Monday, December 19, 2011

Not-So-Good News from Iraq: Arrest Warrant; Debatable Confessions, and Politics

American troops are moving out of Iraq. Which may or may not be something that the current administration will want folks to remember next November.

I'd be a whole lot more happy to see Iraq's new lot of leaders pass another milestone, if it weren't for something I read in today's news.

By the way, I've noticed a change in news coverage over the last several years. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but reporters and editors seem to have finally realized that The Masses aren't quite the gullible ignoramuses - - - and I'll get back to that.

On a more immediate and serious note, Iraq's politics are in the news again:
"Arrest warrant issued for Iraqi vice president"
Joamana Karadsheh, CNN (December 19, 2011)

"An Iraqi investigative committee issued an arrest warrant Monday for Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is accused of orchestrating bombing attacks.

"The committee of five judges issued the warrant under Article 4 of the country's anti-terrorism law.

"The Interior Ministry, at a news conference, showed what it called confession videos from people identified as security guards for al-Hashimi, the country's Sunni vice president. In the videos, the men described various occasions in which they purportedly carried out attacks under direct orders from al-Hashimi...."

Bombs, Videos, and News

Iraq's Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi may be guilty of ordering terrorist attacks on people in his own country. Or not.

I really don't know.

What I'm fairly certain about is:
  • Bombs went off in Iraq
    • And people died
  • Someone made videos, purportedly
    • Featuring men who
      • Worked for the Vice President
      • Confessed to serious crimes
      • Said the Vice President was the mastermind
The videos are real enough. CNN says they've been shown at a news conference, and I'm inclined to believe that assertion.

Bombings in Iraq have been in the news. People have reportedly died. Again, I'm inclined to believe the assertions.

Confessions, Coercion, and Removing the Opposition

As for whether the new videos are an example of convincing acting, coerced confessions, or something else? Back to that CNN article:
"...One man said he carried out assassination attempts using roadside bombs and guns with silencers. He said some orders came from the vice president and some came through the director of his office. The man also alleged that he and others were told that if they didn't carry out the attacks, their families would be killed.

"CNN could not immediately confirm that the men in the videos were bodyguards for al-Hashimi...."
(CNN)
Hats off to CNN: like quite a few other mainstream news outlets, they're apparently learning that
  • Being told something is true doesn't mean that it really happened
  • It's a good idea to let readers know what is
    • An unsubstantiated claim
    • An assertion that someone verified
Like I said before, I don't know whether the Iraqi Vice President is guilty or not. I do think these confessions popped up at a very convenient time for folks who plausibly might want Tariq al-Hashimi out of the way. If al-Hashimi is captured by his political enemies, I hope that he doesn't 'commit suicide.' Or simply disappear.

Iraq, Politics, and All That

I'll say this for the last few American elections: nobody's tried to finger a major candidate for personally ordering a hit. In a way, that's a tribute to the moral fiber of America's political community.

There's another election coming up, and I hope that American politicos continue to limit themselves to weirdly emotional appeals; mudslinging, ballot box stuffing, and crackpot legal shenanigans when they lose, anyway.

On the whole, I'd rather live in America than anywhere else in the world: but perfect this country isn't.

Getting back to Iraq, CNN, and what could be a really messy situation:
"...Three of the vice president's security guards were detained earlier this month.

"Over the past few days, [Iraqi Vice President] al-Hashimi's office told CNN it feared that his three guards would be forced to make false confessions.

"Confession videos in Iraq have been controversial. Human rights groups have reported previously on allegedly forced confessions...."
(CNN)
If al-Hashimi has been arranging premature deaths for personal gain, what his office said might be an effort to reduce damage from anticipated confessions.

Or, al-Hashimi's staff may have been genuinely - and legitimately - concerned for the welfare of the guards.

Confession? Yeah: Me an' the Boys'll Get a Confession For Ya

"...Ali al-Mussawi, media adviser to Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said over the weekend that confessions would link the Sunni vice president to bombings...."
(CNN)
Maybe the Iraqi Prime Minister's media chap simply had confidence that Iraq's judicial officials would guide those guards down the path of wisdom. And that, filled with enlightenment, they would willingly acknowledge their past deeds.

Or maybe the Prime Minister's media office figured that, one way or another, there would be video of a confession to show at the news conference.

Again: I really don't know what's behind that arrest warrant. But I think it's a too convenient for his political enemies than I find comfortable. Back to CNN:
"...The arrest warrant Monday came amid a political crisis and growing sectarian tensions in Baghdad that erupted just as the last U.S. soldiers exited Iraq over the weekend.

"Iraqiya, a powerful political bloc that draws support largely from Sunni and more secular Iraqis, said it was boycotting Parliament, a move that threatens to shatter Iraq's fragile power-sharing government.

"The move pits the largely Sunni and secular coalition against the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

"Iraqiya contends al-Maliki is trying to amass dictatorial power, and many believe al-Maliki was simply waiting for the Americans to leave before making his move...."
(CNN)
I don't envy folks who are honestly working to sort out the mess left by Saddam Hussein's decades in power. They've got hotheads to deal with coming in from several directions: Sunnis, Shiites. And, up north, Kurds:
"...Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said Monday, 'I hope there wasn't a political influence in this arrest warrant, but in Iraq there has been always a political influence.'

" 'This is very upsetting and confusing,' Othman said, adding that if the accusations are true, then al-Hashimi 'should be brought to justice.'..."
(CNN)
I've been over this sort of thing before:

'The Masses,' Assumptions, and Getting a Grip

Here's where I get back to reporters, editors, and assumptions about 'gullible ignoramuses.' Briefly, I think that North America's coastal cultures have cherished beliefs that just aren't true:
"Six Ignorant Stereotypes About Middle America"
Paul Jankowski, Entrepreneurs, Forbes (October 5, 2011)

"What do you think of when you hear 'Heartland', 'the South' or 'Middle America'? If you're like a lot of people I know on the coasts, the first things that come to mind are usually not positive.

"This is a real quote from a marketing exec in New York City: 'I think the Heartland is a nice place to raise children. People are nice, but they're dumb, overweight, and gullible. They wear tacky clothing and jewelry. They're racist, unworldly, and dumb.'

"If you agree with the quote above, you need to get out a little more. Stereotypes exist for a reason, but if you’re trying to build a brand and engage consumers at a deep level, oversimplifications will hurt your cause. Stereotypes, taken to cynical extremes, are big-time brand killers...."
(Originally quoted in footnote 1, "My Take on the News: Jingle Bells, Jangled Nerves, and Good Advice," A Catholic Citizen in America (December 16, 2011))
I live in a state that's north of the 'flyover states,' have a counter-cultural view of folks living outside major metropolitan areas, and I've been over that before, too:
Other related posts:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Wrong word: "It a way, that's"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Pronounceable, hovering on the edge of coherence: but wrong. Fixed, and thanks!

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.