First up, Jimmy Dore.
As I noted before, Kevin Reed (WSWS) reported:
The Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DoJ) confirmed on Tuesday that the US had seized 33 websites affiliated with the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three others operated by Kata’ib Hizballah (Hezbollah Brigades), an Iraqi Shia group supported by Iran.
In a press statement, the DoJ stated that the website domains—including the English and French language PressTV.com based in Teheran—were “in violation of US sanctions.” The statement said that the US Office of Foreign Assets and Control (OFAC) had “designated IRTVU as a Specially Designated National (SDN)” during the Trump administration in October 2020 for “being owned or controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC).”
The DoJ also said that organizations labeled as SDNs are “prohibited from obtaining services, including website and domain services, in the United States without an OFAC license” and that IRTVU “and others like it” are not news organizations but are used to launch “disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.” It also claimed that the 33 website addresses were owned in the US by IRTVU which “did not obtain a license from OFAC prior to utilizing the domain names.”
In the case of Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), the DoJ says that it was both designated an SDN by OFAC and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State in July 2009. It claims that KH has “committed, directed, supported or posed a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces” and also did not obtain an OFAC license prior to acquiring the domain names.
Whatever the public justifications provided for its aggressive act, the transparent political purpose of the Biden administration’s website seizures is the effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna over the 2015 nuclear agreement and following the June 18 selection of the hardline conservative Ebrahim Raisi as the next Iranian president.
Again, we claim to believe in free speech and a free press in the US -- we claim that. Too bad our government really doesn't.
Meanwhile, Shannon Jones (WSWS) reports:
Office staff at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the AFL-CIO union federation and the National Education Association (NEASO), the largest US teachers union, are locked in bitter struggle with union functionaries in its national headquarters over contract terms.
Earlier this month members of the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO) voted overwhelmingly to strike NEA headquarters in Washington D.C. over demands by management for what amounts to a pay cut. According to staff union officials, NEA management is offering a pay raise far below the current rate of inflation and is demanding increases in out-of-pocket employee health care expenses.
In a statement the NEASO denounced what it called “a slew of anti-union delay tactics” by the NEA.
Some of the NEA staff involved in the dispute make over $100,000 annually and owe their cushy posts to years of faithful service to the NEA bureaucracy, including the imposition of pay cuts and jobs cuts on teachers.
It is ironic then that NEASO President Robin McLean said in relation to the NEA staff, “Let us make this clear: NEA is the largest union in the country, and its managers are asking staff to accept stagnant pay now and well into the future at a time when inflation and the cost of living are skyrocketing.” A spokesperson for the NEA said its position had been mischaracterized by the NEASO but did not further elaborate.
Also, last week the Washington-Baltimore News Guild filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the national AFL-CIO head office in D.C., alleging the union federation “has failed and refused to bargain in good faith.” It pointed to demands that staff return to work on site without adequate COVID-19 safety precautions.
We need real unions and we don't have them. And the whole country is watching as one union after another sells workers out.
I agree with this Tweet from Fiorella Isabel of THE CONVO COUCH:
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, June 28, 2021. Today we focus only on the strike in Iraq and what led up to it.
Sarah Abdallah Tweets:
Iraq and Syria have been bombed. Syria isn't the focus of this site. The bombing that took place in Syria also has different issues than the one that took place in Iraq, so we're focusing on Iraq. Here's the statement from Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby:
"At President Biden's direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region. The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries. Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.
As demonstrated by this evening's strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel. Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks. We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS. The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation - but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.
As a matter of international law, the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense. The strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope. As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq."
US House Rep Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Her office issued the following statement:
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the United States conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region:
“The defensive airstrikes conducted today by the Department of Defense on operational and weapons storage facilities in the Iraq-Syria border region appear to be a targeted and proportional response to a serious and specific threat.
“Protecting the military heroes who defend our freedoms is a sacred priority. The Iran-backed militias utilizing these facilities have been engaged in attacks threatening U.S. servicemembers, as well as our allies.
“Congress looks forward to receiving and reviewing the formal notification of this operation under the War Powers Act and to receiving additional briefings from the Administration.”
Officials have said militias employing small, explosive-laden drones to attack regional U.S. personnel is one of the chief concerns for the U.S. military mission there.
Iraq condemned the strike on its soil as a “blatant and unacceptable violation” of national sovereignty and “all international conventions.” Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada said in a statement that four of its militiamen were killed in the attack on the Iraqi side of the border. Photographs suggested that the youngest among them was in his early twenties.
Iraq condemned? Who in Iraq condemned? That's what needs to be reported.
Syria and Iraq are two different countries. I am personally opposed to both air strikes. But we're not talking about personal beliefs in this entry. An action was taken in Iraq. Can it be justified?
Sadly, yes, it can be.
Statements about national sovereignty from "Iraq"? I'd love to have names attached so that the hypocrisy could be called out. When the militias threw their tantrum a few weeks ago and flooded Baghdad over an arrest that they didn't want, when they encircled the prime minister's compound, where was the national sovereignty then?
Because the term "militias" is used to widely. They are militias -- or thugs. But they're also part of the Iraq military. Many of us opposed that move, loudly critiqued it, when it was first floated and throughout the years where it was still proposed. It never should have been made part of the Iraqi military.
It is out of control and does not respect the chain of command, it openly insults the prime minister who is now supposed to be its commander. So I'd love to know which idiot is whining "national sovereignty" in Iraq right now. I'd especially love to know if it's a hypocrite who refuses to call out Turkey's repeated violations of national sovereignty.
Did Joe Biden and the US break laws in the attack?
Probably not. The Iraqi government neither disciplines nor reigns in the militias. They do not hold them in check and although, on paper, they are supposed to have authority over them, in practice, they actually have none.
The militias have made public statements, issued them, of carrying out violence on US troops.
Attacks on US troops have taken place. As RTE notes, "Since the start of the year there have been more than 40 attacks against US interests in Iraq, where 2,500 American troops are deployed as part of an international coalition to fight the jihadist Islamic State group."
The Iraqi government could choose to expel US forces but they haven't done that and the prime minister wants US troops in Iraq. (Please don't play an ANTIWAR.COM idiot and bring up a vote in Parliament in early 2020 -- a vote that was boycotted by too many members for there to have been a quorum. The Iraqi people want the US out and have wanted that for years, many members of Parliament feel the same. But ANTIWAR.COM has repeatedly presented that non-binding nonsense as genuine and pretended as though the full Parliament turned out for that vote. ALZAEERA pimps the false claim about the vote in Parliament in their report of the Sunday strikes and that's why we're not noting them. We're not here to help spread lies.)
There is a thing known as self-defense. If the Iraqi government can't provide the protection, the US government will.
I'm talking legally, not personally. I am opposed to the strikes and don't see how they do anything but heat up an already flammable situation. I'm also excluding Syria because that's a different situation on the ground there and I do not think that a legal argument can be made to support that strike the way it can be made for the strike on Iraq.
And the fact that I believe you can make a legal case for the strike on Iraq does not mean that I think the attack was justified.
US Senator Chris Murphy's office issued the following yesterday:
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, on Sunday released the following statement on the U.S. military airstrikes on facilities used by Iranian-backed military groups along the Iraq-Syria border:
“I expect to be briefed tomorrow by the White House on the U.S. military airstrikes along the Iraq-Syria border and look forward to hearing more about the circumstances. There is no doubt that President Biden possesses the ability to defend our forces abroad, and I continue to trust inherently the national security instincts of this White House,” said Murphy. “My concern is that the pace of activity directed at U.S. forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act. Both the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the president to come to Congress for a war declaration under these circumstances.”
Congress does need to provide oversight, that is their role. Hopefully, they will do so publicly -- meaning with hearings. If Chris believes the actions are important enough to warrant issuing that statement, he should also believe that it's important enough for an open process which would require a heading -- not just a briefing behind closed doors.
DEUTSCHE WELLE moves beyond 'Iraq condemns' to give you an actual source:
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi slammed the US raids as "flagrant violation" of his country's sovereignty.
"We condemn the US air attack that targeted a site last night on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security," said a statement from his office.
Turkey has sent troops into Iraq -- supposedly not at the invitation of the Iraqi government -- and established bases in Iraq -- ibid -- while also using War Planes to drop bombs which have killed and displaced villagers and Mustafa's been at a loss for words so his newly discovered voice is about as much of a joke as he himself is. He can't control the militias, he can't protect the people. He can't even keep a killer, assassin Qasim Muslih, in custody when he goes up against the militias so let's stop pretending his prancing and preening has any meaning.
Barham Salih is the president of Iraq. It is supposed to be a ceremonial position only. But with the help of a lazy western press and Mustafa's own incompetence, Barham has elevated the position to the point that, on the international stage, it's comparable to the post of prime minister.
Phil Stewart (REUTERS) types, "Two U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Iran-backed militias carried out at least five drone attacks against facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq since April."
Is it true? Possibly. But the reader has no way to verify it or even to determine whether or not to lend it credence. Stewart doesn't even bother to inform the reader which department the officials are with. If they do exist, of course, there's always the possibility that they don't. The claim being put forward anonymously is not the type of claim that deserves anonymity. They are backing up the claims of the administration, therefore, there's no need to hide their names. Doing so makes their assertion suspect.
Monday’s strikes were the second time Biden has ordered the use of force against Iranian-backed groups in the region. In February, U.S. forces conducted airstrikes along the Syria-Iraq border in retaliation to rocket attacks on American facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Erbil. Since then Iranian-backed groups have targeted Iraqi bases that housed U.S. military personnel, using drones laden with explosives. The U.S. military presence in Iraq is largely limited to bases in Ain al-Asad and Baghdad as the Trump administration had significantly drawn it down. The strikes also come just a week after Iran elected hard-line leader Ebrahim Raisi, as its next president.
Tom Vanden Brook (USA TODAY) adds, "Navy Cmdr. Jessica McNulty said Sunday night that Iranian-backed militias have launched five drone attacks against facilities used by U.S. and allied troops in Iraq since April. Militia members have also fired rockets."
Repeating, I don't think the strike on Iraq was right or humane or justified. Is it legal? Yes, based upon what's taken place since the first of the year, it is. If you're offended by the strike, hopefully, you'll use that reaction to argue for US forces to be pulled out of Iraq. If you're for the strike or neutral, hopefully, you'll grasp that things were dangerous before and they just got more dangerous as a result of the strike and you'll use that awareness to argue for US troops to leave Iraq.