Friday, September 11, 2009


"In Letter to Attorney General, Rights Groups Demand Due Process Protections for Non-Citizens with Mental Disabilities" (The Center for Constitutional Rights):
Request for Attorney General Holder to Ensure Due Process for Persons with Mental Disabilities in Removal Proceedings
September 10, 2009 - In the spirit of the signing of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 19th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocates call for safeguards to ensure due process for persons with mental disabilities in removal proceedings. Both events honor our nation’s commitment to provide reasonable accommodations for and ensure basic fairness for all people with disabilities. Unfortunately, this principle is absent in our nation’s immigration system in which non-citizens with mental disabilities are not afforded these basic rights.

On July 24, 2009, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and a diverse group of community organizations, attorneys and physicians committed to protecting the rights of people with mental disabilities sent a letter to the United States Attorney General calling for reasonable accommodations that ensure basic fairness for people with mental disabilities in our nation’s immigration courts. The signatories presented four main recommendations that would help the government ensure these basic rights while providing a substantial cost benefit by increasing efficiency in immigration courts. These recommendations are well-established in civil and criminal courts throughout the country and have proven successful at both upholding the nation’s commitment to equal protection for persons with mental disabilities and creating cost savings for those systems. The recommendations include:
Appoint counsel to indigent people with mental disabilities who do not have legal representation.
Appoint guardians ad litem to people who are found mentally incompetent.
Enact regulations that standardize procedures for adjudicating competency in immigration court and that give immigration judges the authority to provide reasonable accommodations to protect the rights of people with mental disabilities, including the power to administratively close cases or terminate proceedings where appropriate.
Train immigration judges to recognize mental disabilities and make reasonable accommodations to ensure a fundamentally fair hearing.The Attorney General is charged with prescribing “safeguards to protect the rights and privileges” of persons with mental disabilities in immigration court. That charge flows from our nation’s commitment to ensure basic fairness for all people with disabilities. Such safeguards should be first and foremost in any discussion of immigration reform. We call on the Attorney General to revive the integrity of our judicial system by protecting the rights of the most vulnerable.
To read a New York Times article about one immigrant's personal story,
click here.
To read the full letter and a list of all signatories, click on the link below.

Attached Files
Letter to AG Holder
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

That's an important issue and I am opening with it.

After? I have nothing of importance to share. You have been warned.

Oh wait. I can note that October 27th, Carly Simon's latest album, Never Been Gone, is released. That's important:

Free MP3 from new CD
Carly's new CD, Never Been Gone, will be released on October 27th. The CD features reworked versions of 10 of her greatest hits - as well as two new songs.
You can download the new version of
Let The River Run now.
NOTE: All future newsletters will be coming to you from a different email address. Please, be sure to add to your email address book to prevent future emails from landing in your junk or spam folders.
Join Carly Online
Members of Carly's Facebook, Twitter and Myspace communities receive frequent news updates and are the first to be alerted of upcoming special offers. It's a great way to easily share this information with friends and family and connect with other fans around the globe.
Join one today! It's free and fun.
Carly to perform at 9/11 Ceremony
Carly will be performing her inspiring anthem, Let The River Run, this Friday at the 9/11 ceremony being held at Ground Zero. Joining her will be her son and daughter (Ben & Sally Taylor) along with musician Peter Calo.
While all of the national TV networks will be airing portions of the ceremony, we don't have any information on which exact networks will be covering the event at the time of Carly's performance.

I am not joking about the above being important. 2008 taught us that the peace movement was nothing but an auxillary club focused on electing Dems. Music really is all you can count on at this point. Carly Simon's one of our finest songwriters and she's offering two new songs in this collection and some reworkings of earlier favorites.

I will have that album the day it comes out. Trust me.

I'm happy to note it and it fits with what I was going to write about.

First, I'm mentioning the following in this post:

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
and Mike of Mikey Likes It!

A college friend is in town and he didn't realize C.I. was "C.I." He's seen The Common Ills before because he's against the Iraq War and there aren't many places online left that you can get news and commentary on the Iraq War. So when he realized it Wednesday night he was kind of shocked. He was over Thursday night after my group session and he, Mike and I were up late, late talking.

He noted how C.I.'s writing online really is melodic and you can picture her at a piano keyboard coming up with her comments. You really can. If you know her rhythms, you can read TCI just as she'd say it out loud.

But he was talking about back in college and asking me if I remembered how C.I. was about sheet music?

I'd forgotten.

C.I. almost always had sheet music with her. It might be printed sheet music or blank sheet music she was writing a song on. She could write music away from the piano or guitar. Which I still find amazing. She can write it at the keyboard or with a guitar to strum but we could be in lectures that were so boring and she'd pull out some blank sheet music (or make a piece of paper into sheet music) and start writing a song.

She'd have several articles and several note cards for speeches she was going to be giving (either on campus or off) and also sheet music and you'd think she'd never get to all of the stuff but she would. If it were sheet music she'd purchased, she'd studied it and figure out the fingering and the rhythm so that when she finally was at a keyboard, she'd be able to play it perfectly from the first note.

From there, it turned to how music was always part of our college years. That's recorded music, yes, but that's also music we made singing in the car (often without a radio) and music we made with guitars and keyboards. He was saying that our apartment (C.I., Rebecca and my apartment) always seemed to have music and that's true and, honestly, something I would have done on my own because I couldn't handle silence for many, many years after my parents died. (My parents passed away when I was still a child.) I was really lucky to end up with Rebecca and C.I. because they loved music and never felt the need to holler, "Turn that down!" Or, "Can't we have some silence!"

Music wasn't just the background to our lives, very often it captured what we were going through. I do fear some of that is lost today. If it's being replaced with games speaking to young people today, that's fine. As long as there is something replacing it, that's great. I just fear some time that nothing has replaced it and it's a gaping hole that people do not even realize is there.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 11, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a prison riot at Abu Ghraib, Iraqi soldiers are shot dead, a new appeal for Camp Ashraf, can President Obama bypass the Senate on agreements with Iraq, and more.

On the second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show today, Iraq was discussed. Steve Roberts filled in for Diane Rehm (who tripped a few Thursdays ago and expects to be back on Monday's program and will be on Saturday's Weekend Edition speaking with Scott Simon) and spoke with panelists Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy).

Steve Roberts: Karen, next door [to Iran], Iraq continues, almost every week we have to talk about it. This week in Iraq, a blast in the northern provinces, 25 or so people killed. This is an area of-of a lot of ethnic strife, Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs. What do we know about the security situation in-in Iraq and the potential for widening civil strife there?

Karen DeYoung: It's interesting that as these -- as these things have happened and there have been several big explosions, certainly starting from the August 19th suicide attack against the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, the Americans have gone out of their way in each instance to say, "Gosh this is too bad but we don't think it's a return to sectarian strife. We think things are proceeding as they should, we are leaving on schedule, if not before we are scheduled to leave." And you saw Ambassador Chris Hill, the US ambassador to Baghdad, was on Capital Hill yesterday testifying in the Senate and in the House and saying, "Look, you know" essentially saying, "this is growing pains. The Iraqis have to learn how to deal with these things themselves and they will learn by doing it."

Steve Roberts: I'm Steve Roberts and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. But in his (Hill's) testimony, the subtext clearly was drawing a very clear distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan. They continually say Iraq is-is not vital to national security in just -- in the way that Afghanistan remains.

Karen DeYoung: Well he was saying Look we have an ongoing interest in a partnership with Iraq. Iraq will -- You know we have this Strategic Framework Agreement that-that has levels of economic cooperation, cultural cooperation and some ongoing military cooperation, certainly in terms of training and-and other kinds of assistance. But that we are not -- we think in terms of the insurgency, that's Iraq's problem now and we're leaving it for them to deal with." Obviously, they still have problems in the north and that is the primary concern both on a military level, an economic level and a governance level The difficulties between the Kurds in the north and the -- and the Arabs and the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

Let's use Karen's remarks to jump back to that hearing already covered in
yesterday's snapshot. Last night, Kat shared her thoughts on the hearing and she also noted that I didn't do transcript format to cover as much of the two hearings as possible. Today we're going to zoom in on a few specific moments from the Senate Foreign Affairs hearing. First up, a few e-mails wonder if John Kerry was clear that Hill should summarize? Kerry is the chair of the committee and he was very clear in his instructions and Hill agreed to do what was asked and then went on to ignore what was requested of him.

Chris Hill: Thank you very much, uh Chairman Kerry, I would like to uhm -- I have a statement which I would like to --

John Kerry: We'll put the full statement in the record as if read in full and if you'd summarize that would give us more time to have a good dialogue. Thanks.

Chris Hill: Very good.

Is that not clear? Does any adult have trouble following what Kerry requested? Hill responded "Very good" and nodded. So presumably he understood what he was asked to do. He was asked to summarize his statement. The next words out of his mouth were, "Chairman Kerry, Senator Lugar, Members of . . ." and you can [PDF format warning] click here for the written statement he prepared ahead of time and you will see -- surprise, surprise, as
Carol Burnett's Eunice used to say -- it starts the same way. In fact, 14 pages will be read word for word with the exception of when Hill loses his place. 14 pages. At which point, he will finally notice Kerry's displeasure and begin summarizing the last five pages. He will take approximately 11 minutes with the bulk of it (10 minutes) being spent reading word-for-word before he rushes to sum up the last five pages in one minute.

John Kerry: Mr. Ambassador, you also talked about the issue of reform in Iraq and, you know, we've been sitting on this committee listening to this talk I mean I can remember Secretary [Condi] Rice down in the lower building, lower room of the Dirksen, testifying to us in January three or four years ago saying the oil law's almost done, we're moving forward on this and that, etc, etc. We are at least three or four years later now and still those contentious issues remain contentious. Share with us, I mean, it seems those may be the explosion point also in the absence of an American presence. Would you lend your view on that and on the prospect of actually resolving these --

Chris Hill: Well first of all, I'd like to say that I think getting the economy there operating -- namely getting oil uh starting to-to-to be pumped out of the ground -- is essential to the future of that country and, frankly, we cannot be uh funding uh things that should be funded by the Iraqis and would be funded if they - if they were able to move on the oil sector. Uh with regard to the hydrocarbons law, I went out there with the expectation that we would move on that but I know -- you know -- it was held up -- it's been held up for three or four years. I have really worked that issue. We have tried to break it down, find out where the real differences are between the Kurdish government and the uh Iraqi government. It's a complex piece of legislation actually involving four separate pieces of legislation having to do with revenue sharing, having to do with institution building, uh having to do with uh how the ministry would operate and I think realistically speaking it will probably not get done before the January elections. So our concern has been we cannot have Iraq's future held up or-or simply held hostage to this one piece of legislation. Therefore we were pleased that the Iraqis did move ahead with the beginning of something they hadn't done for decades and decades and that is begin the process of-of bidding oil fields to foreign concerns. They didn't do it during Saddam, they didn't even do it pre-Saddam. So they have begun that. They began it in June. One of the --

John Kerry: That's all well and good but if all those revenues, if all those revenues are piling up in even greater amounts without some distribution mechanism --

Chris Hill: Well there is a distribution mechanism the 17% is basically -- is agreed to by all sides. So even when the -- when they -- on the Kurdish Regional Government when they were able to export some oil with an agreement with Baghdad, they did it under the provision of seven -- seventeen percent. So I think these things can-can be properly distributed. The issue is in the -- I won't say "long run" but certainly in the medium run they're going to need this law because the issues go to things like infrastructure. Iraq's oil sector is very much in trouble with very aging infrastructure. They have to have agreements no how they're going to pay for Is that the responsibility of local authorities? There are other issues having to do with the uh southern part of-of Iraq and there own regional concerns So I think they can deal with some of the key elements but it would be better if they dealt with the hydrocarbon law. I'm giving you my sense of the situation and I don't think we're going to get there before January. And therefore we really want to focus on getting them to bid out these fields because British-Petroleum in there is a good development.

John Kerry: Mr. Ambassador, Syria and Iraq had indicated a willingness to try to cooperate on the borders and deal with the foreign fighter issue which is very much in our interest and we've been pushing that on both sides. But the bombings on August 19th have now seen, you know sort of an explosion between the two countries, they've pulled their ambassadors and uh traded recriminations so where do we stand on that? What if anything can be done to end that? Will Turkish mediation make a difference? Is that the thing that we should be advocating at this point? And what do you think is the process for getting back to the place that we'd hoped to be.

Chris Hill: Well, I uh think we would like to see Iraq and uh Syria have a good relationship and it was rather ironic that on August 18th -- that is one day before the bombing -- Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki was in Damascus and they signed a number of economic agreements. Uh, obviously, things are -- things are in a difficult state and things are frankly on hold right now through this uh, through this uh down turn n the relationship. The Iraqis are very concerned about the fact that some senior Ba'athist leaders went and found refuge in Syria and remain in Syria. And the Iraqis have understandably called for their return to-to Iraq. That issue needs to be, frankly, needs to be worked through.

We'll stop on that section -- and note
British Petroleum is not "in there" on its own, it formed a partnership with China National Petroleum Corporation. On the subject of Iraq and Syria, Muhanad Mohammed, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Elizabeth Fullerton (Reuters) report Nouri's spokesmodel Ali al-Dabbagh declared today, "It is premature to talk about the return of the ambassadors before Iraq sees seriousness from the Syrian side and the political will to implement the demands of Iraqis." Today's exchange is only the latest volley. Syria continues to demand proof before extraditing anyone.

We'll pick back up on yesterday's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with Senator Russ Feingold.

Senator Russ Feingold: I'm extremely pleased that we finally have a time table for ending our involvement in the war in Iraq. While I'm concerned that the redeployment is not being done as promptly as it should be, this will allow us to refocus on the global threat posed by al Qaeda. I remain convinced that foreign occupations are usually not a good strategy for combatting a global terrorist network. We need to find ways to relentlessly pursue al Qaeda while simelutaneously developing longterm partnerships with legitimate local actors and doing so through civilian diplomatic and development efforts that do not involve a massive military footprint. And now as we transition out of Iraq it is extremely important that we focus on making this an orderly withdraw and doing everything we can through diplomatic means to help promote the political reconciliation needed to bring lasting peace to Iraq. As to some questions, Ambassador, how do the Iraqi people feel about the redeployment of all US troops by the end of 2011 as required by the bi-lateral agreement? Is there any danger that any indication that we're backing away from that committment strong opposition.
Chris Hill: I think the-the dates of uh December 2011, uh August 2010, these were agreed with the Iraqi government and uh at the end of 2008. Uh I think any uh any uh indication that we were not prepared to live with these dates would be very poorly received by the -- by the Iraqi people. And indeed we saw this in the uh in the movement out of the cities June 30, 2009. Rememer we tried to discuss that in terms of nuances and the uh Iraqi media, the Iraqi public got concerned that somehow we were looking for ways not to accomplish that and we did exactly what we said we would do which is we pulled our people from the cities and I think it really has established a resevoir of trust that when you uh have an agreement with the -- with the Americans, you can take it to the bank. So I think uh it's very important to-to live up to these agreements and I think the Iraqi people, even though they do have great concerns about the security, I think they-they want to be responsible for their -- see their country responsible for their own security. As I said earlier, this will be -- these will be difficult moments ahead but uh these are -- these will be nonetheless Iraqi moments to handle and I think they will -- they will deal with this. We are dealing with uh very -- some very competent people, very intelligent people and they will know what to do.

Russ Feingold: Thank you for that answer. The Iraqi government intends to hold a nation-wide referendum on the bi-lateral Status Of Forces Agreement and while there's been a lot of speculation about how this could impact a redeployment timetable, I'd like to also point out that both the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people will have had a chance to vote on the agreement even though the US Senate has not. Can you assure us that any potential modifications to the Security Agreement will be submitted to the Senate for ratification?

Chris Hill: Uh, the issue of Senate ratification goes beyond my write but I will certainly take that question to the State Department and get you an official answer on that. I can give you my personal opinion on that.

Russ Feingold: Would you please?

Chris Hill: -- that you would not want to be changing this uh we would not engage in changing this security agreement without uh considerable consultation but as for the actual relationship between the Senate and the executive [branch] on this, I'd like to defer to our lawyers at the State Department.

Omar Fadhil al-Nidawi and Austin Bay (Wall St. Journal) report, "It's clear that Iraqi air defense forces will not be ready to handle the mission by 2011. Currently, the Iraqi Air Force is a creature of turbo-prop planes and helicopters. A squadron of high performance aircraft flown by Iraqi crack pilots is an expensive goal that might sortie over Baghdad by 2016 at best, though the Iraqi Ministry of Defense quietly estimates that 2018, or 2020, is more probable."

Could the White House extend the US presence beyong 2011 and would it require Senate approval to do so? "Yes" to the first and "no" to the second. Russ Feingold isn't suddenly interested in this issue. He was among those vocally decrying attempts to circumvent the Constitution by bypassing the Senate to form a treaty with Iraq. That was the Bush White House. Let's drop back to the
April 10, 2008 snapshot where another Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing was covered:

Senator Russ Feingold wanted to know if there were "any conditions that the Iraq government must meet?" No, that thought never occurred to the White House. "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true colation," Feingold asked, "won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?" The two witnesses [David Satterfield (US State Department) and Mary Beth Long (US Defense Dept)] didn't appear to have heard that fact before. Feingold repeated and asked, "Are you not concerned at all that the majority of the Iraqi Parliament has called for withdrawal" Satterfield feels the US and the agreement "will enjoy broad popular support" in Iraq. Satterfield kept saying the agreement wasn't binding. And Feingold pointed out, "The agreement will not bind the Congress either, if the Congress were to" pass a law overriding it which seemed to confuse Satterfield requiring that Feingold again point that out and ask him if "Congress passed a clear law overriding the agreement, would the law override the agreement." Satterfield felt the White House "would have to look carefully at it at the time" because "it would propose difficult questions for us."

"I would suggest," Feingold responded, "your difficulties are with the nature of our Constitution. If we pass a law overiding it . . . that's the law." The treaty and the efforts to bypass the Senate's advise & consent role was something that bothered senators on both sides of the aisle.

Feingold objected as did many Dems and, in the Senate, several Republicans. Barack Obama objected as well. Until he won the election. Then objections began vanishing. Now he operates under Bush's SOFA as opposed to doing any of the things he promised on the campaign trail. Can the White House extend US involvement in Iraq?


It was one of the two signers of the document. It can put forward a new agreement or can add years to the same agreement.


Does it need Senate approval to do so?

"No" would now appear to be the answer. Precedent would most likely apply here were the matter to go before the Supreme Court. The Court will sometimes provide a check on the Executive Branch; however, it generally looks for any way out of such a ruling. (The Court has no officers that enforce decisions -- among the reasons it tends to avoid stand-offs with the Executive Branch.) Allowing George W. Bush to put forward a treaty and refusing to overturn it when Barack was sworn in as president would most likely allow a wary Court to say a limited and limiting precedent --- applying solely to this SOFA document with Iraq -- was set by Bush's objections and the continuation of them under President Barack Obama. So Barack could bypass the Senate -- as Bush did -- in creating a new agreement or extending the current one. It's an issue Feingold always takes seriously. You'll note his chief online cheerleader, The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild, 'forgets' to document Feingold's line of questioning yesterday.

Fadhel al-Badrani, Suadad al-Salhy, Missy Ryan and Philippa Fletcher (Reuters) reported this morning that a riot has broken out at Abu Ghraib prison and someone has started a fire. BBC News adds that US helicopters and Iraqi troops were sent to the prison and: "Some Iraqi media said there had been fatalities, but [US] Master Sgt [Nicholas] Conner said the Iraqi authorities reported that three guards and three inmates had been injured." AFP quotes an unnamed prison officer stating, "A fire was declared on Friday afternoon following clashes between prisoners and wardens carrying out a search for banned substances and weapons." AP reports that a group of lawmakers met with prisoners to negotiate and cite Zeinab alKinani stating the bulk of the prisoners returned to the cells after given a promise that a committee would be created to explore prisoner amnesty. RTT states, 'One prisoner was killed and many others injured". Elsewhere, Wathiq Ibrahim and Tim Cocks (Reuters) report, were attacked at a Safara military checkpoint with 5 being shot dead.

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Riyadh bombing which claimed 2 lives.


Reuters notes a Kirkuk shooting that injured one person, 1 person shot dead in Hawija and, dropping back to yesterday, six people were left wounded in a Kirkuk shooting.

The violence has immediate effects in terms of deaths and wounded. It also has impacts that often aren't noted.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Montior) reports that Black Wednesday (the August 19th bombings targeting the Foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry primarily) also did damage to the Iraq Museum:"Showcases, windows, even the office of the director of excavations was damaged," says museum director Amira Eidan, interviewed on the sidelines of a Tourism Ministry conference on antiquities. She says it could be several years before the renowned institution can be opened to the public. "Is it the time to reopen the museum and show these treasures?" she asks. "After improving the security situation, then we can think about reopening."You may be thinking, "Reopen? I thought the museum opened in Februrary." They certainly did try to spin it that way but, check Feb. 23rd snapshot, it wasn't an opening, it was a ceremony for Nouri, dignitaries and, most of all, reporters. Back then, the Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog was one of the few to offer reality, "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months." And it never opened.

Attempts are being made to close a camp in Iraq. Camp Ashraf is made up of Iranian dissidents belonging to the MEK who were given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein and have remained in Iraq for decades. Following the US invasion, the US military provided security for them and the US government labeled them "protected persons" under Geneva. Though Nouri 'promised' he wouldn't move against Camp Ashraf, but
July 28th he launched an assault. Bill Bowder (UK's Church Times) reports, "The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the United States Ambassador in London to add his voice to protests outside the US embassy." Today Amnesty International released the following:

Amnesty International has written to the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki expressing its deep concern about killings and other abuses committed by Iraqi security forces at Camp Ashraf this summer.
On 28-29 July a large number of Iraqi security personnel seized control of Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province, north of Baghdad, a settlement that has been home to some 3,400 Iranian exiles for over 20 years. At least nine camp residents were shot dead and others sustained serious injuries during the storming of the camp, during which vehicles were driven into crowds of protesting residents and live ammunition used, apparently without adequate justification. Since July, 36 camp residents have been held without charge or trial.
In response, fears for the thousands of Iranian nationals - many with a long history of political opposition to the government of neighbouring Iran - have been raised by numerous supporters around the world. There have been protests around the world, including a long-running vigil and hunger strike outside the US embassy in London. Protestors say the withdrawal of US forces to military bases in Iraq earlier this year has left Camp Ashraf residents newly vulnerable to Iraqi security forces, a concern shared by Amnesty.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'There are numerous reports - including shocking images - of the Iraq security forces using what appears to be grossly excessive force in their seizure of Camp Ashraf and this must be properly investigated. So must reports that detainees have been abused in detention
'The fear now is that Iraq may force Camp Ashraf residents to return to Iran, where they could face imprisonment or torture. No vulnerable residents of Camp Ashraf must face this fate.'
Amnesty has made clear to both the Iraqi and US governments that it strongly opposes any forcible returns, either of those at Camp Ashraf or of other Iranian nationals who currently reside in Iraq having left Iran for political reasons or to escape persecution. In its letter to prime minister al-Maliki, Amnesty urges him to immediately establish a full and independent investigation into the methods used by Iraqi security forces during the Camp Ashraf operation, making its findings public as soon as possible. Amnesty also urged him to ensure that members of the security forces and other officials found responsible for using excessive force and of committing serious human rights violations are immediately suspended from duty and promptly brought to justice.
Meanwhile Amnesty has expressed particular concern over the fate of the 36 detained men, not least as there are allegations that they have been beaten and otherwise ill-treated. They are currently held at a police station in al-Khalis - a town some 15 miles from Camp Ashraf -- where they are reported to be in poor health and to be maintaining a hunger strike in protest at their detention and ill-treatment.
On 24 August an Iraqi investigative judge ordered the release of the 36 on the grounds that they had no charges to answer, but local police refused to release them, in breach of Iraqi law. A public prosecutor in Baquba, Diyala province, is then reported to have appealed against the investigative judge's release order, apparently as a means of justifying their continued detention, and the appeal is now awaiting determination by the Court of Cassation.
In its letter Amnesty urged the Iraq prime minister to intervene and ensure that the 36 detainees are released immediately and unconditionally unless they are to face recognisably criminal charges and brought to trial fairly and promptly. Amnesty also urged Mr al-Maliki to order an investigation into the failure by police at al-Khalis to comply with the judge's order for the release of the 36 and to ensure that any police officers responsible for unlawful detentions are held to account.

John Hughes (Deseret News) adds, "An Iraqi judge ruled that the 36 dissidents, who went on a hunger strike in captivity, should be released. But Iraqi Interior Ministry officials, using new tactics, have argued that the dissidents entered the country illegally and should be expelled -- obviously to Iran. If this tactic is successful, it could be applied to the 3,400 or so PMOI members remaining in Camp Ashraf." So the Iraqi court rules that prisoners should be released and the Iraqi government decides they don't have to listen. Maybe from the US. After all the US military grabbed Reuters reporter Ibrahim Jassim in September 2008 and refuse to release him. In November 2008, Iraqi courts decided Ibrahim should be set free but the US ignored the court order and has continued to imprison Ibrahim.

At On The Wilderside, Ian Wilder calls out United for Pathetic and Juvenile and CodeStink for "trotting out Tom Hayden as an anti-war spoeksperson. Hello? Everyone forget that Hayden told everyone to vote for the pro-war Obama. [. . .] How about Hayden sign a petition saying he will never vote for (or promote) a pro-war candidate?" It's actually worse than Ian writes. Tom-Tom didn't just tell people to vote for Barack, Tom-Tom ridiculed those who didn't. For example, Tom-Tom gave an interview to the Rocky Mountain News where he mocked and sneered at Chris Hedges because Hedges would not support Barack (Chris Hedges supported Ralph Nader). It wasn't just Tom Hayden telling people to vote for Barack, he also attacked those who voted for Ralph or Cynthia McKinney. Tom's a total tool and that's why he has the blood of Palestinians on his hands. (His one late-in-life column admitting guilt did not absolve him.) Ian Wilder's point is very clear: He's a Green and he's stating that the two organizations asking for Green support picked the wrong person to 'reach out' with due to Tom's behaivor. As always Carl Davidson shows up and Kimberly Wilder attempts to explain what Ian was doing. Kimberly's wasting her time. Carl knew what Ian was doing, Carl didn't care. It's the same crap Carl pulls with Paul Street. Carl insists that UPFJ endorses no candidates -- he apparently missed the UPFJ homepage in November. Or, more likely, it didn't register because The Old Whore Carl was a Barack supporter -- he was, in fact, sending out e-mails in 2007 stating "we" need to support Barack because of Barack's 'radical' roots. (Carl was among those whispering Barack was a Socialist or a Communist to drum up support for Barack in the very juvenile game of telephone that had the fringes rooting for Barry O early on.) [As I have stated here repeatedly beginning in 2007 when Carl and others spread those false rumors, Barack is a Corporatist War Hawk, he is not a Socialist, he is not a Communist.] We'll note Ian's response to Carl in full:

I am speaking for myself as an individual Green, and as a peace activist who was [. . .] against the Afghan War since the first day we started bombing.
I am tired of supporting organizations that don't support me. How about supposed anti-war organizations stop sending messages out from Democrats who support a pro-war President? How about they stop going underground every time a Democrat runs for President?
UPFJ and Code Pink have not been friends. They have wanted Green Party bodies and dollars, but not our voices. We will not stop these wars until the peace movement is ready to directly confront the politicians, Democrat and Republican. And that includes confronting them on the campaign trail and in the voting booth.

Caro of Make Them Accountable notes the analysis of ObamaInsuranceCompanyCare by Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque): "But of course there will be no reform, and there was never going to be. Obama is going to 'reform' America's broken health care system the same way he has 'reformed' the War on Terror and 'reformed' Wall Street: by taking the existing policies and making them even worse."

Today is the anniversary of 9-11. We'll note it by including this from international law professor Francis A. Boyle "
O'Reilly and the Law of the Jungle" (ZNet):

On the morning of 13 September 2001, that is 48 hours after the terrible tragedies in New York and Washington , D.C. on September 11th, I received telephone call from a producer at Fox Television Network News in New York City . He asked me to go onto The O'Reilly Factor TV program live that evening in order to debate Bill O'Reilly on the question of war versus peace. O'Reilly would argue for the United States going to war in reaction to the terrorist attacks on 11 September, and I would argue for a peaceful resolution of this matter.
Up until then I had deliberately declined numerous requests for interviews about the terrible events of September 11 and what should be done about them because it was not clear to me precisely what was going on. But unfortunately The O'Reilly Factor had the Number One ranking in TV viewership for any news media talk program in America . I felt very strongly as a matter of principle that at least one person from the American Peace Movement had to go onto that program and argue the case directly to the American people that the United States of America must not go to war despite the terrible tragedy that had been inflicted upon us all.

I had debated O'Reilly before so I was fully aware of the type of abuse to expect from him. So for the next few hours I negotiated with O'Reilly through his producer as to the terms and conditions of my appearance and our debate, which they agreed to. At the time I did not realize that O'Reilly was setting me up to be fired as he would next successfully do to Professor Sami Al-Arian soon after debating me.

After our debate had concluded, I returned from the campus television studio to my office in order to shut the computer down, and then go home for what little remained of the evening. When I arrived in my office, I found that my voice mail message system had been flooded with mean, nasty, vicious complaints and threats. The same was true for my e-mail in-box. I deleted all these messages as best I could, and then finally went home to watch the rest of O'Reilly's 9/11 coverage that evening on Fox with my wife. By then he was replaying selected segments of our debate and asking for hostile commentaries from Newt Gingrich and Jeane Kirkpatrick. We turned off the TV in disgust when O'Reilly publicly accused me of being an Al Qaeda supporter. My understanding was that Fox then continued to rebroadcast a tape of this outright character assassination upon me for the rest of the night.

Click here to read the rest. Music notes, Tuesday, October 27th, Carly Simon's latest album, Never Been Gone, is released. Carly's recording two new compositions and doing new arrangements (mainly acoustic) of previous songs including her Academy Award winning, Golden Globe winning and Grammy winning "Let The River Run" -- she's made the new version available as a free download currently. TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight:In rural Rwanda, the simple and time-tested idea of medical house calls is not only improving the health of the community, but stimulating its economy as well.This week, NOW travels to the village of Rwinkwavu to meet the Rwandan doctors, nurses and villagers who are teaming up with Boston-based Partners in Health and the Rwandan government to deliver medicine and medical counseling door-to-door. Would such an innovation work in America?In the capital of Kigali, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to talk about international aid and Kagame's ultimate vision for a healthy, financially-independent Rwanda.Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and sitting around the table with Gwen tonight are Charlie Babington (AP), Peter Baker (New York Times), Joan Biskupic (USA Today) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times). Remember that there is a web bonus each week that you can grab on podcast (video -- they also have audio podcast but it doesn't include the bonus) or wait for Monday morning when the bonus is available at the website. Also, a PBS friend asks that I note that they didn't just redesign their website at Washington Week, they added many new elements. One sidebar is on the right and it contains links to the latest writing by Washington Week regulars such as CBS and Slate's John Dickerson's article on health care at Slate. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with four women to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Online, they address the announcement that Diane Sawyer will begin anchoring ABC's World News Tonight next year. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
President Obama Steve Kroft interviews the president at an important time in his presidency.
Big Teddy His son, Ted Kennedy, Jr., and the editor/publisher he collaborated closely with on his memoir, Jonathan Karp, reflect on the life and legacy of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Lesley Stahl reports.
Guiding Light Morley Safer interviews the actors and writers behind broadcasting's longest running drama, "Guiding Light," as they celebrate the soap opera's incredible run and discuss its cancellation after 72 years.
60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

nprthe diane rehm showsteve robertsthe wall street journalomar fadhil al-nidawiaustin baythe christian science monitorjane arraf
amnesty international
carly simon
bbc news60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs
kats korner

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Barack's contradiction

Did you watch Barack's Big Money Insurance Give Away tonight?

If you didn't, no great loss.

If you did watch, help me out.

The point of Barack's speech was that he feels there's a crisis and it must be dealt with now.

Whether you agree with him on that or not, I think you can follow his point. You can grasp that he says he believes there's a crisis and, therefore, he believes it must be dealt with.

Okay, so if there's a crisis and it needs to be dealt with then the thing to do is to deal with it, right?

Barack said that switching to single-payer would be too disruptive.

If there's a crisis, why don't you do what's needed.

If I need a blood transfusion, don't give me an asprin.

If I need a blood transfusion, give me what I need.

By the same token, give America what they need: single-payer.

Don't say we have to deal with a crisis and give us an aspirin.

Barack wants the American people to give through the nose, millions and millions to the insurance company. He just doesn't want to fix the problem.

Screw his plan, America doesn't need it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 9, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, another death by shower in Iraq, Robert Gates declares 'no change,' Cindy Sheehan continues calling for an end to the wars, at the Arab League meeting in Cairo tensions continue between Iraq and Syria, did the US government sign a written agreement with residents of Camp Ashraf in 2003, and more.

In an interview with
Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara (click here for DoD transcript), US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made one of those jaw dropping statements that leaves a nation stunned . . . if they hear it. (Al Jazeera started airing the interview this week.) Speaking of what he hopes the US will accomplish in Afghanistan, Gates declared, "So in a way it's somewhat comparable to the situation in Iraq, where we have -- where our role has become less and less prominent, where the Iraqis have taken a more and more prominent role in protecting their own security. And I think that's how we will measure -- be able to measure -- one way we will be able to measure success in Afghanistan is as we see the Afghan security forces taking a more and more pominent and leading role in protecting their own security." For those who missed it, the new 'secure' Iraq was a myth and even the press had to face that fact as violence began it's slow climb back up starting in February to the point that August saw more deaths than any month in the last 13. Yesterday NPR's Peter Kenyon (Morning Edition -- link has text and audio, transcript below is from audio) examined one section of Baghdad, a region that had seen tremendous 'success' and 'progress.'

Peter Kenyon: This is Antar Square, a well-known spot in Adahmiya. During Saddam Hussein's time, Sunnis lived here and Shiites were actively discouraged from moving there. After 3002, Adhamiya was, like many Baghdad neighborhoods, wracked by sectarian violence. In 2007, miles of concrete blast walls encircled the neighborhood. Sunni "Awakening" forces, armed men recruited and paid by the U.S. military, shouldered their guns and manned checkpoints. The Iraqi army and police improved their capabilities, and slowly the situation improved. By the spring of this year, investors held their breath and plunged into the neighborhood. [, , , notes progress in shopping back in May via Sheik Abdel-Qader a-] Dulami said he was seeing close to 1,000 people a day visit the mall showing that Iraqis were starved for signs of normal life. [. . .] A scant three months later, Sheik Dulaimi's 'Flower of Baghdad' is once again the scene of deadly explosions and a terrorized population. The Iraqi army has resumed raiding house, provoking cries of abuse from families who complain of heavy-handed tactics. That in turn, prompted the army to close the neighborhood down even tighter. A return visit to the Adhamiya Mall this month found it almost completely deserted.

Robert Gates blathers, "So in a way it's somewhat comparable to the situation in Iraq, where we have -- where our role has become less and less prominent, where the Iraqis have taken a more and more prominent role in protecting their own security." And does so at a time when Iraq is rocked by violence. Robert Gates defines that as the measurement for the other illegal war (Afghanistan) and the response across the US should be stunned disbelief. But they'd have to hear about that statement to be appalled. They'd have to know about it.

If the news media ever feels like exploring it, they might also want to explain that this 'strategy' is George W. Bush's. It's the same thing he 'preached' year after year, finally turning it into a soundbye: "As they stand up, we'll stand down." Didn't the United States hold a presidential election in 2008? Don't seem to remember George W. Bush's name on the ballot. So the White House changed but the policies didn't. Hmm.

Gates on to repeat the official line (you really don't think the press comes up with them on their own, do you? No, they interview the military which is assigned the buzz words and the press thinks they discovered something) of: It's still a success because we haven't seen a return of the sectarian war. That would be the civil war and it would be a bit hard for it to 'return' when one of the results of it was futher segregation of Baghdad neighborhoods. But noting that requires critical thinking and apparently stenography saps you of that ability.

Interestingly, the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, doesn't appear to be on the exact same page as Gates. While Gates does cart wheels over the lack of a sectarian war, Odierno told Joint Forces Quarterly (PDF format warning,
click here). , "Iraqis are still dealing with lingering ethnosectarian histories, Arab-Kurd tensions, and violent extremist groups such as al Qaeda and other external actors who seek to exploit any fissures. The Iraqis are still deterrmining the nature of their federal state and the balance of powers between the central and provincial govenrments. [. . .] I see Arab-Kurd tensions as the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq -- and it does complicate the security situation in the north to an extent. While our combined operations have degraded al Qaeda, there is still a presence in the north, and those cells work to exploit tensions between the ISF and the Kurdish peshmerga and police forces." That's not Sunni and Shia. And that's an area Robert Gates didn't cover. Back to the interview:

Abderrahim Foukara: And after you leave, my understanding is that President Obama pledged that the United States will not build any permanent military bases in Iraq. Is that pledge -- does that pledge still stand?

Robert Gates: Absolutely.

Abderrahim Foukara: Now how do you define permanent? Because bases in Germany, they've been there for about 60 years now, in Korea for a similar period of time. How do you define permanent? How do you define temporary?

Robert Gates: Temporary is based on the fact that anothe rpart of this agreement is that all US forces will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. That is the agreement that we have with the Iraqi government. All US forces. No bases. No forces. That's the --

Abderrahim Foukara: Unless the Iraqis ask you to stay longer.

Robert Gates: Unless there is some new agreement or some new negotiation, which would clearly be on Iraqi terms. But we will not have any permanent bases in Iraq. We have no interest in permanet bases in Iraq. And we are now planning on withdrawing all American military forces by the end of 2011.

Yes, the war could be extended. It's a shame US news consumers need Al Jazeera to know that. Continue. It's not over. A few weeks ago,
Jari (The Stupidest Man on Earth) highlighted the International Committee of the Red Cross' statment:

Despite the common perception that the armed conflict in Iraq is largely over, widespread violence and a lack of respect for human life continue to affect the Iraqi people. Civilians are the primary victims.

Let's go back to Gates for a moment, At the end of last month,
August Cole (Wall St. Journal) reported on Gates doing an 'in-store' appearance at Lockheed Martin Corp's "production line in Fort Worth, Texas" where he "made an usually strong endorsement Monday for an approximately $300 billion program to buy thousands of new fighters being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp." War is Big Money. Otherwise a Secretary of Defense wouldn't tour a factory. Monday Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported that the Congressional Research Service's "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations" found the US the biggest supplier of weapons in the world and, in contrast to the domestic and global recession, the US has actually increased its selling of death toys and destruction instruments in 2008 ($37.8 billion in revenues versuse 2007's $25.4 billion). The next closet competitor is Italy which raked in approximately one-tenth of the monies the US did ($3.7 billion). It's Big Business and it's booming. War is big business. Ask KBR and Halliburton. Even deaths don't hurt their profit motive. Kimberly Hefling (AP) reports that State Dept contractor (Triple Canopy) Adam Hermanson is dead at the age of 25 from "showering in Baghdad". Janine Hermanson states her husband died September 1st and that she was told it was from electrocution. Jermey Scahill (writing at The Nation) reports:

On Tuesday morning, the military medical examiner who performed Hermanson's autopsy met with Hermanson's wife, Janine. "He said that everything was still pending and that he can't make a final [statement] because the toxicology and all that stuff has not come back yet. But he said that [the cause of death] was a low-voltage electrocution," she told The Nation. "When I got the call I was told that he was found in a shower, and now I am getting told that there was even still electrical current on the shower floor when they found him."
When Patricia got the news, she thought there must have been a mistake. "Adam didn't want me to worry and had told me he was in Kuwait. I just found out he was in Iraq the day he died. He said, 'Mom, I'm gonna go to Kuwait, it's gonna be a piece of cake--they even have a water park there.' All along he was telling me a lie because he didn't want me to worry."
Hermanson's family suspects that Adam may have died as a result of faulty electrical wiring. And they have good reason to think that--at least
sixteen US soldiers and two contractors have died from electrocution. The Pentagon's largest contractor in Iraq, KBR (a former Halliburton subsidiary), has for months been at the center of a Congressional investigation into the electrocution deaths because the company has the massive LOGCAP contract and is responsible for almost all of the electrical wiring in US-run facilities in Iraq. The eighteen soldiers and contractors died as a result of KBR's "shoddy work," according to Senator Frank Lautenberg.

On electrocution deaths,
US Senator Bob Casey Jr.'s office released the following July 26th:

After the Department of Defense Inspector General released its report on the electrocution death of Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth and 17 other electrocution deaths in Iraq, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement:
"I am heartened that, after an exhaustive investigation, the Department of Defense Inspector General has finally published its findings and recommendations. The responsibility for the death of Ryan Maseth can be attributed to many quarters. However, the Inspector General has concluded that the water pump which shorted and caused his electrocution was first installed by a KBR subcontractor less than two years prior to Ryan's death. That water pump, located on the roof of Ryan's building, was not grounded during installation. This deficiency was not discovered during a subsequent inspection administered by KBR.
"We cannot stop with the publication of this report alone. Those who failed to carry out their contractual obligations in a way that contributed to the death of a U.S. soldier should be held fully accountable for their negligence. I also eagerly await the findings of the Army CID report."

In a carefully worded press release at the start of last month, the
Defense Department stated that their own investigation "concluded that there is insufficient evidence to establish criminal culpability of any person or entity in the death of Staff Sgt. Maseth." Despite Halliburton pointing to this as proof of innocence, it is no such thing. Ryan Maseth did die by electrocution and KBR did do the wiring. But DoD decided there wasn't enough evidence to prove "criminal culpability." No real surprise when you consider how much business Halliburton does with the Pentagon. The outrageous thing is that the US Congress didn't launch their own investigation immediately after the DoD's press release.

Staying with deaths and injuries . . .


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing targeting a police checkpoint which wounded a police officer and two people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which left two people injured, a Kirkuk suicide car bombing targeting a Sahwa leader in which 3 people died and fifteen were wounded and a Mosul sticky bombing on the car of Col Jassim Mahmoud Jassim that claimed his life and left two people injured. Reuters drops back to Tuesday to note a Baghdad car bombing which injured three people, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured three Iraqi soldiers and a Baghdad motorcycle bombing which claimed 1 life and left seven people injured. Jormana Karadsheh (CNN) reports a Kirkuk home bombing which claimed the life of a Sahwa leader ("Awakening" and "Sons Of Iraq") as well as "seven other family members, including women and children. A wounded two-year-old child was the only survivor." Press TV notes speculation -- Reuters and CNN say Sahwa, AFP states that the people in the home were making the bomb and had recently arrived from Diyala Province.


Reuters notes 1 man shot dead in Mosul, the US and Iraqi military killed 2 males in a Baghdad "pre-dawn raid" while 2 people were also killed by the US and Iraqi military in another Baghdad 'operation'.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Staying with violence, Black Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday.
August 19th. When bombings rocked Baghdad with two of the buildings being targeted being the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter ministry faced the most damage and suffered the largest death toll. Nouri al-Maliki had ordered the Bremer/blast walls removed and that's been a source of criticism since the bombings. (Immediately following Black Wednesday, the removal of walls was stopped. It was not immediately announced publicly, but it happened immediately. Since then, walls have been put back up.) The death toll for the day's violence in Baghdad was at least 101 with approximately 600 injured. Immediately Nouri's spokespeople ran out to say that no one should "play the blame game." A rather strange statement when you consider that Nouri and his troupe immediately began blaming Syria. In the process, Nouri has created an ugly scene, an ugly international scene. Baghdad and Damascus have each removed their ambassadors. Nouri demands that Syria turn over two Iraqis. Syria demands proof before doing any extraditions. "Syria and Iraq's diplomatic storm" (Guardian), Ranj Alaadin observes: The spat has now led to a potentially dangerous frenzy of military activity along the Syrian border, where Maliki has sent reinforcements to prevent militants from infiltrating. The speed with which an exchange of goodwill and cooperation between Syria and Iraq turned into a diplomatic storm suggests that Maliki's reaction is electoral posturing more than anything else. His political credentials have taken a battering because of the attacks, given that his main, if not only, credential is security. It had been his decision to get rid of security barriers and checkpoints that could have reduced the magnitude of the attacks, if not prevent them altogether. Right now, Maliki is left with only nationalism and the withdrawal of US troops to campaign on as he heads closer towards the national elections in January; he does not have enough time to improve things such as public services and employment. Syria was a convenient scapegoat that Maliki could use to deflect attention away from his own shortcomings. After all, there was no similar posturing during the early years of Maliki's tenure when cross-border jihadist attacks were at their height. Russia's RIA Novosti reported that the conflict would be addressed today in the Arab League meeting in Cairo. Xinhua quotes Walid al-Moallem, Syria's Foreign Minister, stating, "We are ready to solve the crisis with Iraq" which he describes as "something regrettable that does not serve the interests of both Syria and Iraq." Lebanon's Daily Star explains that Amr Moussa, the Arab League Secretary General, and Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's Foreign Minister, met with al-Moallem and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari for a discussion of the issue. Maamoun Youssef (AP) adds that the Syrian and Iraqi foreign ministers had angry words in which they exchanged accusations and that today's effort was "a failed attempt to resolve a deepening split" The allegations included that Iraq's blame Syria in order to distract from their own failures and that Syria is a supporter of terrorism in Iraq. Meanwhile Reuters reports, "An investigative council has charged 29 Iraqi security officials with negligence relating to two truck bombs outside government ministries in Baghdad last month that killed 95 people, Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said." Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) observes: This week, Iraq seemed far from giving anything close to an apology. Maliki's al-Da'wa Party staged demonstrations chanting anti-Syrian slogans, raising tension to unprecedented levels between Damascus and Baghdad. The demonstrations, which took place in al-Hilla, south of Baghdad, brought 200 people to the streets, including officials in the Maliki regime. Many of the al-Da'wa members now spreading anti-Syrian rhetoric were one-time allies of Syria, who for years were protected by Syria against the dragnet of Saddam. Reportedly, more demonstrations are scheduled for September 24, ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting at which Iraq's request for an international tribunal will be discussed. Certain Iraqi officials, however, are trying to downplay the crisis with Syria.

Nouri's other international problems would include the Iranian dissidents who have lived for years in Iraq. (In fact, they lived there while Nouri was trembling in fear and living outside the country -- that yellow streak down Nouri's back isn't a racing stripe.)
July 28th, Nouri launched an assault on Camp Ashraf, where the dissidents live. (Classified as a terrorist organization by the US, the MEK is no longer considered that by the European Union or by England. The US protected Camp Ashraf following the US invasion of Iraq. They also declared the residents protected persons under Geneva. The Status Of Forces Agreement masquerading as a treaty that Bush rammed through and Barack -- despite previous objections -- accepted turned Camp Ashraf over to Nouri following a verbal assurance/promise from him that he would not harm the residents.) Earlier this month, Italian Radio's Aldo Forbice interviewed Ahmad Foruqi who is among the residents in Camp Ashraf and Foruqi stated, "We have been surrounded by the Iraqi forces and they do not allow any reporters or human rights organizations to enter the camp."

More troubling for the US is Ahmad Forqui's assertion that Camp Ashraf residents had a written agreement with the US guaranteeing their protection -- an agreement the US State Dept has never acknowledged, nor has the White House. "Every one of us in the camp," states Ahmad Foruqi, "had signed an agreement with the American forces in 2003. According to this agreement, they were responsible for our safety and security. However, they did not do anything when we were attacked."

Mark Tran (Guardian) reports on supporters in London "consuming only water and tea for the past 44 days" and stating they will continue their hunger strike (Zohreh Moalemi: "I will carry on until the end."), "The protesters are demanding both US forces protection and UN monitoring for the camp, and the release of 36 refugees still being held by Iraqi forces. One hunger striker in London has suffered a heart attack and others are suffering from internal bleeding and loss of vision." Rebecca Lowe (Barnet Times) adds, "Nineteen-year-old Soudabeh Heidari, from Engel Park, Mill Hill, is on the verge of a coma and can no longer sit or walk. Yaqub Doughforosh Banan, 54, from Hendon, is so weak he cannot open his eyes, and Mahmoud Fassihpor, 57, from Finchley, has lost nearly 18 kilos in weight. All 12 are shwogin signs of muscle wasting and suffering severe abdominal pains. Farzaneh Dadkhah, 41, from Wales, had a heart attack last Wednesday and was admitted to hospital. After recovering, she demanded to rejoin the strikers and continue the protest." Laila Jazayeri (UK's Religious Intelligence News) reports, "The International Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales on Wednesday accused the US of having some responsibility for the massacre of Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf six weeks ago by Iraqi forces and it urged the Obama administration to protect people in the camp." If the statements regarding a written agreement between the US government and Camp Ashraf residents are true, expect even more of an international outcry.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan never stops decrying war and advocating for peace.
David R. Henderson ( reports on a speech Cindy gave in northern California:

Which brings me to my big surprise of the evening: Sheehan's wit. I've read a fair amount about Cindy Sheehan over the years, but one thing that I hadn't known until I saw her speak was what a subtle, smart sense of humor she has. I found myself breaking into loud laughs when she nailed the issues with her great one-liners. Take her discussion of how Nancy Pelosi lines up votes, telling various Democratic congressmen that they can vote against war spending because they need to shore up their antiwar support, while telling others that they need to vote for war spending. Sheehan commented, "That's when the vote is going to be close. She doesn't do that when the vote is going to be 400 to only a handful for the 'Resolution to support Israel in everything they ever want to do.'" I think that besides her courage and persistence, her wit is part of her ability to reach audiences.

Cindy's quoted by Sean Rose (Courier-Journal) stating, "If we're anti-war, if we hated those polices under the Bush administration, we have to hate those policies under the Obama adminsitration. We can't say we're going to stop being activists because we have a new administration." Today Cindy Sheehan appeared on WFPL's State of Affairs and discussed the wars and her own life including her decision to step away in 2007 as a result of Democrats -- then controlling both houses of Congress -- refusing to make good on their promise to end the Iraq War -- the promise that gave them control of both houses in the 2006 mid-term elections. Some of her activies this week include:

9/10 Thu 11:00 AM-12:00 PM Bellarmine Univ. Speaking event & book signing
12:00 - 1:00 PM Brown Bag lunch at Bellarmine by invitation only
1:00 - 2:50 PM OPEN
2:50 - 4:05 PM Speak at Sharon Wallace's Sociology class, JCC, downtown
6:30 PM Potluck Party at Ray's Monkey House, Bardstown Rd.
9/11 Fri 10:00-11:00 AM 9/11 event: Fire Fighters' Memorial, Jefferson Square Park
Interview with Jim Pence of
11:00 - 4:00 PM OPEN
4:00-9:00 PM Farewell Fund-raiser party at Harold & Carol Trainers' home
9/12 Sat - Cindy departs for Lexington day trip
9/13 Sun - Cindy departs Louisville

We'll try to note Cindy's radio interview in tomorrow's snapshot (if not, we'll note it Friday -- tomorrow's snapshot should include a Congressional hearing). We'll close with this from
Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait:

Within the next several weeks, President Obama will announce that up to 20,000 more troops will deploy to Afghanistan - in addition to replacing up to 14,000 support troops with "trigger-pullers." This will only mean increasing the death and destruction brought to the Afghan people. And U.S. involvement in Iraq is not only not over, but is becoming a permanent occupation. We are beginning to see more people openly object to the US occupation of Afghanistan. And
your help and money are needed! From October 3-17 the anti-war movement will be gathering, marching, and doing direct action against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. World Can't Wait will be in front of the White House with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance on Monday, October 5 with the "Museum of Torture" displaying for the nation the details of what the torture memos directed CIA operatives to do to detainees. On Tuesday, October 6, the day George Bush began the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, we're calling on high school students, and their supporters to protest military recruiting, inside the schools and after school. The We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour is gearing up now, as school starts, to bring Iraq & Afghanistan vets into classrooms with the truth about what joining the military means now. World Can't Wait projects War Criminals Watch and Fire John Yoo are intensifying efforts to make the demand for prosecution of war criminals heard from college students where the criminals are teaching; in front of court houses where they preside, and across society. We agree with the Center for Constitutional Rights attorneys that Eric Holder's appointment of a prosecutor to look into whether there should be any investigations of low level torturers, only, is a "sham and a diversion."

iraqnprmorning editionpeter kenyonal jazeera
the wall street journal
the new york timesthom shanker
kimberly hefling
jeremy scahill
cnnjomana karadsheh
the guardianmark tran
cindy sheehan
debra sweet

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Jo-Jo Palermo, another mis-educator

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Prepares To Talk To The Kids"

Barack Prepares To Talk To The Kids

Don't you loathe the mis-educators? Joseph A. Palermo is an example of one. This is from his Huff and Puff bio:

Associate Professor, History, CSU, Sacramento. Bachelor's degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz, Master's degree in History from San Jose State University, Master's degree and Doctorate in American History from Cornell University. Expertise includes political history, presidential politics, presidential war powers, social movements of the 20th century, movements of the 1960s, civil rights, and foreign policy history.

He wishes he had those areas of expertise. He can't even function well enough to offer a tepid but coherent blog post.

Jo-Jo Palermo writes "Glenn Beck vs. Van Jones: McCarthyism Enters the 21st Century" and I don't link to garbage. If you'd like to laugh at Jo-Jo, Google it.

Poor Jo-Jo. Late to the party and sauntering around with his fly open.

"McCarthyism"? I thought Bill Fletcher was the victim of that in 2008? I certainly remember him whining about it on CounterSpin. I also thought (in fact I know this for a damn fact) that Billy Ayers' no-name brother was whining that his brother was a victim of "McCarthyism" also in 2008.

Jo-Jo Palermo knows nothing and never will.

Van Jones is a Communist. If he hadn't hidden that detail from the American people when he got to the national stage, it might not be a problem. (A niece of Trotsky, little known fact, worked in the Bully Boy Bush administration.) But he hid it and it got exposed.

There's no need for a political closet today.

Cowards seal their own fate. As Van Jones learns.

"Contractors and other c-words" (The Common Ills):
ColorofChange wanted to go on the attack. They learned (for the first time?) that others can attack back. No surprise. They tried to rob Glen Beck of his job and, in the end, Van Jones was robbed of his job. Don't throw matches if you don't want to start a fire -- and don't forget you might be the one burned by the fire.

C.I. already tackled the subject far better than I could. Here's the thing about the fringe left, they never get how they look to the outside world. They lie to themselves that they are "normal." They are not "normal." "Normal" people don't hide in political closets. By hiding in closets, they ensure they are the "other." Then when their secrets slip out, it's suddenly a smear campaign or a witch hunt.

No, it's exposure.

Those who have something to hide often learn the hard way what happens when it becomes public.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 8, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, the new trend in violence in Iraq is attacking checkpoints, Nouri continues war of words on Syria but there's a pushback in Iraq, Thomas E. Ricks soils himself in public and much, much more.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps – Iraq servicemember was killed today when an improvised explosive device targeting the patrol detonated in southern Baghdad at approximately 10: 30 a.m. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of servicemembers 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 servicemember's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Three Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldiers were killed today when an improvised explosive device targeting their patrol detonated in northern Iraq at approximately 11:40 a.m. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." ICCC has been down since Wednesday. It is still down. Sunday the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war should have been 4338. It should now be 4342 unless we've missed a death. We haven't missed any announcements by MNF; however, they don't always remember to announce. If DoD has covered a death that MNF never announced, then our estimate is off. AFP also estimates that ICCC's number should be 4342. Ali Windawi and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) observe today "was the deadliest day for the Americans since June 29, when four soldiers were killed in Baghdad."

Windawi and Parker note, "It was also a bloody day for Iraqi security forces around the oil-rich Kirkuk region of northern Iraq, the territory at the center of a land dispuate among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen" with 2 police officers dead and four injured in a bombing outside of Kirkuk. Meanwhile BBC News reports an Amirli roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police chief and four police officers today while one in Baghdad claimed the life of 1 "health ministry employee" with four others left injured. The police chief was Maj Zaid Hussein, Windawi and Parker explain. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing in Kirkuk today targeted the home "of a judge . . . without causing casualties." Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 man, a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 person and injured another (both are labeled "insurgents" by the police), a Daquq roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers and injured three, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 of Salahuddin Province Deputy Governor Ahmeda Abdul-Jebbar's bodyguards, a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 police officers and left three more injured, a second Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing claimed 1 life, a Baquba sticky bombing injured one civilian and one police officer, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Health employee with twelve people injured (four MoH employees), another Baghdad roadside bombing which left eigh people injured (four are police officers) and a third Baghdad roadside bombing left two police officers injured. In addition, Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul.

Many of the wounded and dead Iraqi security forces were killed in attacks on police and military checkpoints. This has been a recent pattern of violence.
Sunday's violence trend in Iraq was attacks on checkpoints with 3 attacks in Mosul on army and police checkpoints. Monday saw an attack on a military checkpoint and on a police checkpoint. Marc Santora (New York Times) noted, "For those seeking to undermine the Iraqi government, attacking checkpoints is a natural way to undermine public confidence. However, the attacks at checkpoints could also indicate a frustration at being able to penetrate attack more populated areas, Iraqi officials say."

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki attempts to create an international crisis as he goes after Syria with accusations that they harbor the two masterminds behind Black Wednesday's bombings.
Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report Nouri continues to air 'confessions': "Two confessions have been shown on state television and a third was aired at a news conference." Today Sherko Raouf, Waleed Ibrahim, Missy Ryan and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report "rifts" emerging in Nouri's assault incluidng the country's Presidency Council (made up of Iraq's President and two vice presidents) releasing a statement "calling for dialogue and speaking of the need 'to ease tension with Syria'." President Jalal Talabani is quoted saying the escalation is "unacceptable. This is not in the interest of Syria, Iraq or (other) Arab nations. Such a stand from the Iraqi government, without consultation with the presidency council, is illegal." They also note that Iraqi's Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, released a statement which "called for an internal fact-finding committee to collect more evidence about the Aug. 19 attacks." [Adil Abd Al-Mahdi is Iraq's Shi'ite vice president.] In addition, Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Nouri is being accused "of lunching a purge of senior security officials in order to weaken political rivals ahead of winter elections. Maliki ordered the dismissals of at least three senior officials from the Interior Ministry over the weekend, Iraqi newspapers reported Tuesday: Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, the ministry's commander of operations; Gen. Ahmed Abu Rikheef, the head of internal affairs; and the director of the explosives division, who wasn't identified in the reports."

Jasim Azzawi (Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq, video link) observed, "A so-called Bloody Wednesday has put the brakes on Prime Minister Maliki's claim of winning the war on violence. The question is will he use Syria as the whipping boy to engender sympathy to avoid the backlash of angry voters in January's next election?" Samir Altaqi and Saad al-Muttalibi were the guests.

Jasim Azzawi: To discuss the rising tension between Iraq and Syria, I'm delighted to welcome from Baghdad Saad al-Muttalibi a political adviser to the Ministry of National Dialogue in Iraq and from Damascus Samir Altaqi, Director of the Orient Center for International Studies. Gentlemen welcome to Inside Iraq. Saad Muttalibi, let us go the heart of the matter, rhetoric aside, where is the evidence that Syria is implicated in Bloody Wednesday.

Saad al-Muttalibi: Well next time maybe we should ask the terrorists to bring an authorization when they come and commit a crime I mean this is -- this question should not be asked this way. There are evidence, there are confessions, there are roots, there are cameras, there are maps, there are -- there are millions of things that indicate that 90% of terrorists come through Syria into Iraq. We are not implicating the Syrian government, I must be very clear on this. We implicating Iraqi citizens living in Syria, taking advantadge of the hosp -- of the Syrian hospitality, using Syria as a launch pad to organize crimes against state of Iraq and the people of Iraq.

Jasim Azzawi: Samir Altaqi, Syria has a history of not handing over political refugees requested by their mother country. al-Maliki himself, when he resided in Syria, was asked by Iraq to hand him over during Saddam Hussein and Syria refused. Is this a principle position or is Syria keeping those two suspects for a rainy day.

Samir Altaqui: Not all. Practically the Syrian position for a long time was that it won't be handling those opposition people since not only Mr. Maliki even Mr. [Masoud] Barazani at a certain moment and [Iraqi President Jalal] Talabani were guests in Syria and Syria did not deliver them. Unless there is real evidence that would implicate them directly, that Syria would be convinced that this is not coming because of conflictual positions within the Iraqi political arena.

Jasim Azzawi: Saad Muttalibi, I will come to the maps and the other evidence you alluded to but for the time being regarding Bloody Wednesday, the trucks, the explosives, the suicide bombers, they were all in Baghdad. And some people, they say al-Maliki is shifting the blame against himself because he was the one who ordered those concrete blast walls around the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be removed.

Saad al-Muttalibi: No, that's not ver -- that's not very honest statement. Not from you, but from the people who says that. The environment in Baghdad became better. Security became much better. A drop -- over 90% drop in violence in Baghdad. The walls beca -- constituted a hurdle in the way of Ira -- in the way of Iraqi citizens. So they were not -- they were not needed anymore. That's the general feeling of people had so the government acted on the general will of the people. That was not a deliberate act of removing these walls to allow bombing -- that's ridiculous. The -- the-the-the bombs were in Baghdad but the political will to start and use these bombs came from overseas or abroad. We say from Syria. We have evidence. We have proof. From Syria. [Turkey's] Foriegn Minister [Ahmed] Oglu was completely convinced of all the evidence otherwise he wouldn't have presented them to the Syrians. He was completely convinced that if this evidence were about Turkey, Turkey would have acted. So there is no question about the validity Syrian political will to hand over those criminals.That's basically it.

Jasim Azzawi: Samir Altaqi, the evidence against you is air tight, he says

Samir Altaqi: Not at all, I think. If we are speaking on behalf of Mr. Ahmed Oglu, he -- as a mediator -- he has to present the Iraqi position but practically he didn't consider them as tight -- water proof. I think practically what is needed is a direct dialogue between the two sides -- not across the media centers today or the press -- but through specialist channels, through diplomatic channels to present those evidences and to discuss them in a decent way.

Jasim Azzawi: The fact that 1.2 million Iraqis live in Syria, can they do exactly what they like regarding Iraq without the knowledge and consent of the Syrian government and Syrian intelligence as Saad al-Muttalibi alludes.

Samir Altaqi: I -- I think we have to take in account the fact that you have one-million-two-hundred-thousand refugees in Syria, they are not from one faction, they are not from one confession. They are Shia, they are Kurds, they are Sunnis and everyone of them is still having his political view about what is going on. And the more the political process in Iraq would be inclusive, the more this will withdraw any support, any domestic support and refugee support to those who are still thinking about regulating their positions in Iraq through violence.

Saad al-Muttalibi: I must comment here. Really. For you to dictate to us that we should include this part -- faction or that faction, that is --

Samir Altaqi: No, no, no, no --

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- interference in Iraqi affairs --

Samir Altaqi: I'm not, I'm not --

Saad al-Muttalibi: You are not, we do not interfere in your affairs --

Samir Altaqi: You are expression to me one million --

Saad al-Muttalibi: No, no, no, I'm not accusing anybody.

Samir Altaqi: -- one million refugees --

Saad al-Muttalibi: No, no --

Samir Altaqi: -- refugees. I'm telling you, it's --

Saad al-Muttalibi: With a welcome mat! First of all -- first of all ---

Samir Altaqi: I'll try to make the situation --

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- first of all -- first of all --

Samir Altaqi: Please -- please. Exactly, they don't consider themselves safe and they don't consider justice available nor justice even fairness would be --

Saad al-Muttalibi: Okay, okay.

Samir Altaqi: -- available for them in Iraq. That's why

Saad al-Mmuttalibi: Okay, okay, let me correct some information. Let me correct some information for you, my dear friend. First of all, the United Nations says there are 160,000 Iraqis in Syria, not 1.2 million. That's one. Second, as from this moment, I am saying we are ready to have all of this 160,000 back --

Samir Altaqi: They are not ready

Saad al-Mmuttalibi: -- We'll pay them.

Samir Altaqi: They are not ready.

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- if they want to come back. They are Iraqis. Well that is their problem, that's not my problem.

First off, al-Muttalibi is incorrect as usual. 160,000 have been registered. state they have registered that many. Yet again, Saad al-Muttalibi has gone on Al Jazeera and lied. The United Nations Refugee Agency (one of the few UN agencies Nouri hasn't been able to successfully bully) carries the estimate of 1,105,698 Iraqis in Syria.
Click on this page, on the right side of the page is "Statistical Snapshot" the number follows "Refugees" and you get the information when you run your mouse across the blue "i".

Second of all, Saad al-Muttalibi's 'that's their problem' attitude to refugees who don't feel it is safe to return (and many of whom do not wish to ever return) when you consider that Saad turned tail and ran to England in 1977 and stayed there until 2003. In other words, by his 'logic,' it was HIS PROBLEM he was a refugee back then. It needs to be especially pointed out that for someone who went to college in the United Kingdom and lived there for nearly 30 years, Saad never managed to master the English language. He can't even get his subjects and verbs to agree. Apparently his planning to pull the US into an illegal war was more important than anything else. At the end of last week, The Economist offered an editorial entitled "
Iraq's freedoms under threat: Could a police state return" in which they noted:

Old habits from Saddam Hussein's era are becoming familiar again. Torture is routine in government detention centres. "Things are bad and getting worse, even by regional standards," says Samer Muscati, who works for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby. His outfit reports that, with American oversight gone (albeit that the Americans committed their own shameful abuses in such places as Abu Ghraib prison), Iraqi police and security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating detainees, even those who have already made confessions. A limping former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said he saw that many had lost limbs and organs. The domestic-security apparatus is at its busiest since Saddam was overthrown six years ago, especially in the capital. In July the Baghdad police reimposed a nightly curfew, making it easier for the police, taking orders from politicians, to arrest people disliked by the Shia-led government. In particular, they have been targeting leaders of the Awakening Councils, groups of Sunnis, many of them former insurgents and sympathisers, who have helped the government to drive out or capture Sunni rebels who refused to come onside. Instead of being drawn into the new power set-up, many of them in the past few months have been hauled off to prison. In the most delicate cases, the arrests are being made by an elite unit called the Baghdad Brigade, also known as "the dirty squad", which is said to report to the office of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

Turning to England, there's news regarding the kidnapped British citizens. To recap, May 29, 2007, Alec Maclachlan, Jason Crewswell, Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore and Jason Swindelhurst were kidnapped in Baghdad. Both Jasons are confirmed dead. At the end of July, the British government stated they believed Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy were dead. The families remained hopeful. Last
Wednesday a third British corpse was turned over and Thursday it was announced it was Alec's. That leaves Alan McMenemy and Peter Moore unaccounted for. (The three corpses were turned over by the League of Righteous after the US military released the group's leader and the leader's brother -- a deal was made. Not a very good deal obviously.)Tom Pettifor (Daily Mirror) reports Peter Moore's mother Avril Sweeney feels the kidnapping was an inside job (press reports in England have maintained the same for over a month now) and explains her son "was working on a computer system which could have tracked billions in stolen aid and oil money." She points out the League of Righteous (Asaib al-Haq) sent firty people dressed in police uniforms and driving 19 Land Cruisers to kidnap all five. She states:The cat's out of the bag. All evidence shows the men who took my son had help from the Iraqi Government. I will leave no stone unturned. I'm a normal working woman but I can't sit quietly waiting any more. I gave Peter life and I'll fight to the end to save that life.On the subject of Iraqi government involvement, press reports have linked the League of Righteous to both Nouri al-Malik and Ahmed Chalabi. Last week, Hannah Allem's "Chalabi aide: I went from White House to secret U.S. prisoner" (McClatchy Newspapers) backed up Eli Lake's earlier "EXCLUSIVE: Iraqi official's top aide linked to Shi'ite terrorists" (Washington Times) which reported that Ahmed Chalabi's secretary Ali Feisal al Lami had ties to the League of Rightous. While briefly imprisoned, Lami brags in Allem's article, he encountered his old friend, leader of the League of Righteous, "I asked him, 'So, Sheikh Qais, which is better: your military way or my political way?' He said, 'It's all the same. We're both in prison.' He was right and I was wrong." Lami states that the leader of the League of Righteous "was right" to use violence. Grasp that.BBC News reports that Alec Maclachlan's body arrived in the United King yesterday.
David Zeiger, Director of
Sir! No Sir! and Bestor Cram, Director of Unfinished Symphony note:Episode Five: This is Not Human Nature available now. Click here This Is Where We Take Our Stand discussed in a New York Times piece on the antiwar movement and Afghanistan. Click here Episode Five of the ground breaking web series, This is Where We Take Our Stand, is now live at http://www. "This is Not Human Nature" tells the story of the Iraq Veterans Against the War members' struggle to bring hundreds of veterans to Washington, DC, to tell their stories and reveal the true nature of these occupations. If you've watched the first four episodes, you won't want to miss this one. And if you haven't, WATCH THEM. This is Where We Take Our Stand is a series that can and should help push the debate about these wars back on to the table. Experience the series, send this email to everyone you know, and spread the word! This is Not Human Nature: For the first time in history, women have combat and other front-line roles in the U.S. military, yet the military today is rife with sexual harassment, as Wendy Barranco reveals. Is this progress? Is it inevitable? Human nature? Or perhaps it's the sign of a deeper malignancy. For Wendy, her treatment was "the last thing I would have imagined from my own peers and comrades." This is Where We Take Our Stand, the series that tells the riveting and timely story of the hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who testified at last year's Winter Soldier investigation, continues today. Watch episode five, tell friends, forward this email, spread the word and fan the debate. These stories must be heard. Stay tuned for the final episode: Episode Six: No Longer a Monster will launch September 20, 2009.Spread the link and mark your calendar!

Over the weekend, the Kurdish region of Iraq received some attention.
Tim Cocks, Shamal Aqrawi and Michael Christie (Reuters) reported tensions in Nineveh Province as Mayor Barzan Said Kaka (who is Kurdish) declared "independence from the largely Arab-run council" in the province while offering a list of allegations against the council including violent crimes and claims that they aren't concerned at all with Kurds. The reporters note that the province's governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, has made repeated statements against the Kurds and that he "has so upset mayors in 16 Kurdish areas that they're threatening to secede."Staying with the Kurdish focus, Azad Aslan (Kurdish Globe) reported that Barham Salih, who recently resigned as deputy prime minister of the central government (under Nouri al-Maliki) is expected to "start negotiations to form the next Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)." Saturday the Kurdish Globe reported on the KRG's reaction to Nouri's announcement that the long-promised census will not, in fact, take place this year:"The KRG is concerned that the decree has been issued. The census process is a national right for all Iraq, including Kurdistan Region. By holding the census, all of us would have benefited from the great information that would have been gained," said Osman Shwani, KRG Minister of Planning. Shwani explained that the delay had political backgrounds. The decree came during a meeting of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, according to a statement published by government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh on Thursday. Al-Dabagh stated that the Council of the Ministers agreed to postpone the census until October 2010 as reply to "social changes" in provinces of dispute.Ako Muhammed (Kurdish Globe) reports that Kamal Kirkuki (Speaker of KRG Parliament) is calling out the United Nations' inept and unfocused 'help' offered in the last years. It's noted that Staffan de Mistura did very little as the UN rep in Iraq. The article notes:UN involvement came as Baghdad halted fulfilling constitutional Article 140, which calls for returning displaced families home in the disputed areas, deporting brought-in people from those areas, and allowing the original people of those places to decide in a referendum whether to be governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government or directly by the federal government. "We insist on the resolution of this issue in accordance with the implementation of Article 140 of the Constitution, because we do not want to see our people go through hardships and tragedies again." [KRG President Massoud] Barzani also assured of their readiness to cooperate with the UN, "but this issue concerns a whole nation and we will not make any concessions on this issue in any way whatsoever.

TV notes. NOW on PBS asks: "
Is Obama tossing out the Constitution with his new anti-terror plan?" -- the program began airing on many PBS stations Friday:

This week NOW, as part of a collaboration with the nonprofit investigative unit
ProPublica, explores the controversial tactic of "preventative detention," a government plan that may detain suspects indefinitely without trial or even formal charges. Implementing such a plan may have far-reaching consequences on not just our fight against terrorism, but the integrity of the U.S. Constitution and the cause of human rights.

They round that out with an online exclusive: "In an eye-opening web-exclusive video, a government prosecutor talks candidly about his appointment to convinct an alleged 9/11 conspirator, and the surprising decision he made after gaining access to what he considers evidence of torture."

Related, Sunday I noted of
Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed's decision to reprint the transcript of a 'confession,' "I don't question their right to do so. However, we're not quoting from it. The current 'government' of Iraq has already notched up a bulky history of torturing people for 'confessions' and I will not knowingly allow the possible work-product of torture to go up here." I didn't condemn them, I didn't question their ethics or motives. And I won't. It is news. They have every right to print it in full. I have the right to decide I'm not going to include it here but I would look like a fool if I stomped my feet and started screaming at two reporters for practicing journalism. America, meet Thomas E. Ricks whose brains have apparently slipped down to his man boobs. (Click here for Isaiah's comic on that back in May.)

The Associated Press had a photo of a dying Marine and ran it. First of all, AP owns NO papers and owns NO TV stations. (Radio would not appear to apply here but they also don't own any radio stations.) Point, if the photo ran in a newspaper, it ran due to a decision made by newspaper staff not the AP. But Saturday, Thomas E. Ricks soiled his Depends as he screamed and yelled at the AP for putting the photo out on their wire services (from which TV or newspapers can grab it). Ricks lies: "I'm a 1st Amendment fundamentalist." No, Ricks, you're not. You can't scream that AP covering the news is "morally indefensible" and claim to support the First Amendment. You've spent too long with your head up the ass of counter-insurgency. That's reality. You're becoming a huge embarrassment and, every day, less and less of a reporter. Saturday was such a big disgrace that you really need to issue an apology or accept the fact that you're now a journalist in the same way that Robert Novak was.

Well into his rant, Tommy Ricks lets slip, "I confess that I haven't looked at the photo, and don't want to." It's his right not to want to look at it. It's not his right to scream and yell and question the journalism ethics of AP while boasting he hasn't even seen the photo. Ricks then further disgraces himself suggesting that the phto could have run if AP had held it "a few weeks or months". No, you dumb idiot, news is a daily cycle and when you were still a reporter, before you became a WAR ADDICT, you damn well grasped that. The photo was news. Anyone can choose to look away but no one has a right to censor it. An AP photographer snapped the news photo. They made the decision to put it out on the wires. That is perfectly in keeping with the ethics of journalism.

Apparently Tommy Ricks was too bored to find one of those cheesy nude or half nude pics of young women to post at his blog -- which really qualifies as sexual harassment at Foreign Policy -- it's not Sports Illustrated and every time that s**t goes up, Tommy runs off women. So, bored, he decided to attack journalism. "Today I am embarrassed for American journalism," he whines. Guess what, American journalism is embarrassed for you and many more little stunts like your assualt on AP and you can forget about ever going back to journalism. Robert Novak is your other future. You're at a fork in the road, make a damn decision.

I'll note
Kat's "Kat's Korner: Cass Elliot's buried classic surfaces" went up yesterday and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Prepares To Talk To The Kids" went up Sunday. Mike posted yesterday at his site with "Labor Day post."

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