Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nikita: Consequences

Saturday.  Skyfall is a great movie!  I'll write about it next week.  But if you've got time this weekend and some bucks to spare, go see it.

But let's talk about last night's Nikita which is up for streaming at the CW.  It was the return of someone.

Owen?  Well he was back.  I didn't mean him, though.  Owen pops up in seasons 1 and 2.  He's Division.  Badly screwed up.  Nikita rescues him. She's 1 of the few people he trusts.  There's tension between him and Michael -- always has been.  (Both wanted Nikita is what I've always broken it down to.)  That hasn't changed.

So they find Owen and bring him in.  Owen wants to believe Division has changed, wants to believe in hope but he has nothing, not even memories of life before Division.

Nikita:  They erased your whole life.

Owen:  Amanda did this to me and I want to know why.

Yes, it was the return of Amanda.  Owen was broken out of a prison by a group working for Amanda.  Why? 

Owen knows where some major tech is.  It's a computer key of sorts.  It can work around the NSA and other things.  Amanda knows about it because it was developed under Percy's supervision.  Let me recap for newcomers.  Percy ran Division.  He was pure evil.  What was Division?

An undercover black ops.  It got more and more vile each year.  They took people who were on death row, trained them after their (fake) deaths and made them killers then sent them out on missions.  Percy used it for his gain.  The operation went out of control.  Amanda was the chief doctor.  She did stuff to the recruits.  Then she took over Division and locked away Percy.  This is when Nikita finally was succeeding at overthrowing Division.  She, Michael, Alex, Sean and Birkhoff  defeated Division.  And the agents who had been duped and thought their missions were for the good of the government?  A military team stood ready to swarm Division and take them out.  So Michael, Alex, Sean, Nikita and Birkhoff -- along with CIA Ryan -- were put in charge to bring in agents and explain that they could have amnesty. 

As Owen pointed out this episode, they haven't really done that.  Nikita said she'd communicated with 3.  And how many died?  Three.

He told her she was becoming numb to what she was doing.  See, this is about how Division regroups and corrupts everything it touches.  I thought that was the message this season.

So they go for this magical key (which is a cylinder, by the way).  It's buried in a grave yard, Owen said.

And a shoot out ensues.  Amanda's had her people tracking Owen.  This is what she wanted, remember, this key.

They grab it during the shoot out and the woman working for Amanda gets killed.  She'd been trying to inject Owen with something. 

One guy did get injected.  They take him back to Division because he was shot.

The doctors are thinking there's blood or something.

No.  That injection was a biohazard and now it's leaking out and killing everyone before the medical unit in Division gets sealed.

Sean and Alex had words at a little dinner for Nikita and Michael at the start of the episode.  He wants Alex to leave Division.  She blew him off.

After this mission, he can't get her on the phone and is afraid she's dead so he goes to Division.

Sean:   You got shot last week and you could have been killed today.

She wasn't, she points out.  She's staying with Division, she owes Nikita, she promised her.  He says he promised his mother.  He says, "I could have told her shut this place down."  He couldn't and his mother is dead, "No matter what i did the mess just kept getting better."  He can't lose Alex too.

Sean:  I'm not going to stand by and watch this place destroy another person that I love.

Alex:  What?

Sean leans in and kisses her.  Alex is shocked because although they're sleeping together, this is apparently the first time he's told her he loves her.
Sean: I love you.  But if that's not enough reason for you to go then i've got no reason to stay.

 So Alex goes and takes a pill.  I don't know pills.  Was this because she was going on the mission and she was shot?  (She took off the arm carrier thing -- sling! -- to go on the mission.)  Or was it because she has the drug problem in her past?  I don't know.  It was one pill and she put the bottle back.  If it were for a high, wouldn't she have taken a whole bottle?  Or is this how her addiction goes active again?

I don't know.  But Division is destroying a lot of people.

Alex manages to get the computer key.  Owen almost manages to kill Amanda.  But she knows him.  She was the doctor, remember?  And not only does she know how to use his memories -- that he barely has -- against him, I think she may have done something to him (and others) while being their doctor -- like something with hypnosis or a chip or a trigger word or something.

The episode ends with Amanda back with her Russian boyfriend (the one she betrayed Division and the US for) and saying of Nikita, "Oh, I'm not done teaching her.  I'm not done teaching her."

It was a really great episode.  Go to Nikita at the CW and stream it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 9, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Veterans Day is Sunday in the United States, the former governor of the Central Bank in Iraq sees a power grab, Saudi prisoners in Iraq prisons suffer, Nouri's attorney declares a bill Parliament is considering would not -- even if passed -- apply to Nouri, rebellion in the streets and in the mosques over Nouri's plans to kill the ration-card system, threats from Nouri's government to a Russian oil company, and more.
In the United States, Veterans Day is Sunday. In some areas it will be observed on Monday.  (And some events will take place on Saturday to observe it.)  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and she will be attending an observation in Washington state on Monday.  Her office notes:
Friday, November 9th, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
MONDAY: Senator Murray to Speak at Veterans Day Memorial Service in Seattle
Murray: Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the shared duty we owe to our nation's veterans
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Monday, November 12, 2012, Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, will attend Evergreen Washelli Cemetery's 63rd Annual Veterans Day Memorial Celebration with veterans and their families.  She will give remarks on the importance of honoring the shared duty owned to our nation's veterans, specifically in ensuring veterans can easily access the care and benefits they deserve.  The event is a Service of Remembrance and will take place at the Doughboy statue at the base of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
WHO:     U.S. Senator Patty Murray
              Veterans and their families
WHAT:    Senator Murray will give a speech at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in 
               observance of Veterans Day
WHEN:      Monday, November 12th, 2012
                 11:00 AM PST
WHERE:    Evergreen Washelli Cemetery
                 11111 Aurora Avenue North
                  Seattle, WA 98133
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. And his office has released the following:
Chairman's Corner
I often wonder if we do enough to honor our veterans. These are, after all, the men and women who, at great peril to themselves, put on the uniform of our country and defend all that it stands for. They don't do it for the gratification of their fellow Americans; instead they do it for love of country and an overwhelming sense of duty. Just because their call to arms is not with the expectation of any repayment or gratitude, it does not mean we can't find ways to celebrate their service. We have an obligation to our veterans to provide for them with the care and support they need to live full lives. Veterans Day is a great opportunity for all Americans to take part in the celebration of our nation's most vital resource, our servicemembers, veterans, and their families. But to truly and fully appreciate our veterans, we need to honor them 365 days a year, and not just on
November 11.
Happy Birthday USMC!
The Marine Corps is celebrating its 237th birthday this weekend. Thank you to all the men and women who have served in this elite force. Please watch this birthday video, produced by the Marine Corps to commemorate the special occasion. Semper Fidelis.
Running for Veterans
Former Marine Corps Sgt. J. Brendan O'Toole will be running across America to raise money for veterans. You can read more here about O'Toole's service and what inspired him to put aside a year of his life to help our veterans as they return home.
A Great Cause
Earlier this week in anticipation of Veterans Day, Chairman Jeff Miller sat down with MSN to discuss the issues facing the veterans' community today. The interview is available on MSN's new "causes" page, aimed at raising awareness to a variety of issues facing America today.
Thoughts on this Veterans Day
As Chairman Miller does every month, he penned an op-ed in Wreaths Across America's newsletter. This month's article is dedicated to Veterans Day and how it remains vital that we continue to increase our support for veterans. Wreaths Across America will take place on December 15 this year. Committee Member, Dr. Phil Roe, a veteran himself, also shares his thoughts on this Veterans Day. Read more here.
We're going to include Texas Governor Rick Perry's statement in a moment but first there are two eateries observing Veterans Day.  California Pizza Kitchen nationwide on Sunday and Monday and Applebees across the country on Sunday. Veterans and active duty military -- have identification or be in uniform -- visiting California Pizza Kitchen either day will recieve a free non-alcoholic beverage and a free pizza and those visiting Applebees on Sunday will receive a free entree (choose from three-cheese chicken penne, a bacon cheddar cheeseburger, oriental chicken salad, 7 ounce sirloin, chicken tenders platter, fiesta lime chicken or double crunch shrimp). Are there more?  There probably are.  Those two e-mailed to note their observance of Veterans Day.  So if you're a veteran or active duty, you should surely stop by. 
And if you're not a veteran or active duty?  You can certainly keep in mind that California Pizza Kitchen and Applebees made a point to honor Veterans Day when a lot of others did not.  Stan says he loves Applebees Bourbon Black & Bleu Burger.   Ann states, "I can't tell you about calories, I've never asked and I don't want to know but their oriental chicken salad is a meal and then some."  Myself, I'm a pizza addict.  There are months I go "meat free" with the exception of anything on a pizza.  At California Pizza Kitchen, I can't pick just one.  Because of calories, I try to avoid anything other than thin crust.  But if I'm having original crust (which is thicker), it will be because I'm having the Hawaiian BBQ Chicken.  Any and all of the thin crust pizzas, I've eaten and loved.  Kat, Wally, Ava and I are on the road most weeks and there are times when we finish speaking with a group and it's too late so we'll hit a grocery store.  In the frozen foods section at many grocery stores you can find California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas.  If it's the four of us, we usually go with their BBQ Recipe Chicken (and get two because Wally and I can eat pizza -- wolf it down in fact).  I'm making a point here to plug two places that are making a point to observe Veterans Day. 
There will be observations throughout the country.  I'm noting events that were mailed to the public account and one that a friend requested we note.

Saturday in Los Angeles is "A Day For Heroes" which is free for veterans, active duty military, and family members and includes a barbeque and a concert.  In the state of Washington, parades will take place Saturday in Auburn, West Richland, Vancouver, Port Angeles and Spokane -- while there will be a Veterans Breakfast in RainerSaturday will also see the Atlanta Veterans Day Parade in Georgia. Shreveport, LA will see a Veterans Day Biker Event hosted by Veterans For Veterans -- with a motorcycle parade, a bike show, a car show and a silent auction with proceeds going to support veterans.

Nashville will hold a Veterans Day Parade on SundayColumbia, South Carolina will also hold a Veterans Day parade.  In Berkeley, you can attend a benefit performance of Soldier Stories (tickets $20.50 in advance, $22.50 at the door) with the proceeds going to help homeless veterans. In Kihei, Hawaii, there will be a Luau at the VFW Hall.  That's at 2110 Uluniu Road and it starts at 5:00 pm.  I don't have a link so I'm noting time and location.  (A friend asked me to note the event.)  Albuquerque, New Mexico will host a Veterans Day Parade on SundayDelaware will host a Veterans Day Ceremony in New CastleMiami will host a Veterans Day Parade on SundayTampa will host a Central Florida Military Resource Fair open to all veterans and active duty military which will include job info, benefits and health care opportunities, flu shots and medical screenings.

Monday, Montgomery, Alabama will host the Third Annual River Region Veterans Day Parade.  In Pueblo, Colorado, there will be a Veterans Day Commemoration at Colorado State University.
Rick Perry is the Governor of Texas.  His office notes:
Gov. Rick Perry today highlighted Texas' ongoing commitment to helping our nation's veterans and their families receive the services and support they need when they return from duty, including initiatives to help skilled veterans find jobs. The governor spoke at an annual Veterans Day ceremony honoring local veterans.
"Americans have consistently sent their best and bravest to confront the forces of darkness throughout the world, and time and again, our military members have proven up to the challenges posed by these forces," Gov. Perry said. "In Texas, we will always remember the courage and dedication of our men and women in uniform, and do everything we can to help them heal and return capably to the workforce."
The governor called for a constitutional amendment extending a full property tax exemption to spouses and children of members of the armed forces who were killed in action, building on the current $5,000 tax exemption that spouses and children currently receive. Gov. Perry signed House Bill 3613 in 2009, which granted a property tax exemption to 100 percent disabled veterans. This exemption was extended in 2011 to the surviving spouses of those veterans through Senate Bill 516.
Gov. Perry touted a new, industry-driven initiative by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) that will help connect veterans with job opportunities, and provide veterans and employers with funds for training and occupation certifications in the energy industry. TWC is dedicating existing general revenue funds to help offset training costs for the veteran and employer. 
He also reiterated his support for TWC's Hiring Red, White & You Campaign, which connects veterans with employers and job opportunities in Texas. TWC is partnering with 28 local workforce development board areas and the Texas Veterans Commission to host veterans' job fairs across the state on November 15.
For more information about the governor's veterans' initiatives, please visit
For more information about TWC veterans initiatives, please visit
(If you're wondering why his office is noted and 49 others aren't, his office sent that to the public account and I shared my thoughts earlier this morning.  We can repeat them in another entry but the focus above is on veterans.)
Something to remember this Veterans Day is how little coverage there is.  Aaron Schachter (PRI's The World -- link is audio and transcript) spoke with CORKSPHERE's Bill Corcoran yesterday about his decision to stop updating to his website.
Aaron Schacter: I wonder if it angers you at all that the military is so tight-lipped about what goes on in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bill Corcoran: Yeah, I am.  I definitely am.  I feel that there should be more transparency.  I don't see any reason to keep it so quiet and hidden right now.  I think they'd just as soon see it disappear altogether and when they phase this thing out, it'll be like somebody will wake up one day and say, I haven't heard anything on that Afghanistan war for a while.  And then they'll say, oh, that's because we pulled out of there three months ago.
Yesterday, Krys Boyd (KERA's Think) spoke with Rita Nakashima Brock who co-wrote Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War and with retired military Chaplain Col Herman Keizer Jr. who are both co-directors of the Brite Divinity School's Soul Repair Center for the hour (here for the podcast).  Excerpt.
Krys Boyd:  What's fascinating about this issue is that, in some ways, in order to come back in one piece you have to set aside normal human empathy to survive.  Is that right?
Col Herman Keizer Jr.: Yeah, and one of the problems when going to warwar is that you're trained really to kill and take life.  The military says that you're here to kill people and break thing.  Sso they have to train them.  And one of the discussions I've had a lot with the senior military is we train them to be so reflexive that that they just move and engage the enemy before they think about it.  And in some sense, that's the best reaction you could ask for on the battle field.  The last thing you want is for somebody to scratch their head and say, "Do I shoot or don't I?" And so the military, it does train them and it does train them very well so that they are now very reflexive in their responses on the battlefield but those reflexi actions are reflected on later and then the moral kind of injury begins to set in.  Several of the stories coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan are where people are in automobiles and coming towards them and they're in some kind of firefight already.  And here they see these other vehicles coming towards them and they yell at people to stop and for some communication reasons or something they don't stop.  So the suspicion is that it's the enemy and then you shoot.  And you see a baby flying out of the back of the car, you know, you know, dead in its mother's arms.  And the mother holds it up and it's says to the soldier why?  And the soldier says why?  It's just one of those fog of war kinds of things that cause real moral ambiguity.
Krys Boyd:  So they're left -- the people who have gone through these experiences with the question of: who am I?  Am I this person who had to shoot, who did shoot? Or am I the person who comes home and thinks, how could I have hurt a child? Or an innocent person
Rita Nakashima Brock:  And I think that soldiers have different responses to those situations.  Some people say, 'Well I did the right thing because it could have been an enemy.  And others will say, "How could I have killed a child?  How could I have done that?" It's not -- There's not a one size fits all response to war but it is true that there's -- especially in insurgency wars like we're fighting -- even the military moral code of not killing civilians doesn't apply.
Turning to an Iraq War veteran who was pulled from Iraq and thrown behind bars,  Bradley Manning.  Major news in the ongoing case against Bradley.   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. Prior to today, Bradley had yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.
Arun Rath (PRI's The World) notes Bradley's civilian defense has posted a statement online.  David E. Coombs is Bradley's civilian attorney and he posted the following:
PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a process known as "pleading by exceptions and substitutions."  To clarify, PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the Government.  Rather, PFC Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses.  The Court will consider whether this is a permissible plea.
PFC Manning is not submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the Government.  Further, the Government does not need to agree to PFC Manning's plea; the Court simply has to determine that the plea is legally permissible.  If the Court allows PFC Manning to plead guilty by exceptions and substitutions, the Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses.  Pleading by exceptions and substitutions, in other words, does not change the offenses with which PFC Manning has been charged and for which he is scheduled to stand trial.
PFC Manning has also provided notice of his forum selection.  He has elected to be tried by Military Judge alone.
Iraqi children,  August 18th we noted,Alsumaria notes that an 18-year-old male has been arrested in Basra. He is a suspect in the kidnapping, rape and murder of a four-year-old girl."  Now dropping back to October 13th: "Violence that is presumably unconnected to the war -- but who knows in a war zone -- includes the rape and murder of four-year-old Abeer Ali Abdul, reported by Al Mada.  She is the second girl in her area of Nasiriyah to be kidnapped and found murdered."   AP covers the story today.  They noted the two rapes and murders are not thought to be linked.  In the first case, Banan Haider is the name of the victim, an Iraqi soldier has been found guilty.  Usual caveat: Iraq does not have a functioning legal system and 'confessions' via torture are very common.  As a result, the guilty may or may not be the ones convicted.  At this site, we do not accept the lying premise that 'confessions' under torture are confessions.  We do not endorse torture and we don't even casually embrace it here.  The man may or may not be guilty.  What is known is that Banan's parents want him to be publicly executed to 'teach a lesson.'  I'm sorry, Iraq's crime rate has dropped recently?
Dropping back to the October 15th snapshot:

So far this year, Iraq is known to have executed 119 people. It has ignored calls from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. Despite the fact that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani insists he is against the death penalty and regularly basks in applause for that stance, he has not blocked one execution. (His 'opposition' is refusing to sign the death warrants, leaving it for a vice president to sign it. As president, he could object to any or all executions and stop them immediately. He refuses to use that power.)
These executions are beginning to cause more problems for Iraq. Kitabat reports that Alegeria has summed the Iraqi ambassador to express their alarm that an Alegerian, Abdullah Ahmad Belhadi, has been executed and Saudi Arabia is objecting to plans to execute their citizens -- though Faleh al-Fayad, Iraqi national security adviser, declares the Saudi executions will go forward.
It doesn't appear that executions are dettering crime.  But then, they never have.  Crime is a risk and a person acts on impulse (crimes of passion) or weighs the risks.  Few people, especially younger in life, ever picture themselves dying or being executed in their own near future.  Do you know who has to factor in the threat of death?  Attorneys in Iraq.  Specifically, Thamer Qamqoom (Okaz/Saudi Gazette) reports that Iraqi attorneys who have Saudi prisoners in the Iraqi prison system are receiving death threats.  Of the clients, Qamqoom reports:
Abdul Rahman Al-Jurais, who is defending Saudi prisoners in Iraq, said one of the Saudi prisoners, Malwah Zaid Al-Shammary, has been suffering from amnesia and is now mentally handicapped as a result of being tortured by Iraqi prison officers.
He said the prisoner's family authorized him to arrange for their son to return to Sakaka, where he was born and raised.
He entered Iraq in 2008 and was later placed in a notorious prison.
Currently, he is an inmate at Krobar Prison near Baghdad Airport.
Malwah's brother said: "My brother suffers from chronic psychological disorders. That's what I was told by some prisoners.
"I urge authorities including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Commission to save my brother.
"He should be transferred to a mental health hospital immediately."
But Iraq can't stop issuing death penalty sentences.  Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death four times in the last weeks.  (Tareq is a political rival of Nouri al-Maliki's.  Tareq belongs to Iraqiya -- which won the most seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections -- and he is Sunni.)  AFP notes that yesterday it was announced that two bodyguards of Tareq have been given death sentences. This is in addition to the six announced earlier this week.
From state-sanctioned violence to other violence, Alsumaria reports 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad (gun shot wounds), a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured two police officers, and the Associate Director of the Rafidain Bank was kidnapped near his Aden home and a nephew of a Dawa Party official was shot dead in Kut by four unidentified assailants. All Iraq News adds that 2 corpses were discovered in Sulaymaniyah.  In addition, Reuters notes, "Turkish air force jets and attack helicopters pounded Kurdish militants along the border with Iraq on Thursday, killing 13, the local governor's office and security sources said on Friday."  Press TV adds 1 Turkish soldier died in the fighting as well.    Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."
Iraq is rich in oil -- apparently not rich enough to do away with greed, however.   MarketWatch reports, "OAO Lukoil Hodlings, Russia's second-largest oil producer, has received an offer from Exxon Mobil Corp. on the U.S. major's West Qurna-1 oil field project in Iraq, Lukoil Deputy President Andrei Kuzyayev was quoted as saying by Interfax Friday."  Most of the time when someone has "received an offer," it's because they're attempting to sell something.  In this case Lukoil is not selling, ExxonMobil is.  Vladimir Soldatkin, Ashmed Rasheed and William Hardy (Reuters) note, "ExxonMobil has informed the Iraqi government it wants to pull out of the $50 billion oil project in southern Iraq.  LUKOIL, which is already developing West Qurna-2, has previously said West Qurna-1 is 'too big for it to swallow', but on Friday said it would at least look into the proposal."  After the decision last month to buy billions of weapons from Russia, it may appear Russia and Iraq are getting very close -- and they might be.  But friendly?  Do you threaten a friend?  AFP reports, "Baghdad has told Russian energy giant Gazprom to either cancel its energy contracts in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region or abandon its work with the central government, a spokesperson said on Friday."
On the topic of government greed, Sinan al-Shabibi tells Prashant Rao (AFP),  "Since 2009, they wanted to fire me, and they wanted money from the reserves.  I think the main problem . . . is basically the reserves, because they thought we have a lot of reserves, and they want to use it for financing.  The government wanted some money from the Central Bank. . . . Of course, the law does not allow that, the central bank law."  Who is Sinan al-Shabibi?  Dropping back to October 15th:

  Al Mada reports today that Parliament sources say an arrest warrant exists for Sinan al-Shabibi, the Centeral Bank president, and that the people are seeing this as another effort by Nouri to take control of the independent institution.  Alsumaria notes that al-Shabibi is currently in Tokyo at a conference and due to return to Baghdad later today.  Dar Addustour offers a run down on what happened with the warrant itself  It was issued by a judge who did not ask questions and when the news reached the Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud, he ordered that the warrant be pulled.   Iraqiya's spokesperson Maysoun al-Damalouji tells the outlet that it is necessary for the central bank  to maintain its independence.
The next day,   All Iraq News noted that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc was accusing Nouri of targeting the Centeral Bank due to the independence of the institution. 
Nouri and troubles are never far apart.  Tuesday, his spokesperson announced that the food-ration-card system (a program by which Iraqis were able to get flour, sugar, and other staples) was being stopped.  And that was supposed to be the end of that.  It hasn't been the end of anything.

Alsumaria reports that today, during Friday prayers, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani declared his objection to gutting the program.  The statement noted that the government justifications for ending the program are neither logical nor acceptable and that those of faith in Iraq must object to the push to end the program due to the fact that it will increase the burden on the poor.  Further,  al-Sistani noted that the price of food cannot be left up to the merchants because each month of Ramadan has seen prices soar with the increased demand and the government has been powerless to do anything about it.  To the insistence by Nouri supporters that the program must be gutted to fight corruption, al-Sistani responded that if the government has failed to prevent corruption, that is no reason to punish the citizens for its own failures.  The statement ended with al-Sistani noting that his words were neither a political nor economic stand but instead an expression of the beliefs and hopes of the Iraqi people.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is a higher official that Nouri or most elected ones.  That's in part because of his role as a spiritual leader and in part due to his biography.  On the latter, he never fled Iraq.  Under Saddam Hussein, he was persecuted.  But he stayed in Iraq.  The people know he will stay in Iraq.  Unlike many of Nouri's now former Cabinet ministers, for example, he won't flee the country (those ministers often have accusations of theft attached to their names).  Unlike many, he doesn't hold dual citizenship.  He is an Iraqi who commands a great deal of respect in the country and that goes beyond Shi'ite and Sunni divisions.

Kitabat covers al-Sistani's statement and notes others objecting as well including Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  All Iraq News reports that people flocked into the streets of Najaf following morning prayers and took part in a mass demonstration against cancelling the ration cards.  Participants included Imams.  The people are calling on their provinical government to argue against dropping the ration cards.  Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai declared  in Karbala during morning prayers today that the decision must be reviewed because it is unacceptable and is rejected by religious authority.     All Iraq News notes that the Kurdistan Alliance has issued a statement denouncing Nouri's decision and insisting the ration card system is needed.  Kitabat reports that Moqtada al-Sadr is no longer just objecting to the cancellation, he's now demanding that the Cabinet make public which Cabinet ministers voted to cancel the program.  Today al-Shabibi tells AP, "They want to control the central bank.  If they control the central bank, they will destroy the economy."   In the face of all of this, the smart thing politically would be to announce that the food-ration-card system would remain in place.
It's not as if Nouri's not hoping for a third term as prime minister.  Al Mada reports that Parliament's efforts to pass a law limiting the three presidencies (Speaker of Parliament, President of Iraq and Prime Minister) to two terms has resulted in State of Law (Nouri's political slate) insisting that, if such a law passes, they will appeal to the Federal Court.  That's the court that has repeatedly and continually deferred to Nouri's wishes over and over, year after year, regardless of what the Iraqi constitution says.  Nouri's attorney declared yesterday that, should such a law pass, it wouldn't be binding on Nouri.
 Also Alsumaria notes two villages in Basra are being victimized by packs of stray dogs with six children and one man bitten in the last two days alone.  The dogs have not been confirmed as having rabies at present (though that is a concern of the people in the two villages).

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Thursday.  We're almost through the awful week, right?

If you've read this blog for long, you know I am a huge fan of the James Bond movies.  I can't wait to see the new one, Skyfall.  You also probably know that I think Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery.  Well Steven Zeitchik (LAT) reports:

Timothy Dalton, who starred as James Bond in two of the franchise's films, has seen 007 from numerous angles over the decades. But the 66-year-old believes current super-spy Daniel Craig

"There's a case to be made that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever, or at least in a very long time," Dalton said in a phone interview from London. "With Roger Moore it was a pastiche that almost became a parody at the end. And with Pierce [Brosnan], I think he wanted to go darker and deeper but that wasn’t what those movies were.” (Dalton left himself and the pre-Moore Bonds of the 1960s and early 1970s, including Sean Connery, out of the equation.)
may have his predecessors beat.

Skyfall comes out Friday.  I can't wait to see it.  Haven't heard Adelle's song on the radio.  I believe it crashed and burned but I could be wrong.  Okay, it made it to number 8 on the hot 100 and Billboard also notes:

Also Charted On
#38 Pop Songs
#49 Radio Songs
#3 Digital Songs
#17 Adult Contempo...
#38 Japan Hot 100

For hit maker Adelle, that's not a hit.  I don't like the song.    Kat reviewed Adelle's theme here.

CBS News has an interview with Daniel Craig (text and video) and here's a taste:

CBSNEWS.COM: Why do you think the Bond series has endured as long as it has? What is so appealing about James Bond and the stories?
CRAIG: I don't have a kind of clear answer really. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Broccolis [the family of producers who've been behind almost all of the Bond films] have had the franchise for so long. And protected it. They've kept it peculiarly British.

Of the two so far, I like Casino Royal best.  I really thought they did a great job setting that up and getting it going.  It was such a big change from the Pierce Bronson tone which was more like Roger Moore's Bond than Connery's.  I like the Pierce Brosnan films.  I like the Roger Moore ones too.  But I just like the Connery films best (even the later one Never Say Never Again).  Craig really filled the shoes to the point that he made Bond his own and set a new mark. 

It may be time for a new Bond.  I hope not.  But if it is, I hope they go with another brave choice.  Now that Craig's a success, everyone praises him.  But Bond fans will remember that when news of his casting was first going around there were people who didn't think he'd be able to pull it off.

Skyfall comes out Friday.  I'm seeing it Friday night and I hope it's as great as the trailer looks.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, November 8, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Dan Murphy hates spokespersons but loves War Starters, the World Bank sniffs around Iraq, the Ministry of Oil announces new deals, the BRussells Tribunal accuses Moqtada al-Sadr, and more.

Let's start with Dan Murphy -- and sadly I don't mean Soul Asylum.  No, we're talking about world class liar Dan Murphy.  The Christian Science Monitor needs to declare him a columnist -- not a good one either -- and he's about as honest as William Safire was.  But on the left we're supposed to cheer because he lies for 'our side.'  He writes crap that reads like, "I have the hots for Campbell Brown but Dan Senor married her so I hate his guts." 

What the election says to nit-wit Dan Murphy is that another Dan (Senor) will have "no more influence in the White House today than he did yesterday."  Dan Senor advised Mitt Romney and Dan Senor is evil, evil, evil.  Dan The Nit Wit Murphy explains, "Mr. Senor was a key political player for the Bush administration in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, advising Paul Bremer on how to run the country in 2003 and 2004."  I would ask, "How does this crap make it into print"  -- but crap like this is why the Christian Science Monitor is no longer a daily paper. 

Dan Senor may be many things.  I casually know Campbell Brown, I do not know Dan Senor.  And I remember being surprised by that pairing and being told that Dan's basically media anyway.  Meaning he's PR.  That's something I heard repeatedly over the years.  Yet Murphy's explaining that Senor was basically running the CPA.  How strange because I spent hours, during the Iraqi Inquiry, pouring over each day's testimony, on the phone with friends who were covering the Inquiry or who were attending it for other reasons, and never did I encounter Dan Senor's name.  Paul Bremer?  Over and over.  Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, generals, etc and etc.  No Dan Senor.  But Dan Murphy wants us to know that "Senor was a key political player for the Bush administration in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, advising Paul Bremer on how to run the country in 2003 and 2004."

Well I can be wrong and often am.  And were Dan Murphy correct, I would be writing, "Stupid me . . ."  I have no problem owning my mistakes.  But I wasn't wrong.  September 12th, Chris Good and Shushannah Walshe (ABC News) reported:

Senor is the former spokesman for the American government in Iraq (the Coalition Provisional Authority at the beginning of the Iraq war under George W. Bush) and is a particularly close adviser to Romney on the Middle East.

Oh, he was a spokesperson.  Yeah, that jibes with what I was told years ago.  It also goes with what's been reported over and over and over.  Now unless I'm remembering wong -- and I can be wrong and often am --  Dahr Jamail's Beyond The Green Zone: Dispatches From An Unembedded Journalist In Occupied Iraq mentions Dan Senor on exactly one page.  Now I haven't picked up the book in years (not an insult, it's a great book, I recommend it highly) but I believe that's page 68, I'm seeing it in my mental picture as bottom of that page and the sentence starts "Coalition spokesman Dan Senor . . ."

Am I wrong on that?  Could be but don't think so.

So a spokesperson is what we're talking about.  And Dan Murphy's inflated him to what?  Cabinet-level planner of the Iraq War?  He's as nutty as the other partisan Democrats passing talking points off as facts and he's certainly not a journalist.

Dan Murphy refers you to a piece US House Rep Adam Smith wrote for Foreign Policy about how 24 foreign policy advisers to Romney worked in the Bully Boy Bush administration.  That's shocking?  Like it's shocking that so many of the Clinton White House people quickly drifted to Barack or Hillary in 2007 and 2008?

Dan Senor's not mentioned in Adam Smith's article. But Senor's the topic of Murphy's first four paragraphs and a photo of Senor (with Paul Ryan) is used to illustrate the article.  Dan Senor was a spokesperson.  Dan Murphy needs to dial back the crazy.

Dan Murphy's attack and distortion of Dan Senor wouldn't rate inclusion normally were it not that fact that the Christian Science Monitor wants to advise in their little intro to Kurt Shillinger's column on civility that, to bring it back to politics, "It starts with citizens." 

Really?  I kind of think it's starts with reporters or 'reporters' who think they can lie and distort.  What the hell did Dan Senor do to rate him being called out the day after the election?  And that question from someone who doesn't say "The Iraq War was wrong."  Hell no.  I say the Iraq War is a criminal war.  Not wrong, criminal. 

But even more reason for calling out Murphy's crap is Howard LaFranchi's garabage today that's Howard basically saying, 'I jizzed my shorts, I'm so happy!'  Over what?  Over Colin Powell possibly joining the administration in Barack's second term.

Oh.  Okay.  The rag calls out Dan Senor who was a spokesperson but it gets giddy over Collie The Blot Powell?  The man who lied to the United Nations, who helped sell the damn war?  There are no ethics and there are no standards, that is painfully clear.

I realize that when it comes to the press, no one gives head like Colin.  Please, I saw him stab Bush I in the back to journalists in the mid-90s.  He was entertaining three on background two tables over.  No one self-promotes better than Colin Powell.  The term "press whore" was invented to define him. 

But if you're going to call out someone for being a spokesperson for the US government in Iraq then you damn well can't applaud the person who stood before the United Nations spouting one lie after another to justify an illegal war.

And before Dan Murphy whines that he was talking about neocons and how they won't be advising Barack, grab a damn clue with both hands.  From the October 24th snapshot:

Barack's had necons throughout his administration.  We regularly call out Victoria Nuland who is better known as Mrs. Robert Kagan and who is even better known as Dick Cheney's National Security Adivsor (2003 to 2005).   In February 2011, whistle blower Sibel Edmonds (Boiling Frogs) noted some of the many neocons serving in Barack's administration: Marc Grossman, Dennis Ross and Frederick Kagan (that would be Victoria Nuland's brother-in-law).  In 2010,  Kristine Frazao (Russia Today -- link is video and text) thought Kagan's addition was so important, she did a report on just that, opening with, "They're ba-a-a-ck!  The US government may be done with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld but another neoconservative is returning to the government payroll.  That same year, Allen McDuffee (ThinkTanked) observed, "Because we overinflated the impact of neoconservatives during the Bush administration and paid little attention to them before that, we're missing the fact that neocons are having the same influence in the Obama administration they've always had, according to a report issued by the Brookings Institution." And if we drop back another year, we can land on
This morning leading neoconservatives such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan held a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel -- in support of President Obama's Afghanistan policy. Kristol and Kagan, as Foreign Policy's Laura Rozen has reported, have formed a successor organization to the Project for the New American Century, which came into disrepute for its advocacy of the Iraq War. The new one is called the Foreign Policy Initiative. Its contention is that America remains, in the words of Madeleine Albright, the "indispensable nation"and, furthermore, that neocons can play a valuable role in coming years in ensuring that it remains one.

So Dan Murphy's thrilled that Barack's administration is pure and protected from the neocons -- the ones who've already made their way in.  But don't tell Dan Murphy.  In the meantime, you can click here for a piece by Campbell Brown at Slate from August on journalism, politics and disclosures. And Dan Murphy can click there too because it's got a great photo of Campbell and he can obsess over her one more time.

While Dan Murphy foolishly believes there will be and has been no necons fluttering around Barack, you can find more honesty at the Libertarian Reason where Ed Krayewski observes:

Is there a charitable interpretation of much of the left's silence about Barack Obama's war policies? Either they don't know about them, they don't care about them or they find building the welfare state a more urgent cause than dismantling the warfare state. Maybe they assume he wouldn't be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate if he weren't a peacemakrer? You can suggest other interpretations in the comments.
Nevertheless, while Barack Obama built a name for himself on his 2002 opposition to the Iraq War (as a state senator out of Hyde Park, Chicago, mind you, where supporting the Iraq War would have been political suicide), he made it clear on the campaign trail he wasn't a non-interventionist. He promised if there was information on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts in Pakistan and the Pakistani government didn't act on it, he would. You couldn't get through the campaign season without hearing at least one Obama booster (or even the president himself) trumpeting that kept promise. Ending the war in Iraq was another promise Obama ran on in 2008. He claims he's kept it and campaigned on ending the Iraq war. Obama, of course, actually tried to renege on the status of forces agreement negotiated under President Bush and extend the war in Iraq.

It's a good commentary but, like too many, he seems unaware of what Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence. 

On the elections, language warning, Susan (On the Edge) offers her observations of just re-elected US President Barack Obama hereVia Jane Fonda, you can check out Peggy Simpson's piece for Women's Media Center about how female candidates faired in Tuesday's election.  At Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford and Bruce A. Dixon weigh in on the results of the presidential election and the meaning of the results.  Ruth asked that we note Dennis Loo's World Can't Wait piece about the ongoing Drone War and the

When host Joe Scarborough raised the criticism on his show Scarborough Country on October 23, 2012 that Obama's drone attacks are killing a lot of innocents, including 4 year old children, guest Joe Klein, Time Magazine's political columnist, an ardent Obama partisan, defended the drone attacks with these words:
"the bottom line in the end is - whose 4-year-old get killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."
Whose 4-year-old gets killed? This stunningly naked xenophobic and reactionary statement by Joe Klein topped an earlier comment of his in this same show in which he described the virtue of drone warfare:
KLEIN: It has been remarkably successful" --
SCARBOROUGH: "at killing people" –
KLEIN: "At decimating bad people, taking out a lot of bad people - and saving Americans lives as well, because our troops don't have to do this . . . You don't need pilots any more because you do it with a joystick in California."
This is one of the most prominent political columnists in America speaking, an ardent Democratic supporter: "You don't need pilots anymore because you do it with a joystick in California."

Iraq is slammed with violence yet again today but remember, kids, Barack 'ended' the war.  They didn't get the memo in Hilla.  Press TV says it was a car bombing and that 4 are dead and eleven injured.  Security forces tell All Iraq News that the car was parked next to a gas station (which amplified the bombing) and that 7 people were killed and fifteen injured.   AFP focuses on two bombgs in Mohoudiya -- the first, a car bombing, claimed 2 lives and left two injured while the second bombing ("seconds later") claimed 1 life and left three people injured.  All Iraq News also notes that a Shirqat sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and that an attorney was shot dead outside his Mosul homeXinhua adds that the al-Shiqat bombing also left one person injured and that "a civilian was killed and his won wounded when gunmen opened fire on them in the town of al-Hadeed."  Press TV notes 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead a Mosul checkpoint.

A couple of days ago, the Baghdad Operations Headquarter stated that they found the remains of tens of Iraqi academics that were kidnapped from the Ministry of Higher Education – Department of Missions -in 14 November 2006.They were buried in the Al-Sada Area in Sadr City. The bodies were found after one of the militia members (who is arrested by the Iraqi authorities) confessed and told about the place where the victims were buried, their number, the details of how the militias carried out the kidnapping, why they did it and who is behind all this. (2)
The Iraqi people always ask themselves when such "incidents" occur, like a kidnapping or a blast or a car bomb:"who is behind this?"
Everyone in Iraq knows that the Ministry of Higher Education kidnapping was the work of sectarian militias, more specifically the ones that are politically linked to the government.
When the Iraqi people ask about the names of these militias, and the reasons behind the secrecy of the Iraqi government, theyare surprised that no one wants to talk and no one dares to name names.The Iraqi government,the Army, the Ministry of Interior, the Parliament members,the human rights organizations, even the TV channels and media,all of them avoid to mention the names of those militias as if it was a sacred talisman or a taboo!
Do these militias consider the blood of their victims as the cheapest thing in the world, and are their crimes all sacred?
Everyone knows that the Al-Mahdi Militia, led by Muqtada Al-Sadr, is among those who committed such disgusting crimes. Some of the media dared to mention the details of this crime saying that Hakim Al-Zamili, one of the leaders of the Al-Mahdi Militia,was responsible for this crime that took the lives of more than 150 Iraqis, some of them Iraq's best academics. Al-Zamili is a prominent member of the Iraqi Parliament, representative of the Al-Sadr Party. Many Iraqis know it, but the government and parliament representatives keep silent and never mention the name of the murderers of the academics in November 2006.

The United States government caused the violence.  Car bombings did not roll Iraq prior to the US invasion.  They continued to cause it even after Bully Boy Bush left the White House.  By refusing to honor the election results, by backing Nouri al-Maliki for a second term as prime minister even though his State of Law came in second.  They didn't just back him during the eight month political stalemate when he refused to allow the winner of the election to form a government, no, the United States also negotiated a contract: The Erbil Agreement.  Weary political blocs, desperate to end the stalemate went along with contractual promises.

Nouri made various concessions in the contract and the political blocs agreed he could have a second term as prime minister.  The US brokered the contract and promised that it was legal, binding and that it would have the full support of the US government.  Nouri used it to become prime minister and then refused to honor the contract.  He took what he wanted and then broke the contract.  And the US government that had sworn they would back this contract acted like they'd never heard of the Erbil Agreement.

When votes don't matter, when the Iraqi Constitution doesn't matter, you not only destroy faith in any prospect of democracy, you also set up an illegitimate government that does not have any authority.  That breeds violence and it also ensures that the political stalemate continues.

All Iraq News notes that  the talk is President Jalal Talabani is reportedly going to try another attempt to address the political crisis.   Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports there was a push in Parliament to limit the three presidencies to two terms.  The three presidencies are the posts of President of Iraq, Prime Minister of Iraq and Speaker of Parliament.  This move is, in part, to prevent Nouri al-Maliki from having a third term.  Jalal Talabani is also serving a second term.  Grace notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc favors the limitation and has spoken publicly previously about how it is needed to avoid a new dictatorship from emerging in Iraq.  As was to be expected, State of Law stamped their feet and said no such law was needed and they worry about the legality.

State of Law is 'known' for respecting the Constitution.  (That was sarcasm.)  As further proof of their lack of respect for the law, Alsumaria reports that State of Law MP Abbas al-Bayati is stating that State of Law feels the solution for disputed Kirkuk is for it to become an 'independent' province.  He's a liar. First off, the Constitution addresses this in Article 140.  Nouri has refused to implement Article 140.  Second, they're not suggesting something like the KRG that is semi-autonomous.  They're saying it's a province.  One of many provinces in Iraq.  It will not be independent, no more so than any other province that is not in the Kurdistan Regional Government.  What that means is the the issue was not resolved -- as outlined in the Constitution -- by a referendum and census but instead Kirkuk would become part of the central government out of Baghdad.  Kirkuk is oil rich.  It is disputed for that reason.  It is also disputed because of its history with various groups claiming they were displaced at various points in history.  The Constitution addressed this because it is a serious dispute.  That's why Article 140 was written.  State of Law continues to subvert and ignore the Constitution.  This is how the second place political slate that the US put into place again in 2010 rules Iraq and sews tension and distrust when not breeding violence.

Meanwhile AP reports that the Ministry of Oil has announced a deal with Bashneft.  Russian Oil Net describes Bashneft as "the unique large Russian oil company which is not incorporating oil refining factories. [. . .]  The production association 'Bashneft' has been created in 1932. In January, 1995 the production association has been renamed to open joint-stock company 'Bashneft'. As a result of privatization about 63 % of actions remained in the Republic Bashkortostan property, 28,3 % have been distributed on the closed subscription among the labor collective, 5 % have got the administration."  AFP notes the contract is with Premier Oil as well as Bashneft and "Under the contract, the two firms must invest at least $120 million to explore the 8,000-square-kilometre (3,100 square mile) block covering the provinces of Muthanna and Najaf in south Iraq."  The British company describes itself on its website, "Premier is a growing FTSE 250 oil and gas exploration and production company with current interests in eight countries around the world."  Live Trading News notes that yesterday the Ministry of oil issued an announcement, "The Iraqi Oil Ministry signed the final service contract with a consortium comprising Russia's Lukoil and Japan's Inpex to explore for oil reserves in Iraq's southern provinces of Muthanna and Dhi-Qar." 

While it can make oil deals it can't rebuild the country for the people.  AFP reports that Iraq's "investment chief" Sami al-Araji declared today that $1 trillion was needed to rebuild the country over "the next 10 years" and that oil will not be enough, "some [money] will have to come from foreign and domestic direct investment."  This as the World Bank is sure that Iraq can start providing it with money.   Dina al-Shibeeb (Al Arabiya) reports:

Deputy head of Iraq's Central Bank said last week that the World Bank asked Iraq to become a donor state by 2014.
But with the myriad challenges facing a country ravaged by years of war, Iraq is likely still far from being able to help others.
"Poverty is still rife in Iraq. Iraq continues to be a potential conflict zone. There are regular bombings in the country," Paul Sullivan, professor of economics at the National Defense University (NDU), told Al Arabiya.
Sullivan, also an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University, added that while Iraq needs to rebuild its infrastructure, education, health and more, "Iraqis do have a pile of oil revenues sitting around, but poor governance, corruption, weak rule of law and more militate against the proper use of it."
He said "the World Bank is less than clueless if they think Iraq is ready to be a donor state."

Iraq has more than enough money to take care of Iraqis if it cared to do that.  But you've got a government that dreams parading across the world stage while taking a lot of the public's money and putting it into their own personal pockets.  For that reason more than anything else, the Iraqi government wants money from other countries.  If the US goverment provides it -- and it currently does -- people in government (besides just Senator John Kerry and his Senate Foreign Relations Committee) need to grasp that this is a tool of soft power.  For months, the White House whined about wanting Iranian planes searched that were enroute to Syria.  Only after Kerry and the Committee stated publicly that money could be cut did Nouri al-Maliki order the searching of the planes.  The answer that Barack (like Bush before him) repeatedly falls back on is "war."  There are many other levers of power. It's a shame even the US Ambassador to the United Nations was unaware of that but Susan Rice is a crazed War Hawk as well as public joke. 

The decision was made to not try terror suspects in federal courts. Terror suspects believed to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and others imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, which Obama failed to close, are now going through a military tribunal process—a second-class justice system where one is not allowed to testify in court about torture experienced at the hands of CIA interrogators because the government claims it controls the thoughts and memories of detainees.
Warrantless surveillance escalated sharply under Obama. The ACLU obtained Justice Department documents that showed federal law enforcement agencies were "increasingly monitoring Americans' electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability." Now, the Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear a challenge against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which allowed telecommunications companies to be granted retroactive immunity for warrantless wiretapping under Bush. The act also allowed for the expansion of dragnet surveillance. Obama Justice Department lawyers have argued it does not have to tell plaintiffs challenging the law they have been unlawfully monitored and, even if they did violate their privacy, it would not matter because the surveillance state is here to stay.
Obama refused to prosecute war criminals. Not a single person was prosecuted and convicted of torture. Even though he signed an executive order as president that prohibited "enhanced interrogation techniques" used under Bush, torture was effectively decriminalized. The "state secrets" privilege was invoked when torture victims tried to sue government for torture, effectively preventing justice. Moreover, former CIA agent John Kiriakou was prosecuted for allegedly leaking the name of a covert officer, who had been a kidnapper in the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. It was believed that various individuals in human rights organizations knew this officer's identity, and it was largely suspected the government was prosecuting Kiriakou because he was one of the first in government to say on television the CIA had an official policy of torture while Bush was president. The prosecution destroyed his life, took a tremendous toll on his wife and his five children so he ended up taking a plea deal.