Iraq War

Chelsea Manning: leaked footage of civilian murders by US troops, internal communiques between diplomatic staff and logs of military engagements to carefully selected media organisations who analysed, vetted and censored information to scrub it of all potential to put lives at risk - in the name of public transparency and accountability.

Punishment: held for three years without trial in various Marine and military prisons whilst being treated as the wrong gender, finally sentenced to 35 years in prison for military espionage; later commuted to seven years.

Donald Trump: divulges highly classified information directly to the Russian foreign ministry, jeopardising intelligence sources within ISIL-held territory and directly endangering lives - as a deal-sweetener to curb Russian aggression in the region.

Punishment: none, so far.

Memorial Day weekend is a time when a lot of Americans remember those who have served and lost their lives during war — and not all of those individuals were U.S. citizens.

When the Iraq war started, nearly 40,000 members of the military were not U.S. citizens. Army Pfc. Diego Rincon was one of them.

In 1989, his family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. In 2003, he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He died for his country even though he wasn’t a citizen.

His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes still remember their son and how quickly he adapted to his home in the U.S.

“We came here when he was 5-years-old,” Reyes says. “Diego started speaking English faster than we did. He was often letting me know, ‘When I finish high school, I’m going to join the Army.’ ”

Diego did go on to join the Army and he was on his way to becoming a citizen, along with his parents.

“Before he went to Iraq, he got the green card,” George says. “But he said to me, 'Dad, don’t do the citizenship until I return. We’ll do it together.’ ”

Remembering A Soldier Who Died For His Country Before Becoming A Citizen

Photo: Von Diaz/StoryCorps

IRAQ. Baghdad governorate. Baghdad. April 14, 2003. Twelve-year-old Ali Abbas, then treated at the Baghdad Hospital, has lost both arms during the American bombing of the city and has sustained serious burns over his body.

Ali Abbas still remembers the day his childhood changed forever, however much he might wish to forget. It was March 30, 2003. He was 12, “Just a little kid, enjoying my life, going to school, playing football, with lots of friends…”

He had fallen asleep with [pregnant] mum Azhar, dad Ismaeel, and ten-year-old brother Abbas all sleeping reassuringly close to him in the same room. Even now he doesn’t know why the Americans fired the missile. Their home, on the southern fringe of Baghdad, wasn’t near any sort of military base.

“We were farmers. There were cows and sheep outside. They should have seen what was down there. I was woken up by this big noise. All the house collapsed on us. My home was on fire. Then I heard the screaming.”

It was his mum and dad.

“I heard them screaming. Then after a couple of minutes, the screaming stopped. They were gone.”

“I was burning,” he continues. “My arms were basically roasted. After maybe 20 minutes, my neighbour came to try to pull me out of the rubble. He didn’t realise how badly I had been burned. So when he tried to pull me by my left hand, it came off.”

His mother, father, and little brother were dead. So too were 13 other members of his family. Both Ali’s arms had to be amputated. He had suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body. The doctors doubted he would survive.

And yet, he says, “I was lucky. There are thousands like me in Iraq. Or even worse than me. So many innocent people killed.”

His first stroke of “luck” came in the form of a hospital nurse, Karem.

“All the doctors were running away, but he stayed. He brought me food, paid for cream and bandages for my burns with his own money.”

Then the Western journalists came. Of all the images flooding in from Iraq, it was his photo and not that of another child that caught the eye of the picture editors, and the imagination of the British public. There was an outpouring of sympathy, a successful campaign to bring “Orphan Ali” to the UK for proper treatment.

At one charity event, he even got to meet Tony Blair.

“His wife did most of the talking. I just said ‘Hi’. I didn’t know much then. I think I was about 14, still a kid.”

He’s not a kid any more. Ali Abbas is a 25-year-old man now. And on the eve of Sir John Chilcot finally delivering his report into the Iraq War [in 2016], Mr Abbas knows exactly what he would want to ask Tony Blair.

“I would want to know from him whether he regrets what he has done. I would want him to tell me why he did it.” [x]

Photograph: Jerome Sessini/Magnum Photos

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CQB fighting footage from Iraq in 2004. This shit is intense.

IRAQ. Baghdad governorate. Baghdad. April 9, 2003. Firdos Square.

“What can I say - I almost missed the moment. I was with my pal Alexandra Boulat running around the other side of town photographing the looting of government buildings. Many Saddam statues had been toppled before, but for some reason, this one became iconic. Looking at it now [in 2013] wakes up a few ghosts. Two days earlier, the Americans shot at the Palestine hotel and killed two friends. Two who had given six months of their lives to cover history from the other side. Two for whom the war has not ended, and never will. Two we could not save. Jose Couso died from his wounds. Taras Protsyuk died in my arms.” 

Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP