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Caching in and other news

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First Iran exiles leave Ashraf camp in Iraq
About 400 Iranian exiles have been transferred from their long-held camp in north-western Iraq.

They are members of the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) , based at Camp Ashraf since the 1980s.

It is the first step of a process that aims to see the entire 3,400-strong community expelled from Iraq.

But members of this advance party are complaining bitterly that their treatment has fallen far short of that promised by the UN and US.

The exiles, who are opposed to Iran’s Shia clerical rulers, were welcomed by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein but have fallen out of favour with Iraq’s new Shia-dominated leadership.

Relations with the Iraqi government deteriorated still further last April, when an Iraqi army raid on the camp left 34 residents dead, according to the UN.

At first, they refused to countenance leaving Camp Ashraf, but the UN has been trying to broker a compromise. In December the group’s Paris-based head Maryam Rajavi agreed that a first contingent of 400 would move in what she called a “goodwill gesture”.

The Iraqi government has extended a deadline for the camp to be shut down to the end of April.

‘Degrading’
On Saturday, the first group arrived at Camp Liberty near Baghdad, but complained that they had been searched for almost an entire day before they were allowed to leave Ashraf, and had been searched again on arrival at Camp Liberty. (Click HERE for article)

Ex-soldier gets 15 years for sexual abuse of minor in 1990s
Army investigated in 1996, but no charges were filed
Casey Grove – (Anchorage Daily News) – February 17th, 2012 – An Anchorage man who admitted to sexually abusing a girl in the 1990s while stationed in the Lower 48 and Germany was sentenced Wednesday to serve 15 years in federal prison.

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Filling ‘er up on your dime & other news

$400 per gallon gasoline in Afghanistan

According to a recent Bloomberg report, a single agency within the Pentagon – the Defense Logistics Agency – wasted $7.1 billion over three years by double ordering parts. It would take 10 years of food stamp fraud to match that amount. Meanwhile, the government has squandered $60 billion on contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002.

A food stamp crackdown is wise, but if the government wants to hang on to even more money and increase its credibility with taxpayers, it needs to cast a much wider net. ~ Cast wider net on fraud, waste in government – Spokesman-Review

Air Force will not inform families of landfill remains
Kevin Baron  – (National Journal) – December 9, 2011 - Responding to press revelations that the remains of hundreds of additional U.S. troops ended up in a landfill, an Air Force official said that the military regretted the pain the news may cause their families, but that the Pentagon would not inform them in order to honor their original wishes.

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UN calls for an investigation on the attack at Camp Ashraf (video)

(This video link was provided by a reader and has yet to be fully authenticated-CAUTION GRAPHIC)

Protect Iran’s Freedom Fighters in Camp Ashraf
Louis J. Freeh and Michael B. Mukasey – (Time) -April 18, 2011 – In the early hours of Friday, April 8, while Washington and the media focused on a possible government shutdown, the Iraqi army assaulted a camp of Iranian civilians, called Camp Ashraf, murdering at least 28 residents and wounding hundreds more. Though the Iraqi government has claimed that only three people were killed and describes the events as an attempt to reclaim farmland, a U.N. inspection team found 28 bodies, including those of women, and determined that most were shot to death. Iraqi officials have not allowed journalists to visit the camp.

Located in northwestern Iraq, 120 km (75 miles) from the Iranian border, Camp Ashraf has for more than 20 years been the home of 3,400 members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK, also known as the PMOI), a key opposition group working against the Iranian regime. Camp Ashraf residents were promised legally protected status under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2003 by senior U.S. commanders in Iraq. General David Petraeus, who served as deputy commander of allied coalition forces, has stated that the turnover of responsibility for Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government was conditioned on a direct Iraqi assurance that the protected status of its residents would continue. Yet the brazen assault mounted by 2,500 heavily armed Iraqi soldiers on April 8 was not the first unprovoked assault against Camp Ashraf civilians. In July 2009, during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the country, the Iraqi army invaded the camp and killed unarmed residents.

On both occasions, the U.S. has lamented the violence but has failed to take effective action, perhaps in its haste to leave Iraq. Until recently, there was a U.S. military forward operating base called FOB Grizzly adjoining Camp Ashraf. But it has been closed, and this also brought the withdrawal of the U.N.’s observation mission. In the most recent assault, American soldiers were in or near the camp shortly before the attack but happened to withdraw before Iraqi forces proceeded. And sadly, in each case, President Obama and the Secretaries of State and Defense have responded lamely after these violations of humanitarian law by the Iraqi regime. A State Department statement acknowledged that the “crisis and the loss of life was initiated by the government of Iraq and the Iraqi military” but said that the U.S. government has done nothing more than “urge” the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “to avoid violence and show restraint.” Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting deputy spokesman, helpfully added on April 12 that “we do need to be mindful that this is a sovereign matter for the government of Iraq” — a posture of deference that will hardly shake the al-Maliki government to its senses. (Click HERE for article)

Iranian journalist with ties to East Bay killed in April 8 raid by Iraqi forces

Barbara Grady -(Mercury News) – April 18, 2011 – A young Iranian journalist who lived in the East Bay for most of her childhood was among 34 Iranian exiles killed in Iraq on April 8 in a clash with Iraqi forces, her relatives in El Sobrante and Albany said.

Asieh Rakhshani, whom aunts, cousins and uncles remembered as always smiling, talkative and an avid basketball player when she was in school in El Cerrito and Albany, was living in a camp of Iranian dissidents inside Iraq known as Camp Ashraf, when Iraqi security forces visited and a clash ensued.

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US ‘may have broken international law’ over Iraqi attack on Iranian camp

Iraqi forces storm Camp Ashraf, home to 3,500 Iranian exiles, as supporters call on US and UN to intervene

Camp Ashraf residents carry an Iranian who they say was wounded in a raid by Iraqi forces. Photograph: Reuters

Mark Tran, James Ball and Melanie Newman – (Guardian UK) -  April 8,  2011 – Iraqi forces have stormed a camp of Iranian dissidents in north-eastern Iraq amid warnings that the US government may have broken international law by failing to protect the camp.

An Iraqi general, Ali Ghaidan, confirmed that an operation took place in the early morning at Camp Ashraf, home to 3,500 Iranian exiles, all members of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) militia. He said no one was killed, but representatives of the group in London said 23 people died including six women.

A hospital official in Baquba, capital of the Diyala province, reported three deaths and 13 wounded. The figures could not be confirmed as access to the camp, whose residents have “protected persons” status under the Geneva convention, is restricted.

Ghaidan said troops were responding to exiles who had been throwing stones and throwing themselves in front of soldiers’ trucks over the past several days. The group’s supporters in London, who had been warning of an attack, said Iraqi forces used metal bars, sticks and batons to beat the residents and opened fire on the camp. The supporters called for urgent UN and US intervention.

“This is a massacre, a catastrophe,” said Behzad Saffari, who has lived at Ashraf for nine years and acts as the camp’s legal adviser. “They came inside the camp and attacked people with grenades and teargas, and then they started to shoot people. When people saw the attack was about to begin, they lined up to defend their homes.”

The raid was the latest in a series of interventions at the camp since jurisdiction was passed from the US to the Iraqi government in 2009. A WikiLeaks cable identified by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at City University in London shows the US was aware the Iraqi government planned to crack down on the MEK, with potentially grave humanitarian consequences.

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