Saturday, June 15, 2013

Idiot of the week (non-government pick)


Friday, I'm doing Idiot of the Week and it's a huge list.  So I'll give it to someone not in the government.

That leaves out The Weeping Saint of the Senate (Dickie Dubrin) and Pasty Kelley look-alike winner Barbara Mikulski, plastic surgery victim Nancy Pelosi, padded cell escapee Peter King and so many more.

So who gets the prize?

Greg Mitchell.  A liar from long ago.  A man so stupid he thought he could 'correct' an error (after Third pointed it out) by vanishing it -- forgetting that there's this thing called "cache version" online.  He's so stupid.

Today he's stroking the myth of McClatchy yet again.  And telling you that McClatchy's standing tall again!!! No, they're not.

First, let's do the facts.  McClatchy has owned newspapers for decades.  It owned newspapers in 2002 and 2003.  Those newspapers did not question the administration, did not do reporting that people praise today.

The pre-Iraq War coverage that is praised was done by Knight Ridder.  In 2006 (the Iraq War started in 2003), McClatchy bought up Knight Ridder.

Dunce cap idiot Greg wrote yesterday:

As I noted earlier today,  the U.S. media has largely taken claims of evidence of Assad's use of chemical agents in Syria pretty much in lock-step--just as they did in the run-up to the Iraq war. We're seeing it again with the White House's latest claims today, the crossing of the "red line" and the turning point to arm the rebels (and god knows what's next).   As I wrote last month, the one U.S. news outlet that has deeply questioned the claims about Syria is the same on that stood out for casting doubt on Iraq WMD claims so long ago: McClatchy.  And again, Jonathan Landay has been in the forefront there.  So: What now?

What an idiot.

Here's Wikipedia in case you don't believe me about McClatchy:


The company originated with The Sacramento Bee, which was first published on February 3, 1857 after the California Gold Rush. James McClatchy took over as editor of the Bee within a week.

For most of its history, the company was focused on the newspaper business in California's Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley. It acquired its first out-of-state newspapers in 1979 and through numerous subsequent acquisitions has grown into a nationwide company in the US. In its first moves outside its home state, McClatchy bought the Anchorage Daily News in Anchorage, Alaska, and the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington.

McClatchy acquired then-ABC-affiliate KOVR from Metromedia in 1963. The company's own Modesto Bee reported the sale of the station.[3] It was sold to The Outlet Company in 1978 and today exists as a CBS owned-and-operated station.

In 1990, McClatchy acquired three dailies in South Carolina: The Herald in Rock Hill, The Island Packet in Hilton Head, and The Beaufort Gazette of Beaufort. In 1995, it acquired The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, and in 1998, it bought the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

In January 2004, McClatchy bought the Merced Sun-Star of Merced, and five affiliated non-dailies in California's San Joaquin Valley.

The company's biggest acquisition occurred on June 27, 2006 when McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder. Because McClatchy was so much smaller than Knight Ridder at the time, one observer equated the deal as "a dolphin swallowing a small whale."[4] The purchase price of $40 and 0.5118 shares of McClatchy Class A stock per share was valued in total at about $4 billion in cash and stock. The company also assumed $2 billion in debt. This purchase added 20 newspapers to the company stable and the immediate sale (over the next five weeks) of 12 publications including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, San Jose Mercury News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Those sales were completed on Aug. 2, 2006


This morning, C.I. noted in "Like the trained monkeys they are, they sell the latest war:"


The administration's claim -- which note hasn't been considered strong enough for Barack to make it to the American people -- has been vetted and verified by the Los Angeles Times?  Really?  That's amazing.

This is how it was during Iraq too.  No skeptical press, no questioning of the government's claims except for Knight Ridder.

Of course, Knight Ridder is no more.  And we've told you forever and a day that McClatchy Newspapers may have bought Knight Ridder but it is not Knight Ridder.

If you're still missing the point read
Lesley Clark's lovely stenography for McClatchy which includes:

The U.S. intelligence community determined after two months of investigation that it has “high confidence” that President Bashar Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, at least four times, said Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. At least 100 to 150 people are believed to have been killed, he said, although the casualty data is incomplete.


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/13/193903/us-says-syria-used-chemical-weapons.html#storylink=cpy



The key to Knight Ridder was never the reporters.  In our f**ked up belief system, we need to turn everyone into a star and a hero these days.  What made Knight Ridder a success was a climate.  That climate is gone.  Questioning the administration, journalistic skepticism and so much more was not 'transferred' in the sale of Knight Ridder to McClatchy.  In fact, McClatchy had newspapers prior to purchasing Knight Ridder. You didn't see a lot of questioning administration's claims in the papers McClatchy owned in the lead up to the war.  All McClatchy's 2006 purchase of Knight Ridder really did was take one of the last journalistic outlets and turn it into so much pasteurized cheese like every other US outlet.




Now for Baby Greg at The Nation tonight:

I asked yesterday over at my blog if McClatchy reporters and editors, following their example during the run-up to the Iraq war (actually then with Knight Ridder), would be among the few to raise deep questions about “slam dunk” proof offered by the White House on Addad’s use of chemical agents. Reporters there,


Keep cribbing from C.I., Baby Greg, you might learn something eventually.  But he goes ga-ga over one report at a time that there are three by McClatchy and the other two take on face value the claim of chemical weapons being used in Syria by Bashar al-Assad's troops.   And that's supposedly what's Greg's measuring but he keeps forgetting that. 

What an idiot.

What a loser.


Now go check Ruth's site because she's picking an idiot of the week tonight as well.

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




Friday, June 14, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government continues to send billions to Iraq and without any oversight, Barbara Boxer has no concern for the Iraqi people but it 'fretting' alleged human rights abuses in Russia, US President Ben Rhodes declares that the US will back the so-called 'rebels' in Syria, Datagate continues and exposes just how ugly and self-righteous so many members of the US Congress are, the IRS lie to Congress that it was 'rogue' employees in Cleveland who were behind the targeting of political groups falls apart, and more.


Yesterday, a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee held a hearing on human rights in Russia.  Why?  Because we're all so damn concerned about human rights?  Please.  Russia is blocking the US on the United Nations' Security Council with regards to Syria.  The hearing was little more than mua roi nuoc (a centuries old Vietnamese tradition of water puppetry).  In that hearing, you have everything that is wrong with the United States government.  Resources are wasted not just to allow the government to poke their nose in everything, resources are used to penalize anyone who doesn't fall in line with the US government.  Resources are wasted to defocus and ignore pressing US issues. That hearing was  a Subcommittee hearing and presiding was the always ridiculous Senator Barbara Boxer.

Committee Chair Robert Menedez is also becoming a joke -- not because the US Justice Dept stayed silent, until after the senator's November re-election, on Menedez' employment of a criminal who also happened to be a foreign national and undocumented worker.  Menedez is a joke because he wastes US tax dollars and refuses to do his job.  He only holds hearing on human rights if it's a country that the US is in conflict with.


Syria?  Oh, yeah, Menedez can schedule a hearing on that.  He can waste all of our time on that.  Where's the hearing on Iraq?


The US taxpayer isn't watching millions of US tax dollars be spent in Russia each day.  But, among foreign countries, the biggest budget item for the State Dept, billions each year, is Iraq.  So where's the Iraq hearing.  None so far in June and none on the schedule.  None in May.  None in April. None in March.  None in February.  None in January.

In the [PDF format warning] "Department of State and Other International Programs" Fiscal Year 2014 budget issued by the White House,

* Includes $6.8 billion for the frontline states of Iraq ($2.1 billion), Afghanistan ($3.4 billion), and Pakistan ($1.4 billion), including $3 billion in base funding and $3.8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding.  The Budget prioritizes core diplomatic and development activities to ensure strong, lasting partnerships with these countries and to promote stability.

* The Budget continues to support U.S. security, diplomatic and development goals in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq while scaling down funding for operations and assistance, consistent with U.S. policy.

Now that's just some of what the State Dept wants for Iraq.  Let's move over to DoD.  DoD's requesting money for Iraq in Fiscal Year 2014.  Just for the Office of Security Cooperation - Iraq?
"Addendum A Overseas Contingency Operations" explains to us the amount is $200,000,000.   Although they make it much smaller by repeatedly referring to it -- not just in tables, which would be understandable, but in text as well -- as ".2" -- because they're doing billions (in tables, there's no excuse for rendering that way in text).  200 million dollars.

What could 200 million dollars do in US cities in the next fiscal year?  It's just part of what the Defense Dept 'needs' in Iraq -- you know, the country the press and White House press secretary keeps insisting the war is over in.   It's noted, "The OSC-I is the critical Defense component of the U.S. Mission Iraq and a foundational element of our long-term strategic partnership with Iraq."   This doesn't cover the Special Ops troops in Iraq or the 'counter-terrorism' efforts in Iraq.

No one will see that money spent in the United States and, apparently, Congress will provide no oversight as it is spent overseas.

That is their job, to provide oversight.  Not only has Menedez  failed to provide oversight on Iraq, he's failed to provide oversight on the State Dept.  This week's scandal about alleged wide-spread use of prostitution by State Dept officials and employees, pedophilia by the same and a drug ring that State supposedly ran in Iraq (runs in Iraq?), have gotten no attention from the Menedez.

As someone who reads the Iraqi press, let me steal Barack's "let me be clear," you get off your damn ass and you clear up the drug thing immediately.  Iraqi media has been covering an alleged huge increase in drugs for several years now.  Smart representatives of the US government would hear rumors of an alleged US State Dept drug ring in Iraq and say, "Damn, we better investigate this real quick before the rumors spread and Iraqis are saying, 'They brought drugs into our country!'  If we don't get to the bottom of this immediately, then -- true or false -- this is going to be another 'CIA brought cocaine in' scandal!"

That's when you provide oversight -- not just because the truth needs to be known but also, in case the rumors are completely unfounded, so that you can kill them quickly before they spread like wildfire.  Now why might there be a scandal on this?

Maybe because there's no Inspector General for the State Dept?

Mendez is aware of it.  With the Committee's Ranking Member Bob Corker, he drafted a letter to the White House on that this week:


We are deeply concerned that the two lead agencies carrying out the international programs and activities of the United States, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have been operating without permanent Inspectors General for a considerable period of time. The Department of State has not had an Inspector General since 2008 and USAID has had a vacancy since 2011. Inspectors General play a crucial role in identifying ineffective programs, process weaknesses, and wasteful spending that undermine public confidence in government.
It is critical that your administration provide this committee with highly qualified nominees who can function independently and objectively in these positions in the near future. In a recent hearing before this committee, Secretary Kerry testified that he would like to see the Department of State’s Inspector General vacancy filled quickly and noted that the White House had recently selected a highly qualified nominee. It has been over a month since that hearing and we await the nomination.
It is vitally important that the Inspectors General are able to function independently and objectively. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has, since 2007, documented the lack of adherence to proper auditing standards and the lack of independence and autonomy within the Department of State’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). In particular, GAO has noted that the Office is led by “management and Foreign Service officials [, which] is not consistent with professional standards for independence;” the “use of Foreign Service Officers ... to lead OIG inspections resulted in, at a minimum, the appearance of independence impairment;” and the “OIG relied on inspections rather than audits to provide oversight coverage resulting in gaps to the audit oversight of the department.” It is imperative that the next Inspector General at the Department of State resolves these matters and protects the independence and credibility of the OIG.


When there are no IGs and there is scandal and you're the Committee over the State Dept, you call for hearings.  You put Russia and the other Executive Branch grudge f**ks on hold and you provide the supervision that's lacking.

Protests have been ongoing in Iraq since December 21st.  The protests continued today.  Iraqi Spring MC noted the turnout in Baquba and that the spokesperson for those with special needs stated, "Disability will not keep us from rejecting injustice, tyranny and government repression."  Iraqi Spring MC also notes that the people turned out in Baghdad and in RamadiNational Iraq News Agency reports, "Thousands of citizens flocked since early hours of the day from from different parts and cities of Anbar Province to sit-ins of Falluja and Ramadi, to participate in Friday unified prayer."  NINA also notes police were deployed and set up checkpoints in Falluja and Ramadi, imposing "tight security measures in the sit-ins squares."  Iraqi Spring MC reports that Nouri's forces surrounded the platform at the Baquba sit-in in an attempt to frighten the protesters.  NINA notes that in Samarra, Imam Diab Hamid called on the security forces to stop using security forces against the people and the Imam told the demonstrators that "several weeks ago you voted to replace UN representative in Iraq, Martin Kobler, and now the oppressor has been relieved of his post" (UN Secretary-General announced this week Kobler will be moving onto the Congo).  The Imam congratulated the protesters on their peaceful accomplishments.  In Diyala the call was to preserve the unity and security.   In Balad Ruz, there was the call to continue the peaceful sit-ins.  In addition, Kitabat reports that in Ramadi there is a call for Nouri al-Maliki to come to the sit-in and dialogue with the protesters.


What sparked this wave of protests?  Oh, the Senate Foreign Affairs has never seen fit to explore that or acknowledge what's taking place in Iraq.  That would be oversight and, under Menedez, they don't do oversight.  It's sad that the Committee Vice President Joe Biden once led could, and did, in 2008, explore that the future of Iraq might mean Nouri using weapons on his own people.  That's come to pass, that's no longer a projection or a prediction.  And it's come to pass without any oversight from the Committee that Senator Robert Menedez chairs.


Why the protests?  The failure to implement the power-sharing agreement (the US-brokered Erbil Agreement) that ended the eight-month plus political stalemate of 2010.  The failure to fix public services (while spending billions on weapons).  The issue of the disappeared, Nouri's attacks on his political rivals in Iraqiya, and other longstanding issues.  But the spark that got people into the streets (again)?  Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson:



 

 Following an outcry against revelations of abuse of women detainees and the arrest of several bodyguards of the popular Sunni finance minister, the government promised in January to reform the judicial system, including reviewing the cases of 6,000 people who have been detained but not tried or even ordered released, in some cases for years, under the country’s antiterrorism law, and initiating an inquiry into widespread allegations of forced confessions and reliance on secret informants.


And in addition to the abuse of females in Iraqi prisons, Nouri's forces have repeatedly attacked the protesters.  Most infamously there was the  Tuesday, April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija when Nouri's federal forces stormed it.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  UNICEF informed the world that 8 of the dead were children and twelve more children were left injured.


Neither Menedez nor Boxer felt the need to hold a hearing on that.  There concern for 'human rights' are based not on actual atrocities but on geography -- location, location, location!

Nouri's attacks on the protesters haven't stopped.  From yesterday's snapshot:

 Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) notes:

The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.


AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.



 Nouri's attacks on the Iraqi people are so out of control that over a thousand members of the Iraqi military defect to the Peshmerga and that's not cause for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing on Iraq?

Tuesday, Human Rights Watch issued a call:

 Iraqi authorities should immediately investigate evidence that federal police executed four men and a 15-year-old boy on May 3, 2013, south of Mosul. Witnesses last saw the victims in the custody of the federal police 3rd Division, commanded by Gen. Mehdi Gharawi, who had been removed from his post as a federal police commander following claims he was implicated in torture and other abuses but was later reinstated.  Villagers found the bodies of the five in a field three kilometers from East Mustantiq village on May 11, near where federal police were seen taking them immediately after their arrest. A witness said the bodies had multiple large gunshot wounds, and machine gun shells were found in the vicinity. But photos leaked to the media by a police officer show police officers with the bodies in a less decomposed state than they were when the villagers found them.
"The apparent police role in the machine gun execution of four men and a boy requires an immediate investigation and the prosecution of those responsible," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "That these killings may have been committed by a unit under a commander once implicated in torture shows why abuses can’t be swept under the rug and forgotten."



When exactly is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee going to provide oversight on Iraq?

April set a record for the most violent deaths in Iraq in five years . . . until May came along and set a record for the most violent deaths in Iraq in five years.


 All Iraq News reports 1 Sahwa leader was shot dead outside his Shurqat home today.  NINA notes a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Kirkuk bombing injured one police officer, and Nineveh Province candidate Muhannad Ghazi al-Murad was shot dead today as he left a mosqueAlsumaria notes a bombing targeting an truck load of oil left one civilian dead. Through Thursday, Iraq Body Count counts 195 violent deaths so far for the month.

And no concern from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?  Just waive the billions on through for next year, provide no oversight at all, right?

As they repeatedly fail to provide oversight, they do get that they look like a joke, right?  They do get that the world sees Iraq falling further apart (as a direct result of the US-led invasion) and sees talk of 'human rights' from the US as laughably hypocritical, right?

Here's a safe bet, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will ignore Iraq until well after the rumor takes hold -- true or false -- that the US State Dept was running drugs in Iraq and that's why Iraq has what the Iraqi press and people see as a drug crisis currently.

AFP reports, "Russia said on Friday that US data on the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons was 'unconvincing' and warned Washington against repeating the mistake it made when invading Iraq after falsely accusing Saddam Hussein of stocking weapons of mass destruction."  What are they talking about?


Thursday evening, US President Benjamin Rhodes announced that the US government would be spending US tax dollars to back the 'rebel's in Syria.  What's that?  Ben's not President of the United States?  That's right.  So why didn't Barack make the damn announcement.


 
Saad Abedine and Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) report:

The administration plans to share its findings with Congress and its allies, and it will make a decision about how to proceed "on our own timeline," Rhodes said.

The US is supposedly in the midst of a financial crisis -- food stamps are getting cut among other necessities -- and yet Beloved Barack feels free to commit more US tax dollars overseas without even checking with Congress which is supposed to control the purse.

 A line has been crossed, proxy President Ben Rhodes explained, Barack had decided.  Chemical weapons had been used!   You mean in March when the 'rebels' used them on the village of Khan al-Assad?

No, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used them!

It must be true because delightful "Deb" Amos told us so on Morning Edition (NPR) today: in a coffee clatch with Linda Wertheimer.  Excerpt.


WERTHEIMER: Deb, for the first time, the Obama administration appears to conclude that the Assad government has used nerve gas against rebels and against civilians. Administration officials say this is a clear crossing of the red line. What does that mean?

AMOS: Well, what we are seeing now for the first time, that the administration is in line with assessments in London and in Paris. The French have been far ahead of the administration on this issue. There were two French reporters who were on the ground who said that they saw chemical weapons being used. They brought out samples. In fact, there's been a rift with the French over this issue.  Now the Obama administration has been more forward in their assessments. They had been cautious. Government sources have been saying for some time that they did have this conclusive proof. Now that evidence has been made public, it's been shared with the Russians.


Poor ridiculous Linda, she tired herself out in the cooking segment (that's not a joke, the 'news' has fallen so on this crap awful NPR program that they now do cooking segments -- and not even good ones that educate, the whole point of the feature is to be ridiculous and provide laughter -- the dumbing down of America will be led by NPR). So, Deb explains, it's true, it's real and she knows it because "two French reporters" (and of course Barack -- by proxy) say so.  What a sad moment for the increasingly useless and unethical (see Ava and my feature Sunday at Third on how NPR's Morning Edition has yet again broken NPR guidelines) National 'Public' Radio.

You know, one-time New York Times reporter Judith Miller saw herself as something of a 'chemical weapons' expert as well.  Maybe she'll save a seat for Deb Amos on the Fox News panel?  Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:



"It's not unlike Sherlock Holmes and the dog that didn’t bark," said Jean Pascal Zanders, a leading expert on chemical weapons who until recently was a senior research fellow at the European Union's Institute for Security Studies. "It's not just that we can’t prove a sarin attack, it's that we're not seeing what we would expect to see from a sarin attack."
Foremost among those missing items, Zanders said, are cellphone photos and videos of the attacks or the immediate aftermath.
"In a world where even the secret execution of Saddam Hussein was taped by someone, it doesn't make sense that we don't see videos, that we don't see photos, showing bodies of the dead, and the reddened faces and the bluish extremities of the affected," he said.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/14/194016/chemical-weapons-experts-still.html#storylink=cpy


What a vast improvement over the stenography Lesley Clark offered this morning.  And before you think Matt's piece is an indication that McClatchy's trying to reclaim Knight Ridder's glory, read this nonsense by Hannah Allam that never questions the administration's claim.  Hannah makes herself a joke (although at least her peers aren't making fun of her online photo the way they're making fun of Nancy A. Youssef's Twitter photo which a New York Times reporter has gotten a ton of laughs for -- in a heavily circulated e-mail -- by comparing it to "an 80s Olan Mills glamour shot").  The job Hannah Allam can't do, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) does:

After saying in April that the evidence that Syria’s military used chemical weapons was inconclusive, the administration says now it’s clear, and the CIA estimates that between 100 to 150 Syrians were killed by sarin gas.
Who knows?
The CIA has lied to us all before, and the previous Administration went to enormous lengths to lie us into a war in Iraq.

So why this now?

One of the few sites that gathered the needed pre-war reporting on Iraq in real time was Information Clearing House.  It's also one of the few of that few that remains standing today.  A lot of people want to claim today that they did what ICH did but the reality is the others tended to run cover-your-ass pieces just in case it blew up.  ICH offered original analysis and rounded up some of the best available elsewhere online and provided a real public service.  So when the war drums start pounding, one of the first places you should go to find out what's really happening is Information Clearing House.   Shamus Cooke (ICC) explained yesterday:



The long awaited Syrian peace talks — instigated by power brokers Russia and the United States — had already passed their initial due date, and are now officially stillborn.
The peace talks are dead because the U.S.-backed rebels are boycotting the negotiations, ruining any hope for peace, while threatening to turn an already-tragic disaster into a Yugoslavia-style catastrophe...or worse.
The U.S. backed rebels are not participating in the talks because they have nothing to gain from them, and everything to lose.
In war, the purpose of peace negotiations is to copy the situation on the battlefield and paste it to a treaty: the army winning the war enters negotiations from a dominant position, since its position is enforceable on the ground.
The U.S.-backed rebels would be entering peace talks broken and beaten, having been debilitated on the battlefield. The Syrian army has had a string of victories, pushing the rebels back to the border areas where they are protected by U.S. allies Turkey, Jordan, and northern Lebanon. Peace talks would merely expose this reality and end the war on terms dictated by the Syrian government. 




No, this isn't about peace.  It's about so-called 'rebels' losing.  Because they don't have popular support.  Two days ago, Finian Cunningham (Press TV via ICH) reported:


 Western-backed insurgents are being destroyed or routed from villages and towns across Syria as the Syrian army moves swiftly on to its next objective of freeing the country’s second major city, Aleppo, in the north. That clash may prove a more bloody and protracted fight than the three-week campaign to retake Qusayr. But, given their withering loss of fighters and the severance from key supply routes through Qusayr, the eventual defeat of insurgents in Aleppo looks all but assured.
The recapture of Aleppo, and shutting off the NATO weapons supply line from Turkey in the north, would then prove to be the last stand for the foreign-backed mercenaries. These mercenaries have been terrorizing Syria since March 2011 at the behest of NATO powers and their regional allies, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Western agenda of regime change to oust President Bashar al-Assad is therefore, in a word, a dead letter.



For the US backing to come, the 'rebels' had to pretend to split with al Qadea in Iraq, which they made a pretense of doing earlier this week.  From Tuesday's snapshot, "The 'damage' has been that Jabhat al-Nusra has had 'funding' issues.  Governments wanting to support them -- the UK, the US -- are faced with questions by their citizens of why is the government supporting people who tried to kill US and UK service members in Iraq? [. . .] So if outrage wasn't alive over the assassination of a child and if funds weren't at risk, the Islamic State of Iraq would be as welcome in the 'rebel' camp as it was last week and the week before and the week before that and . . . "

BBC gathers a number of foreign policy types to explain what's at risk.  People like Joshua Landis who feels Barack "owes both the American and Syrian people a clear statement about what he sees as Syria's future borders, what kind of government he hopes to see in the future and how he will carry it out."  A clear statement?  He's failed to deliver any statement in the last 24 hours over the new 'policy.'  David Rieff's observations include:


What is clear is that, having insisted for more than two years that it was inevitable that Assad would fall, the Obama administration now realises its adolescent progress narrative about Syria as one of the last dominoes of the Arab Spring is so much liberal internationalist, human-rights-ist wishful thinking, and that outside military help for the Syrian rebellion is necessary not to ensure its victory but rather to stave off its defeat.
Why both liberal interventionists and neo-conservatives are so persuaded that overthrowing Assad and inflicting a defeat on Hezbollah is both a moral and a geo-strategic imperative, even if the effect is, as in Iraq, to evict Christianity from one of its homelands and make Syria safer for al-Qaeda, is a mystery to me.
But this, it seems, is what the consensus has become.

And CBS News reports (link is text and video):

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, who has reported extensively from inside Syria and has spoken with her contacts there following the Obama administration's decision, said it is "pretty much guaranteed" that some of the U.S.-supplied weapons will go astray, despite whatever safeguards the U.S. put in place.
"All sorts of methods have been discussed to keep track of [the weapons], right down to numbering the shells and distributing them to specific groups. But these groups fight with one another. [And] There's a thriving black market in arms. So it's going to be very hard - no, impossible - to keep track of them," Palmer said.


Changing gears, a number of e-mails to the public e-mail account ask about hearings this week when only one was reported on here.  As community members know, at least one hearing gets covered (by me) in the community newsletter.  But that's not really what's going on here.

In some cases, I'm just not in the mood.  Kat and I both went to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this week.  Committee Chair Bernie Sanders is still finding his 'chair' 'legs.'  And to report on that would be offering a host of examples that I'm just not in the mood for.  Here's one, I'm assuming he's setting the stage for two years from now if the VA has not gone paperless.  But I mean, using hearing time to kindly (and he was very kind about it) explain to the VA that you want regular updates on the progress on the move to paperless records?  I'm just not in the mood.  I've been too many VA hearings for this nonsense of let's be kind to the VA.  They've got a scandal with regards to text books (meeting the GI Bill students needs), they've got a huge scandal brewing in Atlanta and it was play footsie with the VA yet again?  I'm not in the mood.  And I'll give Sanders the benefit of the doubt because he is new to his position.  But I'm not in the mood to write about those hearings or about how another male senator needs to educate himself on MST (including learning the term) before he next speaks about it without grasping that that's what he's talking about.


There's the nonsense like Dianne Feinstein.   Fienstein's so busy trying to protect her own ass (she knew everything about the spying) that she can't do her damn job.  She didn't take an oath to the NSA.  She took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution."  Her failure to take her oath seriously is disgusting.  Don't get me started on that with regards to the Barbie Babbles Mikulski.  The apologists for the spying scandal are appalling.

Kirsten Powers (Daily Beast) has a strong column on this today -- on how Congress and others are embarrassing themselves and the country by attacking the whistle-blower Ed Snowden:


[. . .]  Snowden has been called a "traitor" by House Majority Leader John Boehner. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the leaks "an act of treason." The fury among the protectors of the status quo is so great that you have longtime Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen smearing Snowden as a “cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood.” The New York Times’s David Brooks lamented that Snowden, who put himself in peril for the greater good, was too “individualistic.” It seems that he wasn’t sufficiently indoctrinated to blindly worship the establishment institutions that have routinely failed us. Brooks argued that “for society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures.” 

This is backward. It’s the institutions that need to demonstrate respect for the public they allegedly serve. If Snowden or any other American is skeptical of institutional power, it is not due to any personal failing on their part. The lack of respect is a direct outgrowth of the bad behavior of the nation’s institutions, behavior that has undermined Americans’ trust in them. According to Gallup’s “confidence in institutions” poll, trust is at an historic low, with Congress clocking in at a 13 percent approval rating in 2012. Yes, this is the same Congress that has “oversight” of the government spying programs. 

Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) was addressing it Wednesday:


Edward Snowden has been called a traitor, a narcissist, a loser and a danger to national security. Reporters have questioned whether he was friendly enough to his neighbors or why he made a good salary despite having just a GED. He has even been criticized for leaving the military after he broke his legs. His whereabouts are unknown because the federal government is preparing to file charges against him.

Such extravagant and bizarre levels of vitriol can mean only one thing. When politicians and rich pundits all join together to deliver a very public beat down, the victim of the beating is probably someone who did the people a great service.

Snowden revealed the extent of the government’s levels of surveillance conducted in America and around the world. Millions of phone and email records are turned over to the National Security Agency (NSA) in something ominously called operation Boundless Informant. Yes, that is the real name of a program which gives information about millions of human beings from Verizon, ATT, Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft to the United States government. We are all under government surveillance and weasel words like “metadata” should not make anyone feel better. Big brother is watching all of us.

Worse than the government’s disregard for our constitutional rights has been the acquiescence of Congress and the courts. The Obama administration and the Bushites before them all made sure that their lawlessness first passed muster with Congress. President Obama’s first line of defense after the story broke was to announce that congress knew and approved of all his plans.

 And the disgust with Congress is palatable.  You couldn't leave Wednesday's embarrassing hearing without hearing citizens talking about their level of disgust with Senators Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, Babsie Babbles, Susan Collins and others.  As one man said, "What the hell is wrong with being a security guard?  That woman [Collins] and Durbin acted like it was the same as being a child molester!"  Exactly.  The spoiled and entitled let their true nature show.  They did it last week too.  And I pointed that out here.  Their concern was not about the citizens being spied upon.

Dropping back to the June 6th "Iraq snapshot,"


At today's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Senator Mark Kirk estimated that this spying would have involved as many as 120 million phone calls.  (A key point Bamford made to Marco Werman was that raw data can be overwhelming and counter-productive to spying efforts.)  Kirk had one issue -- which was were members of Congress spied on.
 

Senator Mark Kirk:  I want to just ask, could you assure to us that no phones inside the Capitol were monitored -- of members of Congress.  That would give a future executive branch, if they started pulling this stuff, kind of a -- would give them unique leverage over the legislature?

Attorney General Eric Holder:   Uh, with all due respect, Senator, I don't think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss, uhm,  that issue.  I'd be more than glad to come back in a -- in a appropriate setting to discuss, uh, the issues that you have raised but I -- in this open forum, I don't -- I do not

Senator Mark Kirk:  I would interrupt you and say that the correct answer would be:  "No, we stayed within our lane and I am assuring you that we did not spy on members of Congress."


Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski:  You know I'd like to suggest something here.  When I read the New York Times this morning, it was like, "Oh God, not one more thing."  And not one more thing where we're trying to protect America and it looks like we're spying on America.  I think the full Senate needs to get a briefing on this.


Kirk, Mikulski and Senator Richard Shelby all agreed it was an important question.  And it's important because it's them.  It's too bad that they don't feel it's important for non-members of Congress.  It's too bad that Mikulski's 'answer' is to call for a closed hearing.  It's too damn bad that she doesn't think the American people are owed answers.  Remember, in American now, 'democracy' translates as something that belongs only to elected members of Congress."




They're only concerned about themselves.  That's all they give a damn about, the people mentioned above.  It's wrong -- if they're spied on.  After they can get promises that they weren't spied on, it's a-okay.  And a security guard?  Oh, that is just so beneath them they can't relate.  What is it the idiot Dick Durbin said?  Dropping back to the June 12th snapshot for that from that day's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing:


Senator Dick Durbin:  I was on the intelligence community right at the time of 9-11. I saw what happened immediately afterwards.  There was a dramatic investment in intelligence resources for our nation, to keep us safe, a a dramatic investment in the personnel to execute the plan to keep us safe. I trusted, and I still do, that we were hiring the very best  -- trusting them to not only give us their best in terms of knowledge but also their loyalty to the country.  I'd like to ask you about one of those employees who is now in a Hong Kong hotel and what is as follows: He was a high school drop out, he was a community college drop out, he had a GED degree, he was injured in training for the US Army and had to leave as a result of that and he took a job as a security guard for the NSA in Maryland.  Shortly thereafter, he took a job for the CIA in what is characterized in the Guardian piece that was published.  At age 23, he was stationed in an undercover manner overseas for the CIA and was given clearance and access to a wide varray -- a wide array of classified documents.  At age 25, he went to work for a private contractor and most recently worked for Booz Allen, another private contractor, working for the government.  I'm trying to look at this resume and background.  It says he ended up earning somewhere between $122,000 and $200,00 a year.  [Fun facts: While 29-year-old Ed Snowden may have made $200,000 a year, 68-year-old Dick Durbin makes $174,000 a year as a senator.  Durbin hails from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and received his law degree from Georgetown University Law.] I'm trying to look at the resume background for this individual who had access to the highly classified material at such a young age with a limited educational and work experience, part of it as a security guard and ask if you were troubled that he was given that kind of opportunity to be so close to information that was critical to our security?


What is up with Dickless Durbin and his sneering at security guards?  What a world class piece of s**t Durbin has become.  And that's why I'm so disgusted.  The people's representatives aren't even pretending to relate the people anymore.  Cry baby Durbin, who cries in public, thinks he can look down on someone doing an honest job's work?  Who the hell does he think he is?  And Susan Collins was just as bad but with that voice that makes it sound like a goat's entered the Senate chamber.

 And, as Norman Solomon (ZNet) notes, you can't even count on so-called allies:

The potential and the problem are perhaps best symbolized by the Progressive Caucus whip, Barbara Lee of California, arguably the strongest progressive in the House.

Lee provided a good statement to a local newspaper, saying: “The right to privacy in this country is non-negotiable. We have a system of checks and balances in place to protect our most basic civil liberties, and while I believe that national security is paramount, we must move forward in a way that does not sacrifice our American values and freedoms.”

Yet a full week after the NSA surveillance story broke, there wasn’t any news release on the subject to be found on Congresswoman Lee’s official website. She had not issued any other statement on the scandal.

If the most progressive members of Congress aren’t willing to go to the mat against fellow-Democrat Obama over an issue as profound as the Bill of Rights, the result will be a tragic failure of leadership -- as well as an irreparable disaster for the United States of America.
And how about speaking up for Edward Snowden while some in both parties on Capitol Hill are calling him a traitor and pronouncing him guilty of treason? Public mention of the virtues of his courageous whistleblowing seems to be a congressional bridge way too far.

It's just disgusting.   I'm at the hearings, there's just nothing I've seen as worth wasting my time to report on.  Back to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, I don't feel the need to rip apart Sanders while he acclimates to his new position as Chair in part because it's a natural process.  (I've said it before, Senator Patty Murray is the only one I've seen -- House or Senate -- become Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee and hit the ground running.  Everyone else has had to feel their way into the position and find their own strengths.) And I also don't feel like ripping him apart because he may be the only one in the Senate besides Senator Rand Paul who's truly outraged about the spying on American citizens.  As Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) explains:


Late on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced legislation to rein in the NSA and the FBI.
His bill is called S. 1168 and it says it is designed “to limit overbroad surveillance requests and expand reporting requirements.”


Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) has a great column where he both provides the term for this scandal (Datagate) and takes on a number of idiots.  If you're surprised that a number of 'left' voices are praising the spying on Americans, it's only because you weren't paying attention or you watched as people like Amy Goodman fawned over faux lefties.  Maybe next time, Amy Goodman, don't gush over a War Hawk -- and don't forget to tell your audience that 'groovy' Joshy Micah Marshall is a War Hawk who cheered war on Iraq.  Maybe then they'll know right away that sewage like JMM is never to be trusted?  Former CIA officer Michael Scheurer has an Information Clearing House piece outlining all of the current scandals of the White House and notes, "If Americans are surprised by Obama’s deliberate attack on the Constitution, they have only themselves to blame. From his first months in office, Barack Obama has consistently demonstrated his contempt for Americans and their Constitution, as well as an intention to have his administration -- and especially Attorney General Holder’s Justice Department -- treat them in a lying and lawless manner."

As he notes, one of those scandals is the targeting of political groups by the IRS which brings us to another embarrassing NPR moment.  If Tamara Keith and Melissa Block can each take their mouth of one of Barack Obama's balls, can they find time to explain the bulls**t they pulled today on All Things Considered?

The IRS scandal, you may remember, is the work of low level operatives in Cleveland, Ohio.  That's the lie the IRS officials appearing before Congress trot out.  Well, not Lois Lerner.  She appeared before Congress but refused to answer questions.  So the Congress has spoken at length to two employees out of the Cleveland office.  Tamara Keith is apparently the first reporter to be allowed to review all of the transcripts of the interviews.

What does she discover?  It wasn't two rouge employees and they had help from DC.  It goes to "mid-level IRS people in Washington, DC."  But she treats this as non-news and stresses it doesn't lead up to the White House.  I'm sorry, the claim was what?  The IRS officials told Congress it was low level employees -- apparently just two -- in Cleveland.  And it may have just been one because the outgoing acting IRS Commissioner told Congress that the person who got an oral warning might not actually have been involved.

I'm sorry if you've been at the hearings, you know this.  The revelation that the story now goes up to DC is the news.  You can bury it all you want.. You can even mock one of the two Cleveland employees for being "frustrated" (listen to Tamara do the drama on that term) with the Washington people.  But you can't call yourself a reporter while you've got your mouth around one of Barack's balls.


One of the two people she saw transcripts on, Tammy The Former Husky Jeans Child Model explains, is non-political.  That doesn't mean one damn thing.  The IRS is supposed to be non-political.  If the IRS was used inappropriately -- in house or above the IRS -- the issue would not be the workers being political. The issue would be the targeting being political and the targeting went above the workers.  As Mike noted earlier this week -- about the same supposed non-political -- US House Rep Elijah Cummings looked like an idiot by presenting the non-political (actually apolitical) worker (same one that's in Tamara's story) as proof that there was no scandal here.  Repeating, the IRS workers are not supposed to be political, the IRS is not supposed to be political.  The fear with the targeting has always been that it was ordered and that was political.  What we now know is that what was told to the Congress was a lie.  The IRS repeatedly lied to the Congress claiming that it was just those two employees. That didn't go higher.  We now know it went to DC.  That's higher, that's more than two low-level 'rogue' employees.


And I'll go further, J. Russell George needs to be reprimanded.  Officially and in writing.  He's the IG who exposed this.  He refused to question superiors in the chain of command and he questioned the Cleveland workers with their superiors present.  That's not how you conduct an investigation and don't get me started on the months that the report lingered because someone was pursuing college classes.  I'm sorry, IG's not a part-time job.






 

 















 
 


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Barack's spying and his apologists

Thursday.  Things are very bad in the country but the good news is that there are a few brave writers.  Norman Pollack has another strong article at CounterPunch -- this one on Barack's spying of Americans and assault on whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning and Ed Snowden:



Manning-Snowden should be viewed as a unitary political-structural phenomenon, inseparable from the direction America is taking (a) as an historical process of the militarization and financialization of American capitalism, (b) necessitating that in this mature stage (of impending decline) drastic steps be taken to maintain what before had been unilateral dominance in economic and political affairs, and (c) among these is suffocating internal dissent for a course of permanent war and the violation of international law.
Manning and Snowden obviously speak truth to power, and less obviously, rip away the fa├žade of liberal democracy to reveal the hard core of punitive authoritarianism in the service of a concentrated system of economic power, a corporatist ethos of respect for hierarchical arrangements of class and wealth, and deference to a political authority itself beholden to exactly the structure of wealth (capitalism) and its military sources of support.
Correctly, US authority perceives the dangers raised by Manning and Snowden, that of awakening the people to a real understanding of the privileged total sham, which passes for public policy, under which we all live.  Hence, secrecy, surveillance, intimidation, at home, atrocities abroad, whatever it takes to keep the show on the road, except that with Manning and Snowden the world can see America’s gnawing fear about being found out, the lengths to which it will go to remain on top, rather than live among others peacefully and modestly, two words absent from the national vocabulary.



Meanwhile for every pathetic member of Congress like Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Milkouski (or however you spell her stupid name) and Mike Rogers, we have a few who will stand up.  No, not just Rand Paul -- but good for him.  Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) notes:

Congress needs to be informed of what’s going on, and we’re not,” noted Sen. Jon Tester (D – MT), while Rep. Tom Price (R – GA) said every briefing by officials affiliated with the programs ends up with “more questions than answers.”


And did you hear that stupid Dianne Feinstein?  NSA doesn't need a search warrant, she proclaimed.  What a dumb ass.  See, that's why we need mandatory retirement or term limits for Congress.  Feinstein's been in there since 1993.  She's 79 years old.

It's time for her tired ass to be wheeled home.

And she should take useless Barack with her.  I cannot believe how badly he's destroyed the country and the world.  DO you realize how many enemies he's made and how that effects us?

Not only does it make us a target but it means that we are going to have to pay a huge amount to protect him after he leaves the White House.  And he'll probably be one of those people that live until the 109.

Geez.




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



Thursday, June 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  Nouri targets Iraqiya (again), Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifia (Iraqiya member) survives an assassination attempt, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon leads Nouri to believe Iraq's about to be taken out of Chapter VII, Kurdish fighters refuse Nouri's orders to attack Sunni protesters, we look at Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets documentary, note the difference between WikiLeaks supporters and Julian Assange groupies, veterans force the State Dept to talk Iraq, and much more.

 Alex Gibney We Steal Secrets is the new documentary telling the story about WikiLeaks.  As a result, it's been trashed -- largely by trash.  Loved the comments (that's sarcasm) by the trash that wears a wire to a court-martial -- we all know who I mean, right? -- where no recording devices are allowed.  That is how you end up with audio of Bradly Manning speaking that you release to the world.

WikiLeaks was an organization that pledged to release secrets.  It was a cute stunt and that's what the documentary exposes that probably cuts to the core of too many people who are too invested in Julian Assange and really need to take a step back and get a little perspective.

In its brief history, WikiLeaks accomplished a great deal.  It was to be the people's intelligence agency.  You don't hear that anymore because that motive doesn't come with First Amendment protections in the US, but that's what it was presented as (and the documentary captures that).  It allowed for minor embarrassments in a series of minor -- on the world stage -- exposures.


Then came its biggest leak.   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.  None of its subsequent leaks would ever be as massive or impressive.  That's because we are largely a visual people and this one had video.  It had video that the US government had refused to release.  Reuters had pressed forever to know how their two journalists were killed.  They were stonewalled.

The video contained the comments of those doing the killing.  To the shock of many, there was a cold hearted and a they-got-what-they-deserve attitude on the recording.  As though you could do that without hardening and removing yourself from questioning?  I don't know.  A lot of the shock over the video was about drawing lines between yourself and the ones doing the killing and, honestly, there's no great line there.  Anyone could have been the pawn that the killers were.  That is what the training and the socialization is about.

You got drama queens denouncing the killers.  But the killers killed on orders and acted as they were trained to do.  Meaning the problem went above them.  That was too much to explore, that was too much to acknowledge for the simplistic who need everything in black and white -- strangely, this is a group that bashed Bully Boy Bush for his either/or stances.

We didn't glom on the sugaring coating.  Check the archives, we were talking about the larger issues.  Also, you can go into archives before April 5, 2010 and you'll see we supported WikiLeaks.  You can go after, and you'll see the same thing.  When the cables came out, unlike all of the Julian Assange groupies (Greg Mitchell, etc.), we actually covered those in real time.  Democracy Now! couldn't be bothered.  We spent weeks on them here.  And we charted what was happening -- the silence -- at Third.  October 30, 2010, Ava and I wrote "TV: Media of the absurd:"

As two who've experience not only multiple revivals of Albee's Tiny Alice but the canonization of the Twenty-First Century's two leading dim bulbs Bush and Barack, we thought we had a handle on the theatre of the absurd but, in fact, nothing prepares you.
That point became very clear in last week's coverage of the release of government documents. Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to.
How would Panhandle Media handle this? The beggar media, for those who've forgotten, came to new levels of name-recognition (if not fame) and access to the pockets and, more importantly, pocket books of a huge number of Americans as a result of the illegal Iraq War. It was a cash cow, a rainmaker, for Panhandle Media. For the first time in it's 145 year history, The Nation magazine found itself raking in the dough and turning an actual profit, Pacifica Radio found itself flush with so much cash, local stations skimming off the top wasn't really a liability. Those with faces for radio, found a home on TV. It truly was a heady time during which many recast themselves as independent voices of the left when, in fact, they were nothing more than megaphones for the Democratic Party.
Bully Boy Bush's eight-year occupation of the White House was bad for the world but it put a shiny veneer and polish on a number of whores and that was never more clear than last week if you were waiting for WikiLeaks coverage from Panhandle Media.
The Nation magazine offered nothing on WikiLeaks last week. There was a video of Jeremy Schahill appearing on MSNBC talking about WikiLeaks -- that would be MSNBC's content that The Nation magazine reposted. They also reposted Laura Flanders GritTV 'commentary' that managed to buzzword WikiLeak without ever actually discussing it or explaining it. In fact, Laura's 'commentary' was like a trashy website listing porn terms in a desperate attempt to drive up traffic. Which, if you think about it, really does summarize The Nation today.
Yes, the same Laura who once declared it impossible to ignore WikiLeaks (look for her April 2010 column making that claim) ignored it. Despite having a half-hour TV show which airs Monday through Friday. She ignored it over and over. But that's what a whore does and that's all Laura Flanders has become, a cheap, tacky and, yes, ugly media whore.
She's far from alone. In These Times boasts no public access TV 'celebrity' but they couldn't be bothered writing one damn word last week about the documents WikiLeaks released. The Progressive?

Last week, the magazine published 15 online text pieces and not one was about WikiLeaks. That's appalling. In a ridiculous radio commentary last week, Matthew Rothschild opened with, "WikiLeaks has performed a service that our mainstream corporate media has failed to do."
Wow. They've failed! You know, Matt, it's too bad you don't run a magazine. If you did, you could get everyone to cover the WikiLeaks release . . . Oh, wait.
Matthew, you must have forgotten, you are the editor and the CEO of The Progressive magazine. You know what's "really ugly"? Your failure to publish even one article at the website. And you can trash US Senator John Ensign all you want (we have no need to defend Ensign) but if you don't want to look like a hypocrite, you shouldn't attack Ensign for not wanting a hearing on the revelations when you and your magazine can't even write about it. 'Not at all." [For more on Rothschild, refer to Elaine's "The Whoring of America" from last week.]
All last week, Beggar Media had time for every subject except the WikiLeaks release. An actress phoned us Friday to say of KPFK, "It's offered more 'news' of Obama on The Daily Show than on WikiLeaks." No, she wasn't joking. To listen to KPFK programming last week was to have no idea that WikiLeaks released any documents. During the Bush reign, KPFK had a number of hosts insisting no one cared more about the Iraq War than they did. Today? All quiet on the Democratic Party front.


We had no problem supporting WikiLeaks because we had no problem supporting the truth.  But Panhandle Media?  They couldn't take the truth in the releases.  They avoided one of the most serious revelations and you had to look to overseas media to find about that -- start with  Angus Stickler's "Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism).  The notion that Panhandle Media supported WikiLeaks?  It's a myth, it's a revisionary myth.  They offered generic lip service 'support.' They refused to utilize the cables, to broadcast what was in them, to write about what was in them.  They sure as hell weren't going to go after their hero Barack.  But in their black and white world, they would use them to vilify Bully Boy Bush --  who Barack was never going to prosecute so we should all just take the 'win' and ignore now that he was finally evicted from the White House.

But it was all about yesteryear because focusing on that allowed these children posing as adults to pretend all was well in the world.  That's the lie WikiLeaks was fighting so don't even pretend that a Michael Ratner or an Amy Goodman or The Nation magazine was supporting WikiLeaks at that time.

This is important due to the reaction Alex Gibney's documentary has received from some.  I like the documentary, I applaud it.  But I understand film and I'm also not a cheap whore.  A friend at Universal (which has released the film) asked if I would give it a plug in a snapshot and couldn't understand why the film was so reviled by some.  I explained, "You understand film, you understand a documentary.  But these people don't understand anything but blind faith in their comic book heroes."

As they've demonstrated repeatedly, they're children who will not face truth.  They will lie that all US troops are out of Iraq -- a war they once decried and how they attacked lies about Iraq then -- because their hero is Barack Obama.  They're children who couldn't deal with the information that WikiLeaks released.  You had to be an adult especially to go through those cables because there were a ton of them and lazy children don't do that.  They instead offer generic statements about WikiLeaks and pretend that's covering the release of the cables.  Lazy children have to believe that Julian Assange is god and Superman and Buddah and ET rolled into one.  Because in their simplistic world, in their eternal childhood, that's how they see things.

The documentary's far from perfect.  I don't approve of the term "sex crimes."  Rape is rape but "rape" is only used in the documentary when we see text reports on camera.  The film doesn't pretend to know that Julian Assange raped the two women.  It does allow one woman to tell her side and offers frequent clips of Julian telling his side on that issue -- telling his side means attacking the women -- the thing that did more to destroy the myth of Julian than anything else as his howler monkeys echoed those attacks and the world recoiled.

What Michael Ratner -- who is part of Julian's defense and misuses the public airwaves every week on WBAI to promote his clients or his family (in the case most recently of Lizzy Ratner's appearance) -- wants is a film that says Julian Assange is a victim of others.  What the film argues is Assange is a victim of his own making.  Looking at British newspaper coverage of him, Julian declares, "Wow.  I'm untouchable now in this country."  How quickly that would change. 

Documentaries have a point of view.  Sorry this a surprise to some, sorry that so many never bothered to educate themselves.  If you think I'm a defender of the First Amendment (and I am), I'm an even bigger defender or art and do not suffer fools on that topic.

The documentary also tells Bradley Manning's story and that especially offends the children because Bradley's only of interest to them in terms of Julian Assange.  They've done damn little for Bradley the entire time he's been imprisoned.


Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the Collateral Damage 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.   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.



No surprise, The Nation and so many of the we-love-Bradley! scribes ignored that -- just as they have refused to call out counterinsurgency throughout the last decade.  (And a reminder, the left always called out counter-insurgency in this country.  That's why The Battle of Algiers is such a well known film to this day and not just an obscure classic.)

We Steal Secrets takes you back to when the Collateral Murder video was released by WikiLeaks.




Alex Gibney: The team posted the unedited video on the WikiLeaks website.  They also posted a shorter version, edited for maximum impact.  Julian titled it "Collateral Murder."

TV anchor:  No surprise it's getting reaction in Washington.

White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs:  Our military will take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety and security of civilians.

Julian Assange: The behavior of the pilots is like they are playing a computer game.  Their desire was simply to kill.


TV anchor:  The Pentagon says that it sees no reason to investigate this any further.


TV reporter:  It's only inquiry found that the journalists' cameras were mistaken for weapons.


If Howard Zinn had been alive then, would it have gone down the same?  Maybe not.  If Zinn were alive, someone who had dropped bombs and regretted it, he might have been able to steer the spotlight above the ones who did the killing, to those who ordered, to those who created the culture for it.  But maturity was in short supply for the left then.  So, except for some hisses at Hillary Clinton, the administration would be ignored -- even though it was Barack deciding not to open a new investigation, even though it was Robert Gibbs lying to the American people. 

From We Steal Secrets:


Michael Hayden:  Frankly I'm not.  But I can understand someone who is troubled by that and someone who wants the American people to know that because the American people need to know what it is their government is doing for them.  I actually share that view.  When I was Director of the CIA, there was some stuff we were doing I wanted all 300 million of Americans to know.  But I never figured out a way without informing a whole bunch of other people who didn't have a right to that information, who may actually use that image, or that fact, or that data, or that image, or that message to harm my country men.

US Government Classification Czar J. William Leonard:  From a national security point of view, there was absolutely no justification for that videotape. Number one, gunship video is like trading cards among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's freely exchanged back and forth.  What is even more disturbing is it was one in a series of efforts to withhold images of facts that were known.

Alex Gibney: Reuters knew its reporters had been killed.  The news agency requested the video but the Army refused claiming the video was classified.

J. William Leonard:  The fact that innocent people were killed in that helicopter attack, that was a known fact that was not classified.

Alex Gibney: A record of the incident and a word-for-word transcript of the pilot's conversation had had already been published in a book called The Good Soldiers by a writer embedded with the army [David Finkel]. The Army later confirmed that the information was not classified yet the Army would prosecute the man [Bradley Manning] who leaked the video to WikiLeaks.  What kind of games was the Army playing?  Why was a transcript less secret than a moving image?


That could be a defense argument if Bradley had real legal representation.  He clearly doesn't, his attorney is an idiot and so are a few of the 'talkers' pretending to support Brad.  Jodie Evans is guilty of taking her stupidity all over the airwaves.  The elderly woman with the Valley Girl speak who married for money is -- and always was -- a supreme idiot.  As she demonstrated on KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett Monday.  Jodie marveled over how the prosecution presented their case (opening arguments) with precision.  She said that they had it all lined up and it left her cold.  Showing the xenophobia that's always been there (I've known Jodie since she was a gofer for Jerry Brown), she went on about how it sounded like a foreign language.  And then Daniel E. Coombs got up (Bradley's civilian attorney) and started talking about it in terms that touched her heart. 

Jodie was praising that.  It's a losing strategy and we explained that in the June 3rd snapshot:

Ian Simpson (Reuters) notes Bradley's civilian attorney David Coombs declared that Bradley was "young, naive, but good intentioned."  Is ignorance of the law going to be Coombs defense?  He is aware that's not an excuse, right?  And if he thinks he's laying the groundwork for ineptitude, he's doing it very poorly.  (Ineptitude is a recognized military defense.  If you were inept -- it has to be specific -- then you can be found not guilty.  Ineptitude is not ignorance.)  Also, it's "well intentioned," not "good intentioned."  What a moron.  Who is the idiot who paired Bradley with this attorney?
ITV (link is text and video)  quotes Coombs more fully, "He was 22-years old.  He was young.  A little naive, but good intentioned in that he was selecting information that he thought would make a difference.  He is not the typical soldier.  He was a humanist."
That argument?  It's meaningless.  It became meaningless when the decision was made by the defense not to seek a trial by his peers and instead allow the military official overseeing the court-martial to decide on guilt or innocence.  Denise Lind will be swayed only by the law.  Coombs is such an idiot he's making jury arguments when there's no jury present.  What an idiot.

[. . .]
So while the prosecution is being systematic in their presentation, Coombs is all over the board with idiotic statements which don't even rally public support outside the courtroom.  All weekend long we heard or read or saw one interview after another of Daniel Ellsberg and others maintaining, "I am Bradley Manning."  The point of that p.r. blitz is to normalize Bradley, to make him appear like someone you know, someone you can understand.  But Coombs is presenting Bradley as an "oddball."  While the p.r. campaign is saying we're all like Bradley, Coombs is arguing Bradley is nothing like others.
It's stupid.  It's stupid in that this part of the hearing is open and his statements could be used to rally the public but Coombs is too stupid to grasp that.  It's stupid because he already looks like an idiot before the judge while the prosecution looks methodical and informed.  It really says something when you think about the brain trust that devoted their time and energy to Julian Assange (including but not limited to American attorney Michael Ratner) but there's a brain drought when it comes to Bradley's defense.
What should Coombs be doing?  Having failed to get a plea deal that would allow Bradley to serve less than five years (that was possible), having failed to get a jury trial, having failed to stipulate so that the trial would not last (as many outlets insist it will) 12 weeks, what is Coombs left with?
He's left with the law.  You argue the law.  And it's not hard to argue the law.  The law is in conflict all the time.  You raise those conflicts before the judge, you make the judge explore those conflicts on her own, in her own mind.  You're not going to sway a military judge with kittens and sob stories. 
[. . .]

You make the legal argument.  You engage the judge's critical thinking and you do so grasping that judicial activism -- which happens across the political spectrum -- happens because judges think they know so much and think if writing the law was left up to them all the problems in the world would be solved.  You invite the judge into a legal maze and let the judge sort it out.  The vanity usually works to the defense's interest.


Jodie doesn't have a damn clue and as she marvels over the court-martial with Lila, you're left with the realization that this alleged 'activist,' this alleged 'anti-war' 'activist,' never got her ass into a court-martial before and never followed the coverage of one.  Despite the fact that court-martials have been held against war resisters Camilo Mejia, Robin Long, James Burmeister, Mark Wilkerson, Ehren Watada, Kimberly Rivera . . .   In fact, Kim Rivera's very telling.


Supposedly, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin created a group for women opposed to the war.  Kim Rivera is a war resister.  She and her family went to Canada because she refused to go back to the Iraq War which she found to be criminal.  In September of 2012, she was informed she would be deported back to the US.  We covered that repeatedly here, check the archives.  CODESTINK?  They had time to issue, among other nonsense, "Two Women Wrongfully Arrested for Standing on Sidewalk Holding Pink Bras in front of Bank of America."  They never issued one damn press release on Kim.  April 29th, Kim faced a court-martial.  They were too busy with the Bush library and with their idiotic hunger strike (are they dead yet?) to cover Kim. 

Idiotic hunger strike?  In 2006, they announced that stupid action.  I supported it here -- check the archives -- with reservations and encouraged those who wanted to participate to do so once a week and to seek a doctor's advice before beginning a hunger strike. CODESTINK has never grasped that failing to include that "seek a doctor's advice before beginning a hunger strike" leaves them open to litigation.  In addition, I never would have supported -- and criticized in real time -- a woman's group promoting a hunger strike because women and girls are the ones most prone to eating disorders in this country. Now here's the reality -- I'm not in the mood for CODESTINK -- the bulk of their members who were hunger striking were cheating.  They were claiming no food but they were eating. Even worse, they claimed they were hunger striking to end the war.  But they ended their hunger strike as the war continued.  Now they were hunger striking because Guantanamo prisoners were.  Guantanamo prisoners are not doing that for a fad.  Nor would they be doing it if they were not in Guantanamo.   A hunger strike in a prison may be your only route to expression and to register your objection.  But a hunger strike on the outside?  In 'solidarity'? That's not only stupid, it's futile.

Which is the perfect description of Jodie Evans.  The 'antiwar' 'activist' who did nothing to help Kim Rivera and who does nothing to inform the American people that the Iraq War is not over.

She's as big a liar as Jay Carney.  Carney, White House spokesperson, declared Monday, June 10th, "and of course the president ended the war in Iraq."  That was noted to me by a friend at the briefing who took notes and slid them over to me Monday night.  See this Tuesday entry.  They've still refused to post a transcript.  On the phone with a friend at the White House, he pointed out the video was posted.  Yes, it is.  And if you hit the "transcript" option on that page?  You're taken to a transcript of June 6th, not of the June 10th press briefing.  It's not an accident.  And it's not an accident when Jay Carney lies that "the president ended the war in Iraq."  Or when Jodie Evans lies about that.

April was the worst month in terms of death toll for Iraq in five years.  Then May came along and became the worst month in five years in terms of the death toll.  The war's not over. All US forces never left Iraq.  And more have been sent in.  They've trained Nouri's new SWAT forces, the same forces responsible for the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured). Not only should there be international outcry, but here in the US, all the people who claimed to give a damn about Iraq, all the people who marched when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, should be denouncing this massacre and the fact that it took place with arms and training supplied by the US.


A SOFA's no longer needed.  The US now has their MoU.  Dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:


December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "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 [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

If that's still confusing -- Jodie Evans has always been deeply stupid -- you can refer to this [PDF format warning]  from the June 3rd, Kenneth Katzman "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" report for the US Congressional Research Service:


Heightened AQ-I and other insurgent activity has shaken the Iraqi leadership’s confidence in the ISF somewhat and apparently prompted the Iraqi government to reemphasize security cooperation with the United States. On August 19, 2012, en route to a visit to Iraq, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that “I think [Iraqi leaders] recognize their capabilities may require yet more additional development and I think they’re reaching out to us to see if we can help them with that.”39 Iraq reportedly has expressed interest in expanded U.S. training of the ISF, joint exercises, and accelerated delivery of U.S. arms to be sold, including radar, air defense systems, and border security equipment.40 Some refurbished air defense guns are being provided gratis as excess defense articles (EDA), but Iraq was said to lament that the guns would not arrive until June 2013. Iraq reportedly argued that the equipment was needed to help it enforce insistence that Iranian overflights to Syria land in Iraq for inspection.
After the Dempsey visit, reflecting the Iraqi decision to reengage intensively with the United States on security, it was reported that, at the request of Iraq, a unit of Army Special Operations forces had deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence, presumably against AQ-I.41 (These forces presumably are operating under a limited SOFA or related understanding crafted for this purpose.) Other reports suggest that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary forces have, as of late 2012, largely taken over some of the DOD mission of helping Iraqi counter-terrorism forces (Counter-Terrorism Service, CTS) against AQ-I in western Iraq.42 Part of the reported CIA mission is to also work against the AQ-I affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, discussed above.
Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6, 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi. The five year MOU provides for:


• high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges 
• professional military education cooperation 
• counter-terrorism cooperation 
• the development of defense intelligence capabilities 
• joint exercises 

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing the its mission to its full potential. The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.


It's strange that an 'anti-war' group like CODESTINK wouldn't be all over that . . . until you remember that Jodie Evans was a bundler for Barack.  Her electoral politics trumped any opposition to war or any concern for the Iraqi people.


Jodie doesn't give a damn about Bradley either.  He's facing a kangaroo court -- something, to her credit, that Lila Garrett does offer.  Jodie insists that's not true but she's just doing advance work for a possible Julian Assange trial.  She slips up in her interview with Lila twice.  The second time has her claiming "This is one of the most important cases of our lifetime."

The Bradley Manning trial is actually meaningless beyond the fact that Bradley's being railroaded.  That's unfortunate and wrong.  Hopefully, there will be an appeal.  But Brad's case is important in terms of him.  It doesn't have a damn thing to do with the majority of Americans.  Now, whistle-blower Ed Snowden?  If he's charged, that case could have implications.  But Bradley's trial doesn't effect the New York Times or the Washington Post or Pacifica Radio.

And military court-martials are not legal findings in civilian court.  They do not become precedents in a civilian court.

Brad's going to be found guilty.  Short of pressure on Barack Obama (a tactic that Jodie of course wouldn't mention) that's what's going to happen.  But Brad being found guilty is not a legal precedent.  It's a military court-martial.  It has no impact on civilian law.  Grasp that right now.

Brad did something heroic, in my opinion, and shouldn't be facing a military trial at all.  But I'm not able to whore and lie like Jodie.  She wants you to make this the most important aspect of your life over the next 12 weeks. 

Why does it feel like, yet again, she's playing defense for the White House? 

Ed Snowden's a whistle-blower that would have impact on the civilian world.   But CODESTINK has not said one word about Snowden.  They don't want to address Barack's spying on Americans and the world.  If Ed Snowden faces a trial, that could have civilian implications because he's a civilian.  Which is why NPR's distortions about spying matter.  A military court-martial has no impact on civilian law.

I do know the law and I also know that pressure on Barack is the only thing that could save Brad at this point.  The court-martial was supposed to take place in the fall of 2012.  It got moved back to 2013 because Barack didn't want it hurting his re-election chances.  We pointed that out for months after the decision was made.  But none of the Jodie Evans wanted to try to pressure Barack when they had the chance.  They don't want to pressure him now.  So Brad's going to prison -- 98% chance he's going to a military prison for a very long time.  It's not fair, it's not right.  But he's got an idiot for an attorney and I'm not going to waste my time on this. There are serious matters today -- including Barack's spying on Americans -- and CODESTINK wants to distract you from those serious matters (while trying to do advance work for potential charges against Julian Assange).  If you're not seeing what's going on, look at Law and Disorder Radio.  They've got time to bring on Michael Ratner's niece to babble about NYC.  Yes, the programs airs on WBAI but it also airs across the country on various radio stations -- including one where the station manager told me it's about to be pulled because his listeners are asking what the hell is up with all the NYC stories and insult to southerners (silly hosts think it's cute to insult southerners -- while wanting southern listeners?).  So they wasted time doing nepotism and NYC-ism while ignoring the spying scandal.  These are three attorneys and they can't call out the spying but damned if they didn't when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House.  At this point, Brad is Jack in James Cameron's Titanic and Rose needs to let go. It's about survival.  You're not going to change a military court-martial after you've refused to have a jury (it was the jury that saved Ehren Watada -- when the judge realized the prosecution had acted like a fool and lost the jury, Judge John Head immediately called a mistrial to give the prosecution a do-over -- he didn't get his way because the double-jeopardy clause exists exactly so prosecutions don't get a do-over).  Doesn't mean you stop caring about Brad, doesn't mean you don't believe an injustice is taking place, it just means you use your time wisely on efforts you can have an actual impact on.


Today the US State Dept issued a press release on Iraq:

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 13, 2013
A delegation of five senior Iraqi government officials and civil society leaders is visiting Washington, DC, from June 13-20 to meet with U.S. counterparts to discuss ways to address the challenges facing widows and female heads of household in Iraq. Conducted under the auspices of the Department of State’s Iraqi Women’s Democracy Initiative (IWDI), the program will include meetings with U.S.-based experts on the needs and concerns of widows and female heads of household, and training in topics such as social assistance and welfare, implementing national programs to support vulnerable populations, developing frameworks for action and innovation to support women’s economic empowerment. While in Washington, the Iraqi delegation will meet with senior U.S. Government officials to strengthen both countries’ understanding of the status of this disadvantaged and underrepresented segment of Iraqi society.
There are an estimated one to three million widows and single female heads of household in Iraq. One in ten households in Baghdad is headed by a woman. To address the unique needs of this vulnerable population, the Department launched the Secretary’s War Widows Initiative in 2009, which directs funds to NGOs in support of literacy, entrepreneurship, and vocational skills for Iraqi widows and female heads of household. To date, the program has awarded $10 million in grants that have covered a range of issues to build the capacity of Iraqi widows, improve NGO services to widows and their children, and connect more widows to the Government of Iraq’s widow stipend program.
The IWDI was established in 2004 by the Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to support Iraqi women’s political, economic, legal, and social advancement. Since its inception, the IWDI has provided approximately $33 million in support of efforts to advance the status of Iraqi women.


Why did they issue a press release on Iraq?  I was told by the State Dept friend who forwarded it that they're getting a lot of flack over the lack of Iraq content at their website when the State Dept is spending millions of US tax dollars in Iraq every day.  I was told the latest wave of angry feedback came from Iraq War veterans. I was also asked if I had anything to do with it?  Nope.  But we spoke to a veterans group last week and one on Monday and they did raise the issue of why the media and the administration were ignoring Iraq when so much money was being spent on it?  Monday's group even brought up  Mark Thompson (Time magazine) report  -- which noted the $2 billion contract that the State Dept has with PAE Government Services, Inc., "That’s a million dollars a day over a five-year period, if the contract hits its ceiling. The down payment is $347,883,498 (don’t you just love such precision? It’s almost a prime number, for Pete’s sake)."

While the US State Dept issued their statement today on Iraq, in England an MP with the Labour Party, two time Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson issued a statement on the Iraq War as well. Emma Youle (Ham and High) quotes Jackson stating:


The true tragedy was that no-one sat down and seriously discussed how we were going to win the peace after the bullets stopped and bombs ceased falling.  You cannot invade somewhere without a plan of how justice, peace, prosperity and happiness can be built following a war.  I vividly remember the day the news emerged that 52 British Ambassadors had written to the Prime Minister urging him not to invade Iraq back in 2003. We must listen to the expert people around us and within countries who understand their own homes. The most important thing now is that we learn from this horror.  We must never ever go down that road again. This is incredibly important with the ongoing conflict in Syria, and I hope the Prime Minister will take heed. We must draw a red line in the sand.



Sometimes it appears the only ones who "learn from this horror" are the Iraqi people who see the illegal war didn't bring them democracy (they voted Nouri out as prime minister in 2010 but Barack overrode their votes and went around the Constitution to give Nouri a second term) but it brought destruction and continues to bring birth defects.  Stephen Lendman (Activist Post) notes the birth defects and cancer the illegal war creates:


Children born with two heads reflect it. Some had only one eye. Missing sockets look like the inside of an oyster. They're milky and shapeless.
Some children had tails like a skinned lamb. One or more had a monkey's face. Girls had their legs grown together. They were half fish, half human.
Miscarriages are frequent. Hundreds of newborns have cleft pallets, elongated heads, overgrown or short limbs, and other malformed body parts. Some are too gruesome to view.




Sunday Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani.  As we've noted all week, it doesn't appear to have had any real impact.  One of the few people to see that reality in real time (on Sunday) was Chen Zhi (Xinhua) who also noted:

Moreover, Iraq's Kurdish, Sunni and some Shiite factions have frequently accused the government of killing the democratic process by attempting to gain more power, and evading his commitments to implementing the terms of the power-sharing deal, also known as Erbil agreement.
The deal, reached in November, 2010 in the Kurdistan region, paved the way for Maliki's current partnership government after the Iraqi political rivals ended their differences that lasted eight months following the parliamentary elections on March 7, 2010.
Observers see that Maliki's move in Kurdistan is an attempt to get better relations with the Kurds while confronting the protests of the Sunni Iraqis.


The Erbil Agreement was the US-brokered contract.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya in the 2010 elections meaning Nouri needed to vacate his position as prime minister.  Instead, like a spoiled child, he stamped his feet and brought the country to gridlock, eight months plus of a political stalemate as he refused to surrender his position.  He got away with it because he had Barack's backing.  The Erbil Agreement was negotiated in November of 2010 and signed then.  It went around the Constitution and the people's votes to give Nouri a second term in exchange for him giving various blocs things they wanted -- like his promise to implement Article 140 of the Constitution.  That's actually why The Erbil Agreement never should have been signed.  Oil-rich Kirkuk is in dispute.  The KRG claims that they have the rights to it while the central government out of Baghdad makes the same claim.  The Iraqi Constitution explains, in Article 140, that a census and referendum will be held to determine the status of Kirkuk.  This was supposed to happen no later than the end of 2007, per the Constitution.  Nouri blew it off -- despite his oath to follow the Constitution.

If his Constitutional oath didn't make him implement Article 140, why would anyone take his word afterwards?  No surprise, Nouri used the legal contract to get a second term as prime minister and then proceeded to ignore the contract in terms of the promises he'd made in it. 

When Nouri visited the KRG on Sunday, he trotted out Article 140 and his past history on that goes a long way towards explaining why a face to face wasn't going to work.  Words are meaningless from Nouri's mouth.  Words are meaningless from Nouri on a peace of paper.

Iraq came to a standstill in 2010.  The only thing that allowed the country to move forward was the power-sharing agreement, The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri trashed it.  The US government looked the other way (despite promising the political bloc leaders that it was a binding contract that had the full backing of the White House).  By the summer of 2011, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Iraqiya were calling for the implementation of The Erbil Agreement.  There is no resolving the current situation in Iraq without that contract being honored.

When a contract was broken (after Nouri used it to get the second term the Iraqi people didn't elect him to), you can't pave over it with more words.  Nouri needs to show action.  Excuse me, Nouri needs to show action that indicates his word has meaning.  He doesn't need to show the action All Iraq News reports today: He's gone back on his stated promise regarding the distribution of seats in Najaf following the provincial elections -- in doing so, he's angered the leader of the Islamic Supreme Iraqi Council Ammar al-Hakim and movement leader, cleric and Sadr Bloc leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

But United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made it clear that he believes in enabling a torturer like Nouri.  He's turning himself and the UN into a joke. 

We addressed Article VII yesterday:

Adam Schreck (AP) reports that Nouri met in BAghdad with Kuwait's Prime Minister Jaber Al Mubuarak Al Sabah.  I don't understand this article.  How do you write about this meeting and not write about Chapter VII.  That's what the meeting was about.  I do not understand why the US press repeatedly fails to address Chapter VII. I've been at the UN watching the Security Council briefings and heard Martin Kobler talk about Chapter VII and seen US reporters leave that out, even when they quote him right before he mentioned Chapter VII and right after.  Why is Chapter VII such a damn secret?
Kuwait is owed, the United Nations determined, reperations by Iraq for Iraq's war on Kuwait.  Until those monies are paid off, Iraq remains in Chapter VII.  This is a huge issue to Iraq.  Every year, Nouri sends a representative to appear before the UN Security Council and make the case that 'enough has been done' and Iraq should be removed from Chapter VII.  How do you _____ miss this over and over except intentionally?


It was the only leverage on Nouri to get him to stop attacking the Iraqi people, to get him to honor The Erbil Agreement.  All Iraq News reports today, "The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki received a phone call from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during which Ki-moon informed Maliki that the UN will do its best to exempt Iraq from the UN Charter's 7th Chapter."

Ban Ki-moon's name was already being ridiculed this week in Iraq as a result of his statements about being concerned about Iraq which came as he announced he was pulling Martin Kobler as head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq without naming anyone to replace Kobler.  Today, All Iraq News reports Ban Ki-moon's declared he has five people he's considering to head UNAMI.  No rush, Kobler leaves in what, two weeks?

And it's not like Iraq can afford a transition right now.  Two months in a row of record violence?   An now Nouri's back to targeting Iraqiya?  All Iraq News notes an arrest warrant's been issued for Iraqiya MP Haider al-Mulla.  That's only to inflame tensions.  And things are already beyond tense.  Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) notes:

The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.

AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.
National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul roadside bombing has injured three police officers.  They also report mass arrests in Hamrin Hills (near Baquba, 5 people), and in Diwaniyah Province (25). Mainly, they report a Mosul car bombing attack on Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi.   Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds that the assassination attempt claimed the lives of 2 by-standers.  Atheel is a Sunni, he's a member of Iraqiya, he's the brother of  Osama al-Nujaif, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, and he's been repeatedly targeted with verbal attacks from Nouri for the last two years.  (Nouri has tried to force him out of office repeatedly.)  Like the arrest warrant for Haider al-Mulla, this will only increase tensions in Iraq.  Alsumaria adds that the bombing left six people injured (including 3 of Atheel's bodguards), 2 Mosul bombings left two Iraqi soldiers, one civilian male and his son injured,  and that the Kirkuk airport was the location for a rocket attack today.










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