Saturday, March 22, 2014

2 whores: Conor Oberst and Ani DiFranco

I was curious, maybe you are too, what Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and Ani DiFranco had Tweeted recently.

Here's Conor:

Maybe Conor's sick? 

Or busy?

Ani DiFranco?

We know she's got a lot of time on her hands because she had to cancel her social gathering (at the former slave plantation, remember?) and since that moment, Ani's ticket sales have taken a nose dive, she's like Michelle Shocked these days (Shocked blew her career by attacking gay people).

So what did Ani DiFranco Tweet?

  1. Retweeted by
    Now through Fri get 15% off all music at the RBR Store (CD, MP3, Vinyl) - use the code 'Music' at check out
  2. Retweeted by
    Check out Noe Venable's kickstarter for her new indie release - one of our fav openers from the past!
  3. New show announced in Riverhead, NY at Suffolk Theater on May 4, 2014

Don't you love the whores?

That's all they are, two little whores. 


I can remember him on Jay Leno's The Tonight Show, righteously playing "When A President Talks To God" and being so opposed to the Iraq War.

And Ani used the Iraq War to promote herself -- she and Amy Goodman teamed up on that in 2003, remember?

But Whore Conor and Whore Ani couldn't say a damn word about Iraq all week.

Their dirty whores.

They used it to market themselves and then they ran from it.

Two little disgusting whores.

(I wrote about Conor whoring in 2013.)

Never forget that Ani and Conor don't care about you.  They care about treating you like cattle and telling you who to vote for and they care about stealing your money.

Conor can't write a hit song so he's gone into film soundtrack work.


Her career's probably over.  That plantation retreat was her Paula Dean moment.

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

Friday, March 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, the much maligned RT covered the anniversary of the Iraq War this week who else can make that claim?, burn pits are not being dealt with by the VA, and much more.

This week was the anniversary of the start of the illegal war.  But, in the United States, there was very little notice of that.  Why?  Thursday night, Kat posted, "The US media forgets Iraq to sell war on Ukraine and Syria."

While the American media was silent, US Labor Against the War was not:

  With heavy heart and renewed determination, the officers, staff, and affiliates of U.S. Labor Against the War mark the eleventh anniversary of the outbreak of the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. For many Americans, the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq at the end of 2011 marked the end of U.S. involvement with, and responsibility towards, the Iraqi people.  We disagree.
Even though our combat forces are out, the war continues to have catastrophic effects in Iraq, and for the families of tens of thousands of U.S. veterans. Millions of Iraqis grieve the loss of loved ones killed by the U.S. military, while Americans mourn the deaths of thousands of our soldiers. 
The sectarian violence wracking Iraq has its immediate origins in the ignorant and hubristic policies imposed by U.S. occupation forces. The sectarian factionalism encouraged by the U.S. occupation has paralyzed the Iraqi political process, presided over by a dysfunctional government. Depleted uranium from U.S. munitions is a continuing, widespread, and profound threat to the Iraqi environment and people, and to returning U.S. troops. Iraqi workers, 80% of whom work in the public sector – the oil industry, transportation, heavy manufacturing, hospitals, schools, ports, social services - are forbidden from organizing unions and engaging in collective bargaining because the U.S. kept in force the 1987 Saddam Hussein decree that prohibits public sector workers from organizing unions. All this and more is the legacy of a war that has not ended for Iraqis, for which the American people and our government must take responsibility.
The war, now officially over for more than two years, continues to have catastrophic effects in the U.S. as well. Our Iraq war veterans suffer loss of limbs and eyes, long-term traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They suffer from homelessness, unemployment, and suicide disproportionate to their numbers in society. The economic wellbeing of the country is threatened by the overhang of debt created by the reckless funding of the war and the distorted federal budget priorities that fund U.S. militarized foreign policy, instead of devoting those resources to urgent domestic human needs.
As we reflect on the terrible continuing effects of the Iraq war, we in U.S. Labor Against the War commit ourselves to continuing and deepening our partnerships within the labor movement and with peace, veterans, and community organizations. We will continue to work with our partners in the Iraqi labor movement and Iraqi civil society. We will not turn away from our longstanding commitments to peace and justice in Iraq, and for our veterans and the American people. We are determined to end our country’s militarized foreign policy, no matter where our government seeks to apply it, and to promote true security for our people through universal education, health care, and modern infrastructure.
These are our commitments as we mark the eleventh anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.

Another who wasn't silent?  Abby Martin.  She did cover the illegal war's anniversary.  She spoke with Iraq War veteran Ryan Endicott about the war on her show Breaking The Set (RT -- here for the episode at Hulu).  Excerpt.

Abby Martin:  In a speech you gave in 2009 called "Just Another Tuesday," you recount your experience as an infantryman in Iraq and that you were once punished for arresting a man instead of killing him.  Can you expand on this?

Ryan Endicott:  Well, you know, I was on post when this Iraqi came through my door in the post, I was at the Government Center in Ramadi which is the capital of the Anbar Province where Falluja is.  And when this man came into my post, at that point, I had been standing my post and somehow he had gotten through all the other security measures and gotten to my post. And so, you know, when I arrested him and put him -- detained him, my command told me at that point that it was my fault that I should have killed him.  He was in an area that is completely restricted for civilians.  No questions asked, it doesn't matter if he had a gun, that's out the door, the fact is, I should have killed him.  And you know, for me during that time period, that was really tough for me to deal with it.  I had to go through all the repercussions and treated as though what I did was wrong and, you know, how I was called a "girl" and all sorts of pejorative terms around this situation.  And so after that situation, what I think is really important is that this is just one instance of that.  And like how many soldiers across this country are coming down with orders from command telling them to commit these crimes, telling them to kill people -- who don't have weapons -- specifically because of where they are specifically because of how they've impacted this sort of post.  And so what is shows is there's a whole policy around the idea that-that soldiers can kill or can murder someone that doesn't have a weapon and that's totally explainable by the command. 

One could argue Nouri al-Maliki learned to attack the Iraqi people by watching the US actions in Iraq.  That would explain his ongoing attack on Anbar Province and his lack of remorse over the deaths of so many innocent civilians.  As Betty noted, 15 civilians died and forty more were injured on Thursday in Falluja due to Nouri's mortar attacks and bombings of residential neighborhoods.  NINA reports that Nouri's bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja today left 3 civilians dead and eleven more injured.

Earlier this month in Genevea, a number of people and organizations addressed the issue of Iraq before the United Nations Human Rights Council.  BRussells Tribunal has a page with the remarks on Iraq in text as well as videos of the remarks being delivered.  We'll note this statement which the Geneva International Centre for Justice offered:

Thank you Mr. President.
We thank the Special Adviser for his ongoing efforts in raising awareness on genocide and in preventing this crime. It has been said that significant progress has been made in the prevention and punishment of genocide - but recent events have shown that we still have a long road ahead of us. The current situation in Iraq is a clear example. It was described as rapidly plummeting towards genocide.
Since the US-invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the De-Ba’athification process, attacks based on discrimination and sectarianism have become major elements in the country’s politics. This tensed situation escalated at the turn of the year 2013/2014 with a military operation undertaken by the Iraqi government in the province of Al-Anbar, under the pretext of combating terrorists.
Mr. Special Adviser, an important element of the prevention of genocide is the identification of the early warning signs of this crime.
Signs have shown for long enough now that the Iraqi forces are targeting a certain religious group. The authority promotes domination over the government by those affiliated to its own religious beliefs, while treating the opposition with utmost hostility and brutality. It has become obvious that the onslaught against supposed terrorists is a cover for the annihilation of the group opposed to the increasingly discriminating policies of the current authorities in Iraq.
The acts of the government find their roots in official speeches which are filled with sectarian rhetoric. Such rhetoric clearly shows the intent to eradicate a certain group.
This raises serious concerns as the situation clearly fulfils the elements of the crime of genocide.

We would like you, Mr. Special Advisor, to consider this alarming issue in your work.
We also wonder why, inspite of these distressing events, the UN has not yet taken firm action to relieve the plight of the victims of the Iraqi government’s attacks. The UN must not wait the occurrence of a situation similar to what happened in Rwanda.
We therefore plead that the situation in Iraq be addressed immediately by the Council. In particular, we call on the Special Adviser to urgently take all adequate measures.
I thank you for your attention.

The issue does need to be addressed immediately, the people of Anbar are being terrorized.  This was supposed to be a 'brief' campaign but it started December 30th and still isn't over -- despite the fact that national elections are supposed to take place next month.

These are War Crimes that Nouri's committing but noted anti-Sunni Patrick Cockburn can't call him out on that.  He can smear Sunnis as killed -- he can does in his most recent article -- but the most he can offer to criticize his would-be lover Nouri al-Maliki is that "the government" (not Nouri, some other head of the Iraqi government that the world missed) released a fake video showing they were in control of Falluja when the footage was actually of Afghanistan.

Patrick Cockburn's desire to have his ass joined to Nouri's cock is mind blowing.  But he needs to stop pretending he's reporting.  He slams the protest movement as a front for terrorists forgetting to note that his love master Nouri killed children last April.

That would be the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Even when his biased mouth managed to leave Nouri's crotch long enough to report on Hawija (long after the massacre), Lie Face Cock Burn couldn't tell his readers that the dead included 8 children.

Apparently, when you're Paddy Cock Burn, you know better than UNICEF.

Or else you just don't care when children are killed.

Paddy Cock Burn has been allowed by the British newspaper the Independent (ha!) to conduct a war against the Sunnis in print.  He's gone after them repeatedly and lied repeatedly.  When he hasn't lied, he's left out major points that would demonstrate Nouri was a criminal thug.

Here's an amazing though for the US government.

Instead of supplying the dictator Nouri with weapons, why didn't you demand that he nominate people to head the security ministries?

Security doesn't fall apart over night.

In March 2010, Nouri and his State of Law lost the parliamentary elections to Ayad Allwi and Iraqiya.  But Nouri refused to step down.

Worthless US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill was caught by surprise (while dreaming of being taken by surprise by Nouri) but US General Ray Odierno had been asking repeatedly that the US government figure out how they would respond if this happened?

No one but Odierno thought it was possible.

Contrasted with everyone else in the administration in 2010, Odierno looks like a genius.

Nouri refused to step down and brought the government to an eight-month stand-still (this is the political stalemate).  The US government backed Nouri up on this (so did the Iranian government) and Barack ordered US officials in Iraq to broker a contract (The Erbil Agreement) to go around the votes of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Constitution in order that loser Nouri could get a second term.

Had the Constitution been followed, he wouldn't be prime minister right now.  But since the Constitution wasn't followed, since he got his second term via The Erbil Agreement, he didn't have to abide the Constitution which dictates someone is named prime minister-designate and then has 30 days to form a Cabinet -- not a partial one, a full Cabinet.

Nouri didn't do that.

He refused to nominate people to head the security ministries.

If he had and Parliament had confirmed someone as, for example, Minister of Defense, then only Parliament could remove them and this person would run the Ministry as he or she saw fit.

By refusing to nominate anyone to Parliament, Nouri violated the Constitution and it was a power-grab -- as Ayad Allawi noted in real time while the dumb ass Western press instead wrote that Nouri would nominate people for those positions in a few weeks.

A few weeks?

Back in July, 2012 Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." 

That didn't change.  He still hasn't nominated any people to head the security ministries.

As 2010 drew to an end, he was supposed to fill those posts.  He didn't.

And then we had 2011 when the violence should have been alarming but no one wanted to see the signs.  Then came 2012 and we were still Paul Revere here on the violence but no one wanted to see it.  

In 2013, the violence reached 2008 levels.  Suddenly, the press was interested.

The increase did not happen overnight.

It did happen slowly and it did happen as Nouri failed to fill those security posts.

So instead of promising him (in the November 1st White House visit) that he would get various weapons, the White House should have been insisting he fill those positions.  

Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi wrote this week:

The decline in the security situation in Iraq has occurred as part of the general decline in different aspects of life. If a government official is to be held accountable, then it should be Al-Maliki due to his wide constitutional power. The first step towards genuine change has to be the departure of Al-Maliki to allow someone more qualified to tackle the security issue head-on. That person needs to believe in peace and be willing to make tough decisions affecting every aspect of life, including the political, economic ,social, cultural and legal.

Staying with security, let's look at today's violence.


National Iraqi News Agency reports  a Missan bombing left 1child dead and another injured,  2 Nimra Thmanya car bombings left 1 person dead and eleven more injured, an Alasewid Village roadside bombing left 2 police members dead, a car bombing targeting the "bridge connecting Jalawla and Kalar districts" left two people injured, 2 Dibbs car bombings left 2 people dead and twenty-six injured, a Ramadi suicide bomber targeted a funeral and took his own life and the lives of 7 mourners with twenty-three more people injured (the funeral was for a Sahwa killed yesterday), 2 Tuz Khurmatu bombings left sixteen people injured,  and 1 suicide tanker bomber took his own life "at the top of Hamrin Mountains" and also killed Brigadier General Raghib al-Tamimi and his assistant.  Sameer N. Yacoub and Murtada Faraj (AP) add that the death toll increased by 2 in the attack on the Ramadi funeral and that the funeral was for Nasir al-Alawani.  On the mountaintop attack that killed Ragheb al-Omari and one of his assistants,

National Iraqi News Agency also reports  1 suicide tanker bomber took his own life "at the top of Hamrin Mountains" and also killed Brigadier General Raghib al-Tamimi and his assistant,   On the mountain top attack, Sameer N. Yacoub and Murtada Faraj (AP) add that the death toll increased by 7 for a total of nine.  (AFP goes with "killing 12 people and wounding five, including the head of the federal police, Brigadier General Raghib al-Umairi, and his assistant.")  Duraid Adnan (New York Times) describes it this way, "At dawn, a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into a police station in northeastern Diyala Province, followed by gunmen who sprayed bullets from speeding S.U.V.s. Eleven police officers were killed, including the commander of the unit, officials said."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports the attack this way, "The deadliest attack occurred about 105 miles (170 kilometers) north of Baghdad in Anjana, where a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into federal police headquarters, police officials in Tikrit and Baquba said. Officers were among the 14 people who were killed and 18 others wounded, the officials said."  Only Iraq Times notes this was the headquarters of the Tigris Operations Command -- they're the force that Nouri illegally formed (he needed Parliament's consent and didn't seek it out).


National Iraqi News Agency reports Diyala Province security announced they killed 12 militants,  the army states they killed 10 suspects "south of Falluja,"


National Iraqi News Agency reports the corpse of 1 Sahwa was discovered in "the orchards along Diyala River north of Muqdadiyah."  All Iraq News adds that 13 corpses were discovered in Mujamaat ("shot in the head"),

The US government had no interest in building democracy in Iraq.  That's Barack Obama as surely as it is Bully Boy Bush.  Barack spat on democracy when he refused to honor the results of the 2010 parliamentary elections.

They did and do, however, care about Iraq's oil.  Yesterday, Mike noted Kevin Gosztola's article about Brookings' Kenneth Pollack (read at either "Information Clearing House or "Firedoglake").  Kevin quotes Pollack telling Congress:

Since 2003, the United States has invested an enormous amount in Iraq, and the future of Iraq remains of great importance to the interests of the United States and our allies. Iraq has replaced Iran as the second leading oil exporter in OPEC, and projections of future low oil prices are highly contingent upon the continued growth of Iraqi oil exports. Remembering that virtually every postwar American recession was preceded by an increase in oil prices, Iraq and its oil production remain critical to the prosperity of the United States.

Kevin states of Pollack, "This was his first expressed concern: the future of oil production. He then proceeded to address the resurgence of al Qaeda and other issues in Iraq."

What to do?

We tell truth here.

Kevin's wrong.  Those weren't Pollack's first remarks.  In fairness to Kevin, that's probably what the Congressional Record reflects and that's problem that needs to be addressed.  Once upon a time, the record served a purpose.  Today, it needs to be accurate.

If Kevin consulted, the record, that's why he's wrong.  If, however, he just went to Brookings to grab Kenneth Pollack's prepared remarks (written remarks 'submitted for the record'), then I'm less likely to cut him slack.

I was at that hearing.  It was December 12th.  Pollack actually said a lot of smart things and we quoted some of it in the December 16th snapshot.  I honestly would have let him slide on the oil remarks (had he made them) because he was focusing on more important things.

But he didn't make the oil remarks.  They're in the written remarks submitted.  But he didn't read his written statement but instead spoke of al Qaeda in Iraq in his opening remarks.

He never said, in the entire hearing, what Kevin quotes him saying.

He had intended to, judging by his written remarks, but more pressing issues forced him to speak of the political issues and much more.

A long with the fact that we have to be truthful, we also have to be fair.  I've knocked Pollack and others at Brookings many times and I'm sure I will again but I was at that hearing, I know what happened, I can pull out my notes and I know Kenneth Pollack did not open with oil.  It would be unfair to him for me to pretend otherwise.

If Kevin got it from the Congressional Record, he (and everyone else) has every right to assume that is an accurate record.  However, it's not. He did not make those opening remarks, a correct record would note those remarks were submitted for the record but also note what he stated.

Also covering oil last night was Ann who noted this from Project Censored:

JUDICIAL WATCH, July 17,2003
Title: Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oilfields
Author: Judicial Watch staff

Title: “Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy:Procuring the Rest of the World’s Oil”
Author: Michael Klare

Faculty Evaluators: James Carr, Ph.D., Alexandra Von Meier, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Cassie Cypher, Shannon Arthur

Documents turned over in the summer of 2003 by the Commerce Department as a result of the Sierra Club’s and Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, dated March 2001, also feature maps of Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the project’s costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date.
Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, “These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.”

Isobel Coles (Reuters) reports, "Kurdistan will export 100,000 barrels of oil per day through the Iraqi pipeline network from April 1 as a 'gesture of goodwill' while negotiations with Baghdad continue, a statement from the region's prime minister said on Thursday."  I have so much to say on that issue including US Vice President Joe Biden's broken promise to Iraq's President Jalal Talabani.  We don't have the time or space to unpack it now.  Maybe next week.  And maybe we can note MP Susan Saad then as well.  Ruth covered the Jewish Archives at her site Thursday night.  I hope we can cover that next week.

Today, John Glaser ( observes, "The U.S.-backed dictator Nouri al-Maliki is ruling the country with an iron fist, putting his political opponents in jail, torturing prisoners, crushing free speech, and so on. The advocates of “democracy promotion” in Iraq, somehow, don’t have to answer for the fact that the Iraqi parliament is now considering imposing new laws that would allow girls to be forced into arranged marriages from the age of nine."

And with that as a backdrop, Iraq plans to hold parliamentary elections April 30th.  Supposedly, elections will take place in all 19 provinces (the KRG increased by 1 province last week).  But Iraqi elections, to be legitimate, must include the displaced.  And they have in the past.  In fact, Nouri's attempt to short change refugees out of the country in 2009 pushed the parliamentary elections back to 2010 (Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi used his veto power to sink the bill).  Now it's been announced that Iraqi refugees in Syria will not be allowed to vote.  It is stated that Syria is just too dangerous for a polling station.  Syria, Jordan and Lebanon remain the three countries with the highest number of Iraqi refugees as a result of their sharing borders with Iraq (and as a result of governments like the US leaving them stranded -- both in terms of ridiculous regulations and, in Syria, by closing down the means the refugees had to apply for admission to the US).

The editorial board of Arab News argues voting should be postponed and they recap some of the events since the 2010 parliamentary elections including this from December 2011:

[. . ] Al-Maliki began the effective demolition of the National Unity government he headed by having an arrest warrant issued for Vice-President Tareq Al-Hashimi, a Sunni. Hashimi was accused of involvement in death squads. Helped by Kurds, he fled the country, only to be tried in his absence and found guilty.
Al-Maliki pretended at the time that the prosecution was important because no one should be able to escape punishment for past crimes. But this argument was fatally weakened by the presence in his government of Shiite politicians who were equally suspected of involvement in the inter-communal violence that had threatened to tear the country apart. Besides, however terrible the crimes committed by all parties in Iraq, the country’s future could only be ensured by reconciliation. Iraq desperately needed to put its dark past behind and look to a brighter and more prosperous future.
Unfortunately Al-Maliki hardly tried to convince skeptical Sunni politicians and voters that the prosecution of Hashimi was not motivated by the fact that the vice-president was a Sunni. That this was indeed the reality has since become even more apparent as Shia legislators have moved to exclude former and serving Sunni politicians, including former Finance Minister Rafie Al-Issawi from standing in next month’s elections. Former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a Shiite, and leader of the National Iraqi Alliance, has himself warned that in the light of these moves against Sunni politicians, as well as the deteriorating security situation in the country, the vote cannot go ahead.

How did Rafea al-Isawi and others get banned?  Niqash attempts to explain it:

The Independent High Electoral Commission, or IHEC, the authority that is supposed to prepare Iraq for elections and run electoral procedures, such as voter registration and the actual voting, recently decided to ban a number of politicians from competing in the elections. These were independent Shiite Muslim MP, Sabah al-Saedi, Shiite Muslim MP, Jawad al-Shuhaili, who is aligned with the Sadrist bloc, MP Haider al-Mulla from the mostly-Sunni Muslim Iraqiya bloc, MP Rafea al-Isawi, also a Sunni Muslim from the Iraqiya bloc and one of the country’s most senior Sunni Muslim politicians as well as a former MP, Mithal al-Alousi, who made headlines in 2004 as one of the first Iraqi politicians to visit Israel and who previously headed the de-Baathification commission.

IHEC says the reason for the ban on these politicians is because they have violated the rule about good conduct. However there are clearly some problems with this clause – many local legal and constitutional experts have already said that it is too general and that it could be used in myriad ways by the unscrupulous.

Iraqi lawyer Munir Haddad, who is perhaps best known outside the country for his time as a judge, presiding over the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, told NIQASH: “Iraqi MPs should have been more careful when they voted on this article. It’s not clearly formulated enough.”

“This paragraph is very general and it can be interpreted any way a person wants,” adds judge Abdul-Raheem al- Ukaili, who formerly worked with Iraq’s Commission on Integrity. “Unfortunately IHEC has interpreted this paragraph in an arbitrary way and it has been used against politicians who are well known for opposing the government.”

Indeed it seemed to many that the “bad behaviour” these MPs had undertaken simply involved publicly criticizing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or his allies.

“Politicians who speak about corruption in the government are now people with bad reputations,” one of the banned MPs, al-Alousi, complained to NIQASH. “There is a deliberate plan to silence al-Maliki’s opponents and to ruin democracy in Iraq. We are going to file a lawsuit at the Supreme Federal Court to defend our rights and we hope this court won’t bow to political pressure,” he argued.

"Niqash attempts to explain it"?  There's no byline.  An Iraqi offering the above has cause to worry.

One aspect not dealt with is the so-called Independent High Electoral Commission.  No one wanted to pay attention -- even though Nouri had previously attempted to take it over -- when certain people were nixed from serving.  No one wanted to pay attention as Nouri stacked the commission.

Despite his threats and his bullying, despite the fact that it was clear his attempts to take over the independent banks had already succeeded, no one wanted to pay attention.

Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

In his second media appearance since he announced his intention to quit politics, Iraqi Shi’ite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr called on the people of Iraq to participate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections to prevent “thieves” and “beneficiaries” from gaining power.
Sadr has been an increasingly fierce critic of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, denouncing him earlier this month as a “dictator and a tyrant.” He has called for a series of anti-government protests each Monday, saying the Iraqi electorate should ignore “the negligence and disregard of some politicians” and participate in the forthcoming legislative elections, scheduled for April 30.
“If elections are held without the participation of patriotic and loyal voters, the unfit will inevitably make it to power,” Sadr said.

Moqtada al-Sadr remains Nouri's most formidable rival at present.  Kitabat notes that Moqtada delivered a sermon today decrying the elimination and exclusion of candidates and calling for the people to vote and make their voices heard.

Turning to the issue of Iraq's girls and women:

  • "Passage of Jaafari law would be disastrous & discriminatory step backward for Iraq's women& girls"

  • Last night, Trina noted Martin Chulov (Guardian) had reported on the issue  and Trina observed:

    In the article, Nouri's spokesperson insists Nouri hasn't taken a position on it.
    Yes, he has.
    By letting it come to a vote, he took a position.
    By forwarding it to Parliament, he took a position.
    It's also said that he voted for when he brought it up for a vote in the Cabinet.  And, as Middle East Confidential notes, "It was proposed by Iraq’s justice minister, Head of the Fadila bloc, which has seven seats in the parliament and is a strong ally of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki."
    So let's cut the nonsense.

    Ghassan Tawfiq al-Husseini (Kitabat) writes about how this proposed law is harmful for Iraq (and also states Nouri voted for it in the Cabinet vote) and would divide the country and set it back.

    It's a strong column.  There was a column I wanted to highlight.  I read it this morning on the plane.  I've got 300 Iraqi newspaper pages in my browser and can't find it and don't have time to go through everyone of them.

    It was most likely Kitabat or Iraq Times.  The writer favors the law.  The writer feels Iraq is being shamed.  I appreciate the writer's feelings, but Iraq should be shamed on this.  The writer argued that if the age of nine (or eight) for marriage was too low, it could be changed to the onset of puberty.

    Most countries and most people around the world would tell you that is still too young.

    But let's set that aside real quick to note two other things in the law.  First, stripping mothers of their rights, custodial rights.  How is that good?  How is that helpful?

    And I'm not understanding how forced sex or rape is beneficial to a husband.  It's surely not beneficial to a wife.

    Putting that into law will make Iraq a laughingstock.

    The writer was concerned about how Iraq was being seen.  The writer should be concerned.  Legalizing rape is nothing any country is moving towards today except Iraq.  Passing the bill will mean the only thing Iraq will be noted for that's not shameful will be their new Guinness World Record of least wide ally in the world (it's in Baghdad).

    In other news, the National Lawyers Guild Tweeted:

  • Victory in SF! The City of Oakland will pay $4.5M to Iraq veteran and activist Scott Olsen, who was nearly killed...

  • WeCopWatch (Indybay Media -- link is text and video) adds:

    The City of Oakland has agreed to pay Scott Olsen $4.5 million to compensate him for devastating brain injuries he suffered when an Oakland Police officer shot him in the head with a “less lethal” munition on October 25, 2011, during a demonstration in support of Occupy Oakland. The lead filled “bean bag” round, fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, shattered Mr. Olsen’s skull and permanently destroyed part of his brain. The settlement in Olsen v. City of Oakland, 3:12-cv-06333, is pending final approval by the Oakland City Council. Mr. Olsen was represented by attorneys Jim Chanin, Rachel Lederman, and Julie Houk. (Ten-minute Olsen case video below.)

    As we rush to wrap up, Patrick Murphy's MSNBC talk show (Taking The Hill) will address a number of issues this Sunday:

  • Tune in! On Sunday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joins 's to discuss Iraq lessons & the need for vets in Congress. 7a HST/1p EST

  • And we'll close with  this from Senator Tom Udall's office:

    WASHINGTON - In a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations subcommittee, and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pressed the VA for answers regarding its failure to diligently and expeditiously implement the Open Air Burn Pit Registry as mandated under Section 201 of PL 112-260, which Udall and Corker coauthored and introduced in 2011.
    "As you know from previous correspondence on this matter, the Open Air Burn Pit Registry was designed to identify and monitor veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who were exposed to toxic pollutants released by open air burn pits," Udall and Corker wrote. "This delay is deeply concerning, particularly when similar registries exist within the United States government. The lack of urgency and communication from the VA is even more troubling. Our veterans, Congress, and the public deserve to know why the Open Air Burn Pit Registry has been delayed and when it will be completed."

    "In an effort to address this failure, we ask that you provide Congress with information on the current status of the Open Air Burn Pit Registry, an accounting of problems that have arisen during the development of the registry, detailed information on remaining benchmarks to be completed before the Open Air Burn Pit Registry will become fully operational, and any information on how Congress can help to expedite the implementation of this critical program."

    On January 10, 2013, President Barack Obama signed PL 112-260 into law. The law provided the VA one year to develop, implement, and maintain an open burn pit registry of service members and veterans who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The registry has not yet been established.

    Full text of the letter is included below and HERE.

    Dear Secretary Shinseki,

    We write to you today regarding the failure of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to diligently and expeditiously implement the Open Air Burn Pit Registry as mandated under Section 201 of Public Law 112-260.

    As you know from previous correspondence on this matter, the Open Air Burn Pit Registry was designed to identify and monitor veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who were exposed to toxic pollutants released by open air burn pits. When President Obama signed PL 112-260 into law on January 10, 2013, it provided the VA one year to develop, implement, and maintain this registry. While the necessity for some delay is understandable, the VA has failed to adequately explain why the delay has occurred, which steps remain to be completed before the registry is available for the use of our veterans, and provide specific information on when the registry is expected to be completed.

    This delay is deeply concerning, particularly when similar registries exist within the United States government. The lack of urgency and communication from the VA is even more troubling. Our veterans, Congress, and the public deserve to know why the Open Air Burn Pit Registry has been delayed and when it will be completed. Furthermore, the VA has failed to develop the Open Air Burn Pit Registry after multiple congressional inquiries and letters calling for its timely creation and has not provided detailed information regarding the nature of the delay to Congressional offices who have requested such information.

    In an effort to address this failure, we ask that you provide Congress with information on the current status of the Open Air Burn Pit Registry, an accounting of problems that have arisen during the development of the registry, detailed information on remaining benchmarks to be completed before the Open Air Burn Pit Registry will become fully operational, and any information on how Congress can help to expedite the implementation of this critical program. We remain concerned about VA's implementation of this program and we urge you to diligently complete the Open Air Burn Pit Registry.

    Thank you for your timely response to this matter and your continued service to our nation.


    Bob Corker
    Tom Udall

     the new york times


    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Iraq, Tracey Ullman, Maggie Q

    Okay, first off, Nikita.  The best show The CW had, my opinion, and one that foolishly cancelled.  Maggie Q played Nikita.  This is from The Hollywood Reporter:

    Untitled Kevin Williamson drama
    Logline: The psychological thriller centers on a pair of detectives who handle stalking incidents for the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD.
    Cast: Maggie QDylan McDermott, Mariana Klaveno (1st position to Devious Maids), Victor Rasuk
    Team: W/EP Kevin Williamson; D Liz Friedlander
    Studio: Warner Bros. Television, Outerbanks Entertainment
    Location: Los Angeles

    That's a CBS pilot being filmed.  If the network likes it and thinks it could be a hit, they'll put it on the schedule.

    I like Dylan McDermott (and thought he was great in Hostages) so between him and Maggie Q, this could be worth watching.

    Now this is from the Kevin Gosztola article C.I. notes at the end of today's snapshot:

    "Information Clearing House - "Firedoglake"- Kenneth Pollack, who has worked for the CIA and the National Security Council, was a prime advocate for the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq. He published a book called “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq” that was considered widely to be a very convincing case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or was close to obtaining them. But Pollack, like many other war advocates who populated the airwaves of US media in the months prior to invasion, was wrong.
    As bloody violence continues to erupt in Iraq, Pollack has not stopped being an advocate of greater US involvement or aid in Iraq, even though it has only helped to enable Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to further develop his brutal security forces.
    A senior fellow for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, he spoke before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee in December 2013 and declared, “It is a great credit to this committee that at a time when the nation appears determined to forget our interests in Iraq, you refuse to do so. It is absolutely vital.”
    “Since 2003, the United States has invested an enormous amount in Iraq, and the future of Iraq remains of great importance to the interests of the United States and our allies. Iraq has replaced Iran as the second leading oil exporter in OPEC, and projections of future low oil prices are highly contingent upon the continued growth of Iraqi oil exports. Remembering that virtually every postwar American recession was preceded by an increase in oil prices, Iraq and its oil production remain critical to the prosperity of the United States,” he added.
    This was his first expressed concern: the future of oil production. He then proceeded to address the resurgence of al Qaeda and other issues in Iraq.

    Yep, it's anniversary time.  The illegal war -- still ongoing -- is now eleven years old.

    You don't hear much about it.

    That's because it's a failure and the media's trying to sell you war on Ukraine and Syria so they don't want to cover the reality of Iraq.

    No Elementary coverage from me tonight because it didn't air.  CBS was airing the March Madness games instead.

    Last thing I'll include,The Hollywood Reports notes Tracey Ullman will co-star in the CBS sitcom Good Sessions if the pilot is picked up.

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

    Thursday, March 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, Tareq al-Hashemi calls thug Nouri out, the Al-Sweady Inquiry hits a snag, when does the Kimberly Rivera inquiry begin or does Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel endorse those under him making up their own rules?, and much more.

    Starting in England where BBC reports, "A public inquiry into whether UK soldiers unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians in 2004 has heard their relatives no longer believe there is enough evidence to back the claims."  This is the Al-Sweady Inquiry.  This is not the British's Iraq Inquiry -- whose results have still not been released -- or the British inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa.  We covered those at length in multiple snapshots.  We only noted the Al-Sweady Inquiry March 4, 2013 and September 2013.  From the first one:

    The Metro reports,  "British troops killed, mutilated and tortured civilians following a battle in Iraq, the start of an inquiry heard.  Graphic images were shown of missing eyes and genitals among the bodies of unarmed men who were taken to an army base."  What's going on?  An inquiry known as the Al-Sweady Inquiry, named after Iraqi Hamid al-Sweady, a 19-year-old killed in May of 2004.   Huffington Post UK reports, "The Al-Sweady Inquiry is examining claims that UK soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis and tortured detainees after the 'Battle of Danny Boy' in Maysan Province, southern Iraq, in May 2004."  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains, "Nine Iraqis say they were tortured after being taken to a detention centre at Shaibah base near Basra and held there for four months. They say they were taken, along with the 20 murdered Iraqis, to a British base, Camp Abu Naji, after a fierce firefight in what became known as the battle of Danny Boy, a British military checkpoint near Majar al-Kabir, on 14 May 2004."

    We covered the other two, utilizing the public transcripts (much more utilized for the Iraq Inquiry) because they had strong merit.  We didn't cover Al-Sweady because the case seemed weak.  Not false, but weak.  If we're going to focus on a trial or inquiry here and do multiple snapshots on it, I have to feel it has a chance to go somewhere.  'They'll never win this,' isn't the concern so much as, 'They don't have the evidence to make the case they're charging.'  With Al-Sweady, the evidence didn't seem strong enough to support the claims -- to me, my opinion and I could be wrong and often am.  But we have enough to cover without me wasting my time on something I don't believe in.  I didn't feel a US trial that's just wrapped up in a plea bargain was worth covering because the evidence seemed questionable. That's not a judgment by me on whether or not it's 'worthy' for the attorneys to pursue or whether it's an important issue.  It is me looking at my time and asking if it's worth covering?  In the Al-Sweady case the answer was "no."

    So we didn't pay attention to this 42 week inquiry.  Today ITV News leads with, "Lawyers representing families of dead Iraqis admitted there was 'insufficient evidence' to back their claims British soldiers unlawfully killed civilians nearly a decade ago." The Al-Sweady Inquiry notes today:

    Public Interest Lawyers who act for the Iraqi Core Participants in the Inquiry have today (Thursday 20 March 2014) made a statement that they will not submit that, on the balance of probabilities, live Iraqis captured during the course of the battle on 14 May 2004 died or were killed at Camp Abu Naji. Following the conclusion of the majority of the military evidence and current state of disclosure of MoD material, they contend that there is insufficient material to establish that Iraqi civilians were unlawfully killed whilst in the custody of British troops at Camp Abu Naji. The allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi civilians in British custody remain.
    It is for the Chairman to reach all conclusions and he will detail findings of fact in his report. In so doing he will draw on all the evidence he has seen and heard, including the statement made today by the legal representatives for the Iraqi Core Participants.
    The Inquiry continues and will hear closing submissions from Core Participants on 16 April 2014.

    Thereafter, the Chairman will write his report.

    The admission does not mean the inquiry was a waste or that other things weren't established during it.  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:

    The bodies of the dead were taken to an Iraqi hospital the day after the battle – in which weapons ranging from high-velocity rifles to fixed bayonets, were used – the inquiry heard. Many of them were in a horrific state, so horrific that the inquiry has said it will not publish photographs of them.
    Some of the relatives of the dead have alleged that they had been killed in the British camp. O'Connor also conceded on Thursday that the detained Iraqis were not mistreated in the British camp.
    The inquiry has also heard mounting evidence that some Iraqis captured after the battle were mistreated by British troops. Some soldiers admitted abusing their prisoners, some changed their evidence. The inquiry also heard that commanders of the 1 Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment obstructed attempts by the military police to conduct its own inquiry.

    So there was some abuse and that's now part of the public record.  At present, there is no proof that anyone was unlawfully killed.  Both are important.  When abuses take place, they need to be noted.  When abuses don't take place but are charged, if the record doesn't back them up, that needs to be noted as well.

    Public Interest Lawyers issued the following statement today:

    Public Interest Lawyers act for a number of Iraqi citizens who have long been concerned about the circumstances in which family members were killed or mistreated by British troops in May 2004 at Camp Abu Naji and Shaibah Logistics Base. 
    In November 2009 the setting up of a wide ranging Inquiry was announced to examine those allegations of unlawful killing and mistreatment.
    Following the conclusion of the military evidence and current state of disclosure by the MoD it is our view there is insufficient material to establish that Iraqi civilians were unlawfully killed whilst in the custody of British troops at Camp Abu Naji and we have advised the Inquiry of this conclusion. 
    There remain numerous allegations of violent and other ill-treatment of Iraqi Civilians in British custody which the Inquiry will have to consider. John Dickinson of Public Interest Lawyers said that:
    “From the outset the families have had the simple objective of discovering the extent of any wrongdoing and if so how it came about and who was responsible. It is accepted that on the material which has been disclosed to date there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of unlawful killing in Camp Abu Naji” 
    For more information please contact John Dickinson at Public Interest Lawyers:
    Tel:                 0121 515 5069

    The Associated Press notes, "Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rallied against the U.S.-led war in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the conflict."  964 Eagle adds, "179 British servicemen and women died during operations there."  The number of US service members and military personnel the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning]: 4489.  Iraq Coalition Casualty Count lists 139 for "Other" countries who sent troops into Iraq.  The number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war?

    That's a tough one.  For one thing, efforts were made to discredit the accepted social science model when it was used for a study The Lancet carried which reported a million deaths.  Information Clearing House notes, "Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq '1,455,590'."

    But the main problem with a body count?  The war hasn't stopped in Iraq.

    For example, these events today:


     AFP notes, "Late night bombings at a Baghdad cafe left 13 people dead, officials said Thursday."  National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing left two police members injured in Mosul, and an Alshallalat car bombing left 1 Peshmerga dead.  All Iraq News reports a Ramadi sticky bombing left 1 police officer dead.


    National Iraqi News Agency reports an assassination attempt on Colonel Khaled Kinnear in Eshaqi left two of his bodyguards injured, 1 member of the police shot dead in Baquba, assailants in Iraqi military uniforms kidnapped Mayor Salah Sabhan and his son from their homes and killed them outside Hawija, a roadside bombing left two police members injured in Mosul, an armed clash in Jurf al-Sakar left 5 rebels dead and one police member injured, Joint Operations Command announced 8 suspects were killed on the "outskirts of Fallujah," Diyala Police announced they killed 6 suspects "in villages south of Buhriz" and an Alshallalat car bombing left 1 Peshmerga dead,  and 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul ("signs of torture").


    National Iraqi News Agency reports   2 corpses were discovered in Mosul ("signs of torture"). Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that "five bodies that were found shot dead in the heads and chests in al-Shirqat, a community about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Baghdad."

    Today, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

    U.S. Embassy Baghdad
    Office of the Spokesperson
    For Immediate Release
    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad strongly denounces the most recent series of reprehensible acts of terrorism victimizing innocent Iraqi citizens throughout country, including particularly brutal attacks in Hilla, Karbala, Wasit, Mosul, Tuz Khormato, Baghdad, and Anbar.  In recent weeks hundreds of Iraqis, including women and children, have been killed or injured by terrorists who pursue their goals through the senseless slaughter of the innocent.

    We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured. The United States stands with the Iraqi people and will continue its robust support of the Government of Iraq in its fight against terrorism.  

    They condemned terrorism.  But not Nouri's terrorism.  Still they addressed Iraq which is far more than the US State Dept and the lazy ass journalists attending today's State Dept press briefing bothered to do.

    Apparently, they couldn't think of a question.   NINA reports the military shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left ten civilians ("including three children") injured.  Maybe the reporters present could have asked just how many civilians are going to be killed or wounded by Nouri with weapons the US provides?

    Maybe they could have asked spokesperson Jen Psaki exactly how long the administration intends to pretend that Nouri's actions aren't War Crimes?

    Today, the Council on Foreign Relation's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon quotes former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker declaring, "What we have got is a country that is facing huge internal as well as external challenges and needs the engagement that we effectively promised them through these (Strategic Framework) agreements, through our actions, through our efforts to create for them institutions that are not yet ready to function completely on their own. We have decided we are out, goodbye and good luck. Well, that may not have a happy ending."

    If only, Ryan Crocker, if only.

    Walking away and washing hands of Iraq would be more humane than arming Nouri with weapons to use against the Iraqi people."

    Each day brings injuries and deaths to the citizens in Falluja and Ramadi whose 'crime' is having a home there.  It's a War Crime to use Collective Punishment (in this case suspecting terrorists are in Falluja -- a populated city -- or Ramadi -- also a populated city -- so bombing the whole cities to 'get' the terrorists).

    Silence is endorsing the War Crimes, silence on the part of the Americans, silence on the part of the world.

    The US government arms Nouri -- US President Barack Obama strong-armed Congress to go along -- and he uses those weapons to terrorize and kill the Iraqi people.

    Maybe the reporters could have asked for a response to the important report from Ned Parker, Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters):

    The video shows a male corpse lying in the dirt, one end of a rope tied around his legs, the other fastened to the back of an armoured Humvee.
    Men in Iraqi military uniforms mingle by the vehicle. Someone warns there might be a bomb on the body. One hands another his smartphone. Then he stands over the body, smiles, and offers a thumbs-up as his comrade takes a photo. The Humvee starts to move, dragging the dead man behind it into the desert.
    The short video was shown to Reuters last week by an Iraqi national police officer. It captures what appear to be Iraqi soldiers desecrating the corpse of a fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), a group reconstituted from an earlier incarnation of al Qaeda in Iraq.

    And that video is only one example of many more.  They've been surfacing for some time.  The one from the January 31st snapshot continues to haunt me:

    On YouTube video has surfaced of Nouri's forces today . . . next to a man being burned alive.  Did they set the Sunni male on fire?  It appears they're not concerned with putting out the fire so it's fair to conclude they started it.   It's the sort of government cruelty that's led Iraqis to protest in the first place.

    It continues to haunt me but apparently not those who attend the State Dept press briefings since no one's bothered to ask about it.

    Instead, they melt into the US government, meld with it, and pretend that crazy Nouri al-Maliki -- pedophile, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq (installed by Bully Boy Bush in 2006, Barack violated the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term in 2010 after Nouri lost the election to Ayad Allawi)  -- isn't crazy and that he's not the terrorist.

    In the real world, Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechervan Barzani, has expressed surprise at comments made earlier this month by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, in which he accused Saudi Arabia of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq.
    Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Erbil on Tuesday, Barzani said: “What are the reasons behind the accusations at this specific time? . . . We have not seen evidence of Saudi sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq before, and we have not seen any evidence proving Saudi responsibility for recruiting or assisting terrorist organizations or groups there.”

    Where are those reasons behind the accusations?  Nouri was supposed to provide proof.

    Last Thursday, Nouri wrapped up his failed, two-day security conference.  And did so without proof.

    He made the accusations against Saudi Arabia and Qatar in an interview to France24.

    And then?

    Last week, Anadolu Agency reported that Qassem Atta was telling the press, "Iraq will present evidence [of countries supporting terrorism] to conference participants, with lawsuits being a possibility."  Poor Atta, head of the committee that did the prep work for the failed conference and now Nouri's also made him a public liar.

    No proof was offered.

    Arab News reported earlier this week, "Saudi Arabia on Monday denounced Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for accusing the Kingdom of being involved in terrorism, and said the embattled leader was only trying to cover up for his government’s failures and support for terrorist operations in his own country."

    As Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi observed, the conference probably cost $100 million --  and he points out:

    Some of the Arabs, including those from the Gulf, participated in the conference despite calls for a boycott. This is unfortunate, as well as surprising, after Al-Maliki made an unprecedented and explicit accusation against Saudi Arabia and Qatar regarding their alleged involvement in terrorism in Iraq. These participants have lost a lot and have angered their Arab brothers who are being persecuted by Al-Maliki and who had hoped for them to take a position that reinforces their perseverance and gives them hope. This is especially true of the Sunni Arabs from the Anbar tribes in Ramadi and Fallujah who are being targeted by Al-Maliki's weapons and war planes day and night. In the case of such countries, fear drove them to attend the conference and please Al-Maliki instead of sympathising with the tribes and people who are being exposed to his discriminatory and sectarian policies.

    The conference, in terms of appearance and content, did not present anything new; even its final recommendations were merely a regurgitation of exhausted proposals and ideas. As such, it can be said that the get-together was just a public relations exercise with specific objectives, beginning with whitewashing Al-Maliki and his fascist regime's criminal record, but he was unable to achieve this. The second objective was to gather as much international support as possible in order to back him in his failed military campaign in Anbar. Thirdly, it was intended to silence the opposition abroad because any opposition to Nouri Al-Maliki is classified as "terrorism" by him. Finally, it was intended to create some hope that he will not be prosecuted for the crimes he has committed in the past and continues to commit, including crimes against humanity. There are increasing complaints from international human rights organisations and the EU about his actions.

    $100 million for a conference when Iraqis live in poverty.  $100 million and it was completely wasted because the conference was a failure.  As we observed when it came to end last week:

    Let's pause on Nouri's embarrassing failures and note what the conference came up with on their last day. NINA explains, "Baghdad first international anti-terrorism conference [. . .] recommended the conclusion of its works on Thursday to promote international cooperation, exchange of information, to respond to the demands of countries to handover of criminals, cooperation and take necessary measures to dying terrorism resources."
    That's it?
    A two-day conference and all they can come up with is: Exchange phone numbers?
    Most people can accomplish that within ten minutes of entering a bar.
    Two days to get digits on a cocktail napkin?
    Even when you look for a Nouri success, you still come up with failure.

    $100 million to exchange phone numbers.

    Chair Bernie Sanders: I've been Chairman of the Senate Committee for a little over a year and the one thing that I've learned is that the cost of war is a lot higher than I think most Americans understand: the people who return come back with a host of issues.  Their families have problems that I think many of our fellow Americans don't understand.  So let me just touch on some of the things we have done in the past and where we want to go in the future.    There was, as you know, an effort to take away a COLA from military retirees.  Congress dealt with most of that -- retracted that error.  But there still is a problem that for those people in the military now, they will not get the COLA that the veterans -- other veterans -- are getting.  We are working to make sure that we address a problem that I know is particularly of concern to the paralyzed veterans, but to all veterans, and that is that some of you will recall that a couple of years ago, Congress did the right thing by passing a Caregivers Act.  All of you familair with that?  Very significant step.  But what we did not do, is we passed that for the post-9/11 veterans -- a good step forward -- but not for the veterans of all generations.  And what that means now is that today sitting in California or New York or any place else, there is a 70-year-old woman taking care of a Vietnam vet who was injured in that war.  She deserves support.  She doesn't get it now and we want to address that issue by expanding the Caregivers Act -- something we heard from many of the organizations.  One of the issues that, uhm, I feel strongly about and I know many of the veterans organizations feel strongly about is the issue of understanding that dental care is part of health care.  And for many, many years, as a nation -- and within the VA -- we said, 'This is health care, this is dental care, we're going to cover health care not cover dental care.'  I think the time is now to begin to address that issue and -- at least in a pilot program -- make dental care accessible to veterans other than those who just have service connected problems.  All of us have been concerned about the benefits backlogs.  We're going to stay on that, put more demands on the VA so that they fulfill their goal of ending the backlog by the end of 2015. [. . .] One of the great disgraces that we have experienced as a nation in recent years is the issue of sexual assault in the military.  We are all ashamed about that.  We want the DoD to address it as boldly as they can but we also want to make sure that when women and men leave the service, they get the kind of compassionate care for sexual assault that they need in the VA.  Another issue that is out there, from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans some 2,300 men and women were wounded in war in ways that make it impossible for them to have children.  They are entitled to have families through in vitro fertilization or adoption or other approaches.  

    That's Senator Bernie Sanders from last Wednesday's joint hearing held by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee.   Sanders comments note some of the issues effecting those the US government deployed to Iraq (and to Afghanistan).  The government quickly sent them but it hasn't quickly addressed their issues, has it?

    Senator Johnny Isakson was at the hearing and he noted that Post-Traumatic Stress and TBI are the "bad legacies of the Iraqi and Afghanistan Wars" for veterans.  He noted other things as wll.

    Ranking Member Johnny Isakson:  Secondly, several of you have written about the incredible need to for better access to effective mental treatment for veterans.  8,000 veterans a year are taking their life, 22 a day.  The Chairman was kind enough to grant me the right to hold a field hearing in Atlanta last August and we had a two-and-one-half-hour meeting with about 300 people present talking about the problems with suicide.  The IG's report on the Atlanta VA tied mismanagement at the VA to three of the particular suicides at the VA in Atlanta and that's intolerable.  The new director, Leslie Wiggins, is doing a great job of holding the VA accountable in Atlanta and we need to learn from that experience because that's not a problem that's just related to Atlanta, Georgia -- it's related to the entire VA delivery system.

    While it's great that veterans needs are noted (be great if their needs were addressed and not just noted),  it's amazing how no one wants to champion the war resister.

    They're not veterans, they've been stripped of that status.  If they're thrown in prison, they're actually under the Armed Services Committees in the House and Senate.  So where's the investigation and concern?

    Kim Rivera served in Iraq, came back to the US, decided to self-check out while in Texas and went to Canada with her husband and their children.  She was seeking asylum.  She did not receive it.  Instead, Canada forced her out, while she was pregnant and she was thrown behind bars in a US prison.  At this point, some people reading will be cheering.  I support war resisters but not everyone who reads the snapshot does.

    So my challenge to those who don't is, do you think it's okay for Kim or anyone else to be mistreated by the military while they're behind bars?  That is what happened.

    Bob Meola and Michael McKee (Courage to Resist) reported on Kim

    Later in her pregnancy, Kimberly challenged her jailers for violating their own SOPs, refusing her the option of lying down, eating more healthful foods, occasionally removing her heavy outer uniform and avoiding work that would make her nauseated or dizzy.
    “In the last month of my pregnancy, they finally put a restriction on my medical order that allowed me to lay down two hours a day. I wrote a big long complaint to the C.O. and the commander came to see me. He was ready for a fight.”
    Kimberly’s commander told her he had the power to pick and choose which pregnancy SOPs to follow because she was not having any serious complications. When Kimberly countered that those SOPs were in place to avoid a complicated pregnancy, the commander said he would talk to the medical department, but nothing improved.
    The Riveras’ ordeal only tightened when Kimberly went into labor. A female staff sergeant insisted she remain in the room to supervise her prisoner during the birth, despite Kimberly’s requests for privacy. 
    “She had three meals brought to her and ate in my room,” recalls Kimberly. “It was very disrespectful and unprofessional. If you are undergoing any treatment, other people do not need to be there.”
    The sergeant’s presence—and refusal to let Kimberly close her bed curtain—made it difficult for Kimberly to push for her husband to be allowed to be present for the birth, as per the approval of the commander. 

    “They wouldn’t let me in the room to see Kim or the baby,” says Mario. “I heard the Staff Sgt. talking to one of the lieutenants and some hospital staff about making me leave the premises and trying to figure out how to give Kim more of a hard time.”

    Chuck Hagel should hang his head in shame.  He's the US Secretary of Defense, this was published over a week ago, he should have been aware of it and had a public response by now.

    But he's offered nothing.

    And I'm sorry to break it to you, but rules are supposed to be sacred in the military.  The fact that this administration and the previous one bred and encouraged contempt for those who took an ethical stand against an illegal war does not allow the rules to be broken.

    People should be punished for what they did to Kim.

    The military should be embarrassed.  Not just because it was harmful to Kim but also because you have people in the military who are not following the rules and think they can do whatever they want.  That's insubordination.

    Hagel should be alarmed that it happened and launching an investigation to find out how high it went.

    Those who want to say war resisters deserve to be tossed in prison because they broke the law by walking away?  Well you can make that case but it doesn't let you excuse what was done to Kim?

    There is no excuse.  And Hagel should be very concerned about what this says about the health of the military today.  And Barack should stop posturing and pretending he gives a damn about women.  He so obviously doesn't  [see "Whose hands are clean in The War On Women (Ava and C.I."].  And the treatment of Kim, made public March 10th, didn't result in one word from him or his spokesperson Jay Carney .

    Kim Rivera was not the only Iraq war resister.  Others who went public include  James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia,  Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman.

    Rodney Watson continues to resist.  In Canada, Iraq War veteran Rodney  continues to hope for asylum.  Yolande Cole (Georgia Straight -- link has text and video) reported in 2011 that it was a little over two years since the US war resister, on the verge of being deported (September 2009), sought refuge at First United Church in Vancouver with his wife and son.  He states, "I've been through a lot in my life, and this has been one of the hardest things I've been through, being stuck in these walls. The hardest thing about being stuck here is waving to my wife and son . . . every time they got to the store, or to family dinners, outings, to the park . . . the hardest part for me is saying good-bye." Derrick O'Keefe (Vancouver Observer) reports on Rodney today:

    “I saw fellow soldiers depressed or suicidal because they didn’t want to be there, so I felt like there was no way for me to get out, except to go AWOL. I would have stayed in the military if there was a real reason for me to be there, but I felt in my heart and soul that it was not worth me killing or dying for lies.”
    That’s why he came to Canada. Here, Rodney found work, got married and had a son. Then, in 2009, he got a letter ordering him to leave Canada -- no later than September 11.
    September 11th was [one of the main] reasons I’d signed up,” Rodney explains. “So when I got the letter in the mail telling me they wanted me to leave my wife and my son, it just felt like a giant slap in the face -- my son [was] a newborn and I love my family and I don’t want to leave them.” The raw emotion of that moment is still evident on his face and in his voice.
    That’s when he made the choice to claim sanctuary at First United, so as to avoid removal by Canadian authorities. Four and a half years later, he hasn’t moved. But neither have the politicians in Ottawa.
    We've squeezed in as much as we can.  Kevin Gosztola has a piece on the illegal war here and Patrick Cockburn has one here.

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