Sunday, August 13, 2006

NYT Criticism (via C.I.) It takes . . . a paper of Hazels

NYT: It takes a paper of Hazels to clean up the crimes against Abeer

In this morning's New York Times, Paul von Zielbauer's "Bank Robbery and Bombs Kill 24 in Iraq" continues the paper's traditions with regards to the Article 32 hearing into the murder of
Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members as well as the alleged rape of Abeer Qasim Hamza:

*Don't name the dead, it might provoke outrage and we can't do that because --
*We're schilling for the defense at the paper of record

Saturday, of course, presented the defense argument in text form, before the defense was even able to argue it.

Abeer Qasim Hamza? Not covered. Not named, not discussed. Has a murder victim in a case the Times has covered ever been so unexplored? Or so buried in the paper. Think back to their non-stop, every day, usually front page coverage when Michael Jackson stood trial.

They've explored the accused (even digging through Steven D. Green's adolescent wrap sheet), offered testimonials on how hard things were for the US soldiers accused. (On the latter, long before the trial began.) But fourteen-year-old Abeer? A question remark the paper refuses to explore. They don't even print her name anymore. Go to clamp down on any outrage Americans might have apparently.

Outrage? The Times worries far too much, media has abandoned Iraq. Press criticism has as well which is why the Times can render Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible day after day and know that few will bother to call them on it.

Details from the case, when they make it into the paper, are watered down. After all, it was Reuters, and not the New York Times, that penned this statement: "A US military court heard graphic testimony about how US soldiers took turns to hold down and rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murderer her and her family." In the Times we never get how brutal the rape of Abeer was. It always get cleaned up and von Zielbaur is far from the only Hazel but he's proven himself quite adept at grabbing the dust mop.

von Zielbaur offers this today:

Several soldiers testified Sunday and Monday that a former member of Company B, Steven D. Green, thought up the plan to attack the family and rape the girl, and persuaded the other four, during card games and while driving golf balls, to go along with it.

If von Zielbaur is going play catch up, where's the chicken? CBS and AP (and everyone else that's done even a half-way decent job reporting this story) noted what Zielbaur "reports" today but did so on Monday:

U.S. soldiers accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in the town of Mahmoudiya last March drank alcohol and hit golf balls before the attack, and one of them grilled chicken wings afterward, an investigator told a U.S. military hearing Monday, citing a soldier's sworn statement.

And it was the Times of London and not the Times of New York that reported the following (on Monday):

Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl, but said he was not sure if he had done so, Special Agent Bierce told the hearing.

What's going on? Does the New York Times have a horny foreign correspondent who's identifying with the accused, who is thinking, "Well fourteen is only four years from eighteen . . ."? What is going on because you damn well better believe that if this happened in Chicago or Atlanta, there would be so much outrage and disgust but for Abeer? Only silence.

What happened to Abeer was disgusting. What the Times (and some of the others in the press) are doing to her now is inexcusable. Where is the outrage? Or is the fact that we'd have to have coverage for their to be outrage?

It can't be the "alleged" issue because Abeer, her five-year-old sister and her two parents were murdered. That's not alleged. From details of her condition when discovered, she was raped. From statements made in the hearing (including the confession that the military investigator testified about -- from Barker), she was raped. At what point in the coverage is Abeer presented?

von Zielbaur's so busy with his dust mop he can't even report on yesterday's testimony about the drinking, using cough syrup to get high, et al. von Zielbauer offers:

Several soldiers also testified to a grisly tale of how Mr. Green tossed a puppy off the roof of a building and set it on fire.

That is appalling. Possibly von Zielbaur had a puppy growing up so he can identify with violence aimed at an animal. It's too bad he and others at the Times are so uninterested in reporting on the testimony that soldiers took turns holding down Abeer and raping her or attempting to.

Martha notes Andy Mosher's "At Rape Hearing, U.S. Soldiers Describe Stress of War" (Washington Post):

Eugene Fidell, a Washington military law expert, said Tuesday that the defense attorneys were most likely emphasizing combat stress to argue that their clients not face a possible death penalty in the event of a court-martial. "This is not a defense known to the law," Fidell said. "But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty."

von Zielbaur misses that too but, then, he and the paper have been too busy presenting the defense's argument.

Rebecca's back from her break and her latest is "raped and murdered, 14 year old abeer can't defend herself, who's going to step up to the plate?" and Kat notes that today "on KPFA's The Morning Show, 'after the 8:30 headlines,' Iraq will be a topic discussed. 'A look at US media coverage of Iraq.'" That's 8:30 a.m. PST.
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