iNPLACENEWS Blog Has MOVED

September 14, 2008

Hey everyone!  From all the staff to all the readers of our blog and the watchers of our live news programming broadcasted live over the internet directly to your desktop, we want to thank you for all your support and participatiion.  We have relocated our blog to iNPLACENEWS.COM.  There you will find all our blogs, including the old posts, your comments you made, the place to download our free desktop player and all of the current news from around the world.  Stay up-to-date on all the current events by watching our broadcasts, reading our blogs, and watching videos-on-demand.  Again, go to iNPLACENEWS.COM for all the newest blogs and the older posts you love to go back to read.  Thank you again for your time, support, and participation.

-iNPLACENEWS


Marine Ordered to Stand Trial For Killings in Fallujah

August 8, 2008

A Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant was ordered Friday to stand trial on charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty in the killing of an unarmed detainee in Fallujah, Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland ordered the court-martial of Sgt. Ryan Weemer after finding there was sufficient evidence to send him to trial.

Weemer is one of three current and former Marines accused of breaking rules of engagement and killing four men they had captured after a platoon commander radioed to ask whether the Iraqis were “dead yet.”

A telephone message left by for Weemer’s attorney, Paul Hackett, was not immediately returned.

The killings happened in November 2004 during the invasion of Fallujah, one of the fiercest ground battles of the Iraq war.

The case came to light in 2006, when Weemer volunteered details to a U.S. Secret Service job interviewer during a polygraph screening that included a question about the most serious crime he had ever committed.

Weemer, of Hindsboro, Ill., is charged with one count of murder and six counts of dereliction of duty encompassing failure to follow the rules of engagement in Fallujah and failing to follow standard operating procedures for apprehending or treating detainees or civilian prisoners of war.

Helland’s decision to order the court-martial follows an Article 32 hearing, similar to an evidentiary hearing, where prosecutors argued that Weemer, a burly 25-year-old honored with a Purple Heart, should be tried for unpremeditated murder because he knew the rules of engagement forbade harming anyone in his custody.

During the hearing last month, prosecutors played a tape recording of the Secret Service interview where Weemer recounted arguing with his squadmates about what to do with the detainees – all military-age males captured in a house where weapons were also found. The squad was under pressure from the platoon to get moving.

Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. David Griesmer said Weemer next faces arraignment on the charges at Camp Pendleton. A date has not been set.

Weemer’s attorney has put much of the blame on Weemer’s former squad leader, saying Jose Nazario Jr. escalated the situation inside the house by beating one detainee with the butt of a rifle after the weapons cache was found.

Nazario, 27, of Riverside, Calif., has been charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the killing of two captives. The former sergeant is scheduled to be tried Aug. 19 in federal court because he has already completed his military service.

Another Marine, Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, 26, of New York, is slated to be court-martialed in December on charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty for his role in the alleged killings.

Article by Chelsea J. Carter

Andre Jetmir iNPLACENEWS


© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Getting Your Plane Shot Down Does Not Make You Qualified

June 29, 2008

Gen. Wesley Clark, acting as a surrogate for Barack Obama’s campaign, invoked John McCain’s military service against him in one of the more personal attacks on the Republican presidential nominee this election cycle.

Clark said that McCain lacked the executive experience necessary to be president, calling him “untested and untried” on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” And in saying so, he took a few swipes at McCain’s military service.

“He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron,” Clark said.

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), also on CBS, was equally uncharitable towards Obama’s record on foreign policy as he continued to distance himself from his former party.

“Sen. Obama, unfortunately, like a lot of the Democratic leadership, continues to take a position that we ought to withdraw … even though the new policy is working,” said Lieberman. “If we had done what Sen. Obama asked us to do for the last couple of years, today Iran and Al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the Middle East and throughout the world.”

Meanwhile, the opposition narratives for the fall election campaign appeared to be in full force on ABC’s “This Week,” with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) calling McCain a flip-flopper, while Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty accused Obama of not working in a bipartisan fashion.

Emanuel attacked McCain for changing his position on offshore oil drilling, President Bush’s tax cuts and his relationship with the evangelical community.

Quipped Emanuel: “If flip-flop was an Olympic sport, John McCain would be the first to win a gold medal.”

But Pawlenty cited McCain’s record on immigration and his support of increasing U.S. troop presence in Iraq as ample evidence that he bucks his party on account of principle — and then challenged Emanuel to name one piece of legislation where Obama has worked across party lines.

“The question really remains, when has Barack Obama stood up and taken on his party
on anything of national significance?” Pawlenty asked. “It’s not leadership to jump in front of a parade. And I think Barack Obama’s book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ perhaps should be retitled ‘The Audacity of Hypocrisy.’”

VP watch

A pair of prospective running mates for Obama and McCain downplayed their interest in serving on the presidential tickets on “Fox News Sunday” — and one even said he wasn’t interested in an immediate Cabinet appointment.

Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.), said he was committed to finishing out his four-year term as governor before accepting any Cabinet position within a potential Obama administration.

“In 2011, it’s my intention to walk out the door of the [Pennsylvania] capitol … in January of 2011. I know that disappoints some people in the capitol, but that’s my intention,” Rendell said. “And if there was a position open that I was interested in, like energy or transportation, I’d be honored to serve in an Obama administration, but not at the beginning, not until my time is finished.”

Rendell, one of Sen. Clinton’s leading surrogates during the Democratic primaries, said that President Clinton was “disappointed” that his wife came up short in the Democratic primary, but “is going to do every single thing that Barack Obama asks him to do … and make a great case for Sen. Obama as our next president.”

Meanwhile, former Ohio Rep. Rob Portman also disavowed interest in serving as McCain’s running mate, saying he preferred to remain with his family in Ohio instead of returning to Washington, where he most recently served as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“I don’t expect to be asked, honestly,” said Portman. “I’m also, as you know, Chris, home after 15 years of commuting when I was in Congress and in the administration, and I’ve got three teenagers. It’s time to be home. I love being home.”

Portman, for his part, reiterated McCain’s unequivocal support for NAFTA despite the fact that the free trade agreement is viewed skeptically in the Rust Belt, including the electorally critical states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“It’s created an enormous number of jobs, including to Canada, which is our biggest trading partner,” said Portman. “And when that message gets out there, it makes it look a little silly that you have someone going around the state of Pennsylvania and Ohio blaming NAFTA for anything from high energy prices to the common cold. “

Third party

Both third-party presidential candidates appeared on the Sunday talk show circuit, with each offering an ample helping of criticism towards the major-party nominees.

Ralph Nader, who said Obama was “talking white” to appeal to voters earlier in the week, continued to attack the Democratic nominee on ABC’s “This Week,” accusing him of being too cozy with an assortment of corporate interests.

“Look at the positions he’s taken on that corporate America is very congenial to. If you want to cover everybody on health insurance … go to single payer. He’s opposed to single payer,” said Nader.

Meanwhile, former Republican Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, had harsh words for both McCain and his former party.

“What’s wrong with John McCain is symptomatic of what’s wrong with the Republican party in these first years of the 21st century. They talk one thing but do something different and that’s become very obvious to the American people,” Barr said on Fox.

Barr said he is the only candidate offering the combination of a crackdown on excessive government spending along with concern for civil liberties.

But he had to distance himself from past congressional votes in support of the Patriot Act and for legislation authorizing the war in Iraq — positions anathema to much of the Libertarian Party base.

“I certainly was wrong, along with a lot of others in Congress, and now realize that the vote in support of military operations in Iraq was not what the administration intended. They intended to occupy the country even though they didn’t tell us or the American people that at the time,” said Barr.

The governator

And a Sunday show wrapup wouldn’t be complete without mention of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appearance on “Meet the Press,” where he advocated for McCain’s candidacy but acknowledged their difference on offshore drilling, a proposal that Schwarzenegger opposes.

“I’m 100 percent behind him. That we don’t agree on everything, that’s clear; nor do I with my wife. I mean, it doesn’t mean that we should split, it just means that we don’t agree on certain things.”
He also announced his opposition to a statewide referendum that would amend the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage, while not sounding too opposed to the California Supreme Court’s recent controversial ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

“I think it’s good that California is leading in this way,” said Schwarzenegger. “I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time I think that my belief, I don’t want to force on anyone else, so I think we should stay with the decision of the Supreme Court and move forward.”

Originally found @ Politico.com

iNPLACENEWS


30 Thousand Troops Going to Iraq

June 28, 2008

The Pentagon is preparing to order approximately 30,000 troops to Iraq early next year in a move that would allow the U.S. to maintain 15 combat brigades in the country through 2009, according to sources via the Associated Press. This deployments would replace troops currently there. This could all change quickly though is Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, decides in the fall to further reduce troop levels in Iraq.

Several officials familiar with the deployments spoke on condition of anonymity because the orders have not yet been made public.

According to the officials, three active-duty Army brigade combat teams, one Army National Guard brigade and two Marine regimental combat teams are being notified that they are being sent to Iraq in early 2009. Officials would not release the specific units involved because the soldiers and Marines and their families have not all been told except the Army National Guard unit who were told last October that they should be prepared to deploy to Iraq early in 2009. They are the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division from the Pennsylvania National Guard which is a large brigade with heavily armored Stryker vehicles.

Overall, there are about 146,000 forces in Iraq, and that number is expected to dip to about 142,000 by mid-July when that last unit is all out. That total is at least 7,000 more than the number of troops in Iraq before the buildup began early last year.

Petraeus told Congress in May that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq, but he did not provide any details. If he decides in the Fall that fewer brigades will be needed in Iraq during the next year, there is the chance that brigades could simply be directed to the war in Afghanistan instead.

There is a broad consensus that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, to both train the security forces and fight the insurgents. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Bush, earlier this year, told NATO allies that they would increase troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009 in response to the growing violence.

Overall, as seems to be the plan of the current administration and its potential Republican successor, the war is not ending, the occupation is not ceasing, and troops are not coming home.

iNPLACENEWS


Another Pregnant Soldier Found Dead In North Carolina

June 25, 2008


Authorities in Fayetteville, North Carolina, are investigating the death of a soldier who was 7 months pregnant: Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, 23, a dental specialist from Cold Springs, Kentucky. She was assigned to the 19th Replacement Company.

Fayetteville police found her body late Saturday morning after responding to a call about a strong odor coming from one of the rooms. The body was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to determine the cause of death.
Before arriving at Fort Bragg on June 12, she had served five years with the U.S. Army Dental Activity Clinic in Bamberg, Germany, and in Fort Drum, New York.

Touma is the second pregnant servicemember to die in North Carolina in recent months. The remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her fetus were found beneath in a fire pit January 11 in Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean’s backyard.

Laurean is suspected of killing Lauterbach on December 14, 2007. Before fleeing to Mexico, he used her ATM card 10 days later. He was taken into custody after he walked up to a roadblock set up by a local anti-kidnapping task force investigating another case in Mexico.

Laurean is currently awaiting extradition to North Carolina.

iNPLACENEWS


iNPLACENEWS Interview of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello

June 23, 2008

Tom Morello, best known for his work as the founding member and guitar player for RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, AUDIOSLAVE, and Nightwatchman is interviewed by iNPLACENEWS’ Paul Stewart. In this interview, they discuss Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the war in Iraq, and the Presidential Elections. Also, he talks about his most recent tour with Nightwatchman, social responsibility of rockstars and other artists, as well his nonprofit organization Axis of Justice.

Here is what was found in Wikipedia about Tom:

Tom Morello was born in New York, New York. His mother, Mary Morello, who is part Irish and part Italian, is a founder of Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship group. She was also a teacher at Libertyville High School. His father, Ngethe Njoroge, a Kenyan, was the country’s first ambassador to the United Kingdom. Morello’s great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first president of Kenya.

Morello grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, at the time a virtually all-white suburb of Chicago. There he attended Libertyville High School. He sang in the school chorus and was active in speech and drama club – a prominent role was Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

He showed his political leanings early. Morello has described himself as having been “the only anarchist in a conservative high school”, but has since identified as a nonsectarian socialist. In the 1980 mock elections at LHS, he campaigned for a fictitious “candidate” named Hubie Maxwell, who came in fourth place after Jimmy Carter at the overwhelmingly Republican school. Ronald Reagan won the mock election. He also wrote a piece headlined “South Africa: Racist Fascism That We Support” for the school’s alternative paper, The Student Pulse.

At age 13, Morello joined Nebula, a Led Zeppelin cover band as lead singer. At this same age, Morello purchased his first guitar at Rigoni Music in Libertyville. He wanted a solid-body Ovation guitar, but he didn’t have the money to buy one. Instead, he purchased a Kay guitar. Wanting to learn how to play “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin, he took two guitar lessons, but instead was taught the C-major scale. He decided that playing the guitar was a waste of his time, so he placed it in his closet for the next three years.

Around 1984, Morello first started studying the guitar seriously. He had formed a band in the same year called the which featured future Tool guitarist Adam Jones on bass.

Few if any of the Sheep could really play an instrument at first, but the band was an impetus for Morello to start honing his skills. Instead of performing cover songs, the Sheep wrote original material that included politically charged lyrics. None of the songs composed by the Sheep contained solos; soloing was a skill that Morello began learning in college.

At the time, Morello’s musical tastes lay in the direction of heavy metal, particularly Kiss, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. Morello developed his own unique sound through the electric guitar. Later, his music—and musical politics—were greatly influenced by punk rock bands like The Clash, the Sex Pistols, and Devo.

Morello graduated in 1982 and began attending Harvard University. There, he made a point of practicing every day for up to eight hours without fail, no matter how much studying he had to do. He graduated in 1986 with an honors degree in political science. He moved to L.A., where he briefly worked as an aide to Senator Alan Cranston as he set about trying to join or start a band. Adam Jones moved to L.A. as well; Morello introduced Jones and Maynard James Keenan to Danny Carey, who would come to form the band Tool.

iNPLACENEWS


Which Country’s Politician Shot Our Troops with AK47?

June 23, 2008

A member of an Iraqi city council shot at U.S. forces Monday outside Baghdad, killing at least three soldiers, two Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said.

But the U.S. military said one coalition soldier and an “enemy” were killed and five others were wounded. The military said it is investigating.

The Iraqi official fired an AK-47 at U.S. troops after they entered the City Council building in al-Madaen, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, according to one Interior Ministry official. The councilman killed at least three people and wounded four, a ministry official said.

U.S. forces returned fire, killing the councilman, according to two Interior Ministry officials.

The shooting happened after U.S. soldiers and local officials had attended a ceremony to open a park in al-Madaen, also known as Salman Pak, an Interior Ministry official said.

“The attacker came out of his car with an AK-47 rifle in his hand and started firing on the American soldiers until he was killed by the return fire,” said Hussein al-Dulaimi, 37, who owns an agricultural machine shop across the street, according to The Associated Press.

In other violence, a mortar attack killed at least 10 people Sunday evening in northern Iraq, according to a military operations command in Diyala province.

Three mortars hit an office and checkpoint of the U.S.-allied predominantly Sunni fighters, known as the Awakening Councils or Sons of Iraq.

The attack happened in al-Adhaim in Diyala, 31 miles (about 50 kilometers) north of Baquba, the province’s command said Monday.

The 10 slain were all members of Awakening Councils. Twenty-four members of the group also were wounded.

Awakening Councils, also called “Concerned Local Citizen” groups, are comprised of mostly Sunni fighters who have turned on al Qaeda in Iraq.

The mortar attack comes on the verge of a U.S. report that will say violence in Iraq declined in the early part of 2008, according to officials familiar with the report. The Pentagon’s upcoming report to Congress, which could be released as early as Monday, will cover events in Iraq from mid-February to mid-May.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Monday that Iraqi forces will continue “victorious security operations” against al Qaeda in Iraq and other suspected Sunni targets, including “gangs of the former regime,” in Diyala and the northern city of Mosul, according to a statement from al-Maliki’s office.

He spoke during a visit to the southern city of Amara, the capital of Maysan province, where Iraqi security forces are staging a major offensive against Shiite militants.

He met with tribal leaders from Maysan in Amara and vowed to “strike with an iron fist anyone who disobeys the law.”
Iraqi security forces started the push against militants last week in Maysan, a region that borders Iran. There has been speculation that weaponry destined for Shiite militias has come through Maysan from Iran.

Originally found @ CNN.com

iNPLACENEWS


Standoff in Iraq Is NOT Just About Oil or Unwanted US Presence,

June 21, 2008


The decisive battle of the Iraq war is shaping up – not in the streets of Baghdad but in the halls of government where the future of America’s role across the region is on the line.

American and Iraqi officials have expressed new resolve to hammer out far-reaching deals that would allow U.S. forces to remain on bases across Iraq once the U.N. mandate expires at year’s end.

The stakes in the talks are enormous.

The outcome will shape not just Iraq for years to come – but, more important, America’s strategic position all across the oil-rich Persian Gulf at a time when Iran’s influence is growing. The U.S. maintains substantial air and naval forces elsewhere in the Gulf but few ground troops except in Iraq.

A pact also would assure Arab allies that Iraq would not fall under domination by Iran, which is pressuring the Iraqis to refuse any deal that keeps U.S. soldiers here.

But critics in the United States fear it will tie the hands of the next president when millions of Americans are anxious to bring troops home. Many Iraqis, in turn, worry the deal will allow American domination of their country for decades.

With so much in the balance, the Iraqi government said Wednesday that both Washington and Baghdad recognize the need to finish the talks by July’s end “to avoid any legal vacuum that may arise.”

That came only days after it seemed the deal was dead. But Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the prospects for an accord had brightened because of new U.S. flexibility after meetings in Washington.

The White House said President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed the talks Thursday via secured video teleconference and affirmed their commitment to completing the deal.

Nevertheless, the two sides remain far apart on core issues, including the number of bases where the United States will have a presence, and U.S. demands for immunity from Iraqi law for American soldiers and contractors.

Other obstacles include U.S. authority to detain suspects, fight battles without Iraqi permission and control of the country’s airspace.

Iraq’s parliament must sign off on the deal by year’s end – and approval is by no means certain.

Opposition to the initial U.S. demands brought together rival Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders who all complain the deal would leave real power in American hands.

The oil minister, who is close to the country’s powerful Shiite clerical leadership, told the British newspaper The Guardian this week that Iraq will demand the right to veto any U.S. military operation.

But American commanders believe they need such sweeping powers to protect U.S. soldiers in a combat zone.

Publicly, U.S. officials have expressed confidence they can find language that will satisfy the Iraqis on all major issues. But the negotiations are taking place against the backdrop of war and intense power struggles among rival ethnic groups in Iraq – each with its own agenda.

The U.S. operates scores of bases throughout the country, including the sprawling Camp Victory headquarters in Baghdad, Asad air base in western Iraq and the giant air facility at Balad, a 16-square-mile installation about 60 miles north of the capital that houses tens of thousands of American troops, contractors and U.S. government civilians.

It’s still unclear how many of the facilities Washington would want to keep.

If all else fails, the two sides could go back to the U.N. Security Council and seek an extension of the mandate allowing troops in Iraq.

But that could prove politically embarrassing – and difficult – in the waning days of the Bush administration or the early days of the new U.S. presidency.

The current standoff has its roots in events last August when leaders of Iraq’s rival factions – facing enormous U.S. pressure to resolve their differences – signed a declaration of unity.

It included a statement that Iraq’s government wanted a long-term security relationship with the United States apart from U.N. mandates, which Iraq has long wanted to end.

A few months later, Bush and al-Maliki signed a statement of principles to negotiate two agreements – a broad security framework and a second deal spelling out the rules for the U.S. military presence.

Talks began in March but Iraqi officials were outraged over the initial U.S. demands – especially immunity for U.S. soldiers and security contractors.

The American draft also included no firm commitment to defend Iraq from foreign invasion – which would require U.S. Senate approval – nor a timetable for the departure of American troops, according to Iraqi officials. U.S. officials have released few details.

After Iraqi negotiators briefed lawmakers last month, politicians from all walks paraded in front of microphones to denounce the U.S. proposals.

Some commentators likened the U.S. position to the Iraqi-British treaty of 1930, which gave Britain virtual control of the country and is widely seen here as a humiliation.

Shiite lawmaker Haidar al-Abadi, speaking for al-Maliki’s party, said June 4 that “negotiations are at a standstill, and the Iraqi side is studying its options.” A week later al-Maliki himself said talks had reached a “dead-end.”

Aides scrambled to clarify that al-Maliki did not mean negotiations were over. But his comments reflected Iraq’s resolve not to accept an agreement short of major Iraqi demands.

“We could not give amnesty to a soldier carrying arms on our soil,” al-Maliki said then.

Such comments reflect each Iraqi faction’s need to publicly defend Iraq’s rights, amid the country’s intense political rivalry.

Some Sunni groups, for example, privately favor a continued American presence as a counterweight to Iran’s influence among Shiites. Yet several leading Sunni politicians signed a letter to Congress insisting on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal – in part to needle al-Maliki on an nationalistic issue.

Shiite parties, in turn, believe the agreement would shore up American support for al-Maliki ahead of parliamentary elections next year – a goal they seek. But Shiite leaders are also anxious to take over full control of their country.

Meanwhile, recent Iraqi military successes against al-Qaida in Mosul and Shiite extremists in the south have convinced some Shiite politicians they don’t really need America.

“Iraq has another option that it may use,” al-Maliki said recently. “The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil.”

This story is originally posted at AssociatedPress.com

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Green Beret Electrocuted To Death in Iraq

May 28, 2008

A highly decorated Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth died a painful death in Iraq this year. He died not on the battlefield. He died in what should have been one of the safest spots in Iraq: on a U.S. base, in his bathroom.

The water pump was not properly grounded, and when he turned on the shower, a jolt of electricity shot through his body and electrocuted him January 2.

The next day, Cheryl Harris was informed of his death. A mother of three sons serving in Iraq, she had feared such news might come one day.

“I did ask exactly, ‘How did Ryan die? What happened to him?’ And he had told me that Ryan was electrocuted,” she said.

Her reaction was disbelief. “I truly couldn’t believe he would be electrocuted … in the shower,” she said.

Maseth, 24, was not the first. At least 12 U.S. troops have been electrocuted in since the start of the war in 2003, according to military and government officials. mom describe horror, heartbreak over son’s electrocution »

In fact, the Army issued a bulletin in 2004 warning that electrocution was “growing at an alarming rate.” It said five soldiers died that year by electrocution, with improper grounding the likely culprit in each case.

The Army bulletin detailed one soldier’s death in a shower — eerily similar to Maseth’s case — that said he was found “lying on a shower room floor with burn marks on his body.”

Maseth’s mother says the Army was not immediately forthcoming with details about her son’s death.

At one point, she says, the Army told her he had a small appliance with him in the shower on his base, a former palace complex near the Baghdad airport.

“It just created so much doubt, and I know Ryan, I know Ryan, I know how he was trained, I know that he would not have been in a shower with a small appliance and electrocuted himself,” she said.

The Army refused to answer CNN’s questions about the case, citing pending litigation by Maseth’s family.

Maseth’s mother says she pressed the military for answers, eventually uncovering more details about her son’s electrocution. The surging current left burn marks across his body, even singeing his hair. Army reports show that he probably suffered a long, painful death.

Fellow soldiers had to break down the door to help, said Patrick Cavanaugh, an attorney for Maseth’s parents.

“When they kicked down the door, they smelled burning hair, and they rushed over, saw Sgt. Maseth lying there unconscious, and one of the rescuers himself was shocked electrically and sustained a fairly good jolt because the water and the pipes were still electrified,” Cavanaugh said.

Army documents obtained by CNN show that U.S.-paid contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) inspected the building and found serious electrical problems a full 11 months before Maseth was electrocuted.

KBR noted “several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.” But KBR’s contract did not cover “fixing potential hazards.” It covered repairing items only after they broke down.

Only after Maseth died did the Army issue an emergency order for KBR to finally fix the electrical problems, and that order was carried out soon thereafter.

In an internal e-mail obtained by CNN, a Navy captain admits that the Army should have known “the extent of the severity of the electrical problems.” The e-mail then says the reason the Army did not know was because KBR’s inspections were never reviewed by a “qualified government employee.”

Larraine McGee is the mother of Sgt. Christopher Everett, another soldier electrocuted in Iraq.

“The impression I got was that this was the first time that it had happened,” McGee said.

Her son was cleaning a Humvee on his Iraqi base with a power washer that was not properly grounded in 2005.

“I thought Chris was the first and that because of that, they were going to correct the problem, and it wasn’t going to happen again,” she said.

When she learned of Maseth’s electrocution, she was stunned.

“It makes me very angry, because there is no reason for this to be going on,” said McGee.

The electrocution of soldiers is prompting anger in Washington.

“How did this happen?” asked Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Waxman has called for an investigation. “Why wasn’t it corrected when we had the first signs that people were dying from electrocutions?”

In a statement to CNN, the U.S. Department of Defense said it “considers this to be a serious issue and has referred it to the DoD Inspector General’s office for action.”

The Defense Department said that there are nearly 40,000 structures and housing units in the Iraqi theater and that “we believe there was adequate oversight of the KBR contractors.”

“In the past 12 months, KBR performed over 2 million service or work order repairs across the theater,” the Defense Department said.

It went on to say that the Pentagon has “no information” that personnel with Defense Contract Management Agency, which handles the KBR contract, was aware of the 2004 Army bulletin or that they “failed to take appropriate action in response to unsafe conditions brought to our attention.”

The Defense Department inspector general’s office said it could not comment on the new investigation at this time.

KBR declined a CNN interview, but in an e-mail the company said it found “no evidence of a link between the work it has been tasked to perform and the reported electrocutions.”

The Defense Contract Management Agency declined to answer CNN’s questions.

Harris says she will continue to fight to make sure other soldiers don’t die similar deaths.
“I’m not going to sit around quietly,” she said. “I want the answers surrounding Ryan’s death — the accountability. And even further, I want to make sure that our troops are taken care of that are left on the ground … [so] they don’t have to wake up and worry about taking a shower and electrocution.”

Original article found @ CNN.com

iNPLACENEWS


Bush Dealt Proof His Influence Is Almost Gone

May 23, 2008

In a stunning vote that illustrated President Bush’s diminished standing, the Senate on Thursday ignored his veto threat and added tens of billions of dollars for veterans and the unemployed to his Iraq war spending bill.

A majority of Republicans broke ranks with Bush on a veto-proof 75-22 vote while adding more than $10 billion for various other domestic programs, including heating subsidies for the poor, wildfire fighting, road and bridge repair, and health research.

Democrats crowed about their victory. But the developments meant more confusion about when the must-pass measure might actually become law and what the final version will contain.

Senators voted 70-26 to approve $165 billion to fulfill Bush’s request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring, when Bush’s successor will set war policy.

Overall, the measure contains $212 billion over the coming two years — $28 billion more than the administration sought — plus about $50 billion more through 2017 for veterans’ education benefits.

Bush has promised to veto the Iraq spending if it exceeds his request. He has enough GOP support in the House to sustain a veto.

But the spectacle of 25 Senate Republicans abandoning the White House and voting to extend jobless benefits by 13 weeks and boost the GI Bill to provide veterans enough money to pay for a four-year education at a public institution made it plain that Bush’s influence is waning.

This rest of this story can be found: CNN.com

iNPLACENEWS