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Rachel Corrie Civil Suit – D-9 Driver Won’t Be Able to be Seen in Testimony

11:16 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The concluding phase of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Corrie family, over the death Rachel Corrie in March 2003 began in Haifa Thursday, with the Government of Israel being granted their request to have some testimony in this phase shielded from view from the audience, and from the plaintiffs:

The Haifa District Court on Thursday granted a government request to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza.

The order includes the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, who is slated to testify later this month. However, Judge Oded Gershon ruled that both the commander of the unit and the second soldier in the bulldozer that hit Rachel would testify in plain view, because their faces were already publicly known.

In asking for the highly unusual protective measures, state attorneys argued that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. They based the request on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, but did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They asked to dismiss the request, filed just 48 hours before the first soldier’s testimony. Alternatively, the lawyers asked the court to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not, but their request was denied. Lawyers for the Corrie family plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Israel.

The irony of this situation was not missed by Rachel Corrie’s father, Craig:

"While Rachel stood in front of a wall to protect the two families huddled behind it, the state is now making the soldiers hide behind a wall that denies us the opportunity to see them," said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother. "The State of Israel has been hiding for over seven years. Where is the justice?"

Where is the justice, indeed? I have to say, though, that I’m somewhat surprised the Israeli government hasn’t managed to quash this trial. I’m becoming more convinced every day that the Government of Israel has considered itself at war with the United States of America since July 14th, 1954, when Israeli agents firebombed the U.S. Information Agency libraries in Cairo and Alexandria.

I’m just finishing reading James Scott’s definitive book, The Attack on the Liberty. The number of U.S. officials who believed then and still believe the attack on that ship was intentional is overwhelming. Just one of many examples:

[Secretary of State Dean] Rusk channeled his hostility over the attack into a stinging three-page letter to the Ambassador [of Israel, Avraham Harman]. Aided by Katzenbach and Walt Rostow, Rusk left no doubt he didn’t believe Israel’s assertion that its forces had attacked in error.

Elsewhere (in his memoir), Rusk has been cited:

I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.

Every surviving member of the U.S.S. Liberty’s crew believes that the attack was deliberate, and meant to kill everyone on the ship.

In 1983, the Israeli Government had pre-knowledge of the impending attack on the U.S. Marine barracks near Beirut airport, but intentionally failed to pass it on:

On October 23, 1983 – at 6:20 a.m. – A truck packed with explosives slammed into US Marine barracks at Beirut Internation Airport – killing 241 Marines, mostly aseleep. A few minutes later, a similar explosion blew up a French military barracks – killing 56 French soldiers. Israeli Mossad acknowledged that it had prior information on these terrorist activities – but its chief Nahum Admony – decided not to warn Israel’s ally in details: “No. We are not going to protect the Americans. They’re a big country. Send only the regular information.”

Consistent with this sort of M.O. – that of a nation at war with the U.S. and its citizens – in the matter of this ongoing trial, is the way the IDF handled the surveillance of the area where Corrie was killed, at the time she was killed:

Also testifying on Thursday was the head of the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, Shalom Michaeli, who oversaw the investigation into Rachel’s killing. He told the court that he stood by his 2003 investigation and saw no reason that anyone should have been prosecuted.

Michaeli was also in charge of the investigation into the killing of Iman al Hams, a 13-year-old Gaza school girl who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Rafah as she lay injured on the ground in October 2004. A military police internal investigation subsequently found major failures in Michaeli’s investigation, saying it was conducted unprofessionally and with negligence. The solider who killed al Hams was court-martialed but subsequently acquitted – in part because of this flawed investigation.

Michaeli’s cross-examination revealed similar flaws in the Corrie investigation. These flaws support the family’s claim of government negligence, for allowing soldiers and their commanders to act recklessly using armored military bulldozers without due regard for the presence of civilians.

Michaeli said that he ordered only a partial transcript of radio transmissions because he did not think it important to transcribe the full audio.

He said he did not go to the site of Rachel’s killing because it was dangerous, the terrain had already been altered, and the vehicles removed by the Israeli military. He acknowledged that he could have gone to the scene in an armored vehicle, but chose not to.

Michaeli testified in his written affidavit that when he inspected the bulldozer he did not find any signs of blood or other evidence that the vehicle had injured anyone. However, in court testimony he said the bulldozer could have been washed “or even painted” before he inspected it.

Michaeli said he knew, prior to opening the investigation, there was a video camera recording the area around the clock. But he failed to obtain the tape until March 23, a week after the incident, because it had been previously taken by senior commanders.

When questioned about his failure to interrogate the camera operator, who panned away from the scene only minutes before Rachel was killed, he said he did not think it was relevant.

When asked whether he questioned the bulldozer crews about an Israeli military manual for low intensity conflict that states bulldozers should not be operated near people, Michaeli said the manuals were not relevant. He added that bulldozer operators could not be expected to follow such procedures in this zone. He went on to say that he believed the Israeli army was “at war” with everyone in the area, including the ISM peace activists.

Michaeli still heads the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, but has since been promoted from Sergeant Major to Warrant Officer.

“Today I was struck by the lead investigator’s failures – his failure to look for evidence, to secure evidence, to resolve conflicting evidence, and to turn evidence over to this court,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “This is not what we and the U.S. government were promised by the government of Israel when Rachel was killed and it is not what we will accept now.” [emphases added]

The IDF clearly states here, that it considered itself to be at war with U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie. I suppose that is how the IDF considered itself to be with U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, when he was murdered in cold blood for merely attempting to document IDF atrocities:

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." [emphases added]

Quite troubling in this context, is the information – covered at The Seminal yesterday by CTuttle, of apparent attempts by Israeli agents, fueled by a new report by the Reut Institute, that will probably target blogs like firedoglake and diarists here such as CTuttle, Markfromireland and me as "existential threats":

The evolution of the Delegitimization Network. This network aims to turn Israel into a pariah state so it will ultimately cease to exist. It is based in a number of metropolitan cities (US!), within which a relatively small number of individuals and organizations mobilize the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. The Delegitimization Network’s success lies in its ability to harness the Western liberal and progressive elite. It does so by employing a variety of means aimed at blurring its true intentions; [...]

11. These groups are leading a systemic and systematic attack against Israel’s political and economic model, which has already had strategic consequences and may become existential if ignored or inadequately addressed.

40. It takes a network to fight a network – The delegitimization campaign against Israel is carried out by a network of NGOs based in a number of international metropolitan cities. Disrupting this network should become the main anti-delegitimization focus.

60. The Reut Institute contends that combined, these forces represent a political-diplomatic strategic threat that may become existential. Resistance Network leaders repeatedly and publicly declare their goal of causing Israel’s implosion inspired by precedents set by the Soviet Union, South Africa, and other countries. This logic is ripening into a strategy that is yielding tangible gains. [emphases added]

While not clearly targeting pro-Palestinian rights bloggers, this document, along with others that have leaked out of Israel over the past year, indicate that efforts to delegitimize the delegitimizers is increasingly being linked to the Israeli model of total war.

As the delightful IDF Col. Yossi declared last month, "There are no civilians in wartime!"

Thoughts on Abe Foxman’s Speechlessness over Fareed Zakaria’s Return of the ADL’s Humphrey Award

1:28 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The dispute between Fareed Zakaria and Abe Foxman is not over. Foxman’s faux "shock" over Zakariah’s reaction to Foxman’s efforts to stop the building of an Islamic community center a few blocks from "ground zero" may be masking efforts by Foxman to have Zakaria exit by the same route as Helen Thomas and Octavia Nasr.

In response to Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman’s statements last week, in which the latter both sought to exacerbate negative feelings 9/11 survivors irrationally hold toward Islam, and to further define Foxman’s take on Zionist exceptionalism, author and journalist Fareed Zakaria returned the Hubert H. Humphrey Award certificate and honorarium he had received five years ago from the ADL.

On August 2nd, Foxman wrote a column in which he sided with Sarah Palin and the larger neo-con community, urging the backers of the lower Manhattan community center plan to re-think their project, possibly moving it to another part of the island:

At its essence, our position is about sensitivity. Everyone — victims, opponents and proponents alike — must pay attention to the sensitivities involved without giving in to appeals to, or accusations of, bigotry. Ultimately, this was not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center would unnecessarily cause some victims more pain. And that wasn’t right.

Earlier, on July 30th, Foxman was quoted as saying:

Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.

Zakaria reacted to the perception of inconsistency in the ADL position on the mosque with what he thought the ADL had long stood for, in a personal way. Here’s his complete letter:

Dear Mr. Foxman,

Five years ago, the ADL honored me with its Hubert Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. I was delighted and moved to have been chosen for it in good measure because of the high esteem in which I hold the ADL. I have always been impressed by the fact that your mission is broad – “to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens” – and you have interpreted it broadly over the decades. You have fought discrimination against all religions, races, and creeds and have built a well-deserved reputation.

That is why I was stunned at your decision to publicly side with those urging the relocation of the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan. You are choosing to use your immense prestige to take a side that is utterly opposed to the animating purpose of your organization. Your own statements subsequently, asserting that we must honor the feelings of victims even if irrational or bigoted, made matters worse.

This is not the place to debate the press release or your statements. Many have done this and I have written about it in Newsweek and on my television show – both of which will be out over the weekend. The purpose of this letter is more straightforward. I cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it and am returning both. I hope that it might add to the many voices that have urged you to reconsider and reverse your position on this issue. This decision will haunt the ADL for years if not decades to come. Whether or not the center is built, what is at stake here is the integrity of the ADL and its fidelity to its mission. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain your reputation.

Foxman’s reply is also worth a complete reprint:

Dear Fareed:

I received your letter today and must say I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision to return the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, you accepted in 2005. As someone I greatly respect for engaging in discussion and dialogue with an open mind I would have expected you to reach out to me before coming to judgment.

ADL is the same agency you held in esteem then; we have never wavered from our mission since its inception in 1913. I know you know well the work we do to fight prejudice and discrimination and promote respect and understanding among all people.

I hope you have read our statement on the proposed Islamic Center at Ground Zero and, more importantly, understand our position. We did not oppose the right for an Islamic Center or a mosque to be built. What we did was to make an appeal based solely on the issues of location and sensitivity. If the stated goal was to advance reconciliation and understanding, we believe taking into consideration the feelings of many victims and their families, of first responders and many New Yorkers, who are not bigots but still feel the pain of 9/11, would go a long way to achieving that reconciliation.

ADL has and will continue to stand up for Muslims and others where they are targets of racism and bigotry, as we have done at the request of and on behalf of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf.

I am holding on to your award and check in hope that you will come to see that ADL acted appropriately and you will want to reclaim them.

It is obvious that Foxman doesn’t get why Zakariah feels so strongly about this. Nor does Foxman understand how deeply his statements must offend supporters of the First Amendment.

As some readers here may know, I firmly back the strong belief of all the survivors of the assault on the U.S.S. Liberty by Israeli jets and torpedo boats, that the attack on their ship was as deliberate as was the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Did Foxman realize when he sided with Sarah Palin, that there has long been a mosque inside of the Pentagon? Or that, by applying his standard, one might suggest, in view of what Foxman terms "location and sensitivity," that the Jewish Chapel, located within a block or so of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, be moved further away, so as not to offend the relatives of:

LCDR Philip McCutcheon Armstrong, Jr. Navy Cross
LT James Cecil Pierce
LT Stephen Spencer Toth, Silver Star
CT3 William Bernard Allenbaugh
SN Gary Ray Blanchard
CT2 Allen Merle Blue
QM3 Francis Brown
CT2 Ronnie Jordan Campbell
CT2 Jerry Leroy Converse
CT2 Robert Burton Eisenberg
CT2 Jerry Lee Gross
CT1 Curtis Alan Graves
CTSN Lawrence Pasul Hayden
CT1 Warren Edward Hersey
CT3 Alan (NMN) Higgins
SN Carl Lewis Hoar
CT2 Richard Walter Keene, Jr.
CTSN James Lee Lenau
CTC Raymond Eugene Linn
CT1 James Mahlon Lupton
CT3 Duane Rowe Marggraf
CTSN David Walter Marlborough
CT2 Anthony Peter Mendle
CTSN Carl Christian Nygren
SGT Jack Lewis Raper, USMC
CPL Edward Emory Rehmeyer, III, USMC
IFCN David (NMN) Skolak
CT1 John Caleb Smith, Jr.
CTC Melvin Douglas Smith
PC2 John Clarence Spicher
GMG3 Alexander Neil Thompson, Jr.
CT3 Thomas Ray Thornton
CT3 Philippe Charles Tiedke
CT1 Frederick James Walton

It would be as foolish to start a movement to move the Jewish community center in Annapolis as it is to attempt to thwart construction of the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. Neither the 9/11 attackers nor the planners of the attack on our men at sea in June 1967 represent the ideals of their faiths or the hopes of their communities.

I’m going to donate $10.00 to each project. Here are their donation pages:

Friends of the Jewish Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy

Cordoba House

Here’s Zakaria’s explanation of his return of the award:

In Memoriam – June 8th 1967 – June 8th 2010

11:01 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Here are the names of those killed in action aboard the U.S.S. Liberty, 43 years ago today.

LCDR Philip McCutcheon Armstrong, Jr. Navy Cross
LT James Cecil Pierce
LT Stephen Spencer Toth, Silver Star
CT3 William Bernard Allenbaugh
SN Gary Ray Blanchard
CT2 Allen Merle Blue
QM3 Francis Brown
CT2 Ronnie Jordan Campbell
CT2 Jerry Leroy Converse
CT2 Robert Burton Eisenberg
CT2 Jerry Lee Gross
CT1 Curtis Alan Graves
CTSN Lawrence Pasul Hayden
CT1 Warren Edward Hersey
CT3 Alan (NMN) Higgins
SN Carl Lewis Hoar
CT2 Richard Walter Keene, Jr.
CTSN James Lee Lenau
CTC Raymond Eugene Linn
CT1 James Mahlon Lupton
CT3 Duane Rowe Marggraf
CTSN David Walter Marlborough
CT2 Anthony Peter Mendle
CTSN Carl Christian Nygren
SGT Jack Lewis Raper, USMC
CPL Edward Emory Rehmeyer, III, USMC
IFCN David (NMN) Skolak
CT1 John Caleb Smith, Jr.
CTC Melvin Douglas Smith
PC2 John Clarence Spicher
GMG3 Alexander Neil Thompson, Jr.
CT3 Thomas Ray Thornton
CT3 Philippe Charles Tiedke
CT1 Frederick James Walton

The day these U.S. servicemen were murdered I was on leave from the U.S. Army. My best friend, Dave Halford, was on leave from the U.S. Navy. We were camping on the shore of Hood Canal in Washington state. We’d been trolling for early salmon and diving for oysters in beautiful, sunny weather.

We had brought a portable radio with us to the camp site, so had been listening to the beginnings of the Six-Day War on the news. When we heard the early news of the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, which was immediately being portrayed as an awful mistake, Dave turned to me and said, "This was NO MISTAKE!" He was visibly shaking.

Can The MV Rachel Corrie Heal the Wounds Left in the Wake of the USS Liberty?

12:31 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Here’s an idea:

The MV Rachel Corrie should plan on reaching the exact point at which the USS Liberty was attacked by the Israeli Navy on June 8th 1967, on June 8th 2010.

They should ask for permission to lay wreaths and garlands from the families of those killed at that site 43 years ago.

They should ask that now, and continue to idle in the area north of Egypt.

They should also ask the U.S. government and Navy if they would like to send a vessel to be at the site for the wreath laying ceremony.

They should invite foreign dignitaries to charter vessels from Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and other countries to come to the site to witness the wreath laying.

They should invite American congressional leaders to come honor the dead from a brutal battle that earned the skipper of the Liberty the Medal of Honor.

They should invite rabbis, imams, ministers, priests, shamans and witches from all faiths to pray earnestly for peace. Atheists, too.

And then,

They should be allowed to proceed to the port of Gaza, unhindered.

How Will the Global and U.S. Media Deal with the Gaza Flotilla’s Encounter with the Israeli Navy?

12:58 am in Foreign Policy by EdwardTeller

I. Were I the commodore of the flotilla of eight or nine vessels preparing to head straight from Cypress to the Gaza coast near the end of May, I’d want Joe Meadors next to me on the bridge. He’s joining the flotilla. Joe’s one of the survivors of the brutal Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, for which Joe’s previous skipper won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Joe says "It’ll be like old home week."

I’d want Joe on the bridge of the MV Rachel Corrie with me. Along with every other living survivor of the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, Joe believes the Israelis meant to sink a U.S. ship and somehow cover up the evidence.

The MV Rachel Corrie is not a U.S. ship, but several U.S. citizens are joining the flotilla, including two former high-ranking State Department officials:

Ambassador Edward L. Peck, who served as a paratrooper during two tours of wartime active duty; spent 32 years in the Foreign Service; including stints as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House, and State Department Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon; and after retirement was Executive Secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

and:

Mary Ann Wright is a retired United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Other Americans will be participating, along with hundreds of Europeans and some Turkish peace activists.

But none are as important as Joe Meador.

II. When it comes to that moment when, in international waters (as was the case with the Liberty) the flotilla, which will have been monitored since untying from Cypress by aircraft and helicopters, half the Israeli Navy and the flotilla come over opposite horizons and into view with each other, nobody can foresee what will happen next. The Israelis claim they have a right to intercept the convoy. The backers of the convoy are subject to whatever the skippers of the small flotilla deem to be most prudent as the scene rapidly unfolds. They are licensed mariners who have agreed to abide by certain rules to obtain and keep their professional credentials.

Essentially, they have to be as careful when the Israelis approach them as a similar flotilla might have to be should Somali pirates hail them on the high seas. Should the flotilla attempt to keep on steaming straight toward the Gaza wharves, the Israeli Navy has announced that it is in training for the encounter.

Will it try to pick them off one by one?

Should the large MV Rachel Corrie be used as a 21st Century ram at the head of a frantic charge, hoping that one of the Israeli torpedo or missile boats doesn’t have a projectile with the word "Caterpillar D-9" painted onto its dull, deadly metal?

III. I don’t know the answers. But I would like to see some of the media attention on this show that the reporters are informed enough about the context of the flotilla to give us some honest journalism.

As the flotilla passes Malta, a lot of pressure will be brought upon those responsible for the joining of vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, to pursue some channeled plan or to disband. Will the U.S. take a role in this? The vessels are flagged at a lot of places, none of them in the USA.

The European media, which is sort of lurking around this story, will be onto it once the MV Rachel Corrie passes Gibraltar, which will be soon.

The US media will ignore it as long as possible.