Italians are demanding answers in the case of US troops opening fire at a checkpoint on a car containing an Italian secret serviceman and an Italian journalist recently freed from Iraqi abductors.
A video made by Florida National Guardsmen in the Iraq city of Ramadi shows troops kicking a gravely wounded prisoner in the face, and making the arm of a nearby corpse appear to wave. The video, obtained by the Palm Beach Post, was entitled "Ramadi Madness." Military authorities are taking no action. An Army spokesman told Reuters that the video showed "poor judgement" but "didn't rise to the level of criminal abuse."
A friend writes, translating from the Feb. 27 edition of the Turkish journal Aksam:
An Indonesian court March 3 sentenced militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to 30 months in prison for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings, but cleared him of more serious terror charges. The sentence was criticized as too light by the US and Australia, who regard the aging preacher as a key regional terror leader. Judges also cleared Bashir of charges that as head of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group he planned the 2003 suicide bombing of the Marriott hotel in Jakarta which killed 12 people, and that he incited his followers to launch terrorist attacks. (AP, March 4)
David Passaro, a CIA contract interrogator, is on trial in Raleigh, NC, for beating an Afghan prisoner who died the next day. The case has revealed several horror stories from the prison just north of Kabul—an abandoned warehouse code-named the "Sand Pit"—where nameless "ghost detainees" were brutalized and left to die of hypothermia in freezing cells. In his defense, Passaro says he will cite policy as articulated by administration officials up to and includding President Bush.
Pakistani authorities say they will appeal the acquittal by the country's Supreme Court of five men charged in an "honor rape" case that drew international condemnation.
Khalid ash-Shaykhli, an official at Iraq's Health Ministry says a survey of casualties from Fallujah indicates the U.S. used mustard gas and other internationally banned weapons in the city. Reports of survivors seeing "melted" bodies also indicates use of napalm, he said. (Al-Jazeera, March 5)
The Pentagon is funding development of a Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP), a laser that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid, like a human being, inducing excruciating pain from up to a mile away. The program came to light thanks to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry by the Sunshine Project. The Pentagon is calling it a "non-lethal" weapon for use again rioters. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon.