Tag Archives: Iraqi interpreters

Checking in on the Iraq War, Thanks to Wikileaks

Remember how successful the surge supposedly was? The surge started in early 2007. And the new leak of documents through Wikileaks (NY Times article here) show us this other piece of information, that jibes with what we heard a while back (but also after the fact) that it was ethnic cleansing rather than “the surge” that worked.

But it was systematic sectarian cleansing that drove the killing to its most frenzied point, making December 2006 the worst month of the war, according to the reports, with about 3,800 civilians killed, roughly equal to the past seven years of murders in New York City. A total of about 1,300 police officers, insurgents and coalition soldiers were also killed in that month.

From a 2008 story:

“Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning,” said lead author John Agnew, a UCLA professor of geography and authority on ethnic conflict. “By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left.” The night-light signature in four other large Iraqi cities — Kirkuk, Mosul, Tikrit and Karbala — held steady or increased between the spring of 2006 and the winter of 2007, the UCLA team found. None of these cities were targets of the surge. Baghdad’s decreases were centered in the southwestern Sunni strongholds of East and West Rashid, where the light signature dropped 57 percent and 80 percent, respectively, during the same period.’

Back to today’s NY Times story:

The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians — at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.

But it does seem to suggest numbers that are roughly in line with those compiled by several sources, including Iraq Body Count, an organization that tracked civilian deaths using press reports, a method the Bush administration repeatedly derided as unreliable and producing inflated numbers. In all, the five-year archive lists more than 100,000 dead from 2004 to 2009, though some deaths are reported more than once, and some reports have inconsistent casualty figures.

According to one particularly painful entry from 2006, an Iraqi wearing a tracksuit was killed by an American sniper who later discovered that the victim was the platoon’s interpreter.

One of the most infamous episodes of killings by American soldiers, the shootings of at least 15 Iraqi civilians, including women and children in the western city of Haditha, is misrepresented in the archives. The report stated that the civilians were killed by militants in a bomb attack, the same false version of the episode that was given to the news media.

Civilians have borne the brunt of modern warfare, with 10 civilians dying for every soldier in wars fought since the mid-20th century, compared with 9 soldiers killed for every civilian in World War I, according to a 2001 study by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The sad thing is how the Iraq war has fallen out of the news in the United States.

2 Comments

Filed under arab, Our glorious war in Iraq, War in Iraq

Seriously?! Iraqi Hero Denied Visa

For some reason only Fox News has this story, which is the reason I’m linking to a Fox News story instead of a historically more reputable source.

An Iraqi translator who has earned commendations for risking his life repeatedly to save the lives of many American soldiers in combat has been denied a visa to live in the United States because of nonviolent actions he took to overthrow Saddam Hussein — at the same time the U.S. government was calling for regime change in Iraq.

Because Iraqi translators are seen by jihadists and former Baathists as “traitors,” Jasim’s life is at greater risk the longer he stays in Iraq, according to multiple State Department and U.S. military officials. A number of translators and their families have already been tortured and/or murdered.

Jasim said his stepbrother, in fact, was captured in the fall of 2007 and was tortured to death in an effort to get to him. The U.S. Army officer who received and processed the report on the murder, Major Leslie Parks, told FOXNews.com that Jasim’s stepbrother was tortured with an electric drill through his eyes.

The State Department, meanwhile, has told Jasim that he must wait three more years before he can apply for a waiver of its visa rejection.

During his three years as a translator, Jasim has exposed himself to enemy fire in the course of saving American lives. Three different Americans who served with him in Iraq told FOXNews.com that they are alive today because of Jasim.

“The only reason I am here today is because of Jasim,” said Elisabeth Keene, a U.S. Army specialist who serves in a combat unit. “He saved the life of everyone in my unit.

“On several occasions while our guys were putting rounds down range, Jasim put himself in harm’s way to pull the wounded out and treat them,” Keene said. “Jasim is a hero to everyone he has ever met.”

“I owe my life to Jasim … hands down,” said Master Sgt. Jason Krieger, who went on over 200 combat patrols with Jasim. “I consider him a brother, not only in arms, but in love as well.”

Jasim even received letters of recommendation from a couple of two-star generals. It is unusual for a translator’s visa application to be endorsed even by one general.

Some of Jasim’s supporters believe the State Department has ulterior motives for denying the visa. “When all the other agencies, including DHS, give their stamp of approval, I have a hard time believing that there is a generous explanation for this decision,” says Maj. Leslie Parks, who served in Iraq coordinating outreach to local Iraqi civilian and government officials.

Parks, who worked with Jasim and estimates that the translator has gone on 1,300 combat patrols, believes the State Department may be singling out Jasim for being a “nuisance.”

“Jasim’s been high-profile for a while, starting with being featured on 60 Minutes in early 2007 (as ‘Timmy,’ his previous cover name) about translators who weren’t getting the visas, despite their lives being threatened,” Parks said.

“He’s also been a whistleblower on a few occasions, exposing potentially embarrassing information regarding the Embassy and other U.S. and Iraqi government agencies operating in the Green Zone.”

Starting a few months ago, Jasim organized his fellow translators to oppose a provision negotiated by the State Department to hand over the names and personal information of all translators to the Iraqi government. Translators feared that their lives would be at risk if their identities were learned by Iraqis who view them as “traitors.”

For now, Jasim continues his work with U.S. forces, hoping that the country he has served loyally for the past three years will welcome him, his new wife and their baby. Asked if he regrets his decision to support the U.S., he replied, “No, I’m proud of what I’ve done. I have to do what is right.”

So this is what’s coming out of our gargantuan embassy in Baghdad? I hope our new Secretary of State’s regime can get this mess cleaned up pronto.

1 Comment

Filed under arab, outrages, War in Iraq

Great News, Everyone

The stupid, wrongheaded, moronic decision that Iraqi interpreters would not be allowed to wear face masks has been rescinded!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7768041.stm

It is sad that I feel such triumph over what should have been a no-brainer. Hooray for common sense winning one battle!

Some 300 interpreters have been killed during the war in Iraq, and they are seen as a crucial link between the US forces and Iraqi communities trying to recover from the years of violence.

“It would have been tough to get where we are today without our interpreters,” said the regiment commander, Colonel Monty Willoughby.

“We know that they get spooked and scared, and we try to protect their identity as much as possible.”

1 Comment

Filed under arab, arabic, War in Iraq