Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pay for Play

"Donors got access to bowling alley, WH movies, Messina" (Glen Thursh, Politico):
Matthew Mosk of the Washington Times sifts the records and finds that President Obama's high-rolling donors got access to a ten-pin alley, the White House movie theater and the Oval.
The Web version of the story includes the above photo of Obama -- wearing 3-D glasses -- watching a movie with family and, presumably, donors.
A White House aide, commenting on the photo, emails: "The 'donors' watching a movie in the theater were John Rogers and Eric Whitaker – among the President’s longtime closest friends from Chicago, whose relationships with him predate his career in public service. Whitaker met the President when they were grad students at Harvard. Rogers played basketball with the First Lady’s brother Craig at Princeton."

So you pay and you get to play. Imagine that. (No, I'm not surprised. For a variety of reasons.)

The issue arose at today's White House briefing.

Q On another subject, The Washington Times is reporting today that the President has awarded big donors to the Democratic National Committee with various access to senior officials here at the White House. One donor got a birthday visit to the Oval Office. Obviously I know other White Houses, Democrats, Republicans, have done things like this. But the President last year promised to clean this up. What went wrong?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Ed, I think understanding what this President has done is institute the very toughest ethics and transparency rules of any administration in history. We're the first administration in history that will soon provide a list of each and every person that visits the White House, something that's never been done before.
The Democratic National Committee does not accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists or political action committees and hasn't done so since President Obama became the party's nominee last year. I think as the statement that we issued said, a contributor -- contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House, nor does it preclude it.
Q It appears that people are getting special access because of these donations. If you've taken --
MR. GIBBS: Hundreds of --
Q -- those other positive steps, why not shut off access?
MR. GIBBS: Hundreds of thousands of people have visited this White House since the President came in, and I think the President has returned to a stance of transparency and ethics that hasn't been matched by any other White House.
Q The RNC is calling for the White House to release the names of donors who have gotten special access to White House advisors and perks like the bowling alley. Will you release those names?
MR. GIBBS: Every name of every person that comes to this White House will be released.
Q In the past, too?
MR. GIBBS: I think there soon will be some look-back list that will be released. But again, Chip, this -- this is something, again, that for the first time in any administration at any point in our history, we've undertaken releasing publicly those names. I would remind -- let me just also -- the Republican National Committee -- there's two political parties, two major political parties in this country. One party doesn't accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists. That same party doesn't accept contributions from political action committees. It's not the committee with which you just asked me the question on.
Q Are you saying the White House will release the names of any donors who come in, and then, say did they meet with particular White House advisors as -- in exchange for those contributions?
MR. GIBBS: Through an agreement that we announced in August, the names of people that come to the White House will be released, and any contributor's name --
Q But will we know what they did --
MR. GIBBS: -- is released as per the forms on the FEC.
Q Will it simply be a name on a list, or will we know that they came here to meet with a senior White House official in exchange for a contribution?
MR. GIBBS: Chip, as we did this briefing in August, I'll remind you that the WAVES records will denote who that person is, when they came, how long they were here, and who they met with -- again, a standard not met by any other previous White House.
Q We will know if they used the White House bowling alley, for example?
MR. GIBBS: There are only a couple of people that I know that have used the residence bowling alley.
Q -- bowling alley also.
MR. GIBBS: I can report to you that Ethan Gibbs, with the bumpers down, bowled a couple of games while eating some chicken fingers.
Q Was there a quid pro quo here?
MR. GIBBS: No, of course not.
Q Well, the DNC documents actually say those who raise $300,000 before the 2010 midterm elections get quarterly meetings with senior members of the Obama administration.
MR. GIBBS: I'll point you to the DNC on that.
Q But they're with White House officials.
MR. GIBBS: Again, I'll point you to the DNC.
Q How can you point us to them when it's White House officials who the meetings are with? Can I have one other? Do you know if any of these donors have had a night in the Lincoln Bedroom -- reminding of an earlier controversy?
MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of.

I hate the Butterball turkey that is Robert Gibbs. For those who've forgotten, he was behind the effort to call Indians "P**jabs." He is really just an offensive man. No surprise, Gibbs dances around the question. It really is amazing how much this White House has hidden from the public.

"White House Faces Questions on Big Donor Maintenance Programs" (Jake Tapper, Political Punch, ABC News):
One donor was given a birthday visit to the Oval Office. UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf, the president’s top New York City “bundler” -- a contributor who raises hundreds of thousands of dollars -- golfed with him at Martha's Vineyard vacation in August. White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina gave briefings on health care reform to top donors in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Other big Democratic donors celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the 4th of July at the White House; the White House has not released the names of those who visited for those celebrations at the White House.
“It’s just the same as everybody else,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. The story, she said, is “not suggesting a quid pro quo -- it didn’t say Mr. Obama is offering regulatory help for donors. It says donors are getting meetings with White House insiders to tell them what’s going on. That’s not any different from what happens in Congress, where big donors get briefings with Barney Frank, or Barbara Boxer. Top donors always get access to politicians.”

It is also really amazing how Melanie Sloan is such a joke. The joke that kept Jack Murtha out of leadership (CREW launched an attack on Murtha) now wants to minimize Barack's actions with "It's just the same as everybody else."

CREW is a joke. Supposedly they get outraged over ethic violations but, confronted with one of Obama's, they say 'everybody else does it too.'

Repeating, CREW is a joke.

It will be interesting to see which records the press receives. I will be following that offline very closely because I'm well aware of who is getting in and why. Pay for play, yes. A smart reporter, by the way, would go beyond campaign donations. The ones with big time access currently are the ones who donated big time to the inauguration fund.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 28, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, still no election law in Iraq, more on the Iraqi govenrment's desire to go nuclear, Najaf gets a new bank, the KRG gets a new cabinet, and more.

US military announced yesterda: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier died today of a non-combat related injury at Camp Victory. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." DoD identifes the fallen as Maj David L. Audo from Saint Joseph, Illinois who was 35-years-old. The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4352.

"How stable is Iraq?" asked
Riz Khan last night on his self-titled Al Jazeera program. "Stable enough for national elections in January?" He was joined by a panel consisting of Iraqi Laith Kubba, the New America Foundation's Steven Clemmons and one-time director of the US Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq J. Scott Carpenter.

Riz Khan: Let me ask a question that came from our Facebook page, and I'll put this to Steven Clemmons here, this came from Ninveh Albazi in California, Steven, here in the US. And Ninveh says, "The longer the US military stays, the more terrorists will come in Iraq to fight. If they leave, more bombings over power will occur. Either way the Iraqi people will suffer." How do you feel about that -- the presence of -- US presence actually being a trigger for these kind of attacks?

Steven Clemmons: Well I think that there are some people in society -- and we've seen it throughout the Middle East -- that react very viscerally and negatively to the sense that they're being occupied by foreign troops. In Afghanistan, it's one of the things that's driving Pashtun resistance beyond the question of, uh, the Taliban. And-and so, I think it would be wrong to-to-to argue that in fact the American troop presence doesn't drive some violent minorities. I think on the whole, Iraqi society has felt as if the United States has done more beneficial things recently and so those feelings are not as widespread. But-but certainly there are people like Robert Pape at the University of Chicago among others that have shown that foreign troop deployments do drive a kind of -- drive suicide bombings, drive some of the more radical responses from societies. So there is some truth to it. I don't think I would agree with the-the decibel level of the questioner's comments though.

Riz Khan: Well, Laith, this came in via Twitter to us, a viewer by the name of Mosharraf Zaidi who says, "Even with stability in Iraq, does Maliki have the sense to ensure a free and fair process? Is it even up to him?"
Laith Kubba: Well, I mean, the good news is there is sufficient, I think, awareness and organization in Iraq to have elections that are, generally speaking, fair and free. I think the last elections had a high turnout -- about 70%. Of course, there were cases of fraud. But by and large, I think it was representative. So that's on the good side. But I think on the negative side, even if you had representatives in Parliament, the system is in a grid-lock because it's a parliamentary system, not a presidential system. It does not produce an effective executive that takes the country and move forward. You have, ultimately, a quote over power and that paralyzes government.

Riz Khan: I'll get to the intracacise of that in a moment because there are some interesting intracacies to the elections in Iraq but, Scott, if I could put this to you from LiveStation chat room, people are online here, Crane in the USA says, "How can fair and transparant elections be ensured when there are repeated bombings?" And let me ask you, do you think the elections will go ahead in January with all the delays and potential problems?

J. Scott Carpenter: I do. I'm a perinally optimist about this, that at the last minute -- however late the last minute is, the Iraqis will find some way to have these elections because they see how important they are to the political future of Iraq, to American withdrawal -- frankly. I do think there will be elections that are credible in Iraq because people don't trust each other and so there will be lots of observation which is what drove the credibility and legitimacy of the provincial elections is that there were so many political party observers watching one another that when the results were broadcast, no one really questioned the legitimacy of the results.

Riz Khan: Steven Clemmons, do you think the west, there are those who think the west is really pushing for the elections as a way of closure to finally dust their hands and finally close the chapter on Iraq.

Steven Clemmons: I don't think it's just to dust their hands and put a punctuation point. I mean I think everyone would like to see that what we did there succeeded in something. But I think that we've seen Iraqi society already get near ripping itself in shreds internally and the reason why elections and civil institution building and these democratic processes which J. and Laith were speaking about are so important is it creates opportunites for cohesive and collaborative governance within Iraq. That if it doesn't proceed and move forward, the place has a high possibility of pulling itself apart. So I think it's much more than us saying we're done with this -- with this experiment although, clearly, I would like us to move on as well and see Iraqi society take responsibility for itself succeed. But on the other hand, I think that this is an important part of showing that the Iraqi government can have some durability and sustainability after we begin to much more greatly downsize our troop presence.

Riz Kahn: We have this came in, I'll put this to you, Laith, this comes in from Facebook as well and it's from Cambodia where a viewer by the name of Heidi Aljani in Pursat says, "We were warned of the United States' prolonged military presence when Obama spoke of Iraq. The new excuse: Iraqi people and their government are to blame for the inability to govern themselves." Now do you believe that the elections are definite and looking at this issue that Iraq has too much of an issue trying to govern itself. What's your view?

Laith Kubba: Well two things. Number one, I think elections will take place, that's not the issue. Yes, there is a problem currently in finding the right formula on how Iraq should govern itself. But I think by and large, it is the right thing to do is to leave Iraqis to work it out for themselves; however, that does not mean walking out. I think it's really too idealistic. I think that will create enough power vacuum and might lead to escalating violence where the US has to send back some troops and intervene again.

Staying with the issue of the elections, this morning
Dow Jones reports that the KRG's represenative Qubad Talabani is stating that, following the January elections, the draft oil law may "finally pass." Sahar Issa and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report that a bill may be presented "to parliament for a vote within days". Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani "demanded" today that Kirkuk become a part of the Kurdistan Region. Kirkuk is disputed territory due to Saddam Hussein forcing Kurds out of the region during his reign. Both the Baghdad-based government or 'government' and the KRG claim Kirkuk really belongs to them. This is not a new issue. It is so not a new issue that the 2005 Iraqi Constitution addressed the issue and mandated that a referendum be held on the matter. Article 140 has never been followed. The issue has not been resolved. It is repeatedly pushed aside. Sort of like the draft election law. Weeks ago was the deadline for passing the elections law and the deadline was missed. Appearing before the US House Armed Services Committee last week, the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy insisted that time remained:Although the government of Iraq's self-imposed deadline of October 15th for passing the elections law has passed, we judge that the COR [Council Of Representatives] still has another week or two to come to some kind of an agreement on the elections law before it will put the January date -- the early January date -- in jeopardy in terms of the election commission's ability to actually physically execute the, uh, the election. If a new law with open lists is not passed, the fall back solution for them is to return to the 2005 election law which is based on a closed list system. But that could be used for upcoming elections, the COR would simply have to vote on an election date. If that law is not passed in the next two weeks, they will be looking at slipping the date to later in January which would still be compliant with the [Iraqi] Constitution but would be later than originally planned. It is now one week since Flournoy claimed Iraq had two weeks. There is no progress. The same day she was testifying to Congress, " Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported, "The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission and United Nations elections experts have said Iraq needs at least 90 days to adequately prepare for the vote. Iraq's existing election law was declared unconstitutional by its highest court, which said it needs to be replaced or amended." The court ruling would appear to render obsolete Flournoy's claim that the law for the 2005 elections could still be used with just passage of legislation for a new date. In addition, 90 days? There are 3 days left in this month, 30 in November and 31 in December. That's 64.90 days needed. 90 minus 64 (check my math always) is 26 days. That would be January 26th, if legislation passed Parliament today. If. And maybe. The Iraqi Freedom Congress' Amjad Ali weighs in with "Amid violence, Iraq Freedom Congress calls for a sovereign, secular, transitional government" (Flesh & Stone):Over nearly seven years the "political process" did not result in anything but ferocious fighting between the forces and the parties that were part of this process in order to gain as much privilege, influence, power and wealth as possible. This conflict resulted in prolongation of the political chaos, an insecurity in Iraq, exacerbated poverty and destitution, and curtailed social and health services.The elections, one of the mechanisms of imposing the "political process," have never solved the issue of the power struggle because none of the elections held changed the sectarian and ethnic quotas. And that means the elections merely reproduced the same forces that are currently in power. All of the elections have been characterized by farces such as fraud, political assassinations, and the delayed announcement of voting results until agreements among the influential forces had been reached. However, after every election, we witnessed an increase of violence and terrorist activities as part of political arm twisting among these forces. National reconciliation was one of the themes to bring together the political movements that did not participate in power sharing with the forces that supported the war and occupation. The reconciliation was projected by the occupation administration to involve the pan-Arab nationalist forces who were excluded from the formation of a new Iraq to impose security and political stability. However, fears of the parties in power (political Islam, Shiite in particular, and Kurdish nationalists) has undermined national reconciliation.In the midst of the current political situation, neither the occupation nor the successive governments have been able to establish a state in Iraq. The conflict among the parties and the forces has always been a key factor in that lack of progress. Moreover, the conflict over what would be the identity of the state -- whether an Islamist Shiite, a Islamist Sunni, Arab nationalist, or federal moderate Islamist --is another obstacle to the establishment of an Iraqi state. The ongoing violence, which is another form of political conflict, will not end through a political process that was brought by the occupation. And the experience of nearly seven years of conflict between the political forces taught us that the violence would not be terminated. In fact, it would only reproduce more violence and terror. What is happening today, such as restructuring old alliances and forming new ones and the escalation of the conflicts within the one party, is an explanation of how deep the crisis is. As a result we could hear the prime minister and a number of political parties calling for an end to the rule of consensus or democracy through consensus.

Whenever the elections take place, they'll be the first national elections since 2005. In January 2009, provincial elections were held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. In July the Kurdistan Region's three provinces held their elections.
Today KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih's cabinet was sworn in: "Dr Salih was appointed Prime Minister by the Kurdistani List coalition, which won the Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections in July with 58 percent of the vote, and voter turnout of nearly 80 percent. Mr Azad Barwari, a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister." AFP reports the swearing in was "clouded by several MPs walking out after a refusal of separate votes for each minister." Vahal (Mideast Youth) offers this:

In a ceremony attended by the president of the region, Mr. Massoud Barzani, the outgoing PM, Mr. Nichervan Barzani as well as the Iraqi first lady, Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmad, the sixth cabinet was sworn in at the Parliament.
The new cabinet will have only one woman, Asos Najib Abdullah who will be the minister of labor and social affairs.
Here is some poetic justice, the man who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death by hanging, judge Ra'ouf Rashid will now be the minister of Justice in Barham Salih's cabinet.

Sunday's bombings resulted in many deaths which means many burials.
Saad Fakhrildeen (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The cars streamed into Najaf over the last two days as families buried loved ones killed in Sunday's double bombing in Baghdad. By Tuesday afternoon, what was thought to be the last of the dead were brought to the Valley of Peace cemetery, the most sacred burial ground for Iraq's Shiite majority. Undertaker Mehdi Assadi had listened to mourners' screams as at least 80 of the estimated 155 killed in Sunday's Baghdad bombings were buried in the Valley of Peace." Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports approximately 60 children are still missing following Sunday's Baghdad bombings with some believing they may be buried/trapped under the rubble and the Iraqi military rejecting the assertion with the following statement: "There is no truth in reports that there are bodies under the rubble of the Ministry of Justice in Baghdad. All the martyrs and injrued have been taken to hospitals." The military is awfully sure of themselves. Suprising when you consider Monday's report by Miguel Martinez on ABC's World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson where Martinez showed some of the destruction and noted, "This is the hole created by the explosion. It goes down about twenty-five feet. The blast was so powerful they burst a water main, flooding this section of Baghdad. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who faces re-election in January has campaigned on his ability to make Iraq safer. His opponents say this bombings proves the military is infiltrated." If you saw the broadcast, you know no one could see to the bottom of the crater -- the very wide crater -- because it was filled with water. On Sunday's bombings, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy poses a number of questions at Inside Iraq, beginning with: "Is it completely correct to keep accusing only the neighboring countries all the time? If we assume they are involved, who implement their plans in Iraq?"

Yesterday's snapshot noted Martin Chulov (the Guardian) report on Iraq attempting to "become a nuclear player [. . .] The Iraqi government has approached the French nuclear industry about rebuilding at least one of the reactors that was bombed at the start of the first Gulf War. The government has also contacted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations to seek ways around resolutions that ban Iraq's re-entry into the nuclear field." Today he does an audio report at the Guardian on the issue.

Martin Chulov: I think Iraqi politicians are looking around and they're seeing that they're out of options as far as delivering services to their -- to their constituents. It's got no electricity capacity, or very little. It has very little water capacity. And not much for science and technology so they figure now that a new reactor may help them serve their energy needs and all sorts of other scientific and health needs that might lead them forward.

Jon Dennis: Iraq hasn't had a very happy history with its nuclear technology.

Martin Chulov: It certainly hasn't. Three decades of Saddam during which he attempted to make good and maintain a nuclear program ended in catastrophe. All three nuclear reactors were bombed and destroyed. And he was invaded twice, partly on the basis that he had these reactors. So it's been a long and fraught and ultimately fruitless history with nuclear energy in Iraq but now, six years after Saddam was ousted, the Iraqis are looking to have another go at it.

Jon Dennis: But how could Iraq ensure that any new nuclear facility would be secure?

Martin Chulov: And this is indeed the problem and this is going to be a giant step -- a giant obstacle in getting any sort of approval. Iraq is a signatory to a number of non-proliferation treaties that were -- that were imposed after the invasion and which a number of yellow cake vials did, in fact, go missing. There are some contaminets out here in the Iraqi community that have not been recovered in six years since. Iraq has shown a very limited capacity to ensure its essential sites including four of its ministries which have been destroyed over the past three months by suicide bombers who have been able to drive straight up to the gates.

The report is a segment of
Guardian Daily, the newspaper's daily audio broadcast. Today Oliver August (Times of London) observes:Iraq's new masters insist they have no intention of trying to develop nuclear bombs. "We are co-operating with the IAEA and expanding and defining areas of research where we can implement nuclear technology for peaceful means," the Science and Technology Minister, Raid Fahmi, told the Guardian. That is unlikely to reassure Iraq's neighbours, however, given the chaotic conditions that reign in the country. The insurgency is by no means subdued, with a group linked to Iraqi al-Qaeda claiming responsibility for the latest bombings, which killed more than 155 people on Sunday. The Sunni extremist group said on a website that its "martyrs . . . targeted the dens of infidelity".

New Zealand Herald adds, "Iraq has also begun lobbying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations to overturn resolutions which ban Iraq using atomic energy." At Iran's Press TV, a commentator named Jaled Ali Ayoub shares this opinion, "wake up, stupids they destroyed all irak with their amunitions and know they are going to reconstract irak with the companies, owned by them and paid by all the irakis population. You cannt by more ignorents, because when the morality of the iraks gain the power of irak, i sware that they will destroy it again. look to another horizon the green go and the english, they only represents death to all arabs and muslim. 10 of billions of US$ was stolen from your country."

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


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded six people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the lives of 3 women and left four men injured and a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 4 lives and left six people injured. Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing "blew up an oil tanker" claiming 2 lives in the process ("the driver and his assistant"). Lin Zhi (Xinhua) reports a Diyala Province bombing which left three people injured (one female, two males) and a Diyala Proinvce "makeshift bomb" wounded a father and son.


Reuters notes that Iraqi and US forces "killed a suspsected al Qaeda member" in Mosul yesterday.

Mu Xueuqan (Xinhua) reports Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, stated today that the UN will send someone to the country "for preliminary consulations related to Iraq's security and sovereignty." Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports Najaf has a new bank, "In one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest cities, a bank has opened a branch only for women, hoping to tap a potentially large market and meet pent-up demand from Muslim women for financial services that meet their needs."

The Iraq War drags on and, if you doubt that, you're not paying attention. In the US,
Pamela E. Walck (Savannah Morning News) reports Fort Stewart is sending 400 soldiers from the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry to Iraq for a year. Jessica Fitzgerald's husband (Spc Kevin Fitzgerald) is among those deploying and she tells Walck, "This is his second deployment. It's not any easier this time." Spc Carla Robinson tells Walck, "I'm really feeling pretty positive right now. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can come home." And Sgt Brandon Bodily states, "This is my first deployment. I'm just hoping I come back safely." P. Norman Moody (Floriday Today) reports, "Florida National Guard soldiers from Cocoa began intense training this week for deployment in January to Iraq and Kuwait. The Guard's 53rd Infantry Brigade kicked off the training for 2,500 troops in what's expected to be the largest single-unit deployment of the Florida National Guard since World War II." Meanwhile Sify News reports that India qill not be sending troops to Iraq or Afghanistan according to Defense Minister A.K. Anthony. That declaration came on the same day that UPI reports, "U.S. and Indian forces wrapped up their largest joint military exercise to date, practicing a set of maneuvers simulating environments in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Turning to the US.
Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reports the US military believes they've stumbled onto a category of people with an advanced level of detection when it comes to roadside bombs: "Military researchers have found that two groups of personnel are particularly good at spotting anomalies: those with hunting backgrounds, who traipsed through the woods as youths looking to bag a deer or turkey; and those who grew up in tough urban neighborhoods, where it is often important to know what gang controls which block." You have to wonder why the military can spend money studying that but they can never seem to study rape within the ranks? That issue was a topic yesterday on Democracy Now! (link has text, video and audio) as Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous spoke with a director of a new documentary.

AMY GOODMAN: Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within is a documentary that focuses on the cases of three female service members victimized by rape and other forms of sexual assault. One of the victims, Tina Priest, she was found dead in Iraq in March 2006, just weeks after she had accused a male soldier of raping her. Her family was told she took her own life, but they don't believe that. They think she may have been killed because she came forward with the rape accusation. In this scene from the film, Tina Priest's mother, Joy Priest, visits her daughter's gravesite.

PASCALE BOURGAUX: How did she die?

JOY PRIEST: She died in Iraq from what the Army says was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her chest. That's what the Army says. I don't -- I don't know how she died. I want to find out how she died.

PASCALE BOURGAUX: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED: Don't know what to think.

JOY PRIEST: There are so many different opinions. I don't -- I don't see her killing herself. But if she did, I can understand why --


JOY PRIEST: -- she did. Yes, because of the trauma that she had been through with the rape and the way that people treated her afterwards. And so, I can see how she would be depressed enough to do that. But it's not like her.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within. For more, we're joined by the film's director, Pascale Bourgaux, a French journalist and filmmaker. The film had its premiere last night here in New York at the Independent Film Festival.
Welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about Tina and the other three women you profile.

PASCALE BOURGAUX: So, Tina, the -- you've seen in the excerpt, it's -- I mean, the family is still looking for the truth, because they're convinced that she didn't commit suicide, that she was killed. But the case is dead. They asked answer -- they ask answer to the Army, but they never -- you know, they never answer those questions they raised. And then, the three other cases. There is Suzanne. She was raped by her command. She deserted. She refused to go back to Iraq to escape from her commander. And then she was in jail.

Finally, Grammy, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning singer-songwriter
Carly Simon appeared on NBC's Today Show this morning and performed "You Belong To Me." The Carly classic (which Carly co-wrote with the Doobie Brothers' Michael McDonald) is part of a new album released this week, Never Been Gone. Carly offers two songs she hadn't previously recorded for commercial release as well as ten of her best-loved classics that she's reimagined to find diferent levels in and meanings to including "You're So Vain," "Anticipation," "Let The River Run," "The Right Thing To Do," "Boys In The Trees" and "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." Thursday she's on Tavis Smiley (PBS) and also on NPR's Talk Of The Nation. Click here to watch Carly on Monday's Good Morning America (ABC).

martin chulov
the guardianjon dennis
al jazeera
the new york timesrod nordland
iraqi freedom congressamjad ali
mcclatchy newspapershannah allam
sahar issa
the los angeles timessaad fakhrildeen
abc newsworld news tonight with charlie gibsonmiguel marquez
the times of londonoliver august
jenan hussein
savannah morning newspamela e. walckflorida todayp. norman moody
tony perry
amy goodmandemocracy now
carly simon