Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Nicaragua and security clearances

As a Catholic, I should note this about Nicaragua.

The Catholic church in Nicaragua has played a key role in the coup while posing as a neutral mediator. A Catholic priest presided over the torture of Sander Bonilla, a Sandinista supporter, by an opposition paramilitary that kidnapped him at a roadblock
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I met Sander Bonilla yesterday. He told me the Catholic priest who presided over his beating - solely because he supports Sandinistas - has tried persuading him to recant his testimony. And opposition calls him a fake. He showed me the scars on his wrists.

And now I want to note this:

COMMENTARY: Former CIA agent John Kiriakou argues that no former intelligence official should be allowed to keep their security clearances when they leave government, especially if they work in the media.

And this is from John Kiriakou's CONSORTIUM piece:

Libertarian senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said on Monday that in a personal meeting with President Donald Trump, he urged the president to revoke the security clearances of a half dozen former Obama-era intelligence officials, including former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I couldn’t agree more with Paul’s position, not specifically regarding these three people, but for any former intelligence official. No former intelligence official should keep a security clearance, especially if he or she transitions to the media or to a corporate board.
The controversy specifically over Brennan’s clearance has been bubbling along for more than a year. He has been one of Trump’s most vocal and harshest critics. Last week he went so far as to accuse Trump of having committed “treason” during his meeting in Helsinki, Finland with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Brennan said in a tweet, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican patriots: Where are you???” The outburst was in response to Trump’s unwillingness to accept the Intelligence Community position that Putin and the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Other intelligence professionals weighed in negatively on Trump’s Helsinki performance, including Republicans like former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former CIA director Mike Hayden.
Why are these people saying anything at all? And why do they have active Top Secret security clearances if they have no governmental positions? The first question is easier to answer than the second. Before answering, though, I want to say that I don’t think this issue is specific to Donald Trump. Former officials of every administration criticize those who have replaced them. That’s the way Washington works. It’s a way for those former officials to remain relevant. Donald Trump happens to be an easy target. His actions are so wildly unpredictable—and frequently so disingenuous on the surface of things—that he proves wrong the oft-quoted observation by the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser: “The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves. You only make complicated stupid moves, which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.”

For more on this topic, see Ann's "Leave the job, lose your security clearance, it should be simple" and Elaine's "Security clearances" for more on this topic.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

Let's start with the press because they're such an 'injured class.'  They're feelings are always hurt even though they're somewhere lower on the food chain then a whore because at least a whore provides pleasure before they steal your money.

The Office of Special Counsel reported this year that the VA has been "sluggish" to respond to problems until they are thrust into the public spotlight by the press. Just something I think we should all keep in mind right about now.

Nikki is a reporter for STARS AND STRIPES.  Nikki got her wittle feelings hurt.  DOn't bring up the special counsel report if you're STARS AND STRIPES because the primary news outlet when it comes to the VA -- in terms of exposing -- has been USA TODAY.

STARS AND STRIPES has done damn little.  We were at the hearing where Eric Shinseki admitted that they knew the veterans wouldn't receive their tuition checks.  It was the first scandal of his term.  He was told about the problems when he was sworn in that January.  September rolled around and what happened?  The VA (and convicted felon Corrine Brown who is behind bars at this time) blamed the colleges.  And when Eric Shineski, Secretary of the VA, finally admitted that he knew all along that the checks wouldn't all be arriving on time, we reported what he said.  STARS AND STRIPES was at that hearing.  They never reported on it.

Or how about the hideous Allison Hickey?  A VA official so STARS AND STRIPES didn't go after her.  We called her a liar here back in the '00s because that's what she was.  And Democratic after Democrat in the House called her out and noted that her statements turned out to be false from one hearing after another, one Democrat predicted in a 2012 hearing that she would be gone by 2015 (she did end up resigning that year) and all the problems she'd claimed to have fixed would still be present (and they are).  We covered that hearing.  Not only did we report on it here, the Democrat's words to Hickey made a "Truest statement of the week" that year (2012) at THIRD.

The press did a lousy job confronting Hickey and reporting the reality on her.  It was well into Barack's second term before they finally began to seriously question her -- years after Democrats in Congress had laid the groundwork.

The press is a continual thorn in the side of Members of Congress like me, and it was often a pain in Iraq, but a free press is so essential to democracy it’s one of the first things the Marine Corps worked to establish after the invasion.

Was it a pain in Iraq, Seth?  Really?  You don't know much about pain then because the bulk of the press there was embeds -- certainly the ones you encountered were -- and they did what they were told.  As Christian Parenti infamously noted, Dexter Filkins was set to interview the head of an insurgent group and then the US military brass made clear they didn't want that to happen so Dexy cancelled the interview.  Free press, Seth?  Or how about our the entry we did here, three days after this site started, about Dexy's long road into print -- that happens when you let the military vet your copy (and, yes, that is a no-no).  Dexy went on to win an award for that bad writing.  Somehow he missed the use of White Phosphorus and everything else that went on in the battle but, hey, the military brass liked the story and that's (apparently) what mattered.

Replying to 
The NYTimes and Washington Post normalized and agitated for the Iraq war before the bombs even started falling. Mainstream media are nothing but an arm of the US empire, the anti-Trump stuff is just a family food fight.

That is what happened.  The press doesn't do much of a job at all.  We need to stop pretending otherwise.  Not only did, for example, THE NEW YORK TIMES sell the illegal war, when the illegal war proved to be all that those of us opposed to it said it would be, NYT didn't get rid of their columnists who got it wrong or rush to find peace columnists or even left ones.

Replying to 
Friedman lost all credibility ever since he was a big cheerleader for W's Iraq War.

Apparently the big banks were the only ones 'too big to fail.'  After selling the Iraq War, the press did nothing to demonstrate that they learned one damn thing from it.

On the press, "Seymour Hersh meanders throughout REPORTER: A MEMOIR" went up Saturday.  I said in a snapshot last week that I'd try to read it and write a review.

Iraq barely appears in the book.  Kind of like the way it's ignored by the bulk of the press today.  They certainly have ignored the birth defects in Iraq due to the US government's use of various chemical weapons.

The US invaded Iraq to destroy (non-existent) WMDs, employing weapons which created a health crisis. We owe it to the Iraqi people to comprehensively research ALL possible links between US bombardment and rates of birth defects and cancer in Iraq

Today is Day 11 of ICYMI: CPT . is being investigated by her command for tweeting the govt’s own facts about US militarism. The US war on Iraq led to a major environmental & health crisis:

A free press would be reporting on that.  Maybe if we could somehow tie some conspiracy theory about Donald Trump to the birth defects, they could cover it?  Donald made a deal with Martians in 1999 that if they'd help him become president, he'd never mention the birth defects in Iraq?

Let's stay with Donald for a minute.  International Crisis Group's Wendy Taeuber has a column at THE HILL where she argues that the administration is about to make a mistake with regards to aid to Iraq:

This month United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green co-led a delegation to Iraq to assess how to streamline aid to persecuted ethnic and religious communities - namely Christians and Yezidis. While perhaps well intentioned, the Trump Administration’s plan to target assistance toward specific religious or ethnic groups in Iraq risks doing more harm than good.
While the Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq have indeed suffered greatly at the hands of ISIS, the impact of the conflict crosses ethnic and religious lines. ISIS inflicted terrible abuses on any who opposed their ruleand the military operation to retake territory from the group devastated civilian lives and infrastructure without discrimination. The scale of ongoing humanitarian need is massive in Iraq, where 8.7 million people continue to require aid.
Deciding in advance who deserves aid and who doesn’t undermines the very principles of humanitarian action, including the basic tenet that assistance is provided solely on need and is not used as a tool to advance political, military, or security objectives. For aid organizations working in conflict settings around the world, our ability to effectively demonstrate that our limited resources are allocated based on prioritized needs, free from external influence, is vital to building trust with communities and cultivating a reputation for independence and impartiality with authorities that allows us to safely and effectively reach the people most in need.

Wendy makes some good points in her column and if this were 2003 or 2004, I might back the argument she puts forward.  But it's not 2003 or 2004.  It's 2018.

There might be errors?  Some might be overlooked?

Sorry but that's happened for over a decade now.

Communities have been cut off from aid throughout the now 15 year old Iraq War.

Do I think this new plan is going to work?  I doubt it.  But it might and at least it's an effort to try something different after seeing some communities ignored repeatedly year after year.

Is there an alternative between the proposal and Wendy's position?  There are many and maybe she should have proposed an alternative that would have acknowledged that some communities have been repeatedly left out and a modification here or there might help.  She didn't do that.  She took a position against the proposal and that's all she did.


ALBAWABA notes, "Ongoing demonstrations in southern Iraq -- which erupted earlier this month and have since spread to the capital -- have reportedly left 14 people dead and more than 700 injured."

says authorities “Deliberately disabling the internet is a sinister restriction to the right to freedom of expression and strongly indicates that the authorities have something to hide."
said in a statement “We are closely monitoring the escalating situation across southern and are extremely worried by reports that security forces are beating, arbitrarily detaining and even opening fire on peaceful protesters,”

Amnesty International was addressing the issue last week.  Maybe if Human Rights Watch employees could drop the conspiracy theories, they'd have noticed it last week instead of this week?  Sarah, editing an exchange out of a press conference does not make it "a fake press conference."  It makes it an edited video and it makes it a censored video.  And these edits happened when Barack Obama was president as well -- even if Rachel Maddow didn't scream from her padded cell about it.

There are real issues in the world.  HRW doesn't seem interested in those issues -- or in human rights -- if you check out their Twitter feeds.  They're conspiracy nuts, that's what they look like and this will come back to bite them long after Trump is gone.

Whilst protests rage in the south of Iraq over corruption, services and the oil industry, there is a totally neglected issue in the north. An entire region is dying of thirst, with farmers unable to resume work due to lack of water and irrigation, nevermind rebuild their homes.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan -- updated: