Monday. The latest episode of Nikita is "Drop Dead" and is up at the CW. I believe Friday is the last regular one before the season finale. (Two episodes left.)
So Ryan (remember him, he was the CIA agent helping Nikita in season one who got thrown in jail by Percy and then killed but he wasn't really dead, he was being held at Fringe, Nikita broke him out and now he helps them) thinks they need to reach out to the CIA for help and Nikita doesn't trust them. There's one person he trusts, his former boss.
Nikita goes along reluctantly but plants a bug on the man. After Ryan explains everything to the man, he calls Percy. Nikita says they need to take him out.
As she and Michael get ready to shoot him in the park, they have a discussion.
Michael: We've got to find someone in the government to trust.
Nikita: There is no one to trust.
They abort that kill because Ryan figures out that the man was dropping a hint: He's being forced. Ryan and Berkoff discover that there's a kill chip on his pacemaker.
Meanwhile Sean's still healing from being shot. Drugged, he talks to Alex about how much she means to him. She dismisses it as his being drugged. When he comes to he tells Alex he meant what he said.
Nikita and Michael take the man underground with Division agents trailing. They take the pacemaker offline so Berkoff can kill the kill chip. While they're doing that, Division finds the com link and traces it back to Nikta's safe house.
While Nikita and Michael are successful, Division surrounds the safe house -- Ryan, Berkoff, Alex and Sean are inside. Berkoff says they have to fight. Alex thinks they need to be smarter.
Berkoff: We've got to hit these mothers with all the fire power we've got.
Alex: You're right.
Division breaks in to the house to discover . . . it's wired and blowing up.
As Berkoff, Ryan, Alex and Sean drive off, Sean surprises Alex with a passionate kiss.
Now they need a new safe house. They're using Ryan's safe house right now.
Okay. Now at Third, Dallas and the following worked on the new edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And we came up with:
- Truest statement of the week
- Truest statement of the week II
- A note to our readers
- Editorial: Removing the stigma
- TV: Chewing their own cud
- So dumb they made Netflix look smart
- College loans? Don't fall for the oike-doke
- Bradley Manning
- Music video of the week
- Amnesty International gets a theme song
- Double Your Green Campaign
- Free Mumia
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, May 7, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Bradley Manning's case gets more coverage (from the only radio program you can count on to supply it), the White House has apparently bungled again meaning that the deaths of 5 US service members will go unpunished, the Iraqi political crisis continues with charges and counter-charges tossed around, and more.
Starting with Bradley Manning who has a court-martial scheduled to start September 21st. Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.
Today on WBAI, Law and Disorder Rado was live (this is an additional broadcast -- the regular, recorded hour long show -- with Nick Surgery discussing Common Cause's complaint against the American Legislative Exchange Council and updates on Lynne Stewart, May Day and more) due to WBAI being in plege drive mode and the live broadcast spoke with journalist Kevin Gosztola about Bradley Manning.
Michael Ratner: I want to step back and ask you, because we've been getting a number of calls, I want to stop and ask you: Who was Bradley Manning? You touched on it but even start with he joined the military, etc., etc. and some of his background and then we'll bring us up to the current proceedings.
Kevin Gosztola: Right. So he was born in Oklahoma. And he had a, you know, pretty small town growing up. You know you wouldn't have thought him to be -- He wasn't from a big city. But his family was -- he didn't have the best family situation growing up. His father and mother did divorce and ended up separating. He spends some time Oklahoma and then ends up going over to the UK to live with his mother for a couple of years and go to school in high school. Then he comes back to the United States and he's sort of wondering aimlessly around the United States looking for a job, something to do with his life. His father is angry at him. I think by that time, his father knows that he is gay and that becomes a source of tension. I also gather from different sources that he didn't get along with his step-mother. And so his father eventually suggests, 'You should join the military, you need some stability.'
Michael Smith: Make him a man.
Kevin Gosztola: What?
Michael Ratner: Yeah and he joins the military.
Heidi Boghosian: And joking --
Kevin Gosztola: And in the military he becomes this person who becomes an intelligence analyst and as we've learned in the hearings that I've been at, he didn't have a good ride in the military. It was something that was very hard for him to handle because essentially the whole time he was in the military he had to hide his sexual orientation.
Michael Ratner: Now, now, Kevin, you will bring us up to eventually he's alleged to have uploaded a bunch of documents to WikiLeaks. Can you talk about that a little bit and then bring us up to the charges?
Kevin Gosztola: Right. So through November 2009 to May 2010, we have all of these alleged releases so basically anything that you know of that had WikiLeaks in the headlines, this is the source, the alleged source right now. So through December to January, we have the Collateral Murder Video being released, you have War Logs files being moved over, you have cables going, you even have a special document a WikiLeaks Threat Report that I believe the CIA put together that was suggesting what kind of threat the WikiLeaks organization would pose. And you've got the Gitmo files being moved. Remember the Gitmo files were released in April of last year. And so all of these releases that were headlines. And in May, he starts to chat with a hacker Adrian Llamo allegedly -- I mean, it's believed that he was chatting with him. And then Adrian turns Bradley in the second day of the chats, into the feds. Adrian continues to chat, basically looks like something that amounts to entrapment as he continues to get Bradley to incriminate himself on paper. Then Bradley's picked up and arrested. He's in Baghdad. He's moved to Kuwait. And then he's moved to [Marine Corps Base] Quantico Brig [in Virginia] after a month. And there in Quantico was where people really started to get to know Bradley Manning because of the outrage of how he was being treated by the military.
You can read Kevin Gosztola's writing at Firedoglake's The Dissenter. Law and Disorder Radio is a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights),
Michael Ratner: And now Kevin, go to some of the charges against Bradley Manning and tell us what he's accused of.
Kevin Gosztola: The charges basically break up to about three sets here. The most severe charge against him is that he aided the enemy. And that is basically an espionage charge and suggests that he had some -- that he was actually helping al Qaeda. They've named the enemy. So for listeners, the government has come out and said that the enemy is al Qaeda. And he's accused of aiding indirectly. So using the WikiLeaks website to aid al Qaeda. And there's much more to say about that charge but to other charges, the soldier's accused of unauthorized downloading to his computer. So downloading software that he didn't have the right to have on his computer as an intelligence analyst. And then he's also alleged to have brought discredit to the army and he's got several charges, I think about 15 or 16 of the charges are actually bringing dishonor to the military and making the military look bad by taking certain actions that were part of the leaks, the alleged leaks.
Heidi Boghosian: Could you talk a little bit more about that charge of aiding al Qaeda even indirectly? I don't understand how they came up with that.
Kevin Gosztola: Yeah. So, I mean what's really -- what's really startling to me as somebody who comes in and hopes to see that if you're going ot charge a soldier with aiding the enemy, you'd be able to show that this person had evil intent. I mean, I think it should be clear that if you're going to make someone pay and go to jail for life without parole essentially, that's what we're talking about, people listening should know that this is a federal offense that comes with even the possibility of a death penalty but the government claims they won't give that. So let's just assume he would get life without parole. What's really startling is that the government wrote this charge so that they didn't have to prove that he had intent. So that's what they're trying to do throughout the hearing, that's what they've been trying to do throughout all the legal proceedings so far, to get away without having to show Bradley had any intent to aid al Qaeda. So while there's nothing that I've seen presented in court, it basically amounts to making a huge example out of Bradley Manning so that other military soldiers would never consider doing what Bradley is alleged to have done. You know, taking material at his fingertips and not releasing every single piece of information that he had but releasing key sets of documents that gave us insight into some of the worst aspects of the Bush administration, some of the crimes and some of the misconduct of the Bush administration and to a little extent to the Obama administration, what had been going on by the government.
Not having taken money from The Nation magazine, I have no need to ever whore for the Democratic Party, (I also understand "alleged." For example, the documents that were leaked -- they're not alleged. The government has admitted they're real. Without that admission, the government couldn't sue because any judge -- even a military judge -- would toss it out if the government wasn't admitting their documents had been released. If the documents were fake, there might be fraud charges but the current charges wouldn't apply.) The Obama administration's crimes are greater than the Bush administration. Bully Boy Bush didn't oversee Iraq. Robert Gates did. Then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The Collateral Murder Video comes under Gates' watch. The incoming administration should have known as much as what an analyst allegedly had access to on a remote computer. And yet Barack Obama made the decision to keep Gates as his own Secretary of Defense. (Gates just left last summer, replaced by Leon Panetta.) When the Collateral Murder Vido took place, General David Petraeus was the top US commander in Iraq. When Barack was sworn in, Petraeus was then the commander of CENTCOM. Barack then went on to put Petraeus (June 2010) in charge of Afghanistan. He retired from the military in August and was given the Army Distinguished Service Medal -- apparently for overseeing the deaths of journalists in Baghdad? And Barack went on to make Petraeus the director of the CIA.
If you're on The Nation payroll, you can say, "Tsk, tsk, George Bush." If you're a functioning adult living in reality, you grasp that promoting and embracing these two and others makes Barack wore and more culpable than Bush who could claim that it was all a surprise in 2007 that the events portrayed in the Collateral Murder Video took place.
It's equally true that Bully Boy Bush hasn't commented on Bradley Manning publicly. He could. He's no longer commander in chief. But Barack is commander in chief. That's a Constitutional power -- Article 2, Section 2. It's a serious role. One that Barack shirks when he pronounces Bradley guilty before Bradley's even been tried or entered a plea. As Kat's BFF Kevin Zeese observed in April 2011 at War Is A Crime:
On Thursday April 21, 2011 in San Francisco a group of Bradley Manning supporters protested the prosecution of Manning at a Barack Obama fundraising event. One of Manning's supporters was able to question the president directly afterwards and during the conversation, Obama said on videotape that Manning was guilty.
Can you imagine if the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene'i, pronounced an Iranian military whistle blower "guilty" before any trial was held? Khamene'i is the commander-in-chief of all armed forces in Iran, just as President Obama is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed services. Would anyone in the United States think that a trial before Iranian military officers that followed such a pronouncement could be fair? The U.S. government would use the situation to make propaganda points about the phony justice system in Iran.
President Obama's pronouncement about Manning, "He broke the law," amounts to unlawful command influence – something prohibited in military trials because it is devastating to the military justice system. Manning will be judged by a jury of military officers in a military court where everyone involved follows the orders of the commander-in-chief. How are these officers going to rule against their commander-in-chief, especially after Manning has been tortured in solitary confinement for almost a year? Any officer who finds Manning "not guilty" will have no chance of advancing his career after doing so.
Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes undo command influence unlawful. Unlawful Command Influence has been called "the carcinoma of the military justice system" and is often described as "the mortal enemy of military justice." The importance of the command structure in the military makes command influence a threat to fair trails, i.e. "because the inherent power and influence of command are necessary and omnipresent facets of military life, everyone involved in both unit command and in military justice must exercise constant vigilance to protect against command influence becoming unlawful."
After the interview was over, the Law and Disorder gang returned to the topic of one charge that's been brought against Bradley.
Michael Ratner: The question is how he aided in the enemy and I was in court when this happened and they asked the prosecutor how was he aiding the enemy and they said, 'He's aiding the enemy and he did it indirectly by giving documents to WikiLeaks which then published the documents on WikiLeaks which are then read by al Qaeda and then they get information about --
Michael Smith: Themselves.
Michael Ratner: Well bascially. 'And it drums up their supporters to say how bad the US is and all this.' And that's somehow aiding the enemy. Now what's interesting about that charge -- and Kevin alluded to this question of intent -- the New York Times, let's say for example, let me give our listeners an example, they publish the documents or information about President Bush engaging in warrantless wiretapping of people in the United States and abroad. And, of course, that's published in the New York Times and, of course, al Qaeda reads the New York Times, so why couldn't you charge the New York Times with indirectly aiding the enemy al Qaeda? It's obvious why you don't, because their intention, the New York Times, was not to aid al Qaeda. Their intention was to bring out the illegalities of the US system of wiretapping. Like a Bradley Manning allegedly putting these documents to bring out the crimes of the United States. His intention was not to aid al Qaeda.
Michael Ratner's a legal expert and his opinions are always wroth seriously considering. However, there's another issue with regards to his example. The New York Times is a press outlet. Whatever your opinion of it, it is recognized as such. The First Amendment comes into play and, in Michael's example, the paper is reporting. Would Bradley Manning, if he did leak the documents, be seen in the same role? Would he be seen as leaking to the press or, WikiLeaks being a whistle blower organization (that's how it was seen before Bradley was charged and that's how it promoted itself), would it be something different. That's "A." "B," I've never read the chat logs and have no plans to. They are edited and they may or may not be genuine. But the prosecution has read them and they know what Adrian Llamo will say at the court martial -- trained canaries always sing the tunes they're taught. Point being, aiding the enemy is a serious charge and it might exist currently in an attempt to frighten Bradley and to force his hand. Or it might be charge they plan on keeping in the court-martial. If they plan on keeping it, I would assume they had Llamo ready to spin or they wouldn't have lodged it to begin with. This whole area that Michael Ratner's outlining so very well is confusing for one reason: The defense hasn't entered a plea.
We're including Michael Ratner's take because it's legally sound and may be correct. But there's a great deal unknown at this point still and I'm trying to make it clear that it's his argument, not mine. There have been a number of e-mails expressing disappointment that I didn't use this space to defend a service member who just got drummed out of the military. We covered that by noting Justin Raimondo's writing on the topic. I couldn't write on it because I'd long ago made an argument here* -- repeatedly -- that didn't allow me to take a stand defending that service member without being a hypocrite. So should it turn out that Llamo testifies that in hours of chat, once Bradely expressed that he didn't care whether this helped al Qaeda or not or that he wanted it to, we're not painted into a corner or blindsided because I haven't made that an issue in the arguments we've made here.
[*We have repeatedly defended the rights of service members, active duty, to take part in protests and to speak their minds freely provided they were not in uniform. When Adam Kokesh was being targeted by the military, we were able to cite the difference in his case. In uniform or not, he was taking part in street theater and the court had recognized that as legal during Vietnam when American service members -- active duty -- took part in street theater actions while in fatigues or uniforms. From the Supreme Court's decision in Schacht v. United States (1970):
The Government's argument in this case seems to imply that somehow what these amateur actors did in Houston should not be treated as a "theatrical production" within the meaning of 772 (f). We are unable to follow such a suggestion. Certainly theatrical productions need not always be performed in buildings or even on a defined area such as a conventional stage. Nor need they be performed by professional actors or be heavily financed or elaborately produced. Since time immemorial, outdoor theatrical performances, often performed by amateurs, have played an important part in the entertainment and the education of the people of the world. Here, the record shows without dispute the preparation and repeated presentation by amateur actors of a short play designed to create in the audience an understanding of and opposition to our participation in the Vietnam war. Supra, at 60 and this page. It may be that the performances were crude and [398 U.S. 58, 62] amateurish and perhaps unappealing, but the same thing can be said about many theatrical performances. We cannot believe that when Congress wrote out a special exception for theatrical productions it intended to protect only a narrow and limited category of professionally produced plays. 3 Of course, we need not decide here all the questions concerning what is and what is not within the scope of 772 (f). We need only find, as we emphatically do, that the street skit in which Schacht participated was a "theatrical production" within the meaning of that section.
This brings us to petitioner's complaint that giving force and effect to the last clause of 772 (f) would impose an unconstitutional restraint on his right of free speech. We agree. This clause on its face simply restricts 772 (f)'s authorization to those dramatic portrayals that do not "tend to discredit" the military, but, when this restriction is read together with 18 U.S.C. 702, it becomes clear that Congress has in effect made it a crime for an actor wearing a military uniform to say things during his performance critical of the conduct or [398 U.S. 58,63] policies of the Armed Forces. An actor, like everyone else in our country, enjoys a constitutional right to freedom of speech, including the right openly to criticize the Government during a dramatic performance. The last clause of 772 (f) denies this constitutional right to an actor who is wearing a military uniform by making it a crime for him to say things that tend to bring the military into discredit and disrepute. In the present case Schacht was free to participate in any skit at the demonstration that praised the Army, but under the final clause of 772 (f) he could be convicted of a federal offense if his portrayal attacked the Army instead of praising it. In light of our earlier finding that the skit in which Schacht participated was a "theatrical production" within the meaning of 772 (f), it follows that his conviction can be sustained only if he can be punished for speaking out against the role of our Army and our country in Vietnam. Clearly punishment for this reason would be an unconstitutional abridgment of freedom of speech. The final clause of 772 (f), which leaves Americans free to praise the war in Vietnam but can send persons like Schacht to prison for opposing it, cannot survive in a country which has the First Amendment. To preserve the constitutionality of 772 (f) that final clause must be stricken from the section.
It's a damn shame the press ignored that verdict while miscovering the charges against Adam.]
In news of Iraq's legal system, US Senator Kelly Ayotte's office issued the following today:
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today regarding an Iraqi court's ruling to release Ali Mussa Daqduq - a Hezbollah member who was transferred to Iraqi custody when U.S. forces withdrew last December:
"This confirms my fears that transferring Daqduq to Iraqi custody would result in his release. Daqduq is a member of Hezbollah who served as a key liaison with Iran. He trained Iraqi extremists who targeted U.S. troops, and he is suspected of planning the operation in 2007 that resulted in the deaths of five U.S. military personnel. If Daqduq is released, there is little doubt that he'll resume terrorist activities. This case highlights the need for a designated terrorist detention facility to detain, interrogate, and try foreign terrorists."
In addition to questioning senior Defense Department officials about Daqduq in Senate Armed Services Committee hearings last year, Senator Ayotte joined 19 other Senators in sending a letter to Secretary Panetta on July 21, 2011. The letter expressed the Senators' concerns that transferring Daqduq to Iraqi custody might result in his release and a return to terrorist activities.
Ayote is a Republican Senator (and, according to yesterday's Meet The Press roundtable, among those being considered as the running mate for likely GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney). She's talking about the news that Suadad-al Salhy, Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) reported this morning, that Iraq's 'justice' system has cleared Ali Mussa Daqdug of all charges related to the "2007 kidnapping attack that killed five U.S. troops." what are we talking about? This was "the Special Groups network," US term, which later became the League of Righteous. For more on that, refer to [PDF format warning] Marisa Cochrane's "Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Khazali Special Groups Network" (Institute for the Study of War). The five Americans killed? The inability to legally punish a group of kidnappers and killers? For context, let's fall back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
If what's taking place right now is outrageous, let's remember the outrage should have been present in 2009. Jonathan B. Chism was correct, somebody did need to answer for that but no one ever did. Possibly that's why today's events are taking place. Without outrage, the White House was lulled into believing no one was watching. And that it didn't matter as a result. December 16, 2011, Liz Sly and Peter Finn (Washington Post) reported on the US handing Ali Musa Daqduq over to the Iraqis:
He was transferred to Iraqi custody after the Obama administration "sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes," according to Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.
Jack Healy and Charlie Savage (New York Times) report, "Although military officials said he confessed freely and that his interrogation had not included any harsh techniques, his statements to American military interrogators would probably be deemed inadmissible in Iraqi court. But the Obama administration had hoped that he would instead face charges of illegally entering Iraq, a crime that could result in a 10-year prison sentence." 5 Americans who were in Iraq because the government ordered them there get killed and Barack thinks a "a 10-year prison sentence" for enterting the country without a visa is justice? Maybe next the White House will push for a drunk and disorderly and get held in the tank until he sobers up?
Kitabat reports that Nouri caved to pressure from Tehran and that's why he was released. It's also noted that a number of US Senators were asking the White House not to turn Daqduq over to Iraq but to move him to Guantanamo or another facility. However, the White House insisted that they knew best and they had these assurances.
They knew 'best' in backing Nouri for a second term as well, right? The political crisis continues in Iraq. Kitabat reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's boc announced yesterday that it has six people in mind to replace Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister if he's unable to take the necessary steps to resolve the crisis. Al Mada reports that the threat to withdraw confidence in Nouri is coming from Moqtada al-Sadr, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, KRG President Massoud Barzani and Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi. Nouri is stewing in a mess of his own making. Abdul Rahman al-Rashid (Gulf News) observes:
It is obvious that Al-Maliki would go to extremes to remain in his position. He is accused of manipulating the election committee, which should be an independent body, and of arresting his opponents on serious charges. He relieved his top ministers and took hold of all the high sovereign positions for himself and his party, although he had agreed with the other political parties on a fair distribution of portfolios. He needed their support, because he did not win the majority that would have enabled him to form the government.
Al-Maliki went too far in his conflicts -- to a degree of threatening the country's unity. He wanted to coerce the Kurdish leadership and make them succumb to his authority. He also allied with the Iranians so as to obtain the support of the supreme Iranian religious leader in the elections. He also provided finances to the regime of Bashar Al-Assad against the popular uprising in Syria. Al-Maliki has backed the militias of Hezbollah and is now threatening Turkey.
Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) reviewed events and noted:
Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements. Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence. The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed. The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government. Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart.
The agreement was the Erbil Agreement. March 7, 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections. Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya came in first ahead of Nouri's State of Law. Nouri refused to give up the post of prime minister. What followed were eight months of political stalemate. The White House and the Iranian government were backing Nouri so he knew he could dig in his heels and did just that. Finally, in November, the US-brokered Erbil Agreement was reached. Nouri could have a second term as prime minister provided he made concessions on other issues.
Nouri used the agreement to get his second term and then trashed the agreement refusing to honor it. Until last week, he and his supporters had taken to (wrongly) calling the agreement unconstitutional. And though the KRG, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr have been calling for the Erbil Agreement to be fully implemented since summer 2011, it took last week for State of Law to finally discover that themselves loved the Erbil Agreement. Needless to say, the sudden attraction to the deal is seen as mere lip service.
State of Law meanwhile sees the distraction as the way to go. Alsumaria reports MP Yassin Majid is stating, 'Dictator, who's the dictator?' as he makes a point to assert that since Massoud Barzani has ruled the Kurdistan region for twenty years, he's the dictator, not Nouri. Majid accompanied Nouri to DC in December and, along with being a member of State of Law, Majid is also the attorney of record for State of Law. Those details didn't make the story. But another thing that didn't make the story is that Massoud Barzani hasn't ruled the KRG for 20 years. The position of prime minister was created in 2003 -- Barzani has been prime minister since 2003. Secondly, prior to 2003, the Kurdistan region was divided into two areas with the KDP (Barzani's party) in charge of one section (Barzani in charge) and with the PUK (Iraqi president Jalal Talabani's party) in charge of the other region.
Alsumaria reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is stating the Nouri has until May 17th to implement the Erbil Agreement. State of Law's response? What do they always do? Try to distract by pointing at something else. Aswat al-Iraq reported yesterday that "State of Law MP Ameen Hadi disclosed that the visit" to Erbil two Saturdays ago by Moqtada "was without the consent of the National Alliance."