Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Melancholy Return To The Triangle Of Death & Other Kiko's House Updates

Blackened asphalt, debris show where Iraq insurgents sprung ambush
Here are some updates on recent and not so recent Kiko's House posts:

While not exactly taking the lead in outting the Bush Torture Regime, I published no fewer than 37 extensive posts, as well as numerous smaller ones, beginning in October 2007. From the very first revelations, Bush administration flunkies claimed that torture only was used as a last resort and seldom at that, assertions that collapsed under the weight of evidence as the years went on.

Now comes an exhaustive report that not only puts the last nail in that coffin, but reveals that torture was routinely used and not necessarily to obtain intelligence but to exploit detainees by breaking them down physically and mentally to turn them into collaborators.

Meanwhile, not a single torture regime perp has been prosecuted for their criminality, although key administration players have heeded warnings that they face arrest if they travel to European countries where the Geneva Conventions are taken seriously.

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As noted in "That Fracking Tom Corbitt Is At It Again," (3/3/11), extracting oil from shale deposits through a method called fracking is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, but the new Pennsylvania governor is allowing drilling companies to frack wherever they want with few constraints, let alone taxes, and has shackled oil and gas inspectors.

Now comes a report from bond analysts at Janey Capital Markets on the many negatives fracking will cause in rural areas, notably their inability to keep up with infrastructure repairs and upgrades because roads designed for cars and light trucks driving at 35 miles an hour cannot handle industrial trucks hauling large loads from fracking sites at 65 miles and hour. Oh, and once the frackers suck the shale deposits dry, the communities will be left high and dry.

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I opened "Welcome To The American Police State," (2/14/11), with the saga of the Dear Friend & Conscience inadvertently getting in the way of a high-speed game of chicken between two state troopers who were hurtling along nearly bumper to bumper, with emergency lights off, at 85 to 90 miles per hour in a 55mph zone. One of the troopers bullied her, claiming that she had cut them off en route to an emergency call, while the other wrote her a ticket for an improper lane change.

The DF&C entered a not guilty plea but had to pay the fine pending a hearing, which was postponed last months because the troopers couldn't bother to show up. When they did at a second hearing this week, they continued to lie through their teeth, but the clincher was when the judge asked them where they were headed.

"Oh, we were going to dinner," one of the troopers said.

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Chris Christie may be the darling of conservative Republicans nationally, but as I noted in "Chris Christie Is A Big, Fat Idiot" (11/2/10), the view back in the Garden State is decidedly grim as the corpulent (and undoubtedly one-term) governor slashes and burns. His targets are not the states wealthy elite, who have been spared the knife, but ordinary working folk like teachers, police officers and firemen.

So deep have the cuts been in New Jersey public school system that a state Superior Court judge ruled this week that schools are no longer able to provide students the "thorough and efficient" education required by the state constitution. Given Christie's modus operandi, it is no surprise that the judge found that the reductions "fell more heavily upon our high-risk districts and the children educated within those districts."

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There have been no happy outcomes during the Iraq war, but a May 11, 2007 ambush at an outpost in the Triangle of Death southwest of Baghdad was especially wrenching for me. A dozen or so Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) insurgents overwhelmed seven soldiers. Four, along with an Iraqi interpreter, were killed and three were abducted.

I have written hundreds of posts on Iraq. A Vietnam veteran myself, my focus often was on the troops and their loved ones. In the three weeks following the ambush, I put up daily posts on the search for Joseph Anzac, Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez. The bodies of all three eventually were found, and I recapped the tragedy in "Triangle of Death Search: A Final Report" (6/2/07).

For some reason, a photo taken of Fouty holding a dog in his arms a few days before the ambush was on my mind the other day, and then I got an unexpected email from Kevin O'Keefe (photo, below right):

"I live in Boston and served with 4-31 IN 10th Mountain Division. I was in the same company as the Jimenez, Fouty and Anzak, as well as the other boys killed that day. I knew them all well. I have just been doing some research on some Iraq topics for the first time since I have been back. The ambush site was what we called the North Crater overwatch site. My squad and I were on the South Crater overwatch site at the time the ambushed happened, 1 mile down RTE Malibu. I shake my head some days and wonder how easy it could have been for AQI and the other local thugs to have attacked us instead of them. I'll tell ya, the Triangle was crazy. I found your blogs about it on point, well researched. I thank you for writing about the story. I hope to go back there some day (not in the summer). Like the Vietnam Vets did like 30 years later with their teenage sons and stuff. I can still see every turn in the road, every bomb blast crater holes, razor wire and startling beauty of the Euphrates at dawn. Again thanks for writing about our lost comrades."

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