Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More war propaganda

Hump day and Barack wants another war.  He's been itching for war on Syria. For some time.  The people say no.  So a propaganda effort has been going on for some time.  Now a new development, a new claim.

Information Clearing House reports:


Today’s report of the nerve gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus has made its way through the world media, prompting a sweeping condemnation of the Assad government by pundits and politicians in the US and Europe.
Opposition “Activists” claim that rockets with nerve gas hit the suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar in the Ghouta region – although they would not specify exactly who fired those rockets. The Syrian government denies these accusations, and maintain there is no truth to the reports.

Unfortunately, further confirmation is still required in order to determine exactly what has happened, let alone, who is responsible if indeed it was a chemical weapons attack that took place.

The timing of this sensational report is also suspect, as the UN chemical inspection team had just arrived in Damascus and had checked into a hotel only a few miles away from last night’s alleged never gas incident. 


Aren't we all getting tired of this crap.  We should be.  And the 'rebels' are not 'rebels.'  They are US-backed thugs.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, rumors swirl of attacks planned in Iraq, the Green Zone is shut down with barbed wire, talk of a new US military base in Iraq (that would be for countering 'terrorism') emerges, Bradley Manning gets sentenced, the State Dept announces a review has been completed -- a review never announced, and more.



This afternnon, Lady Gaga Tweeted.

  1. The news of Bradley Manning's sentencing is devastating. If our own can't speak up about injustice who will? How will we ever move forward?

What's she talking about?  Agencia EFE reports, "U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced here Wednesday to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks." Kevin Gosztola (Firedoglake) reports that after the sentence was delivered, "Guards quickly escorted Manning out of the courtroom as supporters in the gallery shouted, 'We'll keep fighting you, Bradley,' and also told him he was a hero."

Gosztola told guest host Kevin Pina on this evenings Flashpoints (KPFA) that, as they waited for the verdict to be announced, "Everyone was on edge" as they waited for the sentence that would "bring the court-martial of Bradley Manning to a conclusion.  And the judge entered the courtroom at about 10:15 am EST  and she sat down and the first instruction she gave before reading her announcement was that everyone in the courtroom, everyone in the gallery, the Bradley Manning supporters, she would not be tolerating any outbursts. She would not be tolerating anything [that interfered with the] decorum of the court-room.  She made a point of basically scolding them before they did anything wrong And she did this before the verdict."  It is extremely noisy as I type (I'm out and about) so this is a rough transcript of the remarks from the live broadcast airing right now.


Kevin Pina:  I'm wondering were their members of Bradley Manning's family that were present when this decision was read?


Kevin Gosztola:  There weren't any family.  You know, the family was  -- There were his sister and his -- Actually, I take that back.  There were people who were there to meet him but we don't know who in his family were there to meet him.  But we know that after the announcement, he was able to meet privately with them before he was processed and taken wherever he was taken.  It's unknown if he was headed back to Fort Leavenworth, where he will be serving his sentence, yet.  He could be in a facility nearby Fort Meade for some more days.  


The program will be archived after the broadcast ends (at 6:00 pm PST; 9:00 pm EST).

Michael Allen (Opposing Views) informs, "Manning was credited an additional 112 days, dishonorably discharged, reduced to private from private first class and forced to give up all of his U.S. military pay and benefits."  But it's not just the 112 days Bradley will receive credit for, Selena Hill (Latino Post) notes, "About 3½ years or 1294 days will be subtracted from Manning's sentence, which includes the number of days he's already been detained, plus the 112-day credit he received for excessively harsh treatment while in a Marine brig in Quantico, Va."  Sarah Childress (PBS' Frontline) explains, "Under military commission rules, the sentence must be reviewed by the Office of the Convening Authority, which has the power to set aside or amend the sentence --  but not increase it."  Many outlets are stating that Bradley will be eligible for parole in eight years; however, only the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun notes, "Under military law, Mr. Manning will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence, though there is no guarantee he would be released at that time."



Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  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. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.  Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.


Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.




For truth telling, Brad was punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama.  A fraud, a fake, a 'brand,' anything but genuine, Barack is all marketing, all facade and, for that reason, must attack each and every whistle-blower.  David Delmar (Digital Journal) points out, "President Obama, while ostensibly a liberal advocate of transparency and openness in government, and of the 'courage' and 'patriotism' of whistleblowers who engage in conscientious leaks of classified information, is in reality something very different: a vindictive opponent of the free press willing to target journalists for doing their job and exposing government secrets to the public."


 Tuesday, July 30th, Bradley was convicted of all but two counts by Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge in his court-martial.  Today, Bradley finally received a sentence.


You make pretty daisies, pretty daisies love
I gotta' find, find, find: what you're doing about things here
A few witches burning, gets a little toasty here
I gotta' find, find, find why you always go when the wind blows?
God. sometimes you just don't come through
God, sometimes you just don't come through
Do you need a woman to look after you?
God, sometimes you just don't come through
-- "God," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her Under the Pink



We're going to note a series of opinions on the sentence and we'll do so briefly with the exception of Chase Madar who really nails it in a piece for The Nation, noting Bradley became the scapegoat for everything:


The best way to cope with humiliating military disaster is to find a scapegoat. For the Germans after World War I, it was leftists and Jews who “stabbed the nation in the back”—the Dolchsto├člegende that set the global standard. In the resentful folklore that grows like kudzu around our Vietnam War, American defeat is blamed on the hippies and anti-American journalists who sabotaged a military effort that was on the verge of total victory. (More sophisticated revanchists season this pottage with imprecations against General Westmoreland’s leadership.)  
The horrible problem with our Iraq and Afghan wars is that policy elites can’t find anyone to blame for their failure. Widespread fatigue with both wars never translated into an effective antiwar movement with any kind of mass base or high public profile. As for journalists, even liberal media platforms like The New Yorker and MSNBC dutifully mouthed administration propaganda in favor of both wars. (The liability of a thoroughly embedded media is that they can’t be blamed for military failure.)
 In other words, the usual suspects for stabbing-in-back whodunits all have ironclad alibis. Who will save us from this thoroughly unsatisfying anticlimax?


Russia Beyond The Headlines notes the comments of Russian Foreign Ministry's Envoy for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, stating,  "When the interests of the United States are concerned, the American judicial system like in the case of Manning, makes unjustifiably tough decisions to scare off others without any consideration for human rights' aspects.  Such manifestations of dual standards regarding the supremacy of law and human rights once again proves the U.S. claims for leadership in these important spheres are groundless."  The editorial board of the Guardian points out, "In 2008, one could have hoped that the US had a president whose administration would distinguish between leaks in the public interest and treason. But this sentence tells a different story. Mr Manning's sentence, which is both unjust and unfair, can still be reduced on appeal. Let us hope that it is."

The Palm Beach Post has an online survey which asks, "Is Manning's 35-year sentence fair?"  The choices are "Yes," "No, ir's too much" or "No, it's too little."  This is a non-scientific poll and the current results are:


Is Manning's 35-year sentence fair?
35%
Yes
47%
No, it's too much
18%
No, it's too little


Tod Robberson (Dallas Morning News) opens with, "It's really strange, as a journalist who shares the profession's obsession with uncovering and disclosing secrets, for me to endorse a military's court's prison sentence of 35 years to Pvt. Bradley Manning, the infamous Wikileaks leaker."  No, it's not strange at all Toad.  A very good friend was with the Dallas Morning News during the Bully Boy Bush years and he used to horrify me with all the inside crap that took place before an 'opinion' like your own, Toad, was issued.  For example, Sheryl Crow wearing a peace sign and having a guitar with a "NO WAR" strap meant that the employees who covered music were ordered to trash Crow at every opportunity -- repeating: They were ordered to do that.  The pot head local columnist meanwhile, on orders from management, described protesting the war as an act of "treason."  I can go on and on for hours.  Toad, no one takes your opinion seriously.

Toad can take comfort that the San Jose Mercury News editorial board agrees with him, "In sentencing Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison, the U.S. Army colonel who heard the case against him for leaking military documents to WikiLeaks once again exercised proper judgment."  Of course, "proper judgment" is laughable coming from the paper with Gary Webb's blood on its hands.

Writing for the right-wing Heritage Foundation, John G. Malcolm and Hans von Spakovsky bemoan that the sentence is 'only' for 35 years, "This sentence risks sending the wrong message to those contemplating leaking information that threatens our national security, endangers our troops, and frays relations with our allies. Hopefully, Bradley Manning will spend much more than just a decade in prison considering his misdeeds."  The Las Vegas Guardian Review runs the sexist and, considering Brad's issues, trans-phobic headline, "Manning Must Man-Up to 35 Years in Prison."  Julian Assange offers a two-part bizarre statement (here for AAP).  This is not a success.  Bradley's innocent of any harm.  Assange says the same of himself with regards to rape charges and someone should have told Assange that his statements can be easily turned around.  Such as, "Okay, 35 years isn't so bad?  So you'll go to Sweden?" It was a stupid statement to issue.

The Brennan Center For Justice offers, "Before the Obama administration, there were only three Espionage Act prosecutions brought for disclosing information to the media, and the longest sentence imposed was two years. While significantly less than the 60 years requested by prosecutors, the judge's sentence in Manning's case is the longest ever imposed for a media leak."  Already breaking my word about brief but a CCR friend asked that we note The Center for Constitutional Rights' statement in full:


We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up.
This show trial was a frontal assault on the First Amendment, from the way the prosecution twisted Manning’s actions to blur the distinction between whistleblowing and spying to the government’s tireless efforts to obstruct media coverage of the proceedings. It is a travesty of justice that Manning, who helped bring to light the criminality of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being punished while the alleged perpetrators of the crimes he exposed are not even investigated.  Every aspect of this case sets a dangerous precedent for future prosecutions of whistleblowers – who play an essential role in democratic government by telling us the truth about government wrongdoing – and we fear for the future of our country in the wake of this case.
We must channel our outrage and continue building political pressure for Manning’s freedom. President Obama should pardon Bradley Manning, and if he refuses, a presidential pardon must be an election issue in 2016.


The ACLU's Ben Wizner states, "When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate."  Amnesty International's Widney Brown offers, "Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial.  The President doesn’t need to wait for this sentence to be appealed to commute it; he can and should do so right now."

Democracy Now! offers this statement from Bradley which was released today:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.


This statement was read at a press briefing this afternoon.  We noted Assange's stupid statement earlier.  It pales in comparison to that of David Coombs, Bradley's civilian attorney, holding a press conference today.  There was an awful DC event the night of December 3rd night that many of us attended thinking it was about Bradley.  Instead it was glorification of (failed) attorney David Coombs.  I covered the event in the December 4th snapshot: and noted Coombs bragged, "I also avoid any interviews with the media."  That was stupidity.  Bradley had been locked away from reporters for over two years at that point and his attorney should have been using the media to keep Bradley in the news cycle and explain his client.  Then he couldn't be bothered.  Now that he's lost the case, he suddenly wants a press conference?

As Ruth and Marcia pointed out last night, Eric London (WSWS) offers an excellent critique of Coombs' awful and damaging 'defense.'  London documents how Coombs failed to mount a whistle-blower defense.  Yet Free Speech Radio News quotes Coombs today suddenly interested in the whistle-blower issue and stating, "This does send a message, and it's a chilling one and it's endorsed at the very highest levels.  This administration has gone after more whistleblowers than the previous ones combined.  So hopefully we can change that in the near future."

In the near future, Coombs?  You could have done that in the military proceedings but chose not to.

As if those failures weren't enough, Chris Kanaracus (Tech World) reports Coombs wept at the verdict and Bradley was forced to be strong for Coombs and offer him comfort.  The weeping attorney, what a loser.  The Voice of Russia quotes Bradley telling the weepy Coombs, "It's OK, IT's alright.  I know you did your best.  I'm going to be OK.  I'm going to get through this."

At the press conference, Coombs appeared to want others to do what he could not: get justice for Bradley.  Tim Molloy (The Wrap) notes Coombs honestly expects US President Barack Obama to pardon him, "The request is a longshot, to say the least: Manning is asking for a pardon from the same government that is prosecuting him. Obama said flatly that Manning "broke the law" even two years before his conviction."  Yes, as Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir (Guardian) noted:

Of course, a humane, reasonable sentence of time served was never going to happen. This trial has, since day one, been held in a kangaroo court. That is not angry rhetoric; the reason I am forced to frame it in that way is because President Obama made the following statements on record, before the trial even started:
President Obama: We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate … He broke the law.
Logan Price: Well, you can make the law harder to break, but what he did was tell us the truth.
President Obama: Well, what he did was he dumped …
Logan Price: But Nixon tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for the same thing and he is a … [hero]
President Obama: No, it isn't the same thing … What Ellsberg released wasn't classified in the same way.
When the president says that the Ellsberg's material was classified in a different way, he seems to be unaware that there was a higher classification on the documents Ellsberg leaked.
A fair trial, then, has never been part of the picture. Despite being a professor in constitutional law, the president as commander-in-chief of the US military – and Manning has been tried in a court martial – declared Manning's guilt pre-emptively.


 The Bradley Manning Support Network compiles a list of what Bradley revealed.  The list includes:



There is an official policy to ignore torture in Iraq.
The “Iraq War Logs” published by WikiLeaks revealed that thousands of reports of prisoner abuse and torture had been filed against the Iraqi Security Forces. Medical evidence detailed how prisoners had been whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, suffered holes being bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted. These logs also revealed the existence of “Frago 242,” an order implemented in 2004 not to investigate allegations of abuse against the Iraqi government. This order is a direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the United States in 1994. The Convention prohibits the Armed Forces from transferring a detainee to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” According to the State Department’s own reports, the U.S. government was already aware that the Iraqi Security Forces engaged in torture (1).




Monday came the horrible news that yet another person in Iraq's ongoing protest movement had been assassinated.   Haitham al-Abadi was assassinated in his Rifai home.  The assassination came after Haitham received threats from government forces.  This wave of protests has been going on since December 21st.  This week is the eighth month of these ongoing protests. And while they will mourn Haitham al-Abadi, they will honor his work by continuing their protests as they have already done in the face of arrests, torture and death.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:




Baghdad activists are planning a major demonstration at the end of August protesting the huge sums Iraqi MPs get, even if they serve less than four years in parliament. Over 300 MPs get around US$72,000 a year in a country where the average wage was around US$6,000 in 2012.
For several weeks now, Iraqi Facebook and Twitter pages have been abuzz with the debate over how much Iraqi MPs get paid – and in particular how much they get paid after they leave office. According to a document obtained from Parliament, each of the 325 MPs in Iraq gets a salary after he leaves office, of at least US$72,000 a year. And that's even if the MP doesn't complete a full term in office. Adding all of the salaries together equals around US$23 million a year in MPs' salaries. Iraqi MPs get these payments as long as they live and the number getting these pensions obviously rises with each new batch of parliamentarians.
Iraqi law stipulates that a retired state employee has the right to receive a retirement pension if his service is not less than 15 years and if his age is not below 50 years old.
However Iraqi MPs seem to have ignored this law and in fact, they've passed special laws that allow them to receive pensions if they serve for less than four years - and even if they serve for less than four years.


Today's violence?  National Iraqi News Agency reports a bombing near Imam Ali Military Air Base (near Nasiriyah) left three shepherds injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left 1 person dead and five more injured,  a Tikrit roadside bombing left 2 police officers dead and one more injured1 police officer was shot dead outside his Falluja home, an Erbil sticky bombing has left one person injured, a Mosul roadside bombing has killed 2 Iraqi soldiers and left four civilians injured, a Hawija bombing has left three Iraqi police officers injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing has injured one person, a Baghdad sticky  bombing claimed the life of 1 military captain, an armed attack on a Baghdad home left the home owner, Sahwa commander Ali al-Dulaimi, and 2 of his bodyguards dead, a Tikrit school bombing left nine people injured,   a Baquba roadside bombing has injured two people, and a failed  assassination attempt (by bombing) of Nineveh Police Chief left Khalid al-Hamdani left four of his bodyguards injuredAll Iraq News notes another Tikrit bombing which injured SWAT officer Uday Mohamed al-Jabara and his driver and All Iraq News adds that a Mosul roadside bombing left 2 Peshmerga dead and another two injured.

Nouri al-Maliki has failed repeatedly to provide security.  Earlier this week, Iraqi Spring MC noted that a number of Nouri's supporters were fleeing the Green Zone.  For a night, they stayed out of the Green Zone.  The rumors in Iraqi social media was that Nouri was sure a military coup was about to take place against him. (Dar Addustour notes those rumors here.)   In an apparent 'response' to that rumor, he's closed down access to the Green Zone (heavily secured area of Baghdad).  Kitibat reports that, as NINA has also reported, roads leading into the Green Zone are now closed and the area is sealed off from traffic with barbed wire.  All Iraq News quotes MP Kadhim al-Shimari condemning the new measures, "The security forces adopted the security alert and closed all the roads that lead to the Green Zone which caused suffering for the areas nearby due to wide deployment of security forces and closing the roads that forced people to walk for long distances just for uncertain threats, though the Parliament is well protected against any terrorists threats."   Dar Addustour notes that reporters entering Parliament were not allowed to bring cameras today and were told this was a security issue. Yesterday, there were rumors that an attack would take place on the Parliament.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi refused to cancel the session saying that fear would not triumph.  Thus far, there has not been an attack on the Parliament this week.  NINA reports:







Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressed apology to citizens who bear traffic jam resulting from security measures, asking them to be patient and bear hardship.
In his weekly address, Maliki said that while he instructed security agencies to facilitate the peoples' life, he also asks the people to be patient and bear hardship because all share the same problem, which is security.



This is Nouri's second weekly address.  It started last Wednesday when the US White House advised him that a weekly address might prevent his continued plummeting in the polls.

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported yesterday that more and more Iraqis are refusing to provide the government forces with information about insurgents, rebels or 'terroists.'  All Iraq News notes  National Alliance MP Susan al-Saad has declared Nouri's failure to provide security, security companies should be hired to provide security.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) notes today that Iraq is unable to secure its airspace or to protect Bahgdad International Airport.  (On the first, Elisabeth Bumiller reported many years ago for the New York Times that it would be 2014 at the earliest when Iraq could secure its own airspace.)  Kitabat notes that there are some who argue Nouri has intentionally allowed the security to worsen to allow more US troops to return to Iraq as part of the security agreement that Iraq has with the US.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraqi officials are speaking privately of a new US military base in Iraq which will be used to launch attacks on al Qaeda in Iraq or perceived members of al Qaeda in Iraq.

While security worsens in Iraq, Nouri prepares to depart.   All Iraq News reports, "The Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, will conduct an official visit, which will last for four days, to India on next Thursday in response to an official invitation from the Indian PM."  Press Trust of India adds, "India and Iraq, second largest oil exporter to the country, are expected to ink a key pact on energy cooperation among other agreements during the three-day visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from Thursday.  In a first bilateral visit by a head of government in 38 years, the Iraqi Prime Minister will hold comprehensive talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh which will also focus on investment from New Delhi in much-needed reconstruction of the war-wrecked country."  A piece of paper is a piece of paper.  Which doesn't just mean that Nouri has a problem with keeping his word.  It also means, as Prashant Rao (AFP) reminds, "But the prospects of luring foreign investment to Iraq have been complicated as the country has been hit by its worst violence since 2008, with the interior ministry describing Iraq as a 'battleground'."

Nouri gets noted today by Gian Gentile (Philadelphia Inquirer), "By invading Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein and occupying the country for nearly nine years to rebuild it, the United States has replaced one dictator with another strong-arm leader. And that leader, Nouri Maliki, is closely aligned with America's primary foe in the region, Iran."



Peter Van Buren Tweeted today:


Yesterday, State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf's press briefing opened with shocking news, there would be no accountability for Benghazi.  Click here for the portions of the transcript and the video.

September 11, 2012, an attack in Benghazi left a number of Americans injured (who've never been named in the press but whose number is around at least thirty -- as disclosed in multiple Congressional hearings) and left Americans Tyrone Woods, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty dead.  Stevens became the first US Ambassador killed in an attack since February 1979 when Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed by assailants who kidnapped him him in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Americans were repeatedly lied to afterwards.  They were told Charlene Lamb had resigned. They were then told that she and three others were fired.  Here's White House fluffer Michael Tomasky writing of Charlene Lamb and others at the State Dept on December 20th:



Lamb is the best-known (because her name has already been in the press a bit) State Department employee relieved of her duties in the wake of the department's internal report on the Benghazi Sept. 11 attacks. Three employees were sacked, and apparently, says NPR, a fourth one, Eric Boswell, has also quit. The report was quite critical of the consulate's overreliance on local security and especially of a failure at Foggy Bottom to respond in a reasonable way to the repeated requests from Benghazi for more security.
And there you have it. Mistakes were made. The department studied the situation and assessed it. Four people have lost their jobs. That sounds like accountability to me. There's your "Watergate," wingnuts. This whole political hubbub has been a travesty and an outrage.

He proclaimed accountability but there was none.  None of the four were fired.  Yesterday, the State Dept briefing announced the four were now off (paid) leave and had been given new jobs.  There has been no accountability.

Instead of Barack getting prissy about "phony" scandals, he might need to start addressing phony accountability.

From the May 14th snapshot:


As Cedric noted in "Crusty Lips Obama dishonors the dead," Wally in "THIS JUST IN! OLD CRUST LIPS DISHONORS THE DEAD!," Ruth in "The Client List," Ann in "So many scandals," and Betty in "Old Crusty Lips sure loves to lie," President Barack Obama chose to speak about Benghazi (when asked) at a photo op yesterday.  As Marcia reported, he offered 918 words -- including an accusation that pursuit of the truth was a "dishonor" to the dead.  The dead?  As Marcia pointed out, 918 words and he couldn't include the names Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  As for all three scandals, Stan pointed out "After four years of no accountability, don't act surprised."



Dishonor the dead, Barack?  you did that by allowing those four people to continue to work at the State Dept.




  Ruth reported on the hearing in "Kerry pressed on Benghazi." In addition, in "Congress and Veterans" (Third Estate Sunday Review), Dona asked Ruth about the hearing.

Dona: But I'm going to go to Ruth.  September 11, 2012, there was an attack on a US compound -- compounds -- in Benghazi, Libya.  The attack left four Americans dead:  Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens.  Ruth's covered the issue from the start.  This was a very big issue at the hearing.  I read the coverage in the mainstream press and was surprised to learn that it was ridiculed and laughed at.  That was the impression the press gave about the hearing.  That's not what Ruth saw and reported.  Ruth?

 

 Ruth: I was wondering what I was going to be discussing.  Now I see.  Yes, the press reports of the hearing were that Secretary Kerry was upset or short or said that this was not an issue.  And he did do some of that.  Especially before it was conveyed to him that there was, for example, non-classified material that the members of Congress had to go to a room to review and could not remove or copy.  Secretary Kerry was visibly surprised to learn of this.  He stated he was unaware of it and he would address it.  This was not the only issue about Benghazi that was new to him.  He stated he would assign someone in the State Department to work with the Committee on obtaining what they need.  What I am talking about right now did not make it into the reporting.  That is a shame because it showed a side of Secretary Kerry that was cooperative and helpful.  But the media, with few exceptions, seems to have long ago determined that Benghazi is a story they will not cover; therefore, they tend to alter reality when reporting on hearings.


In the briefing yesterday, it was announced the four were reinstated following the results of a review new Secretary of State John Kerry had started (the ABR -- which led to the four being put on leave -- was done under Hillary Clinton).  Excerpt.





 

  QUESTION: The statement that was released on this last night and which was attributable to a senior State Department official --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- stated that Secretary Kerry, upon assuming office in February, launched this internal review of the ARB’s findings. That disclosure, in turn, raises a number of questions, which I’d like to go through with you in turn. Number one, who led this review of the ARB?

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, first, not – I would like to clarify exactly what that statement means. Secretary Clinton, obviously, was the Secretary when these four were put on administrative leave. When Secretary Kerry came into office here, he basically picked up the ball. It was a continuation of that review that had already been started. He wanted to take the time to get all the facts himself. He wanted to take the time with his senior team to sit down and go over the ARB’s findings in great depth and look into the situation of these four in their careers.

QUESTION: Stop right there.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: The statement said that he launched this upon assuming office. Now you’re telling me there was an ongoing internal review of ARB that Secretary Clinton transferred to him?

MS. HARF: I think you’re using the term “review” specifically. What we’ve been – wait. Let me finish, James.

QUESTION: I’m using your statement.

MS. HARF: Okay. Can I finish?

QUESTION: Please.

MS. HARF: Thank you. I think we made it very clear when these four people were put on administrative leave that there was a review process into them that was ongoing. Obviously – so that process was ongoing before Secretary Kerry got here. That’s been well documented publicly.
Point B is that when Secretary Kerry took office, he wanted to make sure that he himself and his senior team did a thorough investigation into what had happened, picking up on the work Secretary Clinton had already done, but obviously he would be the one making the decision, so he wanted to make sure he was acquainted with all the facts, and that we looked into all of the things that might go into a decision surrounding these four.


QUESTION: Okay. What was the actual scope of this review by Secretary Kerry? Was it just with respect to these four individuals or was he reviewing the entire findings of the ARB?

MS. HARF: Again, I think you’re using the term review in a way that I’m not using it. When I say review, he wanted to make sure he was well acquainted with all of the facts. He wanted to dive deeply into all of the issues involved with the ARB, which obviously now fell under his purview to make decisions. So it’s not like he was making a judgment on the ARB. That’s not at all what I’m insinuating. That he was himself looking at the ARB, diving into the details, and also gathering other facts that may go into his eventual decision about these four.

QUESTION: You just stated earlier in response to another question from one of my colleagues that he did engage in, quote, “additional fact finding.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What did that entail? Were documents reviewed? Were new depositions taken? What kind of fact-finding mission are we talking about?

MS. HARF: Well, I think most specifically what I’m referring to is that we took – he and the team took a look at the totality of the careers that these four individuals have had at the State Department. Again, they’ve served honorably, had distinguished records, and all of that wanted to be taken into account. When, quite frankly, you’re making decisions about real people and their careers, he wanted to not only look at the ARB and what happened that day, but look at what they had done overall at the State Department.

QUESTION: Whose recommendation was Secretary Kerry following when he made this determination about these four individuals?

MS. HARF: Well, his senior team, and I don’t have a specific name for you about who led that. I can endeavor to get more details on that. If I can share them, I will. I’m not sure I can. But setting that aside, there was – his senior team looked at – took a look at the situation, looked at the four, looked at their careers, made a recommendation to him which he agreed with, and he ultimately made the final decision.

QUESTION: We have had in this briefing room --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- since Secretary Kerry assumed office, multiple discussions about the ARB --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- particularly in and around May 8, when the two whistleblowers, Mr. Hicks and Mr. Thompson testified before the Congress. And yet at no time did the State Department, either at this podium or in any other forum, disclose that Secretary Kerry had engaged in this process such as you’ve described it.

MS. HARF: I think we --

QUESTION: Why was that fact withheld from the public?

MS. HARF: Well, I would disagree with the premise of your question to start, but second I would say we’ve been --

QUESTION: What premise do you disagree with?

MS. HARF: Let me – can I finish and I’ll tell you?

QUESTION: Tell me.

MS. HARF: Okay. What I would say is we’ve been clear, every single time we are asked about the status of these four, that Secretary Kerry is undergoing a process in conjunction with his senior team and will make a decision at some point in the future. Every single time someone from this podium has been asked that, that’s exactly what they’ve said.
This, quote, “review,” whatever word you want to use for it, his looking --


QUESTION: I’m using your words.

MS. HARF: -- right, and I’m using it too – his looking at the facts, his in-depth look at the ARB and their careers are what played into this process of how he would eventually make a decision about the four. So there’s not – we have not been at all secret about the fact that Secretary Kerry has been leading a process.



Okay, in April, Kerry appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Ruth reported on the hearing in "Kerry pressed on Benghazi," Dona moderated a discussion it in "Congress and Veterans" (Third Estate Sunday Review), we covered that hearing in the  April 17th snapshot and our focus was Kerry's remarks on Iraq.  Wally covered the hearing with  "The budget hearing that avoided the budget,"  Kat  with "I'm sick of Democrats in Congress" and Ava's with "Secretary Kerry doesn't really support women's rights."  I've reviewed my notes -- I took notes throughout the hearing -- John Kerry never informed the House Committee that he was starting a review.  Was there really a review?  If so, why didn't Kerry inform Congress then or later?









 





 
 

 
 

 







 





 

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