Friday, September 10, 2010

Shame on Danny Schechter and his sexism

I've had it with Danny Schechter. For background for this journal entry, I went to Ruth.
Ruth, when you were calling out the silence on sexism who e-mailed you?
Ruth: Danny Schechter.
Once, twice?
Ruth: Repeatedly. I had been calling him and other so-called watchdogs out at my site for their refusal to do their job and call out the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton. In many cases, and this was true of Mr. Schechter, they were not only refusing to call it out, they were engaging in their own sexism aimed at Hillary.
Looking back at those e-mails, what was the point of them?
Ruth: An attempt to shut me up for pointing out that Danny Schechter, so-called "News Dissector" was not doing his job as a media critic. During this time, I also received an e-mail that I did tell you about, I never told you about Mr. Schechter e-mailing. But I received an e-mail from his former girlfriend -- it was his former girlfriend, as C.I. verified -- detailing numerous examples [. . .]

I'm going to edit the statement about the e-mail, leaving in enough that Danny will know what is being spoken of but not enough to be accused of spreading the specific rumors. Plural. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Ruth: Just that his sexism is appalling and it was very interesting to read his minimizing his actions and his blaming Hillary for sexism towards her. She never, he insisted, spoke about being a woman, so she had it coming. Now Hillary frequently spoke about being a woman and about women. But you can't reason with sexists. His e-mails were very frustrating.
Thanks to Ruth for that . She wrote about her exchanges with Danny many times at her site including June 17, 2008 (where she calls him "Eli X") from which we'll note this:
Okay, so Eli X and I have been exchanging e-mails regarding the sexism in the media coverage of Senator Hillary Clinton. And I really do not think he gets it but I think I may see why or else he was responding to one of my tangents that I have forgotten.

On the issue of sexism in the media, he lists various campaign strategies that he feels Senator Clinton utilized. I disagree with him regarding the various strategies. But if that is where he is going (as opposed to responding to some tangent of mine I have forgotten) then that may be part of the confusion.

I do not feel comfortable quoting him without his permission so I will summarize his main point which is that Senator Clinton was this person and then that person and then someone else. Sound familiar? It was the Barack Obama talking point picked up by Maureen Dowd (whom Eli X references as a source) and Frank Rich and countless others. It is the talking point Bob Somerby long ago warned everyone (at his Daily Howler) on how that group of Kool Kids (I believe that is Mr. Somerby's phrase) operates. It is how they did it with Al Gore in 2000, it is how they do it with anyone they do not like. Inauthentic, liar, etc.

Eli X has been on the road a great deal and I think that also effects his perception because he really does not grasp that he is repeating talking points. At one point, he is talking about her trying to be like the men in a bar and that is a reference to her campaigning in Pennsylvania and, as politicians who visit the area do, drinking.
I'm not in the mood for this crap. Today he writes a trashy piece which Consortium posts. We do not and will never again link to Consortium. I ignore it, I ignore Robert Parry. We all do. He is dead to us. January 2008 was when Crazy Parry went dead to this community. (As a friend of the late Sarah McLendon, I use the term "crazy" intentionally as I'm sure Robert Parry will grasp.) Danny's nonsense is entitled "Hillary's Imperial Dream Meets Reality." Because it's Danny, I would link if it were at ZNet but I'm not linking to Consortium -- We will never link to Consortium again. That ban is community wide and it will never be taken away. The column and the website are the perfect fit because they are so very useless.
Danny spews on and on about what he implies is the Hillary Doctrine. He scribbles, "Yet, off in Iraq and Afghanistan where trillions have been spent/wasted to promote U.S.-style 'democracy,' time is running out for that 'New Dawn' that President Obama spoke wistfully of, and Hillary backed with generous appropriations when this 'reassuring woman' stalked the halls of the Senate. Now, her State Department is taking over the occupation of Iraq and no doubt, soon, Afghanistan. Hillary gushes that we are on the verge of 'a new American moment -- a moment when our global leadership is essential'."

Hillary "gushes" and "stalked."

Danny's so threatened by women.

The "generous appropriations" Danny writes of would be the same ones that Barack backed as a Senator.

Please note, Danny calls her "Hillary." Before he ended his weblog, he whined about how Barack Obama's opponents call him "Barack." (That would be the community sites including this one.) How wrong and awful! It's so familiar! With a public servant who works for us, Danny. But he has no problem writing about "Hillary." Barack must be called "Mr. Obama" but "Hillary''? Don't expect Danny to admit to his sexism.
I love how she came up with an awful doctrine. I didn't realize Hillary had staged a coup. Apparently, Hillary Clinton is now in charge of the White House. If Danny's unhappy with anything Hillary's done or that he (only) thinks she's done, that's an issue to take up with Barack. But he can never confront Barack. As Trina noted last month "Danny Schechter kisses the fists that strike him." He always makes excuses. Unhappy with the State Department or the Justice Deptartment, never blame Barack. Ever.
Hillary Clinton is not in charge of Iraq. Like C.I., I'm not going to continue to explain that. We had a conversation about that, in fact. C.I. said, "What? I'm going to be like Bob Somerby always saying, 'This one time Al Gore . . .' I live in the present." C.I. told the truth about the SOFA while every one of our 'leaders' lied. For nearly two years, she was attacked non-stop for telling the truth. She was right and time has proven her right.

But she's not in the mood to do the same thing with Hillary. Nor am I. For many reasons. (I will explain them in passing in another post -- one days from now so Danny doesn't see it -- he appears to Google his own name and e-mail people who write about him.)

But those who want to insist Hillary is in charge of Iraq? As we noted at Third last month:
If Hillary were being put in charge of Iraq, it would be the biggest slap in the face to Barack Obama's primary supporters you could imagine. They'd elected to vote for him and not Hillary due to the Iraq War and, yet, she's being placed (by him) in charge of the Iraq War? It's not happening but, if it were, the Cult of St. Barack should be storming the barricades and issuing cries of, "Barry, how could you!!!!"
But the thought never occurs to Danny because it's not about accountability or war and peace, it's about how he can screw over a woman. Danny, I'd love it if Hillary were the president but she's not. You and the other members of the Cult of St. Barack ensured that she wouldn't be. So start take accountability for your own actions and those of your Teen Idol. Danny, we're being kinder to you than you are to Hillary. You repeat lies long since proven false (she was not found to be guilty of any wrongdoing in the stock market).

We're kind enough not to repeat the charges you ex-girlfriend makes about your business dealings even though they conform with what I've been repeatedly told.

You write a trashy little gossipy piece where you slam Hillary for her daughter's wedding. Danny, you're not exactly purse poor -- though that might surprise some of the people who have donated to your organizations.

Barack's the President of the United States, Danny. That job demands accountability. Not the loony tune excuses you've given him where some military industrial complex is blackmailing him into doing things he doesn't want. Save your loony tunes. Barack is doing what Barack wants to do. Stop robbing him of his agency. Stop infantalizing him. He's a grown up and he's in charge of his actions. If you're not pleased with what he's doing or with what someone serving under him is doing, the blame lies with him. If you're so convinced Hillary's running Iraq, you might want to lead a protest outside the White House pointing out what a betrayal that is on Barack's part after he campaigned insisting he had superiour judgment (to Hillary) on Iraq.
But we're not interested in your sexims, we're not interested in your crap. I don't have time for it and I'm appalled that men like you still exist. I had to battle your asses throughout my youth, it's a damn shame that the women coming up today are still having to live near your toxic fumes. Shame on you.

I really love how Hillary gets accused of 'acting like a man' by Danny in his exchange with Ruth -- and for bowling and drinking. That tells you a lot about Danny Schechter, doesn't it?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, September 10, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate continues, despite insisting they were bringing 'democracy' to Iraq the US government undermines rule of law, England stands accused of not only forcibly deporting Iraqi refugees but also of beating them, and more.
Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) Diane was joined by Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy), Martin Walker (UPI) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy).
Diane Rehm: Susan Glasser, tell us what's happening in Iraq where 2 US soldiers were killed and others were wounded.
Susan Glasser: Well I think this is one of the reminders that we're going to get that just because we declared a moment in time to have occured last week, of course, with the formal change of the mission in Iraq from a combat mission to something different doesn't mean that there isn't combat still occuring in Iraq and that there are 50,000 US troops still present there and, of course, they're going to come into hostile situations. And I think that's a good reminder that we're going to be seeing more stories like this at a moment of political instability and uncertainty in Iraq. After all there is still no new government that has been formed, and that's very much in the news right now as well.
Diane Rehm: And this Iraqi soldier had a uniform on which should have meant he was friendly to US troops fighting side by side.
Martin Walker: Well the reports suggest that there was some kind of argument between him and the security detail -- this was around Mosul, up in the north, with a visiting American -- and that that escalated and the Iraqi soldier who was from their Fourth Division [of the Iraqi Army] which is supposed to be one of their better units, better trained units, then opened up upon the US patrol or the US security forces and killed two, wounded nine and was then shot himself. I think it's a reminder of three things, not just as Susan said, that we're going to get more casualties as this mission goes. Secondly, the violence is not just hitting American troops. We're seeing something like two to three hundred Iraqis being killed a month in ongoing bombs by al Qaeda or whoever it's sympathizers might be, or local forces trying to make it clear that they're still in action. And the third thing is, as Susan said, we have got an absolute morass of incapacity, of inaction, on the part of the political front in Iraq. And that's something that the US government in Iraq is now trying to fix, is trying to cobble together -- some kind of alternative government to get through this stalemate between the Iraqi political forces.

Diane Rehm: But explain this power sharing arrangement that's in place now, Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well, as Susan mentioned in March, there was an election for government and the Iraqis have still not been able to form their government and so there's an effort to get the two top winners -- a slate led by Nouri al-Maliki, the outgoing -- current prime minister, depending on your take and Ayad Allawi a former prime minister who sort of sold himself as a secular candidate to agree on some kind of government. One that, frankly, would leave everyone weaker, primarily the prime minister, but hopefully sort out -- One of the basic questions in forming the government is who gets what ministry and who gets power throughout the government because that's really what's been holding this back because who controls key ministries like the Ministry of Interior and Defense, some would argue, actually controls the country. And so that, that's the debate going on.
Diane Rhem: How long do you think, how much longer is this going to take?
Susan Glaser: Well, you know, Diane, I think that is really the key question that you've honed in on. You know, there was a very interesting report in the New York Times today that discusses the possibility of the power sharing arrangement that Nancy was discussing and there's an interesting quote in there from an American saying, as we've seen many times before, "Oh, we think this can be hammered out some time in the next month." And then we'll have Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton travel there to sort of bless the arrangement. And I think that's, frankly, wildly optimistic once again. In fact, you could probably go back and find similar background quotes from officials every month for the last six months saying exactly the same thing. And what this highlights is a couple of things. One, the incredible instability. No matter what our wishful thinking about this, it's very hard to proclaim any kind of true success in Iraq when we've walked away from a long term mission in a country that doesn't have a functioning political succession plan. They had an election without the thing that's supposed to happen after the election which is the transfer of power to the winners. So that's number one. It's hard to call that election a success -- as American officials were quick to do -- when they haven't been able to do -- Elections are only successful when they produce governments, right?
Diane Rehm: Exactly.
Susan Glaser: So I think that's really an important thing.
Diane Rehm: Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: You know, I was in Baghdad for the handover ceremony last week. Vice President [Joe] Biden was there. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was there. Adm Mike Mullen, the Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] was there. And I was talking to Iraqis and this was the cloud that was hanging over the ceremony. And really the problem is sort of setting artificial dates for withdrawl. You know the United States had said, 'This was a conditions-based withdrawal.' And the Iraqis were saying, 'These are acceptable conditions for the United States military to draw down? No government? An Iraqi military force that may or may not be able to handle the threat we're seeing in al Qaeda purposely attacking their military installations in an effort to check that? And rising instability?' And the real question, at least the response the United States military frankly says is: 'We're not sure what more we can do. What more can we do?' So we're going to keep the 50,000 there and sort of monitor and transition and train these Iraqis and work side by side. And that happened, by the way, in the US military, that happened, excuse me, in the attack on the Iraqi military compound. It's been the United States military that's come through and get the Iraqis out of these predicaments.
Martin Walker: It's not just the US government that's involved with the Iraqis in trying to put together some kind of a government. There's another player which is, of course, Iran. And the Iranians have made no secret of their partiality for in effect the Shia group, in effect for Maliki and Moqtada al-Sadr who've made a kind of an alliance and that is something I think for the United States, I think, is a bottom line to stop. So the other point is when we talk about a new government, we're talking about money. To be in charge of a ministry is to be in charge of jobs to reward your supporters and above all of who is going to be in charge of the new of dispositions of what seems to be the beginning of the boom in the Iraqi oil industry.
Stay with the ongoing political stalemate in Iraq. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and two days with no government formed.
The elections were (falsely) hailed a sign of progress. March 12th, Nadia Bilbassy (MCB TV) was, for example, declaring on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), "They've taken to this election like they've been doing it for 100 years." And if you think Nadia was just referring to voter turnout, note that only 62% voted in the elections. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor via McClatchy) reminded that the turnout for the 2005 Parliamentary elections 79.6%. That's a drop off of 17.6%. That's progress? Progress would be the 2010 elections resulting in a government being formed more quickly than following the 2005 elections. Even now, the New York Times likes to spin and insist, "It was arguably the most open, most competitive election in the nation's long history of colonial rule, dictatorship and war." Really because in the 2005 elections, there wasn't the constant efforts to disqualify candidates before the elections or -- see the paper's artilce by Timothy Williams, Duraid Adnan, Sa'ad al-Izzi and Zaid Thaker -- to disqualify candidates after the election.
Let's just recap that, markedly lower turnout, a stalemate that's lasted over six months now, efforts to purge candidates before and after the election and there was also Nouri's repeat charges of fraud and calls for a recount (the recounts did not back up his claims of fraud). Strangely the paper's editorial board appeared more clued in to reality -- for example, March 15th: "The latest election results in Iraq point to a heated and possibly lengthy power struggle between the Shiite coalition led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and the rival secular slate led by Ayad Allawi." March 9th, the editorial board observed, "That means there will likely be weeks, we hope not months, of political horse-trading ahead." They hoped not months but were already aware of the possibility. The editorial board was frequently so much better aware than reporters on the ground (I'm not referring to the Times' reporters).
Today Anthony Shadid and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) report on what we've already called out, the US pushing for the country's Constitution to be ignored. Instead of pushing for the legal process to be followed (it has not been followed which is why this has dragged out for over six months), the US government has made their main concern keeping Nouri in power. Shadid and Gordon report that the US is pushing for Nouri to stay on but some "curbs" on his power to be put in place.
This is offensive. Think for a moment of the US 2008 elections. John McCain lost. But what the US is proposing is very similar to installing McCain (as George W. Bush was installed in 2000 despite getting less votes). It doesn't matter if Ayad Allawi's slate is ahead by 1 vote or 1 million, they came out ahead. Iraqiya has the legal right to have the first crack at forming a government. That is the Constitution. Instead of demanding that the law be followed, Joe Biden and the administration have worried about how to keep Nouri in power. (Nouri has assured the administration he will not oppose plans for the US military to remain in Iraq past 2011 if he retains the post of prime minister.)
Joe Biden was lecturing on the importance of democracy in the interview he did with Michael Gordon. So, Joe, why don't you promote democracy? Democracy is following the laws. Democracy is following the laws on the books, not creating new 'processes' to keep whomever you want in power. Asked by Gordon about Iraq and democracy, Biden replied, "It is important that it become a democracy because that is the only vehicle by which you can hold together such a diverse population that has such a history and inclination to actually be at each other's throats. Otherwise, what you do is you end up having something in the form of an authoritarian government that just builds hostility, and eventually it will explode, implode. And so that's why the democracy is important, in my view, here in Iraq, because there are, you have the Sunni-Shia split, but you got the Arab-Kurd split. You have got further sub-splits within the Kurdish region. And so what happens is if they all think they have a piece of the action, if they all think they are better served by being part of this larger whole, then from the Kurds and their inclination and desire to sort of rectify 1921 to the Sunnis, who feel they, that they are a minority in Iraq, but a majority in the region ... All of those inclinations get, not subsumed, but get buffered when it is a democracy. Democracy in the sense that there is a political outlet for their aspirations, not a physical need for an outlet. That is kind of how I view it." Reality: Outsiders cannot make a democracy in another country.
But they can undermine one. How? By ignoring the established laws thereby sending a message to the emerging government and its people that when there is conflict, you don't refer to the establish process, you just create a new one. If you don't have a society built upon laws and the belief in precedents, you're not going to have a democracy or anything short of a dictatorship. That's how dictators operate: They make a show of respect for laws but when the laws conflict with their own desires, they ignore them. That's what the White House is encouraging Iraq to do and you start down that road and there's no turning back.
Shadid and Gordon note: "American officials assert that they do not have a preferred candidate for prime minister. But the proposal is intended to make Mr. Maliki, or a strong-willed successor, more palatable to the rest of a broad-based governing coalition. The redefined authority would be codified by new legislation but would not require that the Constitution be amended."
Meanwhile Karen DeYoung and Janine Zacharia (Washington Post) report that the White House is pinning their hopes on the fact that Ramadan concludes today. While the stalemate could end at any moment, it's also true that Ramadan has not lasted six months. In other words, the White House now has a pattern -- see Susan's remarks on The Diane Rehm Show above -- of making 'just around the corner' announcements/predictions which have thus not come true.
The Times article by Shadid and Gordon has some basis in a September 1st interview between Gordon and Biden which the paper posted online last night. We'll note this section.
Q.[Michael R. Gordon:] Is the Obama administration willing to maintain a limited U.S. military presence in Iraq after the Status of Forces agreement if the new Iraqi government requests such assistance?

A.[US Vice President Joe Biden:] It would depend on what was asked, and it would obviously be considered just like we have similar arrangements with a whole lot of other countries. We do think it is important that they end up in a position of eventually being able to actually generate and execute based on their own intelligence, that they are able to have an air force to protect their airspace and that they have physical capacity to maintain control and use more sophisticated equipment. But the first thing we got to make clear to the Iraqi people, because it goes to motivation, is that we have to make clear we stand ready to meet the absolute letter of the agreement. Our intention now is that we will be out completely. It has been made clear in a thousand ways that if in fact there are residual needs -- nothing like 50,000 troops or 30,000 troops or 20,000 troops staying in Iraq -- if there is a residual need for training and helping them further refine their command and control, I am sure we would entertain that. And we would look to, you know, our military, the Pentagon to give us an assessment, the intelligence community, as to what that capability was and how much of a reach or a lift that would be. The interesting thing to me, Michael, is that every time I have been to Iraq -- every time since the election, not since being sworn in, I think I've been here six times -- in talking to [Gen.] Ray [Odierno], Ray keeps making the point that this has just been a progressive evolution that where he has real confidence in their special forces and he has increasing confidence in the capacity of the force. The one caveat … I have ever heard him express about the capability, competence and continued competence and the ability to handle all that a modern military of this size has to handle is that there has been a budget freeze on the top number. They have not been bringing in new troops on an attrition basis…. At some point they are going to have to make a hard decision … whether they want an army of 168,000 or 165,000 people or they only need an army the size of 100,000 people or whatever the number is.
We're emphasizing the above because of a comment Jason Ditz ( made this week about how these discussions are going on in private. That privacy is, in part, because outside of Jason Ditz, others at, Cindy Sheehan, Phyllis Bennis, Michael R. Gordon and a few others, no one's really talking about it.

The SOFA does not and never did mean the end of the Iraq War. The SOFA replaced the yearly UN mandate. That's all it did. 2011 could end with both sides deciding they were done with each other. In which case, the contract just runs out. But it can be extended or it can be replaced with a new contract. Why might that happen? Well, as Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reported today, "a close ally to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki" -- Minster of Defense Abdul Qader Obeidi -- has stated that Iraq will require a US military presence (in "some form") "at least until 2016 to provide training, support and maintenance for the vast quantity of military equipment and weaponry that Iraq is buying from America" and that they will require assistance on "intelligence gather" after 2011 as well as help with their air force "at least until 2020." That's one way that a decision could be made to extend or replace the SOFA.

In overnight violence, Alsumaria TV reports that two assailants disguised themselves as women in Baquba to gain access to a home where they killed a police recruit's wife and they note a missile attack on a US Army base in Kirkuk. Reuters notes a Tikrit bombing injured one of Iraq's security forces today. Yesterday we noted the prison break. Today Janine Zacharia (Washington Post) reports, "In an embarrassing and potentially dangerous foul-up, four Iraqi detainees with alleged links to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq escaped from U.S. custody at a Baghdad detention facility late Wednesday." And if I wanted to provide a belly laugh today, I would link to the outlet that calls Ahmed Chalabi a "secular" politician. Ahmed? Justice and Accountability Ahmed? What are they smoking in Baghdad? We will note Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) who provides this context:

American officials transferred the site to Iraq's Justice Ministry on July 15 as part of an agreement paving the way for the exit of U.S. troops by the end of 2011. Iraq renamed the site Karkh Prison and asked U.S. forces to retain custody of about 200 detainees there, most of whom are alleged to be members of al-Qaeda.
This week's incident was the second escape from the compound in about three months. Days after the handover, four men broke free, including al-Qaeda's so-called local ministers of finance and interior, state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television reported at the time.

In other criminal news, European countries are ignoring the warning of the UN and returning Iraqs -- forcibly returning Iraqis -- seeking asylum back to Iraq. Last week, England began another round of deportation flights. Amnesty International noted:
More than 40 Iraqi nationals were returned from the UK to Baghdad by charter flight on Monday 6 September 2010. The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR has asked governments not to continue with the forcible returns of Iraqi citizens to Baghdad.
Amnesty International supports UNHCRs guidelines for Iraq which asks governments not to forcibly return people originating from the five provinces identified as the most dangerous in Iraq and declared unsafe namely Baghdad, Ninewa (Mosul), Kirkuk, Diyala and Salah al-Din. AI believes that all individuals from these five provinces be granted refugee status or a complementary form of protection.
Several Western European countries including the UK are forcibly returning Iraqi nationals to Baghdad. On 1 September a charter flight to Baghdad returned Iraqis who had been living in the UK, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Since June the UK and other European governments have returned a number of Iraqi nationals to Baghdad including Kurds destined for the Kurdistan Region in the north. Some of those returned to Baghdad from the UK were initially detained on arrival.
Now Owen Bowcott (Guardian) reports that the Iraqis deported are saying they were beaten by British security forces. At Stop Deportations to Iraq, many of the over 60 deportees share their stories of abuse. This is Sabar Saleh Saeed:
When we arrived in Baghdad we refused to get off the plane. One Iraqi policeman came on and said if we did not come down they would make us go down by force but we said we are being forcibly deported: we will not come down.
We stayed where we were but the G4S security guards forced handcuffs on us and started to beat us when they were dragging us off the plane. They were swearing at us, beating us. Four of them grabbed me to force me off the plane. They grabbed my neck and punched me. My eyes went dark. I could not see any light. I saw many other refugees with blood running down their faces.
When I was on the steps on the plane they were still boxing me. There were a lot of Iraqi police there. They took over from the G4S guards when I had got off. Then the Iraqi police beat us with their sticks.
Those of us who had Iraqi ID were released. We had to get across Baghdad to get to the bus station. We felt very afraid: I do not speak Arabic and I had to get from the airport to the bus station. From there I took a taxi up to Kurdistan in the north. Now I can't sleep. I'm not safe here and all my body is painful after the beating.
These are not isolated incidents, these are not new accusations. In other forced deporation of Iraqis, British guards have been accused of beating the deportees. At what point does the government of England start taking this abuse seriously? But then, this is the same government forcing them out of England -- the country that with the US launched the illegal war on Iraq.
Throughout last week and this week, we've noted critiues of Barack's August 31st speech on the 'end' of 'combat operations' in Iraq. This is Refugee International's take on the speech:
Washington, D.C. -- Refugees International today expressed disappointment that President Barack Obama failed to recognize the plight of Iraqi refugees during his speech marking the end of combat operations in Iraq. In his address to the nation last night, on August 31, President Barack Obama failed to take the opportunity to highlight the humanitarian plight of the Iraqi people. For the half a million refugees unable to return home, and the one and a half million Iraqis displaced inside the country, the end of U.S. operations in Iraq does not mean that peace has returned. Their original homes and communities are either destroyed or insecure, and they remain in a dangerous and unsettled limbo.
"The Obama administration has provided funding and resettlement opportunities for Iraqis. But resolving the displacement issue is a long-term project, requiring U.S. funding and engagement and commitments from the Iraqi government to give them the help they need. In last night's speech, humanitarian issues were not given the priority they deserve." said the Vice President of Refugees International, Joel Charny.
As America ends it combat mission, the humanitarian needs in Iraq persist. Many Iraqis are living in slums, and are completely dependent on the United Nations and other agencies to provide water and food. Politically, Iraq has failed to form a government, and violence in the country continues.
"Refugees International welcomes the engagement of civilians in government, but the reality of the security situation means that people don't walk freely on the streets, and, outside the Green Zone, there is limited access to give civilians the help they need," said Charny. "Humanitarian agencies need to work with local non-governmental organizations, and also make their security rules more flexible, so they are able to move quickly to gain access to Iraq's most vulnerable."

Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding.


For Immediate Release: September 1, 2010
Contact: Refugees International, Gabrielle Menezes
+1 347 260 1393
P: 202-828-0110 x225
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Jackie Calmes (New York Times), Michael Duffy (Time magazine), Karen Tumulty (Washington Post) and David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is " "Recalculating: News and Politics in the Age of GPS." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Sam Bennett, Kellyanne Conway, Darlene Kennedy and Patricia Sosa on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is about ending sexism in politics. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores the Fort Dix Five and "preemptive" prosecution. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

21st Century Snake Oil
"60 Minutes" hidden cameras expose medical conmen who prey on dying victims by using pitches that capitalize on the promise of stem cells to cure almost any disease. Scott Pelley reports. (Double-length segment) | Watch Video

Steve Kroft profiles the superstar singer on the road and backstage where she explains what makes her one of the world's most successful entertainers. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Many people here today just woke up (whether abruptly or gradually) to the fact that the US Empire is a criminal construct capable of murdering, oppressing, impoverishing, and enslaving its own citizenry for the sake of power and profit.

Just because we awoke that day, doesn't mean that the Bush regime was the first to perpetrate these crimes.

Speaking of awakenings, on the morning of 9/11/2001, right before I awakened from my sleep on the West Coast -- I had a dream. I dreamt that I was putting a large, delicate crystal vase on the back of my toilet and it slipped out of my hands and crashed into the bowl and broke into a million pieces, some of them getting into my eyes and imbedding them into my face --my thought in my dream was: "Great, now I have to go to the ER and wait to have these splinters removed from my eyes." The very next scene in my dream, a fire fighter was escorting me out of my office and we were both covered in soot and grime. When I awoke from this nightmare, my daughter told me of the real life horror that was unfolding at the World Trade Center.

My dream was precognitive about what was in the planning to ruin my life and this world for the neocon agenda. My life has been profoundly changed since 9/11 with the loss of my son and with personal and public struggles to make meaning of these losses and sense out of what is so senseless.

However, as tragic and awful as 9/11 was and still is, we can't ignore the fact that this nation was never "noble" and the founders were just men, slaveholding men, that excluded women from participating in civil society -- they were not gods to be idolized or paragons of virtue to want to "return to." Our Constitution may as well have been written in the blood of our native population and nailed to every slave-whipping post in the South.

This weekend there's an event in NYC which will feature many people including Cindy Sheehan. Mark Crispin Miller notes:
This weekend there will be a great symposium on 9/11, hosted by the International News Net here in Lower Manhattan. The line-up is staggering: Don Siegelman, Coleen Rowley, Ray McGovern, Hank Albarelli, Danny Schechter, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan and many others-including, on a panel with yours truly, Peter Dale Scott and Michael Parenti.
The full schedule is accessible below, along with all the info that you'll need to get there, if you can.
How the World Changed After 9/11
Presented by the International News Net. A made for television event in lower Manhattan on September 11th and 12th, 2010
WHERE: Walker Stage – 56 Walker Street, New York, NY (1 block below Canal St., betw. Broadway & 6th Avenue – 6, R, or N train to Canal St. station)
WHEN: 12 noon on Sat. Sept. 11th through 6pm Sun. Sept. 12th
ADMISSION: $20 suggested donation per session, each session includes 2 panels, seating limited to 175
TICKETS: See Paypal links or call (206)-338-0319
NOTE: Can't come to New York? Stream all the events live including the Press Conference from NY City Hall and workshops Thursday the 9th, the rally at All Souls Church Friday night the 10th, street actions from Ground Zero Saturday morning the 11th , and the entire conference "How The World Changed after 9-11″ Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th. $10 for all of it. A portion of all proceeds goes to help 9/11 First Responders. You'll receive the web address and access code on Thursday the 9th.
For more on the symposium, you can listen to the Tuesday broadcast of the WBAI Evening News (click here for audio archives and you have 85 days to hear it before it vanishes from the archives) which opened with Lenny Charles discussing the event with WBAI's Jose Santiago.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Look Who's Yacking

I found this headline confusing, "POLITICO hires first opinion writers." I didn't think Politico had anything but opinion writing. Isn't that what Laura Rozen and Ben Smith do in their columns/blogs? Isn't that what Abby Phillip and the rest do in 'articles'?

As if that's not confusing enough, take a look at the losers they hired. Joe Scarborough will, at least, be 'fresh' to column writing nationally. But Michael Kinsley? What happened, they stopped attempting to get Robert Novak after they learned he was dead?

Michael Kinsley?

Is there a more worthless opinion writer?

Kinsley is a cheap little hustler on top of being a coward. (We're staying with his work -- privately, I'll share many jokes about his marriage.) Was there a more high profile lefty during the attacks on Bill Clinton throughout the 90s who was more ineffective and silent? I can't think of one.

He is also the smug ass who ignored the Downing Street Memo until he decided to attack.

"No Smoking Gun" (Michael The Ass, Washington Post, June 12, 2005):
After about the 200th e-mail from a stranger demanding that I cease my personal coverup of something called the Downing Street Memo, I decided to read it. It's all over the blogosphere and Air America, the left-wing talk radio network: This is the smoking gun of the Iraq war. It is proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq the year before he did so. The whole "weapons of mass destruction" concern was phony from the start, and the drama about inspections was just kabuki: going through the motions.

It just goes further down hill from there. I wonder if that 'charm' was in evidence when he 'amused' hookers in the past?

He pooh-pahhed the DSM and he deliberately distorted what it said. He was and is worthless (which is why Time magazine fired him). Now Politico has hired the guy who was yesterday's mashed potatos twenty years ago and wants to act as if that's something to brag about.

As usual, those opposed to the illegal war and other voices of peace will forever be ignored as the establishment rushes to instead hire someone who will say the exact same thing he's said for over 40 years now.

Which is how 'war is the answer' remains a popular falsehood in our culture.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, September 8, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is killed in Iraq -- one of at least 14 people reported dead today in Iraq with at least 46 reported injured, antiquities are returned to Iraq (and some already returned are now missing), the political stalemate celebrates an anniversary, and more.
Today was a banner day for disgraces in puppet government. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 31 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) noted that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted. That's today, September 8th. Six months since Iraqis voted. No government.

As Steven Hussain (UT's Shorthorn) points out, "Since the March elections, the Iraqi parliament has only met once for a total of 18 minutes. As of now, there seems no end in sight for this deadlock, and the furture of Iraq is still hanging in the balance." Duraid Al Baik (Gulf News) reports:

Many Iraqis say they have lost confidence in their country's ability to rise again. Many have left Iraq for neighbouring countries where they are awaiting the approval of western countries to accept them as refugees from what once was called "Liberated Iraq".
"Those, the majority of course, who had no option to leave the country are still struggling with power shortages and saline water and [a] lack of drainage system... the basics that they enjoyed under dictatorship," Baghdad University political science professor Dr Hassan Ali said.
"For them the fight over who is going to form the government is a sort of luxury they can not afford under the pressures of daily life."
He said that parliament, which is required by the constitution to elect the speaker of the House, the president of the country and the new prime minister to run the country for the next four years, had so far failed to perform its duty since it convened in June.

The editorial board of the Khaleej Times calls the stalemate a "padlock on Iraq's politics" and opines, "It is thus imperative that Iraq's politicians get a grip on things and resolve this impasse at the earliest for the sake of the national interest. It may be prudent to rotate the office of the prime minister between the two or nominate a third candidate. Whatever needs to be done should be dealt with urgently lest others take the country over the brink."
Over the brink? As noted yesterday: "Alsumaria TV reports, 'Religious programs anchor on Al Iraqiya Satellite TV network and head of Al Sheala District Riyad Al Saray was killed by unknown gunmen in central Baghdad'." Today another journalist is killed. BBC News reports that al-Mosulliyah TV's Safah Abdul Hameed was assassinated "in front of his home." The Committee to Protect Journalism issued a statement today which included the following:
The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iraqi authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Safa al-Din Abdel Hamid, an Al-Mosuliya television presenter who was shot this morning in front of his Mosul home by gunmen firing from a speeding car, according to news accounts.

Abdel Hamid was the second Iraqi television anchor to be slain in as many days. Riad al-Saray, an anchor for Al-Iraqiya was gunned down in Baghdad on Tuesday.

"We extend our deep condolences to the family of Safa al-Din Abdel Hamid," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "That this is the second killing of a television presenter in two days sends a clear message to authorities that urgent action is needed."

Riyad Assariyeh, a 35-year-old journalist working for state-run Al Iraqiya TV, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he was leaving his home in Baghdad this morning. This clearly targeted murder brings to 15 the number of Al Iraqiya journalists who have been killed since Saddam Hussein's removal.
Reporters Without Borders calls for a proper investigation capable of identifying and arresting both the perpetrators and instigators of this murder and bringing them to justice. It would be deplorable it this killing were to go unpunished, which unfortunately has been the case in 99 per cent of the 230 murders of journalists and media workers since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The Committee to Protect Journalists offered the following on Riad al-Saray:
"We extend our deep condolences to the family and colleagues of Riad al-Saray," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program ‎coordinator. "We call on the Iraqi authorities to end the culture of impunity by investigating this murder and bringing all those responsible to justice."
Al-Saray, who joined Al-Iraqiya in 2005, hosted programs that sought to reconcile Shiites and Sunnis, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. Amar Hassan, an Al-Iraqiya colleague, said that while al-Saray addressed political issues in his programs, he was not considered controversial. He said al-Saray was on his way to Karbala in southern Iraq when he was gunned down at about 6 a.m. Police said the gunmen used silencers in the attack.
Al-Iraqiya is part of the state-run Iraqi Media Network and has wide viewership across the nation. At least 14 other Iraqi Media Network staffers have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, the highest death toll for any media organization in Iraq during that period.
Reporters Without Borders has just released [PDF format warning] "The Iraq War: A Heavy Death Toll For The Media." The report counts 230 journalists (here we classify all as journalists not "journalists" and "media workers" -- it's a war zone, we're not quibbling, the 230 were journalists) who have been killed in Iraq and finds that 12 were women but 93% of the deaths were men. 87% of those killed were Iraqis. 77 of the deaths took place in Baghdad.
In 2006, Nuri al-Maliki's government regularly threatened to shut down certain newspapers after accusing them of incitement to violence. Television networks were also pointed out as being responsible for stirring up ethnic and religious passions. They were prohibited from broadcasting segments that showed blood or murder scenes. On 5 November 2006, the Minister of the Interior decided to close down the Sunni television networks Al-Zawra and Salah-Eddin for having broadcast footage of demonstrators waving pictures of former dictator Saddam Hussein and protesting against his capital sentence. Both stations are still closed down.
In 2007, addition restrictions were imposed on the media. In May, the authorities banned journalists from filming bomb-stricken areas. In November of that year, they were also prohibited from going to the Kandil mountains on the Iraqi-Turkish border to meet with PKK rebels. Passage of the bill for the protection of journalists would make it possible to improve media professionals' working conditions. The Iraqi Parliament's delay in initiating a review of the bill -- which has been postponed since September 2009 -- appears to be one reason for the unrelenting attacks on the Iraqi press.
UPI notes that the report finds the Iraq War to be the deadliest war for journalists since WWII. Yesterday's snapshot noted Iraqis 'pranks' for television on one another (and called out US military participation in those pranks but has not and will not weigh in on what Iraqis do for TV in their own country). Kelly McEvers (All Things Considered, NPR) reports today that the segments filmed by Iraqis for TV (US soldiers were filming their 'pranks' and posting them on YouTube) and aired on Al-Baghdadiya TV's Khali en Buca is under threat from Nouri's government which states if the show is not pulled off Al-Baghdadiya, the network will be closed down. McEvers explains that the network aired a soap opera today in Khali en Buca's timeslot.
Yesterday, two US soldiers were shot dead in northern Iraq with nine more injured. Leila Fadel and Marwan Anie (Washington Post) report, "Details were murky Tuesday afternoon while the U.S. military investigated the incident. U.S. troops had escorted their commander to an afternoon meeting at an Iraqi army base in Tuz Khurmatu, 55 miles south of Kirkuk. During the meeting, a man in an Iraqi army uniform opened fire, the U.S. military said, adding that the assailant was shot dead at the scene. It was unclear Tuesday whether the young shooter, whom Iraqi security officials identified as Soran Rahman Taleh Wali, a Kurdish member of one of the Iraqi army's special forces units, had planned the attack or acted spontaneously." Some reports note that the shooter was engaged in a volleyball game with US troops. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that the claim of the volleyball game made by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense has been withdrawn. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) adds, "Niazi Uklo, a member of the provincial council in Salahuddin, said in a telephone interview that the soldier, a Kurd, opened fire after a dispute broke out during the meeting on the base." Arwa Damon and CNN report:

In a second attack in Salaheddin province, a U.S. soldier and a number of Iraqis were wounded when a convoy in central Tikrit was hit by grenades early Tuesday afternoon, a U.S. military spokesman said. Soldiers who were in the vehicle that was attacked killed the grenade thrower, he said.
An Iraqi Interior Ministry official and police in Tikrit said that the man threw two grenades at the convoy, damaging a vehicle, and that U.S. forces then opened fire "randomly," killing a civilian and wounding four others.

Reuters reports that today's violence included a Garma sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and the police officer's son, a Baghdad suicide car bombing which claimed the life of the bomber and 3 other people, a Baquba home invasion in which 1 police officer was killed, a Mosul mortar attack which injured three people, a Mosul grenade attack which injured three people, two Al-Zab bombings which claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left nine more injured, a Baghdad car bombing and roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left at least twenty-four more people wounded, two Baghdad bombings which claimed 1 life and left five more people injured, and a Baghdda roadside bombing which injured two people.
The violence includes the destruction of Iraq's history. Writing for Museum News in 2007, Susan Breitkopf explained:
The only real comparison is to the surface of the moon. Craters as deep as 16 feet cover multi-acre sites that are remnants of what is widely considered the cradle of civilization. The craggy, arid earth, all but barren of vegetation, lies in mounds alongside the deep pits where thousands of Iraqi antiquities -- cuneiform tablets, ancient scrolls and kings commemorated in stone that might give clues to how civilization began -- have been ripped from their resting places and sold to nefarious (or unsuspecting) dealers and collectors. Some sites have been so ravaged that the top 10 feet of earth and all of the irreplaceable artifacts buried there for centuries are gone.

Amid the catastrophe of the war in Iraq -- the violence, bloodshed and loss of human life --is the loss of the world's cultural heritage in the form of hoards of antiquities. It is an ongoing, silent tragedy for which there seems to be no viable solution.

Sources say this is not the work of renegades with shovels. It is planned and executed by organized bands -- 200 to 300 per site -- with heavy machinery at many of the 12,000 sites. And the payout is big. The average Iraqi makes the equivalent of $1,000 per year, yet a cache of looted antiquities can sell for $20,000. And looters can sell two or three such caches every week.

The country was plundered and then-US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought it was funny to make jokes about it (in 2003, he mocked the looting as just being the same video of a vase being shown over and over). In defining "the other," it is important to rob them of any cultural history and that's what Rumsfeld with his sarcastic remarks did. On the issue of cultural history and who it belongs to, Kris Boyd interviewed Craig Childs (Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaelogical Plunder and Obsession) on yesterday's Think (KERA) here for audio files. I haven't heard the broadcast yet -- and am noting it at the request of a friend -- but Joyce Wadler of the New York Times should make a point to listen since she's discussed but not named. Discussed? She's mocked. On the looting, David Gardner (Financial Times of London) notes, "The just announced return to Iraq of the headless statue of a Sumerian king – looted in the lawless aftermath of the US-led invasion in 2003 – seems an apposite footnote to the recent departure of US combat troops. Iraq remains lawless and headless. And combat has far from ceased." Farah Stockman (Boston Globe) reported yesterday on the efforts to find the stolen statue of King Entemena, "stolen from Iraq's national museum in 2003" and how Massachusetts College of Art and Design's John Russell worked with the US State Dept in a 2006 sting to recover the statue which is finally being transferred from the Iraq Embassy in DC to Iraq. For audio, Melissa Blockman (All Things Considered, NPR) interviewed Farah Stockman about the statue and other artifcats yesterday. Today Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports that "hundreds of looted antiquities" are being returned to Iraq where "632 pieces repatriated last year and turned over to the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki were now unaccounted for" and that this unknown "fate of those previously returned raised questions about the country's readiness to preserve and protect its own treasures." (I would argue this item listed as returned by SLM raises questions as well: ". . . and 362 cuneiform clay tablets smuggled out of Iraq that were seized by the American authorities in 2001 and were being stored in the World Trade Center when it was destroyed" -- how did the tablets survive?) On the issue of the now missing returned (to Nouri) artificats, Professor Larry Rothfield (The Punching Bag) hails it as, "Yet one more piece of evidence, if that were required, that the State Department dropped the ball completely by focusing its efforts on restoring the museum rather than on helping the Iraqis get their cultural policy infrastructure set up properly". Derek Fincham (Illicit Cultural Property) wonders, "Are Iraq's Antiquities in a Revolving Door?" Stephen Farrell (New York Times' At War Blog -- link has text and video) reports that the returned items include a "chrome-plated Kalashnikov Ak-47 assault rifle, with a peral hand grip and reciever, [which] was manufactured by an Iraqi weapons factory which produced personalized assault rifles for Saddam Hussein's family and friends."
Farah Stockman: He's rather short, he's about three feet tall. Dark. He's wearing a skirt. He has inscriptions on his arm and on his back. And he has no head.
Melissa Block: He's headless.
Farah Stockman: He's headless. Yes.
Melissa Block: And what happened to the head?
Farah Stockman: Archaeologists think it was actually lopped off 4,000 years ago when his city was conquered and they think it might be a symbol of the emancipation of the city of Ur which was where the statue was actually discovered.
Melissa Block: What about the real King Entemena? What do we know about his significance to Iraqi ancient civilization?
Farah Stockman: I think he's known as a powerful king. This was the cradle of civilization. This was one of the earliest known civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, and I think the kings after him were much weaker than he was.
As the continued violence indicates, the Iraq War is not over. Appearing on the latest episode of CounterSpin (began broadcasting Friday), IPS' Phyllis Bennis spoke with FAIR's Steve Rendall about Iraq War realities: Excerpt:
Steve Rendall: As we survey news reports, we find that Obama's proclaimation that he is ended combat operations in Iraq have met with little skepticism from journalists. What's actually going to happen with US policy in Iraq?
Phyllis Bennis: The policy has not changed. It is true that the number of troops are significantly lower than they were at their heaight of 165,000. It's now down to about 50,000. That is a good thing. Reduction in troops is a good thing. But the notion that this troop reduction somehow means that all combat brigades, let alone combat troops are out of Iraq, is ust specious. The 50,000 troops that are in Iraq now are combat troops. The Pentagon has, in their own words, remissioned them -- they have given combat troops a new mission which is for training and assistance of the Iraqi military but they remain combat troops ready to re-engage in combat at any given moment. We heard from President Obama about the 4th Stryker Brigade which, as he described it, is the last combat brigade leaving Iraq. We didn't hear about the 3,000 new combat troops -- more combat troops -- from Fort Hood in Texas who were just deployed to Iraq ten days ago. We also didn't hear about the 4,500 special forces which have the job, one, of continuing its counter-terrorism opeartion -- meaning using its 'capture or kill' list to run around the country to capture or kill people. The other is to train their Iraqi counterparts, the Iraqi special operations force, which is shaping up to be something that looks suspiciously like an El Salvador death squad. This is not the end of comabt.
Steve Rendall: John Pilger reports in The New Statesman on September 2nd that US policy with regards to airstrikes and bombings will not be effected by the president's announcement. It looks like there's also -- and I think you've mentioned this -- going to be an increase in the number of contractors, military contractors in country.
Phyllis Bennis: Absolutely. The number of contractors is both disturbing in its own right and because its the beginning of a process under way of militarizing US diplomacy. There will be 7,000 new armed contractors coming into Iraq solely to work under the auspices of the State Dept, not the Pentagon, when the State Dept becomes the primary agency in Iraq. What we really didn't hear from President Obama is that the transition under way is not so much from US control to Iraqi control, as much as it is from Pentagon control to State Dept control. The agreement [SOFA] that was signed between the US and Iraq that requires -- if it doesn't get changed, which is, I think, a likely possibility -- requires all US troops and armed contractors under Pentagon control to be out of the country by the end of next year does not apply to contractors -- armed or not -- under the auspices of the State Dept. So with this giant new embassy that holds 5,000 diplomats -- it's the size of Vatican City -- there will be at least 7,000 armed contractors. The State Dept is bringing in armored cars, surveillance drones, planes and their own rapid response forces. So what we're seeing is the Pentagon leaving largely but the State Dept taking on military tasks.
Not really, Phyllis. The ones in charge are Samantha Power and other national security types from outside the State Dept. They will be working with the new US ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey -- who was chosen because of his national security background and not his State Dept background. It's difficult to talk about this -- and I'm not slamming Phyllis for that -- because the public is being kept in the dark. If Congress wanted to, they could shine a light and demand to know who is in charge.
Who's in charge of the State Dept? The top person at the State Dept -- who then reports to Barack -- is Hillary Clinton who is Secretary of State. Where's Hillary been in the last month? Did she give an Iraq speech? No, she didn't. Did she speak to the press about Iraq? No, she hasn't. The State Dept is not leading this. A little shell games being played on the Congress and on the American people. The adminstration is attempting to continue the war and the hide the costs via the State Dept. Congress hasn't gone along so far. And did you see Hillary go down to the Hill and sell the money requested -- so far denied by Congress? No, you didn't.
What you've heard is Robert Gates, Barack, Joe Biden and assorted others make speeches for international audiences about Iraq. You haven't heard that from Hillary. She's not in charge of Iraq. And the idea that the administration wants to run this operation and wants to hide it behind the pretense that the State Dept's in charge? Sounds a lot like the dirty tricks Ronald Reagan (Barack's hero) pulled in Iran-Contra.,
It's a difficult subject to talk about because Americans are being intentionally left in the dark and deceived by the administration. Again, I'm not slamming Phyllis for her discussion, it's very difficult to discuss what's going on in the shadows. There are Democrats in the Senate who are outraged by what the administration is attempting and have stated that they will get to the bottom of it. Whether or not that is the case, there's also the fact that the mid-terms are coming up and if Republicans gain control of either house of Congress, investigations into any number of things could ensue. Considering the huge amount the administration is requesting for continued operations in Iraq, Republicans with control of one house might launch an investigation into what is really going on in Iraq and how such a plan was determined and devised without the knowledge of the American people or the consent and input of Congress.
Jonathan Tasini is running for the Democratic Party nomination against incumbent Charlie Rangel (disclosure, I know and like Charlie) and Tasini's campaign has sent a mailing which we'll note a portion of:
Enough is enough: The American people have been robbed -- by Wall Street buccaneers, greedy bankers, corporate CEOs and an elite that does not care whether the people can achieve the American Dream. They've bought our political leaders. They gambled away our jobs and retirement. They ravaged the planet. We must unite to sweep them from power so we can save our communities and our planet.

My opponent, Charles Rangel, has been in Congress for 40 years. He is part of the corrupt system. He is the #4 recipient of lobbyist money in the House. Bowing down to his corporate contributors, he has voted for half a dozen "free trade" agreements that have destroyed millions of good-paying jobs and forced wages down.

I am the only candidate in this race who has pledged not to vote for a single dime for the war in Afghanistan. Enough is enough.

I am the only candidate in this race to campaign for an INCREASE in Social Security, not cuts that even some Democrats are promoting. Enough is enough.

I am the only candidate in this race to campaign for a hike in the minimum wage to $10 an hour so the people can try to make a livable wage. Enough is Enough.

I need your help today.
We're being kind and including his fundraising link. I am not endorsing Tasini, I'm not endorsing anyone in any race that I cannot vote in. But it's really interesting that Tasini is promising not a dime to Afghanistan -- as if what? The Iraq War was over? The Iraq War is not over and currently Congress is refusing to grant the administration's request for Iraq War funds hidden behind 'the State Dept.' Would Tasini continue that refusal? It's a pertinent question.
Back to who's running things, if you're not getting the point that it's not the State Dept, Hillary gave a major speech today. Appearing before the Council on Foreign Relations today (link goes to State Dept and has text and a video option), she addressed Israel, Palestine, Russia, China, Egypt and others at length. Iraq? It was treated as an aside and received two casual mentions in the speech:
* In Iraq, where our combat mission has ended, we are transferring and transitioning to an unprecedented civilian-led partnership.
* When our troops come home, as they are from Iraq and eventually from Afghanistan, we'll still be involved in diplomatic and development efforts, trying to rid the world of nuclear dangers and turn back climate change, end poverty, quell the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, tackle hunger and disease.
During questions and answers, Hillary alluded to Iraq at one point:
Because what we know, especially from the threats that we have faced in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, is you have to be more integrated. So let's start thinking from a budget perspective about how to be more integrated.
Does it sound like Hillary's in charge of Iraq? She's not and, as we noted some time ago at Third, if she were, Barack's primary voters should be outraged since a number of them flocked to him due to the illusion that he was against the Iraq War. Long before Hillary was nominated as Secretary of State, Barack had already put Iraq under the "national security" control of Samantha Power who is currently meeting with Joe Biden's national security advisor regularly. Or are we not ever supposed to notice the man behind the curtain isn't the great and mighty Oz?
On the SOFA, Jason Ditz ( via World Can't Wait) notes the talk of the US military presence in Iraq being extended past 2011, "Not so, apparently, as a growing number of US officials are privately acknowledging that the US will 'almost certainly' keep a significant number of troops in Iraq past the deadline, which was negotiated in the Status of Forces Agreement. The subject hasn't so much been broached with the American public, where the official story that the war ended at some point in the past couple of weeks is still playing remarkably well, but it seems there is a growing resignation to this, at least privately." So much doesn't get broached with the American public.
In justice news, War Hawk Tony Blair has another cancellation. Saturday in Dublin, Blair had a book signing which resulted in his being pelted with shoes and eggs. As a result of that 'welcoming,' he canceled one London appearance on Monday. Now the BBC reports that he's canceled his remaining London book event. No real excuse is provided for this second cancellation; however, there are rumors that he's very upset by a Labour proposal the UK Parliament might take up which would require him and other foreign ministers to pay for their own security costs when participating in for-profit engagements. His London appearance would have reported cost the US equivalent of $250,000 to provide protection for Blair. UK's Stop The War notes:
Tony Blair's decision to cancel his party at Tate Modern gallery today, following him pulling out of a book-signing at Waterstone's, is another victory for the anti war movement and for the overwhelming majority in Britain who oppose his wars.

With Blair running scared of peaceful, democratic protests, Stop the War has cancelled the demonstration against Tate Modern being used to celebrate the publication of a war criminal's book.

The number of prominent artists who supported the Tate protest is yet another indication of how widespread is the determination that Blair will one day be held to account for his war crimes in Iraq.
The ignominy of war criminal Blair scuttling away from any contact with the general public is bound to be discussed at tonight's Stop the War public meeting in the House of Commons (see below).
Q: Who said: "You've got to put in prison those who deserve to be there"? A: Tony Blair, 6 September 2010
BBC quotes Stop The War's Lindsey German stating, "It shows he is running scared. The people who say we should not protest are denying us the right to persist in asking questions about the war and denying the rights of Iraqis who are still suffering because of Blair's policies." Kitty Donaldson (Bloomberg News) quotes Blair whining, "It's sad in a way because you should have the right to sign books or see your friends if you want to." Tell it to the Iraqi people, Tony. Instead of the bombs you ordered dropped, the house raids and so much more, don't you think they would have liked to have seen their friends or signed books? What an idiot and a criminal Tony Blair is. Carolyn Kellogg (Los Angeles Times) observes, "Antiwar protesters aren't the only ones questioning the contents of the book. On Wednesday, Peter Morgan, the screenwriter behind the movie The Queen, told the Telegraph that Blair's memoir includes a scene that he invented for the movie, complete with strikingly similar dialog. Will the attention hurt Blair's book sales? Will the protests continue? Will he ever be able to go on book tour, or will he have to content himself with other affairs of former world leaders -- encouraging youth, making statements about Africa and weighing in on the Mideast peace talks?"
This weekend there's an event in NYC which will feature many people including Media Channel's Danny Schechter and Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan. Mark Crispin Miller notes:
This weekend there will be a great symposium on 9/11, hosted by the International News Net here in Lower Manhattan. The line-up is staggering: Don Siegelman, Coleen Rowley, Ray McGovern, Hank Albarelli, Danny Schechter, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan and many others-including, on a panel with yours truly, Peter Dale Scott and Michael Parenti.
The full schedule is accessible below, along with all the info that you'll need to get there, if you can.
How the World Changed After 9/11
Presented by the International News Net. A made for television event in lower Manhattan on September 11th and 12th, 2010
WHERE: Walker Stage – 56 Walker Street, New York, NY (1 block below Canal St., betw. Broadway & 6th Avenue – 6, R, or N train to Canal St. station)
WHEN: 12 noon on Sat. Sept. 11th through 6pm Sun. Sept. 12th
ADMISSION: $20 suggested donation per session, each session includes 2 panels, seating limited to 175
TICKETS: See Paypal links or call (206)-338-0319
NOTE: Can't come to New York? Stream all the events live including the Press Conference from NY City Hall and workshops Thursday the 9th, the rally at All Souls Church Friday night the 10th, street actions from Ground Zero Saturday morning the 11th , and the entire conference "How The World Changed after 9-11″ Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th. $10 for all of it. A portion of all proceeds goes to help 9/11 First Responders. You'll receive the web address and access code on Thursday the 9th.
For more on the symposium, you can listen to the Tuesday broadcast of the WBAI Evening News (click here for audio archives and you have 88 days to hear it before it vanishes from the archives) which opened with Lenny Charles discussing the event with WBAI's Jose Santiago.