the area at about 3 a.m. Two houses were destroyed, he said.

First of all, I’m not going to join the hordes of people who are going to condemn the military for shooting. It’s irresponsible and stupid to be shooting in the air; what is merely a lapse of judgment in peacetime becomes an incredulous act in the midst of an urban guerilla war. What idiot doesn’t realize that gravity is still going to bring those bullets back down? It takes a bigger idiot than that to be doing the same thing when helicopter pilots are twitchy and ready to fire at anything that flashes from the ground.

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Abizaid: Increased Violence After June 30

General Abizaid now says that he expects more violence after the June 30th transition of power to the Iraqi interim government:

“So moving through the election period will be violent and it could very well be more violent than we’re seeing today. So it’s possible that we might need more forces,”

Give me a break, he doesn’t even bother to come up with a reason for the increase of violence, he just says it’s going to happen and we should deploy more troops because of this speculation. Well I hate to be the one to say it, General, but the reason there’s going to be more violence is painfully clear: Iraqis are going to see more troops roaming around after June 30th than before, and the first thing that’s going to cross their minds is that we aren’t being forthright about our intentions to vacate the country anytime soon.

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Smells like a Cover-Up

A Few Quick hits on the unraveling Abu Ghraib situation:

The Denver Post writes Brutal interrogation in Iraq

Internal records obtained by The Post point to wider problems beyond the Abu Ghraib prison and demonstrate that some coercive tactics used at Abu Ghraib have shown up in interrogations elsewhere in the war effort. The documents also show more than twice as many allegations of detainee abuse – 75 – are being investigated by the military than previously known. Twenty-seven of the abuse cases involve deaths; at least eight are believed to be homicides.

And ABC News is adamant when they report ‘Definitely a Cover-Up’

“There’s definitely a cover-up,” the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. “People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet.”

You can bet Rumsfeld is sweating profusely with all this attention and investigative journalists flying around the world inspecting military prisons. Smart money is saying Bush will cut his ties from the rogue situation at the Pentagon in order to try and salvage his campaign.

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Abu Ghraib: Pop Torture and iRaq

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!


The iTorture thing seems to be a theme. It’s certainly close to being a pop-culture icon. The caption: “10,000 Volts volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.”

Strip, Pix, Burn: iRaq [Gizmodo]

Abu Ghraib Torture as Pop Art?
iTorture Edition: Tasteless German Editorial Pages

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Wonkette’s Political Sex Story Yumminess: Now with 100% more Capitalism

Wonkette is reporting on the female bureaucrat-cum-B-girl Washingtonienne, who has been fired over keeping a blog of her “activities”. Just when you thought wonton sex went out the door with the Clintons, enter stage right: the new class willing to pay for sex:

Most of my living expenses are thankfully subsidized by a few generous older gentlemen. I’m sure I am not the only one who makes money on the side this way: how can anybody live on $25K/year??

If you investigated every Staff Ass on the Hill, I am sure you would find out some freaky shit. No way can anybody live on such a low salary. I am convinced that the Congressional offices are full of dealers and hos.

Of course! But at least our Washingtonienne was smart enough to charge for her services, or at least get something more than “a good ass-fucking” [ed- that’s a Wonkette term, we condone it though]:

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I just took a long lunch with X and made a quick $400. When I returned to the office, I heard that my boss was asking about my whereabouts. Loser.

posted by The Washingtonienne at 2:10 PM

Well, there’s one definition of “trickle down economics” that I hadn’t thought of.

UPDATE: Swamp City names the Senator–Republican Mike Dewine from Ohio–and says it was Laurel Pressler who “as my source put it, ‘reamed her in front of the whole staff.'” Wonkette is fuming, because someone has lower morals than her (pshaaa!), and also disagrees on Pressler, saying “We heard CoS [Pressler], but now learn that Pressler was in Ohio yesterday.”

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Reuters, NBC Staff Abused by U.S. Troops in Iraq

As if it wasn’t bad enough that MPs and private contractors were violating Geneva Conventions: 3 Iraqis working for Reuters and an Iraqi journalist working for NBC have come forward and detailed their own abuse at Abu Ghraib by U.S. soldiers:

Two of the three Reuters staff said they had been forced to insert a finger into their anus and then lick it, and were forced to put shoes in their mouths, particularly humiliating in Arab culture.

All three said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs. They said they did not want to give details publicly earlier because of the degrading nature of the abuse.

The soldiers told them they would be taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, deprived them of sleep, placed bags over their heads, kicked and hit them and forced them to remain in stress positions for long periods.

The response from the Pentagon is becoming tragically blase and the denials just reek of a shoddy cover-up:

A summary of the investigation by the 82nd Airborne Division, dated January 28 and provided to Reuters, said “no specific incidents of abuse were found.” It said soldiers responsible for the detainees were interviewed under oath and “none admit or report knowledge of physical abuse or torture.”

“The detainees were purposefully and carefully put under stress, to include sleep deprivation, in order to facilitate interrogation; they were not tortured,” it said. The version received Monday used the phrase “sleep management” instead.

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Get Your War On #35

As always, an awesome cartoon editorial concerning the ongoing “War on Terrorism”. Get Your War On #35:

Keep working your magic, Mr. David Reese, and remember to give me a call next time you’re in Atlanta. Drinks are on me.

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Prequel to the Draft

Just spotted this over at Political AnimalCalling up the Reserves“:

Does anyone doubt that the next logical step to staunch the attrition and lack of enthusiasm from troops is to reinstitute some form of the draft?

UPDATE: The Pentagon is going to try and use the IRS to help track down inactive reservists. A whopping 1/3rd of them have not been even been informing the military of where they live. It will take an ammendment to the tax code–approved by Congress and the President–for the military to begin it’s search.

Draft? Bush and Kerry Both say Yes
What is worth fighting for?

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Torture Roundup: Rumsfeld knew; Bush Sidestepped Geneva; Libelous Backlash

The Abu Ghraib scandal is growing and growing, my guess is that an independent council (not military or Congressional) will be named to investigate the abuses and torture; Hersh or pfc. Darby (the soldier who came forward to expose the abuse) will likely be named Time Magazine’s 2004 Man Person of the Year.

  • First on the list: Memo to Bush may have led to torture. In the memo, White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales said: “In my judgement this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”
  • Seymour Hersh’s latest installment in the ongoing series to the New Yorker is the Gray Zone. Choice quote from the article: “‘They said there was an atmosphere of legal ambiguity being created as a result of a policy decision at the highest levels in the Pentagon. The jag officers were being cut out of the policy formulation process.’ They told him that, with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end.”
  • The Pentagon tried to downplay the allegations by denying that the abuse was authorized in any way from the military brass. In the CNN article Pentagon denies prison scandal stems from secret program gone awry. To try and bring the point home that they were clueless, the Pentagon ordered that “the U.S. military will not use certain prisoner interrogation procedures in Iraq and Afghanistan, including sleep and sensory deprivation, as a result of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.” Oh wow, if only it was about keeping them up late… way to be on the ball guys.
  • Realizing just how stupid that suggestion was, the Pentagon flipped on the story and decided to attack the messenger; as witness in this CNN article Pentagon: Hersh report ‘journalist malpractice’. “The closest Rumsfeld came to addressing Hersh’s article was when he said the world has ‘watched a free media publish stories of all types — from the accurate to the grossly distorted.'”
  • But both Hersh and his editor stand by his articles, boasting that it will only continue to get larger, with another installment expected next week. It has led the New Yorker to catapult into the national magazine forefront: With a focus on news, New Yorker redefines itself. “Remnick said yesterday: ‘I’m standing by it as firmly as any editor can stand by any story. . . . I have absolute confidence in Sy Hersh and these stories.'”
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Freeway Blogger Strikes Again

The notorious Freeway Blogger has struck again, this time it’s a sign hanging over I-10 in Los Angeles depicting one of the Iraqis photographed at the Abu Ghraib prison:

Urban Renewal Edition: Rumsfailed

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Fremont Statue Turned Into Political Statement

A group of statues at a popular intersection in Fremont was decorated with black hoods by an anonymous artist. The correlation to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib is obvious, and some great uh, “reporting”, led to these choice quotes:

“It’s freedom of expression,” said Colin Klein. “It definitely makes me think about it a little bit more, after seeing it like that.”

“I think we — collectively — need to think about it,” said Bunn.

But what kind of reporting would this be if we didn’t have the opposition voicing their opinion:

“Sometimes force is necessary between people,” said veteran John Wolfe. He thinks the focus should be on American prisoners — namely Nick Berg who was beheaded earlier this month.

“I think about Nick Berg. Nobody put a hood over his head,” he said.

Oh come on Mr. Wolfe, won’t you think about the poor Iraqi canines that are being abused?

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