Friday, October 22, 2010

Fringe, WikiLeaks, etc

Friday. The weekend!!! I can't tell you about Fringe. It didn't air yesterday.

I grab it on Hulu. I got up at six this morning, ran, got back and was eating breakfast and looking for Hulu. I finally gave up because there was nothing posted. So I go to the Fox website. There I found out, no new episode of Fringe until November 11th.

That sucks.

So does Ann Compton. This is from Ben Smith (Politico):

“Charm offensives work,” said Ann Compton, the veteran ABC News White House correspondent, who described a recent, off-the-record and “pretty elegant lunch” of salad and salmon on White House china with Obama and a handful of other reporters.

The administration, she said, is trying to reclaim “that sense of control it had back in the fall of 2008 — control of the dialogue, control of the issues, control of what information gets out.”

What a jowly, multiple-chinned jack ass Ann Compton is. I'll never forgive that fat ass for the trashing she did of Helen Thomas.
The documents included in the WikiLeaks database aren't of the highest level of classification -- at most, they are "secret," but not "top secret." As such, many of the most sensational events in the Iraq war don't make an appearance, including the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib. There are other weaknesses, as well -- they are one-sided and subjective, unverifiable and, in many cases, were produced on the battlefield, making it easier for errors to slip through.

However, they have the cumulative effect of painting a precise picture of an asymmetrical war, one in which a superpower equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry often stands helpless on the battlefield against individual fighting units, as brutal as they are nimble. The material shows how the constant state of fear paralyzed the world's last remaining superpower. Is the next bomb about to go off? Is it around the corner? On the side of the road? Or strapped to the body of an insurgent?

Again, Fringe is off until Nov. 11th. I hope when it comes back it has movement. Either leave me on the alternate earth with real Olivia or stay on hiatus. I'm sick of fake Olivia and her strangeness -- and no one on the show noticing. It really telegraphs the message that Olivia is so unimportant she can be easily replaced and no one will ever be the wiser.

That's it. Have a great weekend. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 22, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, WikiLeaks releases documents, torture, rape, turning a blind eye and much more is documented, Lt Dan Choi continues standing up for equality, the political stalemate continues and more.

US service members serving in the Iraq War and Afghnistan War have been exposed to toxins that can prove as deadly as any roadside bombing or sniper attack, it'll just take longer for the effects to be felt. Those exposed to, for example, the burn pit in Balad are already experiencing symptoms such as breathing difficulty. A number of service members have attempted to find justice via the US court system and, thus far, they've had no luck. Senator Byron Dorgan has long addressed the burn pit issue. Sadly, Senator Dorgan is not running for re-election and will be leaving the Senate in the new year. Dorgan chairs Democratic Policy Committee and today his office released the following:

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Friday a preliminary report of an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General confirms that the Pentagon dropped the ball in responding to the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to a deadly chemical in Iraq. Those failures left some exposed soldiers unaware that they had been exposed to the deadly chemical and without follow up health monitoring and treatment. Monitoring tests performed on other soldiers who were informed of their exposure were so inadequate that the agency that performed them now admits they have a "low level of confidence" in those tests.
A second and more detailed Inspector General's report, originally scheduled to be released this month, has now been moved back to the end of the year, a development Dorgan said he finds "disappointing."
The Senate Armed Services Committee and Dorgan requested IG investigations after he chaired hearings by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), in June 2008 and August 2009. The hearings revealed that troops from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia were exposed to sodium dichromate, a known and highly potent carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in Iraq. The DPC hearings revealed multiple failures by the contractor, KBR, and the Army's failure to adequately monitor, test, and notify soldiers who may have been exposed of the health risks they may now face.
The IG is releasing two reports on its investigation, The first report was released in September. The second, expected to be a more detailed response to specific DPC concerns, was originally slated for release by late October. But the Department of Defense Inspector General now states a draft of that report won't be available until the end of the year.
The first report provides no indication -- seven years after the exposure – that the Army ever notified seven soldiers from the Army's Third Infantry Division who secured the Qarmat Ali facility during hostilities that they had been exposed. It also confirms that the Army's assessment of the health risks associated with exposure to sodium dichromate for soldiers at Qarmat Ali are not very reliable. In fact, the organization that performed these assessments, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM), now says it has a "low level of confidence" in its test results for the overwhelming majority of those exposed.
Equally troubling, Dorgan said, is the report's finding that the Department of Defense is refusing to provide information to Congress about the incident, because of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.
"I am very concerned about the findings we now have, and I am disappointed in the delayed release of Part II of this report. The IG's investigation and its findings are very important to the lives of U.S. soldiers and workers who were at the site. Details and definitive findings will help us ensure accountability for this exposure and flawed follow up, but even more importantly, they will help ensure that all exposed soldiers receive appropriate notice and medical attention," Dorgan said.

Senator Byron Dorgan addresses the issues in this video also released today.

Iraq was briefly touched on in the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and were it not for the fact that James Kitfield was strong on the topic, we'd probably skip it. But I've called him out so we'll note it to give him his due credit. Diane noted that Shaun had left a message on the program's Facebook page about the cuts in England which include military cuts: "It was the military spending necessary for England's participation in the Iraq War that put them in this predicament. The same is true here. The Bush administration could not deal with the simple fact that we couldn't afford to invade Iraq, either financially or morally."

James Kitfield (National Journal): I take the point and believe me our government is watching very closely what happens in Britain because, I mean, one thing that is interesting is that those cuts have majority support right now, we'll see if that holds, but there's a concern that if you cut back quickly, this very nascent economic recovery will be reversed and that's exactly what we don't want. So there's a big -- Britain is taking a very bold step. I think it's commendable. I hope it works but there is risk involved in it and I think we are watching it very closely.

Elise Labott (CNN): But there's also a huge concern by the United States about these defense cuts -- it's about a 7.5% defense cuts is that going to make Britain a less reliable partner? We have British troops in Iraq, you have British troops in Afghanistan. What about future conflicts, future areas that the US relies on its very special ally the Brits?

[. . .]

James Kitfield: Diane, can I just make a point? I just came back from London, working on this story. The-the fact is Britain no longer wants to be that ally to us. You know the Iraq War has really soured them on being America's, you know, ally of first resort. It's an aftermath, blowback from the Iraq War.

Diane Rehm: Who did you talk to?

James Kitfield: I talked to senior officials in the government, I talked to senior think tank people, all the same thing. They have investigations now, the whole Iraq War, where they are deposing Tony Blair and others, the Iraq War and how that went wrong and how Britian got --

Diane Rehm: Involved.

James Kitfield: -- brought up into it is very real to them right now, even today. And they have no interest in being the kind of ally of first resort, as I say.

Diane Rehm: But again, is that because of financial problems or is that also the question of moral responsibility?

James Kitfield: Well, I mean, it's partly -- The economic part plays into it. But it's primarily a feeling that they went to war that their own people did not support and they thought it was on false pretenses with the Weapons of Mass Destruction. You know, we got our election in 2008 and the Republicans lost and I think we went on, moved on from Iraq. The British have not moved on from Iraq. Their populace does not buy this argument anymore that we should stand by America's side, right or wrong.

Late today nearly 400,000 documents on the Iraq War. Phil Stewart (Reuters) reports that, at the Pentagon today, Col Dave Lapan declared that the Defense Dept did not "expect big surprises" from a rumored upcoming WikiLeaks release. On Democracy Now! this morning, Penatgon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explained why the Pentagon would not be surprised by the release:

AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the last release of documents [on the Afghanistan War], there were 91,000 documents, but—
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Of which they've withheld so far one out of five, 15,000, for damage control. WikiLeaks has not yet released those. They're working over them to redact.
AMY GOODMAN: Which is the point I wanted to make, released around 75,000—
AMY GOODMAN: -- that WikiLeaks is withholding documents, concerned about issues of --
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into -- both in court and in the press, of -- endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.
AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That's why they're going over them now. They know what's coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered -- which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there's been no damage up 'til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you're saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I'm not in the process. But I understand that they've said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.

Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) zoom in on the civilian death data: "The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians -- at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan. The archive contains reports on at least four cases of leathl shootings from helicopters. In the bloodiest, on July 16, w00, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of themcivilians. However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice." Al Jazeera (link has video) zooms in on the torture revelations.

Al Jazeera: It was one of the stated aims of the war to end the torture chambers but the secret files reveal a very different story. In graphic detail, they record extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, army bases and prison. On more than 1,300 occasions, US troops reported the allegations to their superiors.

Reading from a US service member's report: The detainee was blindfolded, beaten about the feet and legs with a blunt object, punched in the face and head. Electricity was used on his feet and genitals and he was sodomized with a water bottle.

Al Jazeera: The alleged torturers claim the victim had fallen off his motorbike but the Americans recall that this was

Reading from a US service member's report: Not consistent with the man's injuries.

Al Jazeera: There are many such reports. This one says that --

Reading from a US service member's report: A detainee was jabbed with a screwdriver, struck with cables in the arms, back and legs, electrocuted and sodomized with a hose.

Nick Davies, Jonathan Steele and David Leigh (Guardian) report:

The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.
As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: "The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him."

Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) report:

The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee's fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.
And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate.

As Al Jazeera notes (earlier link), at least two orders were issued on this to US soldiers. The first told them to ignore it and do nothing. The second told them to report it to their superiors and then do nothing unless ordered. The documents contain many reports -- by US troops -- of abuse but no orders for follow up actions from the command.

Jonathan Steele (Guardian) reports on three US spy balloons which drifted or 'drifted' into Iran after they came unmoored or 'unmoored' from April to October 2006. In all three cases, only the initial report is available and there appears to hae been no follow up. A lack of follow up for balloons the US military lost -- with spy equipment on them -- would appear to indicate the 'loss' was planned. Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) focus on Iran as well -- in terms of US documents detailing allegations of Iran backing Shi'ite militias and that a plan was hatched to kidnap a US soldier. Gordon -- who repeatedly sounded the alarms on Iran's alleged involvement in the violence (as he had falsely tapped out the drumbeat in the march to war on Iraq) -- no doubt feels vindicated: "But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousnees with which Iran's role has been seen by the American military." Really? Really? It's the WikiLeaks files that "underscores" that and not all the constant daily brieifings at the Defense Dept and in Baghdad where military officials insisted Iran was up to no good?

Ignore Tom Gjletin and his ridiculous 'reporting' on NPR. As his actions repeatedly indicate, he's left the reporter role. Ava and I'll tackle it at Third on Sunday, we'll fold into a piece on the firing of Juan Williams.

Gulf Daily News reports that Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with Iraq's Sunni vice president and member of the Iraqiya slate Tareq al-Hashemi. The meeting took place yesterday, as Nouri concluded his regional tour.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and fifteen days and counting.

The Toledo Blade editorial board weighs in: "Perhaps most troubling is the fact that, seven months after national elections were held, a government is still not in place. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party finished first and incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's finished second, neither with a majority of seats in parliament. Mr. al-Maliki has declined to leave office and is still seeking support among other parties and abroad, including in Iran, to remain in power in spite of his electoral defeat. He added the party of anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr to his tentative coalition, but that still didn't give him enough seats in the 325-member parliament to form a government."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Garma sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and injured a woman, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 person and left six more injured, a second Mosul roadside bombing which left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and a Badush roadside bombing which injured "a young girl".


Reuters notes an attack on a Baghdad chckpoint in which two police officers and one Iraqi soldier were left injured and an attack on a Mosul police checkpoint in which 1 police officer was killed and another was injured.

Turning to legal news, Dylan Welch (Age) reports that security/mercenary company Unity Resources Group 'forgot' to inform the Australian government (which uses them to guard Australian officials in Iraq) "that it has been fighting a US civil suit since 2008 regarding a Baghdad shooting death. [. . .] It was involved in two fatal shooting incidents in Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, which resulted in the death of an Australian professor and two local women." Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reported the 2 women killed in 2007 were part "of Iraq's Armenian Christian population" and speak with the family of one of the women, Marany Awanees, and they make it clear that, despite Unity's claims otherwise, they were not being contacted. The other woman was Geneva Jalal.

On September 24th, US Spc John Carrillo Jr. and Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan were shot dead while serving in Iraq. A third US soldier was injured in the shooting and he or she has not been identified at present. US Spc Neftaly Platero's name has been floated in the press as the shooter. Yesterday, USF issued the following:

BAGHDAD – A U.S. service member, Spc. Neftaly Platero, is in pre-trial confinement, in connection with the shooting and killing of two service members and injury of another here Thursday.
The incident remains under investigation.
"Our condolences go out to the families of those service members whose lives were lost. We are saddened by this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan.

"Not someone that you'd think would do this," Guy Womack tells Jessica Willey (ABC 13 out of Houston, Texas) of his client, Platero. Willey notes that Womack spent a couple of hours with the soldier "and none of it was asking his client whether he did it."

Womack maintains that there is no hard evidence against his client. He states that John Carrillo Jr. was shot dead on or near his bed with Gebrah P. Noonan shot dead on or near his bed. Between their two beds was a third bed. The third bed contained the soldier who was reported wounded and who has not been identified thus far. Womack states that the three were found in the room and that his client was found outside the room (after the shooting).

Womack also states, "Well I don't need to know what he thinks happened, I need to know what the government thinks happened and what the evidence suggests. And, right now, most of the scenarios you can come up with from looking at the evidence would exclude him as being a shooter."

Womack, a former Lt Col in the Marines, found infamy in some circles when, acting as Abu Ghraib criminal Charles Graner's defense, he stated, "Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Graner received a ten year sentence after being found guilty. Guy Womack & Associates is the firm Womack runs with his son Geoff Womack.

The story of America is a story of the quest for inclusion once travelers came to the occupied Native American land. (Some would rightly point out that, all these years, the original inhabitants -- Native Americans -- still have to struggle for inclusion.) Throughout the nation's history, various groups have had to fight for and win the recognition of their equality and of their natural born dignity. One group fighting for the full range of equality today is the LGBT community. One of the rights they are attempting to win is to be just like any straight person in the military: Able to talk about their significant other or their wild Saturday night. Able not to hide who they are or who they love. The 1993 policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (especially as executed which is different than as conceived) makes it impossible and forces lesibans and gay men to hide who they are.

US Judge Virginia Phillips rightly ruled that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. The White House appealed the decision. She issued an injunction forbiddiing any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the White House's appeal was awaiting a decision from a higher court. The White House didn't like that either. They got the injunction halted.

Here's how the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric handled it last night.

Katie Couric: An update on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It is the law once again after a federal appeals court put a temporary hold on a judge's order that struck it down. So for now, gays are again barred from serving openly in the military. But today Defense Secretary Robert Gates put out new guidelines that will make it tougher to discharge gays who violate Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

And that was it. The report in full. As bad as that is -- and it's pretty bad -- note that neither ABC World News with Diane Sawyer nor NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams had time for the story. They had time for other things. A dog who has been taught 'to pray' on it's owners bare legs (it looked a lot like a tired male dog slolwy humping a leg). But they didn't have time for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, they didn't have time for the American story.

Katie mentioned Robert Gates. He did issue new orders -- as Katie and many others have noted. And that's significant that he finally issued new orders.

That's not me praising me because I'm not a complete idiot (foes would debate how much more I need to qualify for "complete") nor do I suffer from amnesia.

Meaning Robert Gates FINALLY issued new orders. Instead of applauding that, real news outlets should have been asking why?

They should have been asking why the delay?

Why didn't they ask that question?

Yes, yesterday Robert Gates finally issued new orders on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But travel back with us to February via the February 2nd snapshot when we watched Robert Gates testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee. There was Bobby Gates, blathering away and all the sudden, after detailing the study he wanted, he offered this:

Simultaneous with launching this process, I have also directed the Department to quickly review the regulations used to implement the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and -- within 45 days -- present to me recommended changes to those regulations that, within existing law, will enforce this policy in a more humane and fiar manner. You may recall that I asked the Department's General Counsel to conduct a preliminary review of this matter last year. Based on that preliminary review, we believe that we have a degree of latitude within the existing law to change our internal procedures in a manner that is more appropriate and fair to our men and women in uniform.

When did those procedures get changed? This month! What happened to within 45 days? As Aimee Mann once sang:

But no one is watching you now
I know no one is watching you now
No one is watching you now
Like I did
-- "No One Is Watching You Now," written by Aimee Mann, first appears on 'Til Tuesday's Welcome Home

A number of people are trying to spin Gates' change into good news. But all it does, is lock in the discharge and try to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. Mark Thompson didn't. He appeared on TV yesterday when PBS' The NewsHour did what the others couldn't or wouldn't, they treated the struggle for inclusion as the news story it is (link has text, video and audio options). They started with Kwame Holman reporting on what had changed in the last 24 hours. They zoomed in on Lt Dan Choi as one face in the struggle. They offered exclusionist Tony Perkins and his words on maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then Margaret Warner spoke with Time magazine's Mark Thompson who had actually done the work required -- as had Margaret Warner. We'll note this section of the exchange:

MARGARET WARNER: So, on Dec. 1, which was the deadline, or at least when Secretary Gates told Congress he'd have something, will they have just the results of the poll and some sort of outlines, or are they going to have a full policy recommendation laid out about how exactly they'd implement it?

MARK THOMPSON: I think it will be a full menu of options, saying, this is the best way forward, this is how we should do it.

MARGARET WARNER: But, I mean, will they say, we can do it, or is there some pushback now from the service chiefs?

MARK THOMPSON: Well, no, their -- Well, the sense is, No. 1, their mission is not -- their mission is only how we should do it if the law changes, not should it be changed. So, they're going to look for the best path to undo don't ask, don't tell. There is some sense that the service chiefs, especially the Marines and the Army, the ground force guys, are slow-rolling this thing. They don't want it to move out fast. They want it to take a long time. I mean, it's interesting. The papers filed with the courts have said, we have to train everybody before we do this. Meanwhile, you talk to the generals in Afghanistan who are saying, my lord, we have more important things to worry about. This is the last thing on our minds. So, there is some sort of disconnect there.

MARGARET WARNER: So, is that why you're saying it might take -- they might be saying it will take us a year to roll it out? Because there are so many things that would have to be changed, everything from partner benefits to training, sensitivity training?

MARK THOMPSON: Yes, that's the military's mindset. I mean, when RAND studied this issue in 1993, the think tank, they said the way to do this is to do it immediately and do it with leadership. Don't stretch it out. Don't turn it into a taffy pull, which is what it has become. And that's allowed all sorts of polarization to occur. And we're sort of reaping the fruits of that right now.

So the 'end' of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (this is the point being made in yesterday's snapshot, by the way) may be about as real as the Barack's 'end' of the Iraq War August 31st.
Lt Dan Choi appeared on Democracy Now! (link has text, audio and video) today and discussed his reaction to the White House's assault on equality:

Lt Dan Choi: But still, when we found last week that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was struck down by the courts -- and as far as I know about American government, that's the judicial branch -- that's the judiciary branch's constitutional mandate. If there is an unconstitutional law, they strike it down. And for seven days, an entire week, there was no Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It was dead. There were no enormous consequences, like Secretary Gates mentioned. Nobody quit. Nobody protested. No homophobic harassments of gay soldiers happened, as all the fear mongering that happens in many parts of the country, in many political circles, surrounding the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, were just, on their face, invalidated.
And now that President Obama has asked for a stay on that ruling and the injunction, it was very saddening. It was hurtful to me and to people who were in the military that came out or wanted to have that full measure of integrity. It wasn't easy to join back up, go to that recruiting station. But when I realized that the real victims of Don't Ask, Don't Tell are not the gay soldiers that get kicked out, it's really all of America that's the victim of this policy, and when we signal to the rest of the world that our country, even though we say equal justice under the law, we're the land of the free and the home of the brave, that doesn't necessarily apply to some of our citizens.

AMY GOODMAN: So President Obama now, while he says he's against Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it's his government, it's his Justice Department, that has appealed this decision.

LT. DAN CHOI: That's right. And they don't need to. They fulfilled their mandate, the Department of Justice. All they needed to do was put on a court and trial. Many people, legal scholars, have shaken their heads, scratched their heads, wondering what this president is doing. His rhetoric indicates that he wants Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed. He hasn't said that it's unconstitutional. Well, the courts have done that, and that's their job. President Obama, as a legal scholar, as a constitutional law professor, he should know better. The President has no obligation to defend, with such a full-throated effort, the discriminatory and unconstitutional policies. The courts have done the heavy lifting for him, and his policies, his desires to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, have essentially been done.

Dan Choi and every other American has the right to dignity and equality. It's really sad that, at this late stage in the country's history, people still have to fight for inclusion. But that is the American story the constant struggle for full equality for all.

.As well as being part of the larger history of American inclusion struggles, it's also the story of individuals who are punished for who they love or who they're suspected of loving. In Denver, Hendrik Sybrandy (KWGN -- link has text and video) reports on Luiza Fritz, a sergeant discharged from the army for being gay -- and not only was she thrown out of the army due to her sexuality, the army's billing her $15,000 -- a portion of her signing bonus. Or take Sara Story's KLTV (text and video) report from Tyler, Texas on Troy Carlyle who was also kicked out of the service and became "the first person to be court-martialed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He states, "Everything I had worked for was reduced in that one moment to the fact that I was gay. Not to my performance, not to my talent, not to my leadership skills, but that I was gay."

These are not isolated stories. And in the very near future, these American stories will be party of American history, you just apparently can't discover these stories on the network news. But again, a man who trains his dog to assume the prayer position on his pasty bare leg is news.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Karen tumulty (Washington Post) and Kate Zernike (New York Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Never Let Them See You Sweat: Notes from the Florida Campaign Trail." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on sexual exploits. this week's To The Contrary online is extra is on cyber bullying. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "The business of third-party administrators who help employers process and challenge unemployment claims; the minerals that help fund the rebels in Congo. Also: journalist Michael Hudson ("The Monster") on the home-foreclosure fraud scandal." Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The 99ers
Even after an extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, many of those about to go off the program are in a quandary. Scott Pelley talks to some of them in California's Silicon Valley. Watch Video

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall brings Lara Logan and "60 Minutes" cameras back to the forests of Tanzania, where she began her love affair with chimpanzees 50 years ago, to remind the public that chimps are endangered.
Watch Video

Top Gear
A quirky British television show about cars has become a hit almost everywhere but the U.S. Steve Kroft reports on "Top Gear," whose witty humor, outrageous speed, destructive vehicle stunts and car reviews attract an estimated weekly worldwide audience of 350 million according to the BBC.
Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

the cbs evening news with katie couric
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stain on the country

Thursday, one more day until we reach the weekend. Not too excited right now as a result of Barack's pissing on equality. Knowing Barack, he probably squatted to piss.

Gil Kaufman (MTV News) reports

The celebration was short-lived for LGBT soldiers applauding a judge's ruling that stopped enforcement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. That's because on Wednesday a federal appeals court issued a ruling blocking a lower court's decision, meaning that the policy barring gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the military was back on.

According to CNN, the confusing, whirlwind series of events was capped on Wednesday by a ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which gave the Obama administration the delay it was looking for in challenging U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips' order last week to stop enforcing the policy.

Josh Gerstein's not too smart. He reports at Politico:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a directive instructing the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force that they must personally sign off on the dismissal of any gay or lesbian service member under the law. Additionally, the Pentagon’s chief legal counsel and its top personnel official have to coordinate all "don't ask" discharges.

Gates’s order said he has taken the action “in light of the legal uncertainty that currently exists surrounding the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law and policy….and in order to further ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law and policy during this period.”

Why is he not too smart? Read tomorrow's snapshot. C.I. had to pull something out of today's due to space. Tomorrow we should find out about what Gates says and what Gates does. And Politico should have been aware of it.

So it's another day and the stain on the country is still felt. Judge Phillips gave us a land of equality and Barack blew it up. How typical. And before an election. Demonstrating just what really thinks of his alleged base.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama attempts to stomp out the flames of freedom, Lt Dan Choi states Obama has "lost my trust," Nouri concludes his tour, the political stalemate continues, a woman whose husband died in Iraq last month shares why she feels the army is culpable in her husband's death, and more.
Starting in the US where DNAinfo quotes Dan Choi stating, "I have a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House: You've lost my trust. You have lost my trust and I am not gonna vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday." What did he do yesterday? Showed yet another side of hypocrisy.
Lily is dancing
on the table
we've all been
too far
I guess on days
like this
you know who your
friends are
-- "Taxi Ride," written by Tori Amos, first appears on Scarlet's Walk
Lt Dan Choi was discharged from the military for the 'crime' of being gay. With federal Judge Virginia Phillips issuing a halt to discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Pentagon telling recruiters that while Phillips' injunction on discharges is in place, they must not discriminate in recruiting against gays or lesbians (see Rebecca's "don't ask barack because he will tell" from last night), Dan Choi took action Tuesday. For a brief moment, equality appeared to exist. Betty's "Sick of the ass in the White House," Mike's "An ugly day," and Cedric's "Shame on you, Mark Sherman" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! STOP WHORING!" covered the latest last night. For those who missed the news, Gillian Losh (Badger Herald) reports the latest in the ongoing Don't Ask, Don't Tell story:

A federal appeals court ruled to temporarily suspend a judge's ban overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military.
The U.S. Justice Department filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the decision, arguing the injunction on the policy has caused "confusion and uncertainty" in the Pentagon and the military, according to the appeals filing.
The three-judge panel approved the short-term motion to stay while they study the issue and consider suspending the injunction for a longer period.

In an analysis, Devin Dwyer (ABC News -- link has text and video) offers an analysis:

The administration's handling of the case has angered critics on both sides of the issue. Gay rights advocates, infuriated by what they see as hypocrisy, and some legal scholars, insist the "duty to defend" has already been fulfilled and that there is ample precedent for the administration to let Judge Phillips' decision stand. Meanwhile, supporters of the law say the administration's invocation of their "duty" is a smokescreen for a halfhearted defense.
"It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, who is leading the legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state attorney general have both declined to defend the law in court.
"I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Olson said. "It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"
Speaking on CNN today (link has video), Dan declared, "I just heard Valerie Jarrett talk to you guys and I am so absolutely upset at the things she could be saying at this moment. Yesterday, when President Obama -- after Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been dead for a week, no enormous consequences, nobody quitting the military because of honest soldiers. And all the sudden you see give mouth to mouth resuscitation to discrimination and injustice. Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics in the situation that we are a nation of laws.' Well we understand that. We don't need a lecture from Valerie Jarrett on that. Civics. Day one. American government. Checks and balances. When Congress enacts a law that's unconstitutional, whose job is it to strike it down? The court. I understand that the judicial branch is the only branch of the government that is filling its mandate to the Constitution. And that the president is not able to do that? I am resentful. Absolutely."
This month Disaster Valerie Jarrett has already referred to being gay as "a lifestyle choice." Sending her out as the White House spokesperson on this issue is as offensive as inviting Rick Warren to the inauguration, as offensive as Barack putting homophobes onstage for a South Caroline campaign event in 2007. The administration is tone deaf or being deliberately insulting.
Insulring is the use of noted homophobe Rachel Martin by NPR to cover this topic. On Morning Edition today, Martin insisted that Judge Phillips caused "a little bit of uncertainty and chaos" with her decision. Rachel Martin then went on to declare the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy had to remain in effect because the White House didn't know what to do. As only a HOMOPHOBIC LIAR can do, Rachel spun that: "They're going to have to overahaul sexual harassment rules." No, they're not. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment and the rules -- excuse me, THE LAW -- covers it in terms of same-sex sexual harassment and in terms of opposite-sex sexual harassment.
Rachel's a liar, she'll always be liar. While the liar is still among us, let's apply to logic to her lies. According to Rachel, there are all these things the government has to do, just has to do. Including "sensitivity training for troops." Was there sensisitivy training required when Eisenhow racially integrated the military? No. You give an order, that's the end of the story.
But Rachel wanted to lie because -- well that's all she's ever done.
Okay there is one week left in this month. We then have November and December.
When exactly is Barack planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Pentagon's laughable study is supposed to be done at the start of December. That's supposed to mean the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (the end to those who keep half-an-eye on the story). So what's the difference. Why is Judge Phillip's decision being appealed. Forget the injunction for a moment. (The decision was that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. The injunction was added by Judge Phillips after and it prevented any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the executive branch did any appeals.) Why are they wasting, WASTING, tax payer money on this bulls**t?
Five weeks? Five weeks until -- according to the popular narrative -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and Barack is wasting the Justice Dept's hours and our tax dollars on this nonsense? How is that cost effective and how does it demonstrate that he knows the first thing about running a government? It doesn't.
That's the decision. Now let's move to the injunction.
The injunction did no harm. All the injunction did was prevent people from being discharged for being gay. The Penatgon added the policy that recruiters couldn't discriminate. Neither of those were causing any harm -- especially when, Barack wants us to believe -- he's planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in December.
People need to be asking what's going on because it appears Barack's primary rally cry of "We're going to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell!" Is a great deal like his cry of, "We want to end the war!" Apparently, footnotes are required for all of Barack's speeches.
Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) reports that US House Rep Barney Frank states Barack shouldn't have allowed Phillip's decision -- not just the injunction, the entire decision -- to be appealed: "First, President Obama made a mistake in appealing the decision of Judge Phillips, ruling it unconstitutional. While presidents do have the obligation to defend even laws they dislike, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has already been repudiated as bad policy by the President himself, by a decisive majority of the House and by a Senate majority just short of the votes necessary to break filibuster." Writing for the Palm Beach Post editorial board, Rhonda Swan also feels the decision should not have been appealed and argues, "It defies logic that an administration opposed to this bigotry would fight to maintain it. President Obama has said the policy 'weakens our national security.' The Justice Department said it has a duty to defend the laws enacted by Congress. The department did so, and lost. The right thing would have been to accept defeat. In this case, defeat would have been a win for the country." GetEQUAL issued the following:
Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL -- a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a temporary stay against an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was sought by the Department of Justice against a ruling last week that ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law:
"This temporary stay, sought by President Obama's Department of Justice, brings the military's discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law back from the dead. It is a travesty that after numerous attempts, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will go down in history as the Administration that breathed life back into 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' The lives and careers of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers are now back in the crosshairs of our government and a renewed commitment to discrimination falls squarely in the hands of this White House."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or on YouTube at

Yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR -- link has text and audio), Melissa Block spoke with Robert Maginnis who was an officer in the US military until he took retirement. Maginnis "helped craft" Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Maginnis declared:
Actually, I tend to agree with what Secretary [Robert] Gates said on the issue. And that is that you need to engage the force to find out their opinion about this because, after all, this is an all-volunteer force. If in fact they are alienated by a decision like this to repeal, then they could walk. And who are you going to backfill?
We'll stop him there. He is right on one thing: Gates' position. Maginnis summarized Gates' position correctly.
Today Nouri al-Maliki continued (and concluded) his never-ending campaign tour. John Leland (New York Times) observes, "On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki took his shuttle campaign to Egypt, a predominantly Sunni state that has had warmer relations with Mr. Maliki's main political rival, Ayad Allawi. Mr. Allawi's multisectarian bloc, which includes most of Iraq's Sunnis, won the most seats in the national elections in March, ahead of Mr. Maliki's bloc, which is overwhelmingly Shiite." Al Arabiya reports, "Al-Maliki, who is Shiite, is trying to remain in power in Iraq in face of strong opposition from a rival Sunni-backed bloc, which Egypt and other Sunni Arab states have supported."
Liu Wanli (Xinhua) opines, "By boosting business links with Arab nations, the incumbent prime minister run ahead of other candidates in the race to form Iraq's new government, analysts said." Wanli offers examples:
During his visit to Egypt, Al-Maliki said he had invited Egyptian companies to do housing, hospital, oil and electricity projects in Iraq.
He also proposed a joint Iraqi-Egyptian free trade zone and new pipeline that would allow Iraqi gas exports through Egypt, pledging to cut the red tape for Egyptian firms doing business in his country.
In Jordan, King Abdullah and Maliki stressed the need for practical steps to boost ties between Jordan and Iraq in all fields and highlighted the importance of establishing frameworks to enhance cooperation, particularly in the economic and commercial fields, a Royal Court statement said.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and fourteen days and counting.
Meanwhile, as Nouri concluded his tour today, he also 'graced' Turkey with his presence in a visit so brief even Nouri felt compelled to comment, "This is a short but very important visit." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon Damluji stating, "We have concerns about any agreements and promises he has given. Any agreements made after March are not legitimate because there is no parliamentary monitoring." Nor is there any prime minister. Nouri's term expired some time ago. That is why there were calls for the creation of a caretaker government. Ayad Allawi was among those making that call. For the US White House, that was not going to happen due to the fact that they doubted they would get the agreement to extend the military presence in Iraq past 2011 were someone other than Nouri put in charge (most calls for a caretaker government -- including from Allawi -- asked that the United Nations create the caretaker government).

In August, the US government's refusal to support the creation of a caretake government in Iraq was embarrassing. As the political stalemate has now reached the middle of October, it's only more embarrassing. Though Nouri stated this week that 'soon' he would create a new government that ignores the fact that (a) he's made that announcement repeatedly throughout the stalemate and (b) he may not end up prime minister. Yes, yes, the day after the election, Quil Lawrence was calling Nouri the winner and next prime minister. But NPR broadcasting that lie didn't make it any less of a lie. Throughout the stalemate, War Hawk Samantha Power has vouched for Nouri, insisting he was the US' best option. She didn't miss it but she did ignore history. Repeatedly Nouri has been the willful puppet doing just what he wanted to do. That's why he signed on the White House benchmarks after the 2006 mid-terms but never bothered to live up to them. Those benchmarks? They were to measure progress. And the US Congress, if progress was not found, was supposed to cut off all funds. The White House didn't hold him to it and the Congress -- as a body -- didn't hold him to it. (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was among those, in 2008, publicly calling out Nouri's refusal to meet the benchmarks he had agreed to.) These benchmarks were not supposed to extend for four years or more. They were supposed to be met in a year to eighteen months time. All this time later, Nouri still can't check off a single benchmark. Like all the other War Hawks before her, Samantha Power got played.
And Nouri, of course, never did a damn thing to help Iraqi refugees. He never kept his promise to pay neighboring governments. He didn't do anything about the violence within Iraq. He never did a damn thing to help but he did do a few things to hurt -- such as offering certain countries deals if they'd evict refugees. Dropping back to Tuesday's snapshot:

Staying with the United Nation, in Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming addressed the issue of Iraqi returnees, "A poll of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries found that physical insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services has led the majority to regret their decision to return to Iraq. The survey also found that 34 percent said they were uncertain whether they would stay permanently in Iraq and would consider seeking asylum in neighbouring countries once again if conditions do not improve." Fleming noted that the bulk of the returnees were unable to live in their own homes (presumably they were occupied by squatter and those who ran them off to begin with) and the bulk of those who returned did so due to economic conditions (the savings they'd been living on were gone). The University of Chicago's Will Taylor reports for Global Post on Iraqi refugees Mohammad and Marwa and their daughter Noor who have arrived in the US after fleeing Iraq for Syria. Mohammad is a journalist who covered politics and government in Iraq until "local hostilities and militia" forced them to leave the country. Mohammad explains, "I wrote about a high officer in Iraq. He is official officer and besides that he has a militia." As a result, the Mahdi militia visited Mohammad's home and "kidnapped Mohammed and his mother." Though they eventually released him, the whereabouts and status of his mother remain unknown.

Despite that and despite the UN repeatedly stressing that it is not safe for returns, Dutch News reports the Dutch government announced they will continue to forcibly deport Iraqi refugees. It's hard to figure out which is worse: the Dutch government's actions (and other European nations) or the fact that worldwide condemnation has not been heaped on them for these forcible returns. On the issue of refugees, Chibli Mallat (Daily Star) reports:

I received last week a news documentary made by an Australian television network from Dr. Isam Khafaji. Khafaji is an old Iraqi friend who fought against Saddam Hussein's regime because of its appalling human-rights record, and keeps the fight on for the continuing miseries affecting Iraq. The documentary focuses on the Iraqi women who have found refuge in Syria and who became part of a prostitution ring set up with the usual villains: families who don't care and who eke out pennies for survival by selling their women folk's bodies, mafia-like rings of proxenetism, and governmental graft at various levels. The story is repeated, with variations, in Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, inside Iraq, and to some extent, Iran. It is an ugly story.
In a sea of violence, only sporadic attention has been devoted to that ongoing tragedy, which was particularly highlighted by courageous investigators in UNHCR. Only through working on a report for ESCWA on violence against women and available international legal instruments to combat it, did I know about this significant ring of misery affecting young Iraqi women in the countries of refuge.
Little is done in practice to remedy an intolerable situation. The exception is a new venture which has mobilized around Rebecca Heller and her colleagues at Yale law school as described in this page. IRAP's main focus has been US responsibility toward Iraqi refugees, in particular the weaker link constituted by girls and women living in sexual slavery in host countries. Taking up individual cases, IRAP is trying to secure the attention, sympathy and network of US immigration and related authorities to provide relief.

Today, the United Nations Population Fund issues a new report which they summarized in this release:

When women have access to the same rights and opportunities as men, they are more resilient to conflict and disaster and can lead reconstruction and renewal efforts in their societies, according to the State of World Population 2010, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

The report's release coincides with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council's landmark resolution 1325, which aimed to put a stop to sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict and to encourage greater participation by women in peacebuilding initiatives.

"When women and girls suffer deep discrimination, they are more vulnerable to the worst effects of disaster or war, including rape, and less likely to contribute to peacebuilding, which threatens long-term recovery," said UNFPA's Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid at the launch of the report.

Through the stories of individuals affected by conflict or catastrophe in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Timor-Leste and Uganda, the report shows how communities and civil society are healing old wounds and moving forward. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that women have access to services and have a voice in peace deals or reconstruction plans.

The report is entitled "State Of The World Population 2010 Resources: From Conflict and crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change" and has a broad vista and multiple sections. We'll note the following on Iraq:
Over the last decade or two, the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has out of necessity blurred a once-clear line between the internally displaced and refugees who flee from country to country. Both populations have similar needs and similar fears when conflict forces them into flight. Iraq is a case in point. According to the UNHCR and government estimates, in mid-2010, there were 4.8 million Iraqis "of concern," a description that means they felt that they could no longer live safely at home. Of these, more than 2.6 million were displaced within Iraq and 1.9 million had crossed borders into another country. Conversations with Iraqi families who have sought refuge in Jordan reveal that many of them have experienced both: first moving from place to place in Iraq in search of safety and then finally, and in desperation, fleeing the country entirely, sometimes with death threats hanging over them. After national elections in Iraq in 2010, a new fear has complicated the lives of Iraqi refugees who say they are concerned that with the Iraqi political climate declared to be "normal" and sectarian violence reduced (though not ended) they will be sent back by host countries in Europe and some parts of the Middle East.
Reuters notes that a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people wounded.
September 24th, US Spc John Carrillo Jr. and Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan were shot dead while serving in Iraq. A third US soldier was injured in the shooting and he or she has not been identified at present. US Spc Neftaly Platero's name has been floated in the press as the shooter. Yesterday, USF issued the following:

BAGHDAD – A U.S. service member, Spc. Neftaly Platero, is in pre-trial confinement, in connection with the shooting and killing of two service members and injury of another here Thursday.
The incident remains under investigation.
"Our condolences go out to the families of those service members whose lives were lost. We are saddened by this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan.

Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) notes
Platero was on his second tour of Iraq. Joe Goldeen (Stockton Record) reports:

Carrillo's mother, Desiree Carrillo, and his wife, Reylene Carrillo, both of Stockton, were made aware Tuesday that charges were pending, and they issued a short joint statement Wednesday:
"We just want justice for our son and husband," they said.
Goldeen has been covering this story from early on. Which may be why he knows the date of the shooting but a national outlet apparently telegraphs how little they care about Iraq by not even getting the date incident correct.

Carrillo's family has already expressed their dismay that the US military, when informing them of the death of John Carrillo Junior, was not frank about the circumstances of his death.

32-year-old Sgt John F. Burner III died serving Iraq September 16th. He was on his third tour of duty. He apparently died of a heart attack. Immediately prior to his death, he had difficulty breathing and walking and sought help. He was not given the help he needed and his family has expressed their feelings that the military did not protect their loved one. Along with his parents, his loved one include his wife Verena and their two daughters. At CNN, Verena Burner explains that she spoke with her hsuband via Skype on September 15th and that "he looked pale and appeared cold," that he was sick, that his request to see a doctor was at first refused and then when he was allowed to see one the doctor told him that he (the doctor) couldn't perform any tests at that time. Verena Burner writes:
John's symptoms were coughing, difficulty breathing, tingling in hands and feet to the point where he couldn't even walk. John also told me that while on quarters he did not eat much, he was not checked on the way he should have been. Some days he only received one meal. John was uploading pictures to e-mail to me, said he would be right back. After waiting for a while, and he did not return, I started to get worried and made some phone calls. One hour later he was found outside of his living quarters. He was still alive when taken to the hospital, but had a respitory attack soon after and passed away.
I feel that his leadership and the medical system failed my husband. He started complaining about his symptoms about a week before he passed away. I can't help but think that they should have and could have done more for him.
My heart aches for my two daughters Celina (10) and Caitlyn (7).
My husband John was a great soldier, even better husband and father and deserved so much more!
I think this story needs to be heard, so changes can be made and no other family will have to go through something like that. A soldier should never be denied treatment! Like I said in some other articles, I am sure he wasn't the first and he won't be the last if no one speaks out about how out soldiers are treated.
the washington post
ernesto londono