Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Keystone Barack" from yesterday. It's Monday and there's a lot to cover. First up, Norman Solomon:
It’s one thing -- a fairly easy thing -- to tell someone else what you hope they’ll do, as 107 House Democrats did recently in a different letter to President Obama: “We write to affirm our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. . . . We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits.”
It’s much more difficult -- and far more crucial -- for members of Congress to publicly commit themselves not to vote for any cuts in those programs, which are matters of life and death for vast numbers of Americans.
Even a signed pledge to do or not do something, in terms of a floor vote, is no guarantee that a member of Congress will actually follow through. But in a situation like this, the pledge is significant -- and even more significant is a refusal to make such a pledge.
As of now, 54 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have taken a historic dive. We should take note -- and not forget who they are.
I didn't have time last week to highlight that. As C.I. notes in today's snapshot:
On the topic of the CIA and the media, Tom Hayden wrote a great piece of ZNet last week. This almost got noted at Third. Mike wanted to note Norman Solomon's strong column from last week and we were going to do something on best reads of the week. Time (and other things) prevented that.
What happened there was that it was just C.I. and me. We had our two pieces. And no one else had anything. So we waited and waited and finally C.I. said, "Mike, I'll note Norman and Tom in the snapshot Monday if you want." I was more than fine with that because that means it would go up at a ton of sites -- 13 community wide but even more when all the reposters not connected with the community are done. And I was kind of ticked because we had an easy piece. This was the pitch: Short feature. We call it 'Best Reads of the Web.' We list author, title, source and a link and include two sentences." So we thought, boom!
Little interest even with the Short feature aspect.
I am so sorry to Betty. When she pitches something, I always say, "Count me on board." And then I'd think that was enough. I had no idea how hard you have to push and that that's only a starting point. I've never had an idea shot down before. And this was shot down during the writing -- the method for shooting it down? Reluctance.
So now I realize it's a lot harder. I'll try to do a better job of supporting others. But everyone was exhausted and wanting to end it. We'd gone on forever. Even done a roundtable that went nowhere.
Okay, Dallas and the following worked on the 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 what did we get finished?
So that's what we ended up with.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Yesterday at Third, we addressed the gross stupidity (or laid back lying) of Reuters which published stenography. 136 Iraqis died in Iraq last month said the Iraqi government ministries. Reuters could have kept their own count but that would require work. They could have compared the official count to Iraq Body Count but that would have required thought. So they just spat out what they were handed and pretended that was reporting.
February 3rd, Sofia News Agency at least 30 dead. February 4th, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported 23 dead, February 8, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported at least 26 dead. February 16th, we noted 18 dead. February 17th, AP reported at least 37 dead. February 28th, AP reported at least 22 dead. Now forget that, for example, the 37 dead February 17th were just from Baghdad bombs and that, as Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) in real time, the actual death toll from violence that day was 52 and forget other big days of violence (February 16th, we noted 18 dead). Just go with those figures: 30, 23, 26, 18, 37 and 22. That's 138 deaths. (Check my math always.) From just five days. And that's 2 deaths more than the official figures say.
Grasp that no major skill was required to reveal the ministry figures as fraudulent. So is Reuters too dumb, too lazy, or are they in on the con?
Through Wednesday, February 27th, Iraq Body Count counts 316 deaths. Which means, despite claims to the contrary there was no reduction in violence. As we noted above, the Associated Press reported 22 dead on Feburary 28th. Add 22 to 316 and you have 338. The reality is when Iraq Body Count updates, it will probably have more than 22 deaths (they're not Baghdad-centric which is why they're able to report deaths across Iraq). But let's say they just go with 22. That would be 338. As noted in the February 1st snapshot, IBC's toll for January was 341.
So we're talking a death toll that remained the same. For the very slow -- which may include Reuters -- that would be 338 deaths over 28 days. There were 31 days in January. Even setting aside that IBC will probably list more than 22 deaths, it's the same basic number.
Other measures? We can't use the AFP count. Prashant Rao is out of Iraq currently and is apparently the only one who fills in the spreadsheet. We can use AKE's figures via their own John Drake.
At least 45 people were killed and 191 injured in
#Iraq violence last week.
At least 56 people were killed and 108 injured in
#Iraq violence last week.
At least 65 people were killed and 145 injured in
#Iraq violence last week.
At least 54 people were killed and 141 injured in
#Iraq violence last week.
So for that period of time, AKE's counting 318 deaths and 850 injured.
Does Reuters really want to stand with the Iraqi government and claim there were only 136 deaths took place?
Repeating, February saw no reduction in violence despite the government claims that Reuters echoed without skepticism, question or common sense.
Let's stay with bad press as the topic. The New York Times headlines their piece "Massacre of Syrian Soldiers in Iraq Raises Risk of Widening Conflict." Widening conflict? Dahsiell Bennett (The Atlantic) toes that White House line as well:
As has been feared for months, violence from the Syrian civil war has spilled across the border into Iraq, threatening an already unstable balance of power in the neighboring country. A group of Syrian soliders were ambushed and killed inside Iraqi territory on Monday, raising concerns that the violent conflicts in both countries could somehow merge.
Reality, fighting is taking place in Syria. Two sides, the Syrian military, the US-backed 'rebels.' In this case, the Syrian military ran into Iraq. It doesn't really matter whether it's the military or the so-called 'rebels.' When you holler "Tag! You're it!" as you run to base, the other side's going to follow you. In this case, they appear to have gotten sympathizers with the 'rebels' to attack. It doesn't matter.
When you cross borders in the midst of the war, that's what can enlarge a battle field, not a massacre after you've crossed over. Nouri's made the decision to back President Bashar Assad's government. This morning, for example, Nouri (or his office) Tweets today about posting a new photo to his Facebook page -- a new photo of Bashar Assad. He's made the decision that Iraq will provide harbor. When you do that, you expand the conflict. The attack didn't expand it. The attack is in response to Nouri expanding the conflict by providing a harbor for the Syrian military.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) quotes Nouri's 'adviser' Ali al-Mussawi stating, "From the beginning, we have warned that some militant groups want to move the conflict in Syria to Iraq." al-Mussawi gets closer to reality when the AP quotes him, "We do not want more soldiers to cross our borders and we do not want to be part of the problem." Then stop allowing fleeing sides in the combat to cross into your country.
In the region currently is US Secretary of State John Kerry whose trips wraps up Tuesday and will have taken him to Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia (as well as through parts of Europe). Today in Saudi Arabia, John Kerry and Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, spoke to the press. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry noted:
During this time of great political transition and uncertainty, we’re working together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Middle East and around the world. Across the Arab world, men and women have spoken out demanding their universal rights and greater opportunity. Some governments have responded with willingness to reform. Others, as in Syria, have responded with violence. So I want to recognize the Saudi Government for appointing 30 women to the Shura Council and promoting greater economic opportunity for women. Again, we talked about the number of women entering the workforce and the transition that is taking place in the Kingdom. We encourage further inclusive reforms to ensure that all citizens of the Kingdom ultimately enjoy their basic rights and their freedoms.
Arab social media is quoting the above up through "have responded with violence." And they're asking how John Kerry can be unaware that Friday, January 25th, Nouri al-Maliki's forces killed 11 peaceful protesters in Falluja. Some aren't asking how he can be unaware, some are just mocking him -- and the US government -- for thinking, in the words of one, "Arabs are stupid." The US government always looks sad when it tries to put one over on a foreign country. Over the weekend, NINA quoted Sheikh Khalid Hmoud, Falluja protest organizer, stating, "We have authorized journalist Bahjat al-Kurdi, who is residing in Holland, to bring a suit before the International Court of Justice at The Hague on charges of military elements opened fire, a month ago [. . . ]"
Alsumaria reports protesters in Khan Bani Saad have cut off the main road from Baghdad to Baquba as they protest the deterioration of basic public services. Meanwhile Iraqi Spring MC reports that Nouri's forces are raiding the homes of protesters in Samarra today. In other protest news, Jake Rudnitsky (Bloomberg News) reports, "The Iraqi army broke up a protest today by people seeking work at the OAO Lukoil-operated West Qurna-2 oil field, according to a Moscow-based company official. Several dozen people blocked the entrance to a central processing facility run by Samsung Group, according to the official, asking not to be identified due to company policy." Reuters, which has become state-controlled media in Iraq, adds,"Officials of the state-run Southern Oil Company said there was no disturbance around any of the producing oilfields in the south of Iraq and production was proceeding as normal." AP reports there were 150 protesters and quotes an Iraqi military colonel stating, "These people have been waiting for a long time to get jobs. They were very angry and things got out of control" the army colonel said. "The police couldn't stop them from entering the site, and that's why the army was called in."
What's especially disturbing is that it's become normal in Iraq to call in the military and sick them on the Iraqi people. Al Jazeera estimated that there were 650,000 people in the Iraqi police force. And yet the military is used. And yet, the US government keeps arming Nouri with weapons he can use against the Iraq people. The US government isn't the only one willing to supply Nouri with weapons. October 9th, Nouri was strutting across the world stage as he inked a $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia. The deal became iffy among corruption charges (with fingers pointing at Nouri and his son) and Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh fearful that Nouri was going to hang the corruption on him causing al-Dabbagh to flee Iraq. Dar Addustour reports that Parliamentary sources say the body's Integrity Commission has requested warrants for al-Dbbagh and his brother. UPI reminds, "Russia and Iraq had reached a deal for Russian Mi-28NE attack helicopters and Pantsyr mobile air-defense systems in October but an Iraqi spokesman said shortly afterward the deal was on hold."
So the deal's on . . . Or is it? Global Research republishes The Voice of Russia's interview with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari:
Mr. Zebari, Massoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, has recently visited Moscow. In his interview to the Voice of Russia he mentioned that the anticipated large deal of arms supply from Russia to Iraq had reportedly fallen through. It appears that the Kurds don’t like that deal that much. Has it really been cancelled? Are there no more arms supplies from Russia to Iraq planned for the near term?
Naturally, Iraq needs to acquire weapons and modernize its army and military equipment. Such are the main tasks for the country’s security – it is our lawful right. It is clear why in pursuing that goal Iraq has turned to Russia among other countries. The Iraqi army has in its arsenal a lot of arms produced in Russia. From that point of view, Russia is closest to us. We have been talking to the Russian side about our needs for a long time. But by the way, during the visit of our Prime Minister to Moscow last fall that I mentioned (I was a part of that delegation), the press gave figures of the volume of the contracts that had little to do with reality. Yes, there was an exchange of opinions. We presented our requirements; the Russian side described its proposals. We discussed the timing. But the press also talked about the contracts, which had not been signed at that point. In many cases it was only our intensions that back then were at the negotiations stage.
As far as the signed contracts go that deal with the acquisition of weapons in Russia, they have not been cancelled. However, we have not started executing them yet.
When will the first supply commence?
As soon as the financial issue is resolved. I believe that the first shipments of weapons from Russia to Iraq will start before the summer, as the latest term.
Woah. What was that? As soon as the financial issue is resolved? You resolve those issues in negotiations, you resolve them before you sign a contract.
Last Friday, at the Ramadi protest, Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi resigned. Alsumaria reported Saturday that Nouri's State of Law is dismissing the notion that others will step down from the council. Al Mada added that al-Issawi called today for others to leave the council including Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. al-Issawi and al-Mutlaq are both members of Iraqiya. Iraqiya came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections, besting Nouri's State of Law. al-Issawi told Kitabat that he resigned because there had been over 70 days of protest and the government had still not responded to the protesters. He notes that a government is supposed to be responsive to the people, not ignore them. He told Alsumaria that Article IV -- which has been used to punish so many Sunnis -- is no longer going to work and that the government refused to listen to the protesters or to take accountability for the eleven shot dead in Falluja by Nouri's forces January 25th. He feels the solution to the crises facing Iraq can be found in the sit-ins taking place.
As the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War approaches, many offer reflections. Patrick Cockburn (Independent) reports:
Iraq is disintegrating as a country under the pressure of a mounting political, social and economic crisis, says Iraqi leaders.
They add that 10 years after the US invasion and occupation the conflict between the three main communities -- Shia, Sunni and Kurd -- is deepening to a point just short of civil war. "There is zero trust between Iraqi leaders," says an Iraqi politician in daily contact with them.
Roula Khalaf (Financial Times of London) observes: that Iraqis "live in an unstable country run by a sectarian-driven and often corrupt political elite that puts its own narrow interests above those of society. As they mark the 10th anniversary of the change later this month, Iraqis are wondering whether they are doomed to exist in a dysfunctional state, which still fails to provide either security or basic services."
All Iraq News reports a rather bold assertion by a Kurdish MP, "MP Adel Abdullah, of the Kurdistani Alliance stated that the situation in Iraq is close to the partition rather than changing the regime where the govenrment, especially the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, is convinced that Iraq is about to be divided into three countries."
Violence continues today in Iraq. Alsumaria reports a Mosul suicide bombing targeting a police headquarters which left 5 police officers dead and eleven pople injured, a Mosul roadside bombing injured three more police officers. and, dropping back to last night, 3 Babil Province bombings are said to have injured two soldiers and caused an army major to have a heart attack which killed him. The National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 female corpse was discovered in Hilla, a Mosul firefight between Nouri's forces and unknown assailants has left a bystander dead -- a 10-year-old bystanded who was shot in the head, and "Unidentified gunmen attacked an Iraqi army vehicle [. . .] carrying 4 wounded [. . .] Syrian government troops in western Anbar this afternoon."
If you visit this ACLU page, you will find documents released under the Freedom of Information Act detailing the abuse and torture in the last ten years of various people by those working for the US government.
We'll focus on one set of documents on an Iraqi woman. She self-reports theft and abuse to the military on April 29, 2004:
Basis for Investigation: About 1300, 29 Apr 04, this office was notified by 22nd Military Police (MP) Battalion (BN), Baghdad, IZ of an alleged detainee abuse of Ms. _____
Ms. ___ reported she was arrested from her residence and transported via helicopter to an unknown interrogation center. She was detained for approximately 5 days. During her detention, she was abused, which resulted in two broken fingers, black eye and made to crawl around on all-fours as a "large man rode" on her, calling her an animal. Ms. ______ described the unknown subjects as 1) a fat white male, approximately 6' 3", 125 kilos, 30 years old, black hair, brown eyes, who spoke Arabi (NFI). The second subject was described as a white female, 25 years old, blond hair, who did not speak Arabic (NFI). Both subjects wore military uniforms with name patches (NFI). Ms _____ also received a receipt for property siezed and damaged at the time of her arrest. The receipt indicated $3,600,000 (7,550,000.00 Iraqi Dinars) and jewelry were seized and the doors and windows of her residence, which entitled her to compensation. The receipt also stated she could retrieve her property after 14 Oct 03.
A month later, May 5, 2004, more work on her complaint has been done (typos and incorrect spelling is in the original document, I've not changed it -- one time they spell "Jewlerly" for "jewelry," another time they get it right, they never get "anally" correct, etc.):
ON 5 MAY 04 THIS OFFICE WAS NOTIFIED BY THE 22ND MILITARY POLICE BATTALION, BAGHDAD, IZ, THAT MS. ____ WAS POSSIBLY ABUSED, WHILE DETAINED BY COALITION FORCES.
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION REVEALED MS. _____ WAS APPREHENDED ON 11 AUG 03 AND DETAINED AT AN UNKNOWN LOCATION. WHEN MS. ____ WAS APPREHENDED, SHE ALLEGED THAT INDIVIDUALS CONFISCATED HER MONEY AND JEWLERLY AND HAS NOT RETURNED IT. FURTHER INVESTIGATION REVEALED MS. ____ WAS ANALY SODOMIZED, IDECENTLY ASSAULTED, AND PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED WHILE SHE WAS DETAINED AT THE UNKNOWN LOCATION BY AN UNKNOWN WHITE MALE.
ON 5 MAY 04, MS. _____ WAS INTERVIEWED AND STATED SHE WAS APPREHENDED BY COALITION FORCES SHE BELIEVED TO BE AMERICANS AND DURING THE APPREHENSION THE INDIVIDUALS CONFISCATED HER MONEY AND JEWELRY AND HAS NOT RETURNED HER MONEY OR PROPERTY. MS. _____ FURTHER STATED SHE WAS MISTREATED BY HER CAPTORS WHEN THEY DEPRIVED HER OF FOOD AND WATER FOR A FIVE DAY PERIOD, AND AN UNKNOWN MALE PHYSICALLY ABUSED HER ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, ANALY SODOMIZED, AND INDECENTLY ASSAULTED HER.
As documented above, "further investigation revealed," by May 2004, that the woman "was anally sodomized" as well as indecently assaulted and physically assaulted. And what happened after that? Nothing. They give her some money for the stolen property (how much is not specified) and they vanish the further investigation and instead maintain that there was no evidence she'd been sodomized. How does that happen? How is established and then it vanishes? Oh, right, that's how a cover up works. And part of the cover up is also ignoring the indecent and physical assault evidence. That's how no one gets in trouble and why there's a note that no disciplinary action needs to be taken.
In England, the above tends to get publicly aired. Brits who care about justice tend to complain that the investigations they get into the Iraq War end in a whitewash. While that is true, at least some reality gets aired -- that's more than has happened in the US.
The Metro reports, "British troops killed, mutilated and tortured civilians following a battle in Iraq, the start of an inquiry heard. Graphic images were shown of missing eyes and genitals among the bodies of unarmed men who were taken to an army base." What's going on? An inquiry known as the Al-Sweady Inquiry, named after Iraqi Hamid al-Sweady, a 19-year-old killed in May of 2004. Huffington Post UK reports, "The Al-Sweady Inquiry is examining claims that UK soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis and tortured detainees after the 'Battle of Danny Boy' in Maysan Province, southern Iraq, in May 2004." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains, "Nine Iraqis say they were tortured after being taken to a detention centre at Shaibah base near Basra and held there for four months. They say they were taken, along with the 20 murdered Iraqis, to a British base, Camp Abu Naji, after a fierce firefight in what became known as the battle of Danny Boy, a British military checkpoint near Majar al-Kabir, on 14 May 2004."
Allstair Bunkall (Sky News) notes:
The incident was initially investigated by the Royal Military Police and latterly the Iraq Historic Allegations Team.
But the independence and objectivity of that was brought into question by lawyers who successfully argued that some of the investigators might have conflicting motives. And so the Al Sweady Inquiry was commissioned by the former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth.
More than 50 Iraqis will give evidence, some in London but the majority in Beirut later in the year. Around 200 British military witnesses will also be questioned.
Cecilia French, the Secretary for the Inquiry, tells Caroline Hawley (BBC News), "In most public inquiries, you know what has happened and you are trying to find out why - and how you can avoid it in the future. But this public inquiry is more like a criminal trial because you have two completely different accounts of what happened and we're trying to find out the truth, which makes this very unusual." You can find profiles of the various members of the Inquiry here. We'll note the Chair of the Inquiry:
Sir Thayne Forbes was called to the bar in 1966 and appointed Queen's Counsel in 1984. He was made Official Referee in 1990 and in 1993 he became a High Court Judge assigned to the Queen's Bench Division. As Presiding Judge of the Northern Circuit he conducted the trial of Dr Harold Shipman on 15 separate counts of murder. From 2001 to 2004 he was the Judge in charge of the Technology and Construction Court. He then chaired a working group on Judicial Welfare and Support and, from 2006, chaired the Judges' Council's Standing Committee on the same subject. He retired as a High Court Judge in January 2009 but at the Lord Chief Justice's request he continued to chair the Standing Committee with particular responsibility for judicial welfare in England and Wales. He retired from this position in December 2009. Sir Thayne was appointed to chair the Al-Sweady Inquiry by the Secretary of State for Defence on 25 November 2009.
PanArmenian.net points out, "The Al-Sweady inquiry is the second public inquiry into allegations of abuse by British troops in Iraq, following one that examined the death of Baha Mousa in 2003, and has been described as 'unprecedented' in its scope." Today, Paddy McGuffin (Morning Star) reports, "Lead counsel for the inquiry Jonathan Acton Davis QC revealed that its investigators had to request disclosure from the MoD some 250 times before they gained access documents relevant to the case. During its investigations the inquiry team found thousands of previously undisclosed documents including nine detainee files that had not been disclosed to the claimants or the court in the judicial review proceedings, he said." Not a good start when the oversight investigation attorney is opening with the fact that the ministry in question has failed to turn over files. Things did not improve from there. Reuters notes that the Inquiry reviewed documentation on death certificates and discovered that "three of the bodies bore signs of torture including missing eyes, a missing penis and crushed bones.." ITV News adds that they viewed footage today of "bodies being taken to hospital. The graphic footage showed body bags being carried into a local hospital and doctors pointing to some alleged signs of torture." RT adds:
One of the first jobs of the inquiry is to try and establish whether the 20 Iraqis were killed in battle as the MoD claims or if in fact they were captured alive and then unlawfully killed.
The inquiry will also try to determine if five men taken prisoner following the battle of Danny Boy were mistreated at a second British base in Shaibah, near Basara, between 14 May and 23 September 2004.
"I never would have agreed to the
formation of the CIA back in forty-seven
. . . if I had known it would become the American Gestapo."
-- Harry S. Truman
That's from a title card in the documentary (first title card) by Joe Ayella entitled American Coup. The film addresses the CIA overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 because Iran was nationalizing the oil. Hulu is currently carrying the documentary and promoting it as what took place before Argo -- the film, not documentary, for which Ben Affleck won Best Picture at last week's Academy Awards. You can stream it now. If you wait a few months from now and it's gone, don't e-mail asking how to see it. On the topic of the CIA and the media, Tom Hayden wrote a great piece of ZNet last week. This almost got noted at Third. Mike wanted to note Norman Solomon's strong column from last week and we were going to do something on best reads of the week. Time (and other things) prevented that. I'm not including Tom's because I agree with it. I think it's well written and he backs up his arguments. There are points where I disagree. But it's a very strong piece of writing and more than worth reading.
national iraqi news agency
all iraq news
the huffington post uk