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Archive | April, 2009

Culture of Unpunished Sexual Assault in U.S. Military

U.S. army recruiting poster from 1944. Women are no longer targeted separately.  Credit:Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC

U.S. Army recruiting poster from 1944. Credit: Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project, Univ. of NC -- Greensboro

Marfa, Texas — Sexual assault of women serving in the U.S. military, while brought to light in recent reports, has a long tradition in that institution.

Women in America were first allowed into the military during the Revolutionary War in 1775, and their travails are as old.

Maricela Guzman served in the Navy from 1998 to 2002 as a computer technician on the island of Diego Garcia, and later in Naples, Italy. She was raped while in boot camp, but was too scared to talk about the assault for the rest of her time in the military.

In her own words she, “survived by becoming a workaholic. Fortunately or unfortunately the military took advantage of this, and I was much awarded as a soldier for my work ethic.”

Guzman decided to dissociate from the military on witnessing the way it treated the native population in Diego Garcia. Post discharge, her life became unmanageable. The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from her rape had taken a heavy toll.

After undergoing a divorce, a failed suicide attempt and homelessness, she moved in with her parents. A chance encounter with a female veteran at a political event in Los Angeles prompted her to contact the veteran’s administration (VA) for help. She began seeing a therapist there who diagnosed her with PTSD from her rape.

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Interview: Major Upswing in Iraq Violence

US soldiers have been dying in larger numbers, one per day for the past five days. There had been thirty five bombings in Baghdad alone during the month of April, by the time we phoned Jamail April 27th.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed, hundreds more wounded, and there is no end in sight. Does this mean the Obama administration will change withdrawal plans? The administration confirmed US combat troops will leave Iraq by August of 2010.

Could the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki survive without the US occupation to prop it up?

We’ll discuss these questions and more with Dahr Jamail, author of ‘Beyond the Green Zone, Dispatches from an unembedded journalist in occupied Iraq’.

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And So it Goes…

In Kut, southeast of Baghdad, a girl cries after her mother was killed in a US military raid. (Photo: AP)

In Kut, southeast of Baghdad, a girl cries after her mother was killed in a US military raid. (Photo: AP)

Last week found Iraq swimming in blood once again. Attacks last Thursday brought the worst violence Iraq has seen in over a year, with at least 96 Iraqis killed and 157 wounded in two massive suicide bombings. Over 35 bombings have rocked Baghdad this month alone. There appears to be no end in sight for the escalating violence. For an Obama administration that plans to keep at least 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, look no further for a justification in doing so.

On Friday, further slaughter assaulted Iraq, with 93 killed and another 163 wounded as the attacks continued unabated. Saturday was a light day, with “only” 15 Iraqis killed and 22 wounded, while Iraqi security forces reportedly defused 20 bombs and two booby-trapped cars in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, violence most likely related to the growing battle between government forces and the Sahwa, who are stepping up attacks against government and US forces, continues. In the last three days, clashes erupted at a police checkpoint in Fallujah, three men were killed while planting an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khanaqin, three Sahwa fighters were arrested north of Babel while planting an IED, an IED targeting Sahwa members in Udhaim killed three members and wounded three others, gunmen killed a member of the Sahwa in Mussayab, a car bomb was defused in Fallujah and two Sahwa members were wounded in a blast in Iskandariya. And, by the way, at least five US soldiers have been killed in the last five days.

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“… The Horrible Truth”

After this morning's suicide attacks, an injured man is treated in a Baghdad hospital. (Photo: Khalid Mohammed / AP)

After this morning's suicide attacks, an injured man is treated in a Baghdad hospital. (Photo: Khalid Mohammed / AP)

The US occupation of Iraq, which has become the full responsibility of President Barack Obama, is once again a bloodbath. Not that it had ceased to be violent, brutal and chaotic, for not one day has passed since the US invasion of Iraq was launched that hasn’t found several Iraqis being senselessly slaughtered. But rather than talking about three Iraqis being killed today, or two dozen, we are again talking about several dozen, and over 100 wounded, as we are seeing recently. Each of these Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of the US occupation of Iraq – their blood splattered on the hands of President Obama, who, during a visit to Baghdad’s airport on April 7, praised the US military for their “extraordinary achievement” in Iraq.

On April 23, over 73 Iraqis were killed in two separate suicide attacks. One bomber detonated his explosives in central Baghdad as a group of policemen were distributing relief supplies to Iraqis who had been driven from their homes during the US-fomented sectarian bloodshed of 2006 to mid-2007. Police said that at least 50 people were wounded; at least five children and one woman were among the dead.

A second major suicide bombing occurred that day as well, near Muqdadiya, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. The bomber targeted Iranian pilgrims who were in a restaurant, killing at least 45 and wounding over 60. The Shiite pilgrims were visiting Shia religious sites in Iraq.

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